Good Afternoon race fans!
This weekend the NHRA stormed Indianapolis, Indiana for the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA US Nationals, aka the biggest race of the year, the Big Go and my oh my, it did NOT disappoint.
There’s SO much that went on and I have so many things to mention, so let me hit you with some stats real quick. In total, across 19 classes, 942 cars entered into this race, with 83 entered into the Pro categories. That makes this the biggest go we’ve seen. Then, we had 4 specialty races taking place throughout the weekend. The Dodge HEMI Challenge, which I previewed a few days ago was the first to hit the track and Steven Comella was able to grab the win and defend his title. The JEGS All Star race, which takes the best drivers from each division across the country and pits them against one another was full of crazy moments and fantastic races, but in the end it was the Northwest Division (Division 1) that took it home in a record tying 8th team title (cries in Division 6). And finally we had the Top Fuel and Funny Car PepBoys All Star Callout Races. The Top Fuel race was supposed to take place in Gainesville all those months ago, in fact they did the first round, but the weather forced them to finish it here in Indy. The final came down to Brittany Force and Steve Torrence and Steve was victorious, taking home the trophy and the $80,000 prize. On the Funny Car side, that came down to Matt Hagan and Ron Capps, it was an incredibly close race but Ron Capps pulled out the win, taking home that trophy and the $80,000 prize.
Moving onto Top Fuel, before we get to race day, quite a few things happened this weekend. You’ll be seeing Justin Ashley in familiar colors and him, Davis Motorsports and Phillips Connect signed a multi-year extension for PC to continue as Justin’s primary sponsor. One of the biggest things, if not the biggest to happen involves Clay Millican. His current team was bought by Rick Ware Racing which is incredibly exciting. Rick Ware has a huge presence in motorsports. He has Cody Ware in NASCAR, Takuma Sato in IndyCar and the Acura NSX GT3 Evo22 of Aidan Read and Ryan Eversley in IMSA. Rick and Lisa Ware are some of the nicest people in motorsports and them teaming up with Clay Millican could not be a better pairing in my opinion. On Sunday, when qualifying was taking place, Brittany Force went out there and did Brittany Force things. Powered by a David Grubnic tune up, she reset the track record with a 3.64 at 337 mph and was 299 mph in the 1/8 mile which is bonkers.
Now though, we move to race day and it feels so nice to have the US Nationals back to running on Labor Day after taking a few years away from it. This race is extra important for those trying to get into and secure their spots in the Countdown, in all classes, and you want to do the best you can if you’re on the cusp because Indy offers points and a half. In the Top Fuel ranks, everyone that got in was very lucky and very fast as with a 3.758 bump, this is the quickest Top Fuel field we’ve ever seen. On the left side of the ladder, No. 1 qualified Brittany Force started her day by taking on No. 16 Dan Mercier. Brittany had the advantage off the line (.075) to (.098) and never looked back, running a 3.69, while Dan had almost immediate problems and went a 10.46. In the second round she faced Josh Hart. Brittany is 5 – 4 against Josh and 3 – 2 against him in the second round. This time she added to the positive side. Leaving first, just slightly, Brittany had a baby advantage (.048) to (.051) but that helped and though they were evenly matched the entire race, it was Brittany’s 3.69 that bested Josh’s 3.71 and she was moving on. Her semifinal matchup was against the always tough Doug Kalitta. Brittany left first, (.046) to (.061) and never looked back, while Doug encountered almost immediate tire smoke. So with a 3.67 to a 6.51, Brittany and the Monster Energy team were into the finals. On the other side of the ladder, No. 6 qualified Antron Brown started his day by taking on No. 11 Tripp Tatum. This race was SUPER close. Antron had the advantage off the line (.061) to (.074) but they were dead even down the track until the finish, when, with a 3.72 to a 3.73, Antron took the win. In the second round he faced the tough Steve Torrence. Antron left first by a huge margin, (.044) to (.096), but Steve went up in smoke immediately. So with a 3.73 to a 6.41, Antron was moving on. His semifinal matchup was against the tough Justin Ashley. They were pretty even off the starting line and continued to be so down the entirety of the track and with a 3.69 to a 3.71, Antron and the Matco Tools team were into the finals. This final round is what racing dreams are made of, it was so close. Antron had the advantage off the line, (.033) to (.064) and never trailed, though mark by mark, they were pretty much even. In the end with a 3.70 to a 3.71, Antron grabbed the win and the Wally. This is Antron’s 4th US Nationals win.
Moving on to Funny Car, I’m having all the emotions. On the left side of the ladder, No. 1 qualified Ron Capps started his day by taking on No. 16 Dale Creasy Jr. This was a decent race, but with a 3.88 to a 3.98, Ron was moving on. In the second round he faced the tough JR Todd. They were pretty much even off the line, but JR ran into problems at about the 300 foot mark while Ron was cruising, so with a 3.88 to a 4.45, Ron was into the semis. His semifinal matchup was against the always tough John Force. This is their 118th meeting, which is more than any two drivers in the class. John left first, (.028) to (.076) but was up in tire smoke at the hit while Ron went a to b. So with a 3.88 to an 8.99, Ron and the NAPA Auto Parts team were into the finals. On the other side of the ladder, No. 2 qualified Robert Hight started his day by taking on 15 qualified John Smith. John left first, (.076) to (.104), but had a hole out at the hit. So with a 3.89 to a 4.38, Robert was moving on. In the second round he faced the always tough Matt Hagan. This was an incredibly close race from the drop of the tree to the finish. In the end, with a 3.861 to a 3.867, Robert was into the semis. His semifinal matchup was against the tough Bob Tasca III. These two went at it in the Funny Car Callout race, decided to do it again on race day and this was WILD. They both went up in smoke and it became a pedalfest. Robert was able to get it under control better than Bob and with a 5.75 to a 7.47, Robert and the AAA team were into the finals. Ron left first (.038) to (.064) and Robert never had a chance to challenge him as he went up in smoke almost immediately. Ron cruised to his FIRST EVER Indy win with a 3.91 to Robert’s 7.64. Not only did Ron win today, he swept the weekend. Funny Car Callout race win, No. 1 qualifier and a win on race day. I cannot tell you how happy and excited I am for him and the team. He’s been trying for so long to win at Indy and to see it finally happen, is incredible.
Going over to the Pro Stock classes, we start with Pro Stock cars. On the left side of the ladder, No. 1 qualified Greg Anderson started his day by taking on No. 16 Fernando Cuadra. Fernando went red by (-.036) giving Greg the win immediately and he went 6.59. In the second round he faced Troy Coughlin Jr. Troy left first, (.037) to (.057) but by the 330 foot mark Greg had driven around him and with a 6.59 to a 6.63, took the round win. His semifinal matchup was against Fernando Cuadra Jr. Greg left first this time, (.019) to (.030) and never looked back, so with a 6.60 to a 6.68, Greg and the HendrickCars.com team were into the finals. On the other side of the ladder, No. 2 qualified Dallas Glenn started his day by taking on No. 15 Kenny Delco. This race was almost over before it started, Dallas had such a huge advantage off the line (.016) to (.106) and never looked back. Grabbing the round win with a 6.61 to a 6.68. In the second round he faced the always tough Kyle Koretsky. They were pretty even off the line, but Kyle’s car made a move towards the centerline and he pushed in the clutch, so with a 6.61 to a 9.65, Dallas was moving on. His semifinal matchup was against the incredibly tough Erica Enders. This was such a close race. Dallas left first, (.005) to (.021) and that was the advantage he needed as they were almost matching at every increment. In the end that advantage gave Dallas the hole shot, and with a 6.62 to 6.60, Dallas and the RAD Torque Systems team were into the finals. To give you some perspective, he won that race by approximately 8 inches. This final was a battle of the teammates, the KB Racing cars. Dallas went red by (-.002) giving Greg the win immediately and he ran a 6.58. This was a HUGE win for Greg. Not only is it his first win of the season and his seventh US Nationals win, but it’s his 100th career win. He’s been trying all season to get it and to see him not only hit this milestone, but to do it at Indy, is incredible. So huge congrats to him.
And finally we have Pro Stock Motorcycle. On the left side of the ladder, No. 9 Karen Stoffer started her day by taking on No. 8 Joey Gladstone. It was a good race, but in the end, with a 6.91 to a 6.94, Karen was moving on. In the second round she faced Ron Tornow who took out No. 1 qualifier Angelle Sampey in round one in a huge upset. This was a pretty good race. Ron left first, (.011) to (.027) but Karen pretty quickly drove around him and with a 6.91 to a 7.09, was moving on. Her semifinal matchup was against the tough Steve Johnson. Karen left first, (.019) to (.050) and never looked back. Steve did his best to keep even with her, but in the end her 6.92 bested his 6.93, putting her and the Ray Skillman Auto Group/Big St. Charles team into the finals. On the other side of the ladder, No. 2 qualified Matt Smith started his day by taking on No. 15 Scotty Pollacheck. Now, to me and to a lot of other people, broadcasters included, this looked like a very obvious team orders situation. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, it happens in all motorsports, but I think for next time, if this situation arises again, they need to work on making it less obvious. Matt had a good light (.066) but Scotty sat there for a million years before he left (.627) light so with a 6.86 to a 7.03, Matt was moving on. In the second round he faced Hector Arana Jr. Hector went red by (-.072) giving Matt the win immediately and he went 6.85. His semifinal matchup was against the tough Jerry Savoie. This was a good race, but with a 6.89 to a 6.95, Matt and the Denso team were into the finals. This final looked like it was going to be all Karen. She had a huge advantage off the line (.033) to (.081), but her bike started drifting towards the centerline and she had to left off. Matt took the win and the Wally with a 6.87 to an 8.09.
I’m going to be doing a Countdown Special on my podcast, I have a motorsports podcast for those that don’t know, it’s over on Twitch and it’s called The Unlikely Motorsports Duo. And my cohost and I will be talking all things Countdown and what the rest of the season is going to be like. So be sure to join us, this Wednesday, September 7th at 2:15 pm PST!
The next race will be the first race of the Countdown, the Pep Boys NHRA Nationals, September 15th – 18th at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pennsylvania.