Tony Schumacher, Andrew Hines wrap up Top Fuel and Pro Stock Motorcycle championships early.
Erica Enders-Stevens (in photo) became the first woman to win an NHRA Pro Stock world championship title Sunday when she defeated her closest points rival Jason Line in the final round of the Auto Club NHRA Finals.
She raced to her sixth victory of the season when Line fouled at the start in the winner-take-all final-round meeting between the Chevy Camaro drivers at historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. She is the third female to win a world championship in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, joining three-time Top Fuel champion Shirley Muldowney and three-time Pro Stock Motorcycle champ Angelle Sampey.
This season Enders-Stevens led a major charge by female racers in NHRA that resulted in 14 victories by four drivers. She was joined in the winner’s circle during the year by Courtney Force and Alexis DeJoria in Funny Car and Angie Smith in Pro Stock Motorcycle. Brittany Force raced to four runner-up finishes and three No.1 qualifying positions in Top Fuel.
“It’s awesome to be a part of this female movement in NHRA,” Enders-Stevens said. “I think it goes to show what we're capable of and what a great platform NHRA gives all of us girls to climb the ladder and to get to where we want to go.
“To join two of my heroes, Shirley Muldowney and Angelle Sampey, who are both my friends now, as NHRA world champions, is simply unreal. The words of advice I’ve received from those two women means so much to me.”
Enders-Stevens, whose early life as an NHRA Jr. Drag Racing League competitor was the subject of a popular Disney Channel original movie in 2003, began pursuing this goal in 2005 when she made her Pro Stock debut. After advancing to six final rounds in her first eight seasons she broke through with her first victory in 2012 at Chicago. She challenged for the championship the last three seasons, finishing a career-best fourth in 2012.
This season she led the points standings for most of the season and overcame a slow start in the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship by rallying in the last four playoff races to post a pair of semifinal finishes in St. Louis and Reading and closed her championship run with back-to-back victories in Las Vegas and Pomona.
“I was a little kid with a big dream,” Enders-Stevens said. “I started racing junior dragsters and then moved into sportsman racing and moved on up the ranks to the pro level and now 10 years later here I am in Pro Stock. It’s an awesome feeling and I feel so blessed.”
Hagan beats Force for win, title
In other racing, Matt Hagan claimed the Funny Car world championship in dramatic fashion over John Force and also won the season-ending race, while Andrew Hines took the Pro Stock Motorcycle championship by racing to a first-round victory. Morgan Lucas earned the Top Fuel victory and Hector Arana Jr. captured the Pro Stock Motorcycle win.
Hagan claimed his second world championship title in Funny Car when he won his semifinal round over Tommy Johnson Jr. He then put an exclamation point on his title by racing to his fourth victory of the season and 14th of his career by defeating second place finisher John Force in the final round.
Lucas took his second Top Fuel victory of the season and 11th of his career by posting two of the top three-quickest runs in category history to hold off newly-crowned Top Fuel world champion Tony Schumacher in the final round. Schumacher earned a record eighth Top Fuel world championship at the end of qualifying on Saturday.
Hines captured his fourth Pro Stock Motorcycle world championship and first since 2006 when he earned a win in the first round of eliminations. Arana Jr. went on to claim the race victory, taking his second win of the season and ninth of his career by outrunning Hines’ teammate Eddie Krawiec in the final round.
The 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season opens Feb. 5-8 at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona (Calif.).
Final season points standings
POMONA, Calif. -- Point standings (top 10) following the 50th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, the final of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series -
1. Tony Schumacher, 2,594; 2. J.R. Todd, 2,463; 3. Spencer Massey, 2,430; 4. Shawn Langdon, 2,419; 5. Doug Kalitta, 2,407; 6. Steve Torrence, 2,406; 7. Antron Brown, 2,405; 8. Khalid alBalooshi, 2,326; 9. Richie Crampton, 2,299; 10. Brittany Force, 2,249.
1. Matt Hagan, 2,628; 2. John Force, 2,585; 3. Tommy Johnson Jr., 2,442; 4. Courtney Force, 2,421; 5. Robert Hight, 2,414; 6. Del Worsham, 2,393; 7. Alexis DeJoria, 2,382; 8. Ron Capps, 2,375; 9. Tim Wilkerson, 2,310; 10. Cruz Pedregon, 2,244.
1. Erica Enders-Stevens, 2,639; 2. Jason Line, 2,600; 3. Dave Connolly, 2,481; 4. Shane Gray, 2,463; 5. Jeg Coughlin, 2,445; 6. Allen Johnson, 2,403; 7. Jonathan Gray, 2,385; 8. Vincent Nobile, 2,364; 9. V. Gaines, 2,269; 10. Chris McGaha, 2,168.
Pro Stock Motorcycle
1. Andrew Hines, 2,689; 2. Eddie Krawiec, 2,620; 3. Hector Arana Jr, 2,472; 4. Matt Smith, 2,416; 5. Steve Johnson, 2,369; 6. Scotty Pollacheck, 2,350; 7. Hector Arana, 2,319; 8. John Hall, 2,253; 9. Angie Smith, 2,223; 10. Michael Ray, 2,144.