Richie Crampton raced to his fourth Top Fuel victory of the season Sunday to close out a record-setting day of action at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at BIR.
Robert Hight (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were winners of the penultimate regular season race in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
NHRA Top Fuel and Funny Car teams took advantage of the cool overcast weather conditions at BIR to reset all four national records in those categories. Among the records, Antron Brown set the Top Fuel elapsed time record at 3.680 seconds and Jack Beckman set the Funny Car mark at 3.901 seconds. National speed records were set by Spencer Massey (332.75 mph) and Matt Hagan (329.58 mph). Hagan also recorded the quickest Funny Car time in history at 3.879 seconds, and Shawn Langdon posted the quickest Top Fuel time with his 3.664-second effort, but neither driver was able to certify those times as national records per NHRA rules.
But it was the consistent performance of Crampton’s Aaron Brooks-tuned Lucas Oil dragster that took the event victory in Top Fuel when he held off Brittany Force in the final round. Crampton crossed the finish line first with a career-best time of 3.695 seconds at 325.30 mph to deny Force her first career victory, as her Monster Energy dragster trailed with 3.771 seconds at 293.79 mph.
“This race is going to go down in the history books,” Crampton said. “It was just some amazing racing today and there were some super-fast race cars out there. I keep forgetting that I ran a (3.69) in the final, because winning the event is so important. You want to carry momentum into the Countdown. The last two rounds today showed what kind of race car we have and we are right where we need to be for Indy and for the Countdown.”
Crampton, who defeated teammate Morgan Lucas, Larry Dixon and Langdon en route to the final round, moved to third in the points standings with his sixth career victory. Tony Schumacher remains in the series lead, 53 points ahead of Brown, who earned a 20-point bonus for setting the elapsed time record.
“Winning the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals when you drive the Lucas Oil car is exactly what you want to do,” Crampton said. “I just wanted to do that so badly for [team owners] Forrest and Charlotte [Lucas]. There is nothing cooler than getting the Wally from Charlotte at the end of the racetrack.”
Hight earned his first Funny Car victory in more than a year and the 35th of his career by defeating Tommy Johnson Jr. in the final round. Hight powered his Auto Club Chevy Camaro to a 3.956-second run at 323.58 mph to finish in front of Johnson’s Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger, which was making its third consecutive final round appearance.
“We had a real good car,” said Hight, who defeated Ron Capps, Brian Stewart and Tim Wilkerson in earlier rounds. “It was running good, but you never know what you’re going to get in these kinds of conditions. This thing was a handful to drive today. We changed a bunch of things on the car, and it’s carrying the front end. It’s tough. I’m not going to get cocky. The DSR cars have been dominant. We closed the gap a bunch this weekend, and I know we have a lot of work to do. We’re going to keep it up and test in Indy.”
Red-hot Beckman, who lost in the semifinals to Johnson when his ultra-quick Infinite Hero Dodge Charger lost traction, used his 20-point national record bonus to increase his series lead to 50 points over Hagan. Hagan lost in round two to Beckman in the quickest side-by-side race in NHRA history.
Enders moved back into the series points lead in Pro Stock by claiming her fifth victory of the season and 17th of her career. She used a quicker reaction time and a final-round performance of 6.552 seconds at 210.34 mph in her Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro to take the win over rival and local favorite Jason Line, who posted a quicker, but losing, 6.541 seconds at 211.06 mph in his Summit Racing Equipment Camaro.
Enders outran Mark Hogan, Bo Butner and red-hot Chris McGaha, who won the last two races, to advance to the final round. She now holds a 16-point lead over four-time world champ Greg Anderson heading into the final race of the regular season.
“This is a really crucial time in our season, especially heading into Indy (in two weeks), where it’s worth points and a half, so it’s a great time to get that momentum to swing back to our side of the fence, and I’m so proud of my team,” Enders said. “It’s an amazing win for my group. It’s really exciting for me because it’s hard not to get frustrated collectively as a group when things aren’t going your way, but that’s what makes our team work so great. We don’t allow ourselves to get down in the dumps and just dig deep and play with all our heart.”
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Krawiec took his third consecutive victory of the season by racing past teammate Andrew Hines in an all-Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson final round. Krawiec finished in 6.844 seconds at 194.30 mph to take his 30th career victory and second at BIR, while Hines clocked a 6.894 at 190.06 in the runner-up effort.
“I have a great motorcycle under me,” said Krawiec, who beat a murder’s row of past world champions in Hector Arana, LE Tonglet and Matt Smith to advance to the final round.
“We’ve just lacked consistency,” Krawiec continued. “I’d say since Denver we’ve really gotten into the groove and figured out what the motorcycle wanted. I’ve been fortunate enough to go to three final rounds and win all three and also win the NHRA Pro Bike Battle in Sonoma, so I’m on a pretty good roll. Hopefully it’s not too early because after Indy is when you really want to get on a roll like this, but hopefully I can continue it all the way through to the end of Pomona.”
With the win, Krawiec increased his series lead to 166 over Hector Arana Jr.
A bunch of drivers secured berths into the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship at this event, including Crampton and Larry Dixon in Top Fuel; Johnson Jr., John Force, Del Worsham and Ron Capps in Funny Car; Allen Johnson, Larry Morgan, Shane Gray and Jonathan Gray in Pro Stock; and Krawiec, Arana Jr. and Hines in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
The NHRA Mello Yello Series continues Sept. 2-7 with the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, the world’s most prestigious drag race at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.
Final finish order (1-16) at the 34th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals.
1. Richie Crampton 2. Brittany Force 3. Shawn Langdon 4. Antron Brown 5. Steve Torrence 6. Doug Kalitta 7. Larry Dixon 8. Tony Schumacher 9. J.R. Todd 10. Spencer Massey 11. Terry McMillen 12. Clay Millican 13. Chris Karamesines 14. Dave Connolly 15. Morgan Lucas 16. Wayne Newby
1. Robert Hight 2. Tommy Johnson Jr. 3. Tim Wilkerson 4. Jack Beckman 5. Matt Hagan 6. John Force 7. Brian Stewart 8. John Hale 9. Ron Capps 10. Cruz Pedregon 11. Del Worsham 12. Dale Creasy Jr. 13. Alexis DeJoria 14. Courtney Force 15. Bob Bode 16. Chad Head
1. Erica Enders 2. Jason Line 3. Shane Gray 4. Chris McGaha 5. Bo Butner 6. Greg Anderson 7. Larry Morgan 8. Allen Johnson 9. Jonathan Gray 10. V. Gaines 11. Deric Kramer 12. Vincent Nobile 13. Drew Skillman 14. Mark Hogan 15. Dave River
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE
1. Eddie Krawiec 2. Andrew Hines 3. Matt Smith 4. Chaz Kennedy 5. LE Tonglet 6. Hector Arana Jr 7. Karen Stoffer 8. Jerry Savoie 9. Chip Ellis 10. Mike Berry 11. Hector Arana 12. Angie Smith 13. Jim Underdahl 14. Scotty Pollacheck 15. Steve Johnson
Top Fuel — Richie Crampton, 3.695 seconds, 325.30 mph def. Brittany Force, 3.771 seconds, 293.79 mph.
Funny Car — Robert Hight, Chevrolet Camaro, 3.956, 323.58 def. Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 4.130, 316.52.
Pro Stock — Erica Enders, Chevy Camaro, 6.552, 210.34 def. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.541, 211.06.
Pro Stock Motorcycle — Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.844, 194.30 def. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.894, 190.06.
Top Alcohol Dragster — Mark Taliaferro, 5.292, 270.64 def. Joey Severance, 5.304, 274.00.
Top Alcohol Funny Car — Chris Foster, Ford Mustang, 5.686, 259.11 def. Jay Payne, Chevy Camaro, 5.694, 260.16.
Super Stock — Gene Mosbek, Plymouth Savoy, 10.239, 128.08 def. Curtis Hieb, Ford Mustang, 9.947, 134.74.
Stock Eliminator — Randi Lyn Shipp, Pontiac Firebird, 10.568, 124.69 def. Jeff Adkinson, Chevy Camaro, foul.
Super Comp — Luke Bogacki, Dragster, 8.929, 165.64 def. Gary Stinnett, Dragster, 8.930, 186.79.
Super Gas — Brian Folk, Chevy Camaro, 9.865, 151.32 def. Russ Ginger, Dodge Aspen, 9.821, 163.06.
Pro Stock Snowmobile — Glenn Hall, Arctic Cat, 8.165, 158.86 def. Scott Hagen, Ski Doo, 8.439, 148.74.
ROUND ONE — Larry Dixon, 3.703, 325.06 def. Spencer Massey, 3.739, 332.75; Brittany Force, 3.747, 324.75 def. Dave Connolly, 4.016, 220.01; Richie Crampton, 3.964, 313.66 def. Morgan Lucas, 4.678, 133.07; Tony Schumacher, 3.960, 312.57 def. Chris Karamesines, 3.977, 296.57; Doug Kalitta, 3.734, 320.36 def. Wayne Newby, 5.323, 137.54; Steve Torrence, 3.733, 324.98 def. Terry McMillen, 3.821, 321.42; Shawn Langdon, 3.861, 257.24 def. Clay Millican, 3.877, 309.98; Antron Brown, 3.680, 331.12 def. J.R. Todd, 3.703, 330.88;
QUARTERFINALS — Force, 3.757, 318.17 def. Kalitta, 3.917, 281.42; Crampton, 3.937, 289.88 def. Dixon, 8.482, 89.65; Langdon, 3.662, 321.12 def. Torrence, 3.746, 328.06; Brown, 3.696, 327.35 def. Schumacher, 11.914, 74.29;
SEMIFINALS — Force, 3.738, 299.73 def. Brown, 8.025, 90.64; Crampton, 3.719, 317.79 def. Langdon, 4.196, 279.27;
FINAL — Crampton, 3.695, 325.30 def. Force, 3.771, 293.79.
ROUND ONE — John Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.098, 323.81 def. Dale Creasy Jr., Chevy Impala, 7.721, 88.17; Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 3.985, 319.90 def. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.754, 172.52; John Hale, Charger, 6.126, 113.75 def. Courtney Force, Camaro, 8.844, 72.28; Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.392, 196.93 def. Bob Bode, Camry, 9.244, 66.04; Brian Stewart, Ford Mustang, 6.487, 168.14 def. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 8.710, 94.97; Robert Hight, Chevrolet Camaro, 4.172, 238.81 def. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.373, 208.62; Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.927, 322.81 def. Chad Head, Camry, 13.530, 62.63; Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.879, 329.58 def. Del Worsham, Camry, 5.663, 142.69; Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.927, 322.81 def. Chad Head, Camry, 13.530, 62.63;
QUARTERFINALS — Hight, 3.935, 325.69 def. Stewart, 9.160, 80.53; Johnson Jr., 4.009, 317.72 def. Hale, 9.242, 69.21; Beckman, 3.903, 326.63 def. Hagan, 3.947, 327.19; Wilkerson, 3.921, 328.70 def. J. Force, 4.326, 208.23;
SEMIFINALS — Hight, 3.928, 324.59 def. Wilkerson, 4.005, 313.88; Johnson Jr., 3.980, 320.97 def. Beckman, 8.636, 72.98;
FINAL — Hight, 3.956, 323.58 def. Johnson Jr., 4.130, 316.52.
ROUND ONE — Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.578, 209.36 def. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.578, 210.05; Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.579, 210.31 def. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.640, 209.62; Larry Morgan, Camaro, 6.613, 209.69 def. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.622, 208.97; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.581, 210.34 def. V. Gaines, Dodge Dart, 6.594, 209.43; Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.627, 209.72 def. Dave River, Chevy Cobalt, 9.333, 93.78; Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.557, 210.34 def. Deric Kramer, Dart, 6.620, 208.68; Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.587, 211.20 was unopposed; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.566, 210.37 def. Mark Hogan, Pontiac GXP, 6.745, 205.10;
QUARTERFINALS — Line, 6.564, 210.54 def. Johnson, 13.812, 84.41; S. Gray, 6.561, 211.39 def. Anderson, 6.581, 209.98; Enders, 6.561, 210.57 def. Butner, 6.570, 210.70; McGaha, 6.574, 210.31 def. Morgan, 8.490, 107.02;
SEMIFINALS — Enders, 6.541, 210.67 def. McGaha, 9.571, 97.03; Line, 6.553, 210.47 def. S. Gray, 6.572, 211.26;
FINAL — Enders, 6.552, 210.34 def. Line, 6.541, 211.06.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE
ROUND ONE — Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.864, 191.24 def. Mike Berry, Buell, 6.953, 191.51; Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.967, 192.77 def. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 15.639, 49.98; Chaz Kennedy, Buell, 6.964, 191.78 def. Chip Ellis, Buell, 6.918, 191.84; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.827, 195.42 was unopposed; Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.860, 197.05 def. Angie Smith, 7.016, 188.17; LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.904, 195.56 def. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, broke; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.852, 195.03 def. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.999, 194.02; Matt Smith, 6.840, 194.41 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, broke;
QUARTERFINALS — Kennedy, 6.959, 188.94 def. Savoie, broke; Krawiec, 6.788, 197.39 def. Tonglet, 6.830, 196.36; M. Smith, 6.856, 194.35 def. Arana Jr, 6.891, 195.99; Hines, 6.877, 193.40 def. Stoffer, 6.946, 193.32;
SEMIFINALS — Hines, 6.847, 193.96 def. Kennedy, 7.001, 188.10; Krawiec, 6.835, 194.04 def. M. Smith, 6.902, 192.82;
FINAL — Krawiec, 6.844, 194.30 def. Hines, 6.894, 190.06.