By Gary P Jackson
When Erica Enders defeated Greg Anderson in the finals of the O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries, in Chicago, he noted that once she started winning, it would be like turning on a faucet. He was right.
After a bit of a stumble on the three race Western Swing, Erica ended the West Coast tour with her second career Pro Stock win at the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries [at Pacific Raceways] in Seattle. Proving the veteran racer’s Chicago win was no fluke.
After a week off, the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series resumed this weekend in Brainerd, Minnesota at the 31st Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals. Here Erica absolutely broke the competition’s back. She was number one qualifier and the class of the field. Her reaction times were outstanding with a near perfect .001 in the first round, and .012 in both round two and in the finals. Her only reaction time stumble was in the semi-final round against Larry Morgan, where she cut an uncharacteristic .089 light. Radio communications between Erica and crew chief Dave Connolly, as she pulled off the track, revealed a mechanical problem that kept the car from responding instantly when she matted the throttle, no doubt effecting the car’s reaction time.
This was Erica’s third Pro Stock win in five races, and gives her the momentum needed going into the Mac Tool U. S. Nationals at Indy, as well as into the championship countdown. This was the first time a number one qualifier in Pro Stock had won in Brainerd since 1986.
Erica Enders, Chevy Cobalt 6.569 at 210.05 mph defeats Allen Johnson, Dodge Avenger 14.495 at 58.43 mph [shutoff]
Chris Dirato has more on Eric’s win here.
Got to give a quick shout out to sportsman standout Luke Bogacki, who won Super Gas. Luke is a Temple-Academy Dragway alumnus, and one of those who have been able to turn sportsman racing into a career. A good guy too! A lot of great racers have come from our little tree lined drag strip on the banks of the Little River!
Super Gas: Luke Bogacki [near lane] Chevy Corvette, 10.044 at 132.95 mph defeats Mark McMasters, Corvette 10.143, 132.87
Probably the wildest single race of the weekend was round one Funny Car when John Force raced Alexis DeJoria. The 15 time champ red-lit against DeJoria, handing her the race. However, the rookie-of-the-year contender didn’t realize Force had redlighted and stayed in the throttle, smoking the tires and getting completely out of control. [the car was completely sideways at one point] DeJoria, who had been quick and fast all weekend, crossed the center line, a no-no in drag racing. Under the “first or worse” rule, Force was reinstated. He would go on to the final round where he lost against Ron Capps.
The coolest? Morgan Lucas ending his dry spell and winning Top Fuel, where his mom, Charlotte Lucas was handing out the NHRA Wallys to the winners for Lucas Oil, the family business, and event sponsor.
From NHRA Communications:
Ron Capps raced to the Funny Car victory Sunday at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals and moved into the Full Throttle Series points lead for the first time this season with one race remaining before the Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
Morgan Lucas (Top Fuel), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were winners at the penultimate regular season event in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.
Capps powered away from 15-time world champ John Force in the Funny Car final round to take his third win of the season, third at Brainerd International Raceway and 36th of his career. Capps cruised to a final round performance of 4.134 seconds at 304.05 mph in his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger, while Force’s Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang lost traction and finished in 6.633 at 116.35.
“I’m pretty excited to go to Indy with the points lead,” said Capps, who now leads Robert Hight by 53 points. “Force is cagey. He’s good here. He could be having the worst year ever and still come here and win. I was doubtful that we were going to get a win. He’s been eking it out all day and getting on a roll. He knows how to take it to the next level. I looked over at about 800 feet and didn’t see him ahead of me, and we got the win light.“
In Top Fuel, Lucas edged Antron Brown at the finish line for his third victory of the season and his third win at this event, sponsored by his family’s oil company. Lucas posted a 3.818 at 316.90 in his GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster to hold off Brown’s charging Matco Tools dragster, which trailed with a 3.831 at 313.80.
“Anytime you can win here for our family, especially for my dad who is so involved in this race, is a dream come true,” Lucas said. “Hopefully, it’s a sign of good things to come for us. You can’t help but get a lot of confidence out of an outing like this. You never know with these cars. There is a lot of hard work put in that is starting to show on the track.”
With the runner-up finish, Brown moved into the series points lead, 58 ahead of Spencer Massey.
Enders continues to make Pro Stock history as she raced to her third victory of the season and second in a row. She outran series points leader Allen Johnson in the final round with a performance of 6.569 at 210.05 in her GK Motorsports Chevy Cobalt. Johnson’s Team Mopar Dodge Avenger experienced tire shake at the start and slowed near mid-track. Enders is the first female to win at BIR since Shirley Muldowney won a Top Fuel title here in 1982.
“Beating AJ [Allen Johnson] isn’t easy,” Enders said. “There are a lot of tough guys out there. To be able to run against the best out here shows that our hard work is finally paying off. We’ve been chasing them for a number of years.”
Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson rider Krawiec remained undefeated in Pro Stock Motorcycle, claiming his sixth victory of the season in as many finals and increasing his series points lead by defeating final round opponent Hector Arana Jr., who fouled at the start on his Lucas Oil Buell.
“He jumped out in front of me and at first I thought I was late but about 300 feet out, I looked up and saw that my win light was on,” Krawiec said. “I realized that he red-lighted.”
The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series continues Aug. 29-Sept. 3 with the 58th Annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus in Indianapolis, the world’s most prestigious drag race.
Round by Round Professional Eliminator Results:
From NHRA Communications:
ROUND ONE — Morgan Lucas, 3.788, 327.90 def. Steve Torrence, 3.859, 318.84; David Grubnic, 3.798, 321.96 def. Clay Millican, 4.655, 164.09; Cory McClenathan, 3.838, 318.09 def. Shawn Langdon, 4.068, 317.64; Tony Schumacher, 3.797, 325.69 def. Terry McMillen, 5.960, 110.60; Antron Brown, 3.851, 305.29 def. Bob Vandergriff, 3.844, 325.22; Bruce Litton, 3.884, 304.74 def. Spencer Massey, 5.037, 138.10; Doug Kalitta, 3.844, 320.89 def. Keith Murt, 4.059, 227.80; Khalid alBalooshi, 3.773, 322.81 def. Brandon Bernstein, 3.818, 321.35;
QUARTERFINALS — Brown, 3.811, 322.65 def. Grubnic, 3.844, 313.58; Lucas, 3.858, 311.20 def. McClenathan, 6.460, 96.69; Kalitta, 3.900, 306.81 def. Litton, 4.620, 163.75; Schumacher, 3.821, 322.96 def. alBalooshi, 3.826, 322.65;
SEMIFINALS – Lucas, 3.812, 323.19 def. Schumacher, 3.819, 322.42; Brown, 3.812, 320.05 def. Kalitta, 3.828, 321.96;
FINAL — Lucas, 3.818, 316.90 def. Brown, 3.831, 313.80.
ROUND ONE — Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.496, 248.52 def. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 6.175, 151.94; Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 4.045, 313.58 def. Dale Creasy Jr., Chevy Impala, broke; Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.057, 314.09 def. Tony Pedregon, Camry, broke; Johnny Gray, Charger, 4.653, 224.58 def. Jim Head, Toyota Solara, 4.913, 214.69; Ron Capps, Charger, 4.079, 313.88 def. Courtney Force, Mustang, 4.628, 182.18; John Force, Mustang, 14.039, 69.97 def. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, DQ; Mike Neff, Mustang, 4.475, 247.79 def. Robert Hight, Mustang, 4.653, 197.65; Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.097, 308.14 def. Jeff Arend, Camry, 4.109, 309.13;
QUARTERFINALS — Wilkerson, 5.282, 139.53 def. Neff, foul; Hagan, 4.106, 305.70 def. Beckman, 4.278, 233.88; J. Force, 4.120, 307.44 def. C. Pedregon, 4.212, 245.81; Capps, 4.112, 307.79 def. Gray, 4.199, 297.55;
SEMIFINALS — J. Force, 4.135, 308.28 def. Wilkerson, 4.435, 235.80; Capps, 4.105, 303.71 def. Hagan, 4.290, 242.41;
FINAL – Capps, 4.134, 304.05 def. J. Force, 6.633, 116.35.
ROUND ONE — Jason Line, Chevy Camaro, 6.592, 210.18 def. Ronnie Humphrey, Pontiac GXP, 6.622, 209.33; Jeg Coughlin, Dodge Avenger, 6.595, 209.72 def. V. Gaines, Avenger, 6.570, 209.52; Mark Martino, GXP, 6.599, 207.30 def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 12.950, 65.69; Larry Morgan, Ford Mustang, 6.608, 208.78 def. Vincent Nobile, Avenger, 6.584, 209.14; Mike Edwards, GXP, 6.568, 210.01 def. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.615, 208.81; Erica Enders, Chevy Cobalt, 6.542, 210.83 def. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.639, 208.36; Allen Johnson, Avenger, 6.542, 210.60 def. Chris McGaha, Avenger, 6.621, 208.65; Ron Krisher, GXP, 6.590, 209.43 def. Warren Johnson, GXP, 6.593, 209.23;
QUARTERFINALS — Morgan, 6.624, 209.30 def. Martino, DQ; Krisher, 6.583, 209.14 def. Edwards, 6.601, 210.08; A. Johnson, 6.563, 210.44 def. Coughlin, 6.722, 189.42; Enders, 6.545, 210.31 def. Line, 6.595, 210.64;
SEMIFINALS — A. Johnson, 6.569, 209.98 def. Krisher, 6.622, 208.71; Enders, 6.561, 210.28 def. Morgan, 6.637, 208.23;
FINAL – Enders, 6.569, 210.05 def. A. Johnson, 14.495, 58.43.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE:
ROUND ONE — John Hall, Buell, 6.993, 190.35 def. Michael Ray, Buell, 7.013, 188.94; Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.922, 191.27 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 7.013, 187.81; Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.926, 192.14 def. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 7.014, 192.06; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.908, 193.52 def. Shawn Gann, Buell, foul; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.865, 194.27 def. Chip Ellis, Buell, 7.045, 186.61; Michael Phillips, Suzuki, 7.171, 182.48 def. Hector Arana, Buell, foul; Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.894, 192.22 def. Mike Berry, Buell, 6.936, 192.22; LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.927, 192.19 def. Matt Smith, Buell, 6.952, 191.08;
QUARTERFINALS — Hall, 6.999, 189.55 def. Phillips, 7.049, 190.62; Krawiec, 6.876, 194.94 def. Stoffer, 7.000, 191.73; Arana Jr, 6.912, 192.06 def. Tonglet, 7.781, 132.67; Hines, 6.876, 194.69 def. Pollacheck, 7.007, 188.75;
SEMIFINALS — Arana Jr, 6.914, 191.67 def. Hines, 6.911, 193.13; Krawiec, 6.885, 194.49 def. Hall, 7.062, 185.84;
FINAL — Krawiec, 6.896, 192.47 def. Arana Jr, foul.
For all the final round photos click here.
Susan Wade has more on Morgan Lucas’ Top Fuel win here.
Chris Dirato has more on Ron Capps’ Funny Car win and new points lead here.
Susan Wade has more on Eddie Krawiec’s Pro Stock Motorcycle win, and the complete dominance by Harley-Davidson, here.