Good afternoon race fans!
This weekend the NHRA stampeded into Baytown, Texas for the NHRA SpringNationals. This race was extra special because it’s the last at Houston Raceway Park as it’s been sold and the sell out crowd got one heck of a show.
Starting with Top Fuel and on the left side of the ladder, No. 4 qualified Justin Ashley started his day by taking on No. 13 Doug Foley. Justin had the advantage off the line and pretty much never looked back, running a 3.74 to Doug’s 5.07. In the second round he faced the always tough Austin Prock. This should have and would have been a fantastic race between two great young guns in the sport, but Austin went red by (-.006), giving Justin the win immediately. Justin’s semifinal matchup was against the tough Steve Torrence and it was a close one. Justin was better on the tree, (.051) to (.087), and that coupled with a solid a to b run helped Justin and his 3.76 best Steve and his 3.77 putting him and the Phillips Connect/Vita C team into the finals. On the other side of the ladder, No. 2 qualified Brittany Force started her day taking on No. 15 Josh Hart. Josh had problems pretty much immediately, eventually running a 4.92 while Brittany went a to b with a 3.74. In the second round she faced the always tough Shawn Langdon. Shawn had early problems, eventually running a 5.58 while Brittany had another solid, a to b run with a 3.77. Brittany’s semifinal matchup was against Billy Torrence. They had identical reaction times, (.084) and it was a good race, but Brittany’s 3.84 overpowered Billy’s 3.92 putting her and the Monster Energy team into the finals. This final was another example of what we’ve seen all day, cutting a good light can change everything. Brittany was (.041) to Justin’s (.074) and in this close race it made all the difference. At the stripe Brittany was 3.767 at 321.42 to Justin’s 3.763 at 329.58, giving her the hole shot win and the Wally.
In the Funny Car class, on the left side of the ladder No. 8 qualified Matt Hagan started his day with a monster matchup against No. 9 qualified John Force. Overall Matt is 18 – 27 against John. John had the advantage off the line, (.033) to (.056), but Matt quickly drove around him and with a 3.95 to a 4.01, was into the second round. In the second round he faced the always tough Ron Capps. Matt and Ron have raced each other quite a bit, Matt is 32 – 37 against him with the 37 losses being his most against any opponent. Today though he added to the win column. Ron went up in smoke almost immediately, eventually running an 8.01 while Matt went a to b with a 3.93. His semifinal matchup was against the tough JR Todd. JR went up in smoke immediately, eventually running a 10.85 while Matt had a solid, a to b run with a 3.93 putting him and the Dodge Power Brokers team into the finals. On the other side of the ladder, No. 11 qualified Bobby Bode started his day by taking on No. 6 qualified Alexis DeJoria. This was a wild race. Bobby was on a solid run and had this one won, no matter what, but Alexis got out of shape, completely sideways after going up in smoke, and hit the wall. She was alright but the run was DQ’d and Bobby with his 3.95 were into the second round. In the second round he faced Cruz Pedregon, it’s the first time he’s faced Cruz in competition. Cruz did have a slight advantage, (.073) to (.083), but Bobby quickly drove around him with a 3.99 to a 4.03. His semifinal matchup was against Chad Green. This might sound familiar, but Chad had the advantage on the line, (.069) to (.082), but Bobby quickly drove around him and with a 4.03 to a 4.16 put himself and the AR – BEE team into the finals. Now this was a fantastic final. From the beginning they were neck and neck and I want to congratulate Bobby and his team on a great day, but before the end Bobby’s engine became very unhappy resulting in an explosion and flying Funny Car body and in the end it was a 3.98 to a 4.04 (plus explosions) that gave Matt the win and the Wally.
Moving to the PS categories and starting with Pro Stock, on the left side of the ladder No. 1 qualified Camrie Caruso, her first career No. 1, started her day by taking on No. 16 Fernando Cuadra. It was a decent race, but with a 6.60 to a 6.62, she was into the second round. In the second round she faced the tough Bo Butner. Starting line advantages are huge in Pro Stock and Butner had a slight one, (.046) to (.051), but he had immediate tire shake, eventually running a 9.77, while she went 6.62. Her semifinal matchup was the always tough Greg Anderson. This was one of those races that really showed how important a starting line advantage is. Greg was (.040) to Camrie’s (.011) and that helped her greatly. Greg ran a very solid 6.57 to Camrie’s 6.60 but her (.011) on the tree gave her the hole shot putting her and the Powerbuilt Tools team into the finals. On the other side of the ladder No. 2 qualified Erica Enders started her day by taking on No. 15 Cristian Cuadra. This was a really good and really close race but with a 6.57 to a 6.58, Erica was into the second round. In the second round she faced Matt Hartford and this was another close race. Erica had the starting line advantage, (.021) to (.060) and that helped her in the end. Matt ran a 6.58 while Erica ran a 6.59, capturing the hole shot win. Her semifinal matchup was against Kyle Koretsky. This was a good race, but with a 6.59 to a 6.63, Erica and the Melling Performance/Elite team were into the finals. Seeing Camrie and Erica face off in the finals is exciting because we don’t see the all female pairing in Pro Stock a lot but they made it a good race. Erica had the performance on her side and with a 6.56 to a 6.62, grabbed the win and took home the Wally.
In the Pro Stock Motorcycle class, on the left side of the ladder, No. 5 qualified Matt Smith started his day by taking on No. 12 Kelly Clontz. It was a decent race, but with a 6.81 to a 6.96, Matt was into the second round. In the second round he faced Chris Bostick. Chris had the advantage, (.041) to (.074) but drifted out of the groove and with a 6.93 to a 7.05, Matt was into the semifinals. His semifinal matchup was against Karen Stoffer and these two usually have good races, but in this case Karen crossed the centerline, giving Matt the win immediately so with a 6.98 he and the Denso team were into the finals. On the other side of the ladder, No. 2 qualified Steve Johnson started his day by taking on No. 15 Michael Ray. Michael had the starting line advantage, (.024) to (.099) but Steve drove around him quickly running a 6.71 to Michael’s 6.92. Steve ran his first 200 mph pass in qualifying and ran another one here, so congrats to him and his team on hitting that milestone. In the second round he faced Jimmy Underdahl. This was another case of Steve’s opponent having the starting line advantage, (.029) to (.038) but it didn’t matter. He ran the quickest and fastest run of his career, resetting both ends of the track record, with a 6.711 at 201.55 while Jimmy ran a 6.89. His semifinal matchup was against the always tough Eddie Krawiec. This was a really good race, but with a 6.76 to a 6.80, Steve and the Suzuki/Steve Johnson Racing team were into the finals. It’s no secret that Matt Smith and Steve Johnson haven’t been the biggest fans of each other, and they always bring it when they race each other. This was a good race, but with a 6.72 to a 6.81, Steve grabbed the win and took home the Wally.
The next race will be the Circle K NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, April 29th – May 1st in Concord, North Carolina.