Johnson Jr., Brown, Nobile, Krawiec grab wins in Maple Grove
Tommy Johnson Jr. raced to Funny Car victory at the Dodge NHRA Nationals as Antron Brown, Vincent Nobile and Eddie Krawiec were also victorious in the third of six races in the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship.
Tommy Johnson Jr. powered his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T to a 3.895-second pass at 330.63mph in the final round to defeat teammate and points leader Ron Capps’ 3.911 at 324.12 in the NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T. Johnson Jr., 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 points. Johnson beat Cruz Pedregon, Mike Smith and Jack Beckman en route to his fifth final round of the season.
“You want to have a strong start in the Countdown; we knew that going into it,” said Johnson Jr. “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.”
Jack Beckman is third in points and is followed by Hagan in fourth, reigning world champ Del Worsham in fifth and 16-time Funny Car world champ John Force in sixth.
Antron Brown raced his Matco Tools dragster to a 3.721 at 317.34 to beat Brittany Force’s 3.721 at 324.67 in her Monster Energy dragster. Brown had a better reaction time and thus won on a holeshot. The defending and two-time champion tallied his 60th career win, sixth of the season and second consecutive at Maple Grove.
Brown, who held on to his first-place standing in Top Fuel with the win raced past Sonoma winner J.R. Todd, Clay Millican and Shawn Langdon in the earlier rounds. Doug Kalitta in second place trails Brown by 77 points, while Force is third, Langdon fourth and eight-time champion Tony Schumacher is fifth.
“St. Louis didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to, and there’s still plenty of time left in this championship race,” said Brown, who was knocked out in the first round last weekend. “There’s three more races left and we’re going to have to fight hard. Ain’t nobody going to give you the championship.”
Force, who won in Gainesville, Fla., and Brainerd, Minn., outlasted Larry Dixon, who was making his first appearance of the season, three-time 2016 winner Doug Kalitta and Phoenix winner Leah Pritchett en route to the final round.
Vincent Nobile earned his first victory of 2016 by posting a 6.575 at 209.85 in his Mountain View Tire Chevy Camaro to defeat seven-time 2016 event winner Greg Anderson’s 6.582 at 210.37 in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro.
Nobile ended a 56-race drought with the 10th victory of his career and moved to third in the Pro Stock points standings behind Jason Line and Anderson, respectively. He beat 2015 top rookie Drew Skillman, Erica Enders and Shane Gray before meeting Anderson in the final.
“It was a big day for Mountain View Racing and NAPA Auto Parts,” said Nobile. “We got the Chevrolet in the winner’s circle, and I’m semi-speechless. We turned it around right at the right time.”
Referring to PS switch from carburetors to fuel injection this year, he added: “At the beginning of the year we were like, ‘Give us our carburetors back.’ It certainly was a pain in the butt, not necessarily for me as a driver but for the crew chiefs and the guys working on the car.”
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE
Krawiec rode his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson to a 6.818 at 193.88 to outlast rookie Cory Reed’s 6.958 at 186.43 on his Precision Service Equipment / Star Racing Buell in the final round. This is Krawiec’s 35th career victory, fourth of 2016 and fourth at Maple Grove Raceway.
The three-time champion moved from fifth to second in the points standings behind teammate Andrew Hines.
“My main goal this weekend was to win,” Krawiec said. “If you win races in the Countdown, you’re going to be fighting for the championship when you get to Pomona.
“When you draw Angelle [Sampey] and Chip Ellis in Round 1, you don’t say, ‘Well, this should be easy. This should be no problem this weekend.’ I was on a mission first round because I knew if I went past first round I could keep the momentum and keep it rolling.”
Sampey is third in points, followed by Ellis and Jerry Savoie.
Final finish order at 32nd annual Dodge NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway
TOP FUEL: 1. Antron Brown; 2. Brittany Force; 3. Leah Pritchett; 4. Shawn Langdon; 5. Clay Millican; 6. Dom Lagana; 7. Steve Torrence; 8. Doug Kalitta; 9. Tony Schumacher; 10. J.R. Todd; 11. Larry Dixon; 12. Richie Crampton; 13. Smax Smith; 14. Ike Maier; 15. Shawn Reed; 16. Scott Palmer.
Final: Antron Brown, 3.721 seconds, 317.34 mph def. Brittany Force, 3.721 seconds, 324.67 mph.
FUNNY CAR: 1. Tommy Johnson Jr.; 2. Ron Capps; 3. Matt Hagan; 4. Jack Beckman; 5. Del Worsham; 6. John Bojec; 7. Mike Smith; 8. Tim Wilkerson; 9. Cruz Pedregon; 10. Chad Head; 11. Alexis DeJoria; 12. Courtney Force; 13. John Force; 14. Robert Hight; 15. John Hale; 16. Jim Campbell.
Final: Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 3.895, 330.63 def. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.911, 324.12.
PRO STOCK: 1. Vincent Nobile; 2. Greg Anderson; 3. Jason Line; 4. Shane Gray; 5. Erica Enders; 6. John Gaydosh Jr; 7. Alan Prusiensky; 8. Chris McGaha; 9. Alex Laughlin; 10. Jeg Coughlin; 11. Bo Butner; 12. Kenny Delco; 13. Matt Hartford; 14. Drew Skillman; 15. Allen Johnson; 16. Val Smeland.
Final: Vincent Nobile, Chevy Camaro, 6.575, 209.85 def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.582, 210.37.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Eddie Krawiec; 2. Cory Reed; 3. LE Tonglet; 4. Andrew Hines; 5. Hector Arana; 6. Jerry Savoie; 7. Karen Stoffer; 8. Matt Smith; 9. Hector Arana Jr; 10. Angelle Sampey; 11. Angie Smith; 12. Melissa Surber; 13. John Hall; 14. Joey Gladstone; 15. Scotty Pollacheck; 16. Chip Ellis.
Final: Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.818, 193.88 def. Cory Reed, Buell, 6.958, 186.43.
Point standings after 21 of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series
TOP FUEL: 1. Antron Brown, 2,377; 2. Doug Kalitta, 2,300; 3. Brittany Force, 2,259; 4. Shawn Langdon, 2,258; 5. Tony Schumacher, 2,236; 6. Steve Torrence, 2,214; 7. Leah Pritchett, 2,188; 8. J.R. Todd, 2,183; 9. Richie Crampton, 2,159; 10. Clay Millican, 2,136.
FUNNY CAR: 1. Ron Capps, 2,368; 2. Tommy Johnson Jr., 2,344; 3. Jack Beckman, 2,275; 4. Matt Hagan, 2,258; 5. Del Worsham, 2,246; 6. John Force, 2,230; 7. Tim Wilkerson, 2,196; 8. Robert Hight, 2,193; 9. Courtney Force, 2,182; 10. Alexis DeJoria, 2,099.
PRO STOCK: 1. Jason Line, 2,389; 2. Greg Anderson, 2,344; 3. Vincent Nobile, 2,306; 4. Bo Butner, 2,256; 5. Shane Gray, 2,242; 6. Chris McGaha, 2,189; 7. Allen Johnson, 2,160; 8. Drew Skillman, 2,157; 9. Jeg Coughlin, 2,115; 10. Erica Enders, 2,104.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Andrew Hines, 2,341; 2. Eddie Krawiec, 2,303; 3. Angelle Sampey, 2,289; 4. Chip Ellis, 2,274; 5. Jerry Savoie, 2,271; 6. LE Tonglet, 2,215; 7. Cory Reed, 2,196; 8. Hector Arana, 2,159; 9. Matt Smith, 2,150; 10. Hector Arana Jr, 2,149.
Pritchett, Hagan, Nobile and Hines race to No. 1 qualifiers on Saturday at Dodge NHRA Nationals
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