Compiled by SEMA Editors
BROWN, WILKERSON, LINE AND ARANA COLLECT ATLANTA VICTORIES: Antron Brown raced to his second win of the season in Atlanta to become the first driver to win multiple races this season in Top Fuel. Tim Wilkerson (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Sr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were winners at the seventh of 24 events in the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Brown pushed his Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster to a final-round performance of 3.887 at 310.48 mph to defeat Leah Pritchett’s 4.202 at 260.41 in her Dote Racing/Gumout dragster. Brown has 49 career wins and four at Atlanta Dragway, tying Larry Dixon for most in the category.
"It wasn’t just a good day but a good weekend," Brown said. "We’ve been aiming to start off with a good qualifying run. The first run out of the box on Sunday set the tone for the whole weekend. We started getting data in hot, cool and middle track temperatures when we tested in Indy. You have to make some swings with the combination we run now. (Crew chiefs) Brian Corradi, Mark Oswald and all the Matco boys have been putting the work in together. It definitely showed this weekend."
TOP FUEL'S MASSEY WELCOMES BUSY STRETCH CONTINUING WITH NHRA KANSAS NATIONALS: With the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series regular season just starting a seven-race stretch over the next nine weeks, things are about to hit a frenetic pace for all of the NHRA stars. That is most definitely a good thing in the eyes of Top Fuel standout Spencer Massey. Taking on the mindset of the more racing the better, that approach has often brought out the best in Massey and his 10,000hp Red Fuel dragster. Currently third in points, Massey is eager for the first back-to-back race stretch of 2015 at this weekend’s 27th annual NHRA Kansas Nationals. Massey won’t be able to claim consecutive victories in Atlanta and Topeka like he did a year ago, but his team does have plenty of confidence heading back to Topeka as the defending event winner.
"Last year when we won Atlanta, we blew up the car in the final round, and the guys had to drive straight back to the shop and totally rebuild the car," Massey said. "We’ve been there, and we know what to expect, and that makes it that much sweeter when you can pull it off. To do that and then win Topeka, that was awesome. It tells me we can conquer any situation, and that gives your team a lot of confidence."
Courtney Force (Funny Car) and Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) were also last year’s winners of the event that will be televised nationally on ESPN2. It is the eighth of 24 races in 2015, and with a third of the season in the books, things will start to move considerably faster as far as the regular season is concerned.
LINE WINS WIRE TO WIRE IN ATLANTA: Jason Line had a near perfect weekend at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals, where he secured his 37th Pro Stock victory when he defeated his teammate Greg Anderson in the final—their 24th such meeting. It marked the sixth time that Line won from the No. 1 qualifying position; the last time was in 2011 in Reading. With the win, his second at Atlanta Dragway, he took over the points lead from Erica Enders.
"Today was a great day for Summit Racing, and it was also a great day for KB Racing," said Line. "It's the way you picture it, the way you dream of it happening. It usually doesn't end up that way, but today it did. It was a phenomenal day. There have been plenty of times when I've done a really good job and had a great car but lost, and today was different—I got a little bit lucky. I was fast in qualifying, but today I wasn't fast. Today I had some good fortune. Greg was really fast and had the car to beat, and he was driving better than anyone else out here. He should have won, but this time I was the lucky guy."
He Said, She Said
"It was an incredible run through the Top Fuel field today [Sunday]. I even got my husband, Gary [a crew member on Steve Torrence’s Top Fuel team], to help me before the final round. Gary helped me pack the parachute and mix the fuel today. Everything worked well for the Dote Racing team and the Gumout dragster. We tried to stay with [Antron Brown] but we hazed the rear tires at the 330-ft. mark. Overall, it was a great showing with a little one-car team against the big squads. It was a tricky track with the final round having a 126-degree track temperature. But everything worked well up until that point of the day. You needed a hot-track setup here, and you might in Topeka next week, too. I’m anxious to get the Gumout dragster back at the track after this weekend."
—Top Fuel racer Leah Pritchett on advancing to her first Top Fuel final in Atlanta. Pritchett qualified third going into eliminations, a career best. She defeated Chris Karamesines, J.R. Todd and Larry Dixon en route to facing Brown in the championship round. Brown bested Pritchett with a run of 3.887 seconds at 310.48 mph to the trailing run of 4.202 at 260.41.
Inside the Numbers
86: Number of races since the last victory by Atlanta Funny Car winner, Tim Wilkerson, dating back to the Seattle event of 2011. It was also his first final round since the Bristol, Tennessee, event in 2014. With the win, Wilkerson became the fifth Funny Car racer to qualify for the NHRA Traxxas Nitro Shootout held at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. In Atlanta, Wilkerson defeated Del Worsham, Jack Beckman, John Force and Ron Capps for the victory. This was the first win for the team since Richard Hartman began assisting with the tuning duties.
"He’s a really laid-back guy who doesn’t step on my toes or ask me what I do, ever," said Wilkerson. "We’re just trying to get a good rapport together. He’s just terrific. He’s a terrific asset and does whatever I ask. It takes a lot of pressure off me with him working with the young guys on the crew. I never knew that Richard had never won a national event before today. He gave me a big hug at the other end and said, ‘Man, I love you. I never thought I was going to win one of these races.’ I told him he’s a big part of it. There were tears running down both our cheeks. It was a cool day."
Did You Know
TOPEKA HAS HISTORIC TIES TO C. FORCE: Courtney Force has already achieved a great deal in her young Funny Car career and seems headed on an impressive track that will include plenty of noteworthy accomplishments. But the popular Funny Car star may have a tough time topping what happened a year ago at Heartland Park Topeka. Force picked up her biggest victory in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series in Topeka last season when she won the 100th race by a female driver. The thrilling moment was one of many highlights during Force’s strong 2014 season and one that will certainly be on her mind when she returns to Heartland Park Topeka in her Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro on Memorial Day weekend.
"It's exciting the memories I will always have when looking back at the 2014 Topeka race," Force said. "It was a special weekend because my sister Brittany and I were No. 1 qualifiers in each of our fields, and I went on to get my fourth career win. Not only was it special for us, but also it was a big weekend for the women in our sport. Getting that win marked the 100th win for women in the NHRA [Mello Yello Series] and that Wally [trophy] will always be special to me. I loved all the excitement it brought to the fans and drivers. It was a monumental win for the women, and it really shows how far our sport has come and how competitive these women really are."
View the complete 2015 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.