Krawiec, Coughlin, Brown, Worsham Earn NHRA Victories at GIR MADISON, Ill. -- Defending NHRA Full Throttle Series champions Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) and Jeg Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock) earned wins at Gateway International Raceway this...
Krawiec, Coughlin, Brown, Worsham Earn NHRA Victories at GIR
MADISON, Ill. -- Defending NHRA Full Throttle Series champions Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) and Jeg Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock) earned wins at Gateway International Raceway this weekend at the 13th Annual O'Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals Presented by Castrol. In the Nitro classes, Antron Brown defeated Brandon Bernstein (Top Fuel) and Del Worsham took the victory over three-time GIR Funny Car winner Ron Capps.
In a replay of the 2007 Funny Car finals here, Worsham faced Capps, the current class points leader, for the win. This time, it was Worsham, racing for Al-Anabi Racing, earning the victory.
The night prior to that '07 victory, Worsham and Capps visited Pop's, a concert venue near the track, joking about meeting in the finals the following day. This year, the duo took advantage of Friday's scheduled being rained out to take in the local sites.
"We hung out Friday night. We had a great time," he said. "We were out drinking waters, hanging out at one of your local establishments. What a cool town this is! I love St. Louis; I love everything you guys have to offer here."
The win, Worsham's 23rd, was earned via a .04 second holeshot over Capps, thanks to a reaction time of .044. Although he ran a slower ET than Capps, the weekend's Funny Car top qualifier, he had a faster top speed, 302.48 mph, compared to Capps' 301.33 mph.
Worsham said he and his teammates expected to do well immediately this season despite being a brand-new team. "This team was assembled to do well and to win and to win races and, hopefully, championships," he said. "I definitely just want to hold up my end of this deal."
Worsham beat Jerry Toliver, defending event winner Tim Wilkerson, and two-time Funny Car champion Tony Pedregon to get to the finals. Worsham moves up to second in the class points while Capps continues to lead.
Brandon Bernstein came into this weekend as a fan favorite, celebrating 30 years of Anhueser-Busch sponsorship with Kenny Bernstein Racing. Qualifying ninth, he topped Clay Millican, the weekend's Top Fuel top qualifier Morgan Lucas, and rookie Spencer Massey to get to his third final of the season. Unfortunately for Bernstein, Brown had a very fast rail, earning both low ET (3.850) and top speed (318.02 mph) of the day en route to his second win of the season and his fourth Top Fuel win overall.
"That was a phenomenal race," Brown said. "You have to go out there on top of your game and (Bernstein crew chief) Rob (Flynn) won this race last year with "Hot" Rod (Fuller) and he knows what this track and take and hold.
"I knew it was a close drag race and when I saw when my win light came on, I was like 'Unbelievable!' When they told me I went 318, I said 'Get out of here!' It was a tremendous final round."
To get to the event finals, Brown defeated Doug Kalitta, Cory McClenathan, and rookie Shawn Langdon. Both wins this season have been at Bernstein's expense and with Sunday's victory, Brown takes over the points lead from Tony Schumacher, who lost to Langdon in the second round.
In Pro Stock action, four-time and defending champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. earned his 44th career Wally in that class over former PS champ Jason Line. Coughlin took his ticket to GIR's Winner's Circle relatively easy with Line earning a red light foul after leaving the line .002 seconds early. Sunday's victory is his third in five final rounds this year and increases his points lead over Line.
Coughlin was quick to credit his team for his 2009 successes.
"There's no question the team has really gelled together over the last two seasons winning both Countdown to One championships," he said. "Coming into this year, we had one more goal in mind and that was to accumulate a few more round wins through the regular season and try to challenge for more race wins. That's exactly what we've done."
Coughlin, who also won at Gateway in 2002, went past Johnny Gray, the weekend's top qualifier Greg Stanfield, and former Pro Stock champion and GIR winner Greg Anderson, to make it to the finals.
Eddie Krawiec, the 2008 Pro Stock Motorcycle champion who, until two weeks ago in Atlanta, had never won a National event, took his second Wally in a row with the win this weekend. A .009 reaction time helped Krawiec take the win, as did a 6.947 ET.
"To come out here and get my second win, it's a pretty cool opportunity that the Vance and Hines Screamin' Eagle has given me," he said. "It's tough going out there getting your first win. Everyone said to me, 'Once you get your first win, the rest will come easy.' I didn't think it was going to come this easy, but I'll take it!"
With the victory, Krawiec takes the points lead from Matt Smith, who lost in the second round against Treble on a holeshot. Krawiec defeated Bailey Whittaker, Shawn Gann, and Angie McBride to meet Treble in the finals.
Two records were broken over the course of the weekend at Gateway: Stanfield broke the track speed record with a qualifying pass of 210.37 and 2008 PSM winner Andrew Hines broke the national ET mark with a time of 6.860.