Antron Brown, John Force start Countdown in winning style
Antron Brown scored his fifth Top Fuel win of the year in the NHRA Carolina Nationals at in Concord, N.C., as John Force (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Chip Ellis (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also clocked wins.
Brown claimed his 59th career victory, and fifth of the season, with a 3.763-second pass at 319.29 mph in his dragster to defeat Doug Kalitta and his Mac Tools machine, 3.811 at 320.28. It is Brown’s second consecutive win at the NHRA Carolina Nationals, the opening event of the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship.
“I’m dreaming right now, someone needs to come and pinch me,” Brown said. “This is the way you want to start the Countdown off. Qualifying didn’t go the way we wanted it. We just kept digging. That was the key. The track was the hottest that we have had all year long. We knew it was going to be tricky. We navigated down it and we did what we had to do.”
Before picking up the victory over Kalitta, Brown faced down Clay Millican, Brittany Force, and Pat Dakin, and thus remains on top of the points with Kalitta in second.
Force, a 16-time world champion, powered his PEAK Antifreeze Chevy Camaro Funny Car to a 3.946 at 324.05 pass to defeat No. 1 qualifier Tommy Johnson Jr. and his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T’s 3.987 at 315.71 run. It was Force’s 146th career win, third of the season and second overall at zMAX Dragway and sends him into third in the points standings.
“It’s stadiums like this that really create the magic in your heart and you really want to race,” Force said. “I’ve got a racecar now that I can race with and when I have a racecar and I’m on my game, I ain’t great, but I’m good. But when I’m on my game, I can win.”
On his way to the win, Force defeated Dave Richards, Tim Wilkerson, and points leader Ron Capps. Johnson Jr. raced past Bob Gilbertson, national record holder Matt Hagan and defending champion Del Worsham before facing Force. Despite a semifinal exit, Capps maintains the points lead.
For Line, this is his eighth win of the season. He raced his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro to a winning pass of 6.621sec at 209.39mph to defeat teammate Greg Anderson’s 6.639 at 209.20.
“It was a great day for us,” Line said, “and it’s a great way to start the Countdown. If you want to win the championship you have to come out smoking and somehow we were able to do that today.”
Line, a two-time world champion, powered past Shane Tucker, teammate Bo Butner and Vincent Nobile before defeating Anderson, and the teammates remain P1 and P2 in the points standings.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE
Ellis rode his PiranaZ/Pippin Motorsports Buell to a 6.879 at 194.88 to defeat points leader Andrew Hines and his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley Davidson’s 6.908 at 193.49 in the final. Ellis has seven wins in his PSM career, yet his previous one had come in eight years ago.
“I’m ecstatic with our performance today,” Ellis said. “I did get a couple breaks today against Angelle when her bike broke and LE had some issue or else he probably would have beat us. As a racer, some days you just have a feeling when today’s the day… and today’s the day.”
In the earlier rounds, Ellis defeated Shawn Gann, LE Tonglet and No. 1 qualifier Angelle Sampey to reach the finals. Hines rode past Melissa Surber, Steve Johnson and Jim Underdahl before falling to Ellis. He maintains the points lead and Ellis jumps to the number two spot.
Final finish order at the ninth annual NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMax Dragway
TOP FUEL: 1. Antron Brown; 2. Doug Kalitta; 3. Wayne Newby; 4. Pat Dakin; 5. Brittany Force; 6. Leah Pritchett; 7. Steve Torrence; 8. Cameron Ferre; 9. Shawn Langdon; 10. J.R. Todd; 11. Scott Palmer; 12. Ike Maier; 13. Clay Millican; 14. Tony Schumacher; 15. Richie Crampton; 16. Chris Karamesines.
Final: Antron Brown, 3.763 seconds, 319.29 mph def. Doug Kalitta, 3.811 seconds, 320.28 mph.
FUNNY CAR: 1. John Force; 2. Tommy Johnson Jr.; 3. Del Worsham; 4. Ron Capps; 5. Matt Hagan; 6. Robert Hight; 7. John Bojec; 8. Tim Wilkerson; 9. Courtney Force; 10. Chad Head; 11. Jack Beckman; 12. Dave Richards; 13. Cruz Pedregon; 14. John Hale; 15. Bob Gilbertson; 16. Alexis DeJoria.
Final: John Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.946, 324.05 def. Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 3.987, 315.71.
PRO STOCK: 1. Jason Line; 2. Greg Anderson; 3. Vincent Nobile; 4. Alex Laughlin; 5. Bo Butner; 6. Chris McGaha; 7. Jeg Coughlin; 8. Shane Gray; 9. Curt Steinbach; 10. Allen Johnson; 11. Matt Hartford; 12. Kenny Delco; 13. Shane Tucker; 14. Drew Skillman; 15. John Gaydosh Jr; 16. Alan Prusiensky.
Final: Jason Line, Chevy Camaro, 6.621, 209.39 def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.639, 209.20.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Chip Ellis; 2. Andrew Hines; 3. Jim Underdahl; 4. Angelle Sampey; 5. Steve Johnson; 6. Hector Arana Jr; 7. Karen Stoffer; 8. LE Tonglet; 9. Jerry Savoie; 10. Matt Smith; 11. Eddie Krawiec; 12. Shawn Gann; 13. Cory Reed; 14. Melissa Surber; 15. Mark Paquette; 16. Hector Arana.
Final: Chip Ellis, Buell, 6.879, 194.88 def. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.908, 193.49.
Point standings after 19 of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series
TOP FUEL: 1. Antron Brown, 2,226; 2. Doug Kalitta, 2,184; 3. Steve Torrence, 2,126; 4. Brittany Force, 2,110; 5. Tony Schumacher, 2,099; 6. J.R. Todd, 2,074; 7. Shawn Langdon, 2,067; 8. Leah Pritchett, 2,054; 9. Clay Millican, 2,052; 10. Richie Crampton, 2,046.
FUNNY CAR: 1. Ron Capps, 2,194; 2. Del Worsham, 2,152; 3. John Force, 2,144; 4. Tommy Johnson Jr., 2,132; 5. Matt Hagan, 2,122; 6. Courtney Force, 2,094; 7. Robert Hight, 2,093; 8. Jack Beckman, 2,084; 9. Tim Wilkerson, 2,067; 10. Alexis DeJoria, 2,036.
PRO STOCK: 1. Jason Line, 2,233; 2. Greg Anderson, 2,183; 3. Vincent Nobile, 2,129; 4. Bo Butner, 2,123; 5. Allen Johnson, 2,095; 6. Chris McGaha, 2,082; 7. Shane Gray, 2,081; 8. Drew Skillman, 2,073; 9. Jeg Coughlin, 2,052; 10. Erica Enders, 2,020.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Andrew Hines, 2,205; 2. Chip Ellis, 2,161; 3. Angelle Sampey, 2,156; 4. Eddie Krawiec, 2,120; 5. LE Tonglet, 2,106; 6. Jerry Savoie, 2,099; 7. Hector Arana Jr, 2,083; 8. Hector Arana, 2,052; 9. Matt Smith, 2,042; 10. Cory Reed, 2,032.
Kalitta, Johnson Jr., Anderson and Sampey secure No. 1 qualifiers Saturday at Carolina Nationals
Hight, Crampton, Anderson and Ellis lead qualifying Friday at Midwest Nationals