Compiled by SEMA Editors
JOHNSON, BROWN, NOBILE AND KRAWIEC TAKE READING WINS: Tommy Johnson Jr. raced to the Funny Car victory at the Dodge NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway last Sunday. Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Vincent Nobile (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were also victorious in their respective categories at the 21st event of 24 on the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule. The Dodge NHRA Nationals is the third race of the six-race NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs. Johnson powered his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T to a 3.895-second pass at 330.63 mph in the final round to defeat teammate and points leader Ron Capps’ 3.911 at 324.12 at the controls of his Napa Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T. Johnson, who has raced to the final round in all three NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship events, claimed his 14th career victory, second of the season, and first at Maple Grove Raceway. He is second in the points trailing Capps by only 24.
“You want to have a strong start in the Countdown; we knew that going into it,” said Johnson, who was runner-up at this event in 2014. “We went from seventh to fourth in Charlotte—a runner-up is good—then we went to St. Louis and got another runner-up and went to second, and I said I’d be happy with four more runner-ups, but when you look in the other lane and it’s Capps, who’s leading the points, it’s a must-win. You’ve got to gain some ground.”
DEJORIA HOPES FOR BIG FINISH AT AAA TEXAS NHRA FALLNATIONALS: The 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season has not gone as planned for Alexis DeJoria. But while her first world championship may not happen this season, DeJoria still has big hopes to finish out her year. DeJoria fractured her pelvis during a crash at Sonoma Raceway in late July, forcing her to miss a pair of races. She narrowly made the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship but has struggled as of late, falling in the first round at the past three races. It’s kept her 10th in points but the chance for a big finish is still there in her 10,000hp Tequila Patron Toyota Camry, starting at the 31st annual AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals at the Texas Motorplex, October 13–16.
“We triumph in the face of adversity,” DeJoria said. “Certain things can make or break a team. We’re a strong team and we've proven that time and time again. Obviously the door is pretty much closed for the championship, but we definitely can move up spots and races. There are still races left to win.”
Richie Crampton (Top Fuel), Del Worsham (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Jerry Savoie (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were winners of last year’s event that will air on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) for the first time. On October 16, FS1 will televise three hours of live finals coverage starting at 2:00 p.m. (EDT).
NHRA CAROLINA NATIONALS SPORTSMAN CHAMPION HIGHLIGHTS: Doug Doll Jr. all but wrapped up the 2016 Comp national championship when he drove to victory at the NHRA Carolina Nationals—his third national event win of the season. Doll’s win highlighted competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series at the event, which awarded Wallys to drivers in nine classes, ranging from Top Alcohol Dragster to Top Sportsman.
He Said, She Said
“We had some lucky breaks go our way in some different rounds but we kept our heads down and we kept fighting the whole way. That is what we do. We just fight. St. Louis didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to, and there’s still plenty of time left in this championship race. There’s three more races left and we’re going to have to get in that groove and fight hard. Ain’t nobody going to give you the championship. The competition is at an all-time high but I’m really enjoying racing in this kind of competition.”
—Top Fuel racer Antron Brown after winning his sixth race of 2016 in his 10th final round appearance of the season. Brown leads the Top Fuel category by 77 points over Doug Kalitta.
Inside the Numbers
10: Number of career wins Pro Stock racer Vincent Nobile has after his most recent win in Reading. It was his first win in over two seasons with his last victory coming at Chicago in 2014. He was the No. 1 qualifier at the event and defeated Drew Skillman, Erica Enders, Shane Gray and Greg Anderson during the day. Nobile is third in Pro Stock points, 83 behind category leader Anderson.
“We made a bunch of big gains this year, and we are still in it to win it,” said Nobile. “Our main goal is to hold up that big trophy at the end of the year. If we didn’t win this race I think we might have counted ourselves out but here we are and I can’t wait for Dallas.”
Did You Know
FORCE LEADS FUNNY CAR WINS AT TEXAS MOTORPLEX: Funny Car racer and 16-time world champion John Force has seven career victories at the Texas Motorplex, his last coming in 2005. The track was also the site of the crash he had in 2007 when he and Kenny Bernstein made contact at the finish line. Force won the opening Countdown race in Charlotte but suffered a second-round loss in St. Louis and a first-round defeat in Reading. He is sixth in points and trails Ron Capps the current points leader by 138 points. Force needs to rebound at the track to win his next championship and having past success in the Lone Star state will help the team rejoin the battle.
“Now we have to turn that corner. We came out and won at Charlotte, the opening race of the Countdown. I thought we were going to be okay. Things were high but got picked off at St. Louis and got picked off in Reading,” said Force. “I’m not happy, but I don’t panic. I’m going to listen to my crew chiefs and they are going to lead me down this road.”