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Brown Wins Nitro Shootout As ‘The Big Go’ Gets Going

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, September 6 2015

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Antron Brown pedaled to victory in the Top Fuel portion of the Traxxas Nitro Shootout all-star event Saturday, earning a $100,000 payday during the rain-delayed opening day of competition at the NHRA’s 61st annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals.

The 2012 Top Fuel world champion, Brown took the victory at Lucas Oil Raceway Park at Indianapolis in Brownsburg, Ind., despite having to pedal his Matco Tools dragster down track. Brown covered the 1,000-foot distance in 4.147-seconds at 220.62 mph to defeat Doug Kalitta in the final of the bonus event. En route to his first Shootout win, Brown defeated J.R. Todd and Richie Crampton.

“The main thing is we were able to sneak away with that win,” said Brown, who also won the Pro Stock Motorcycle all-star race at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis in 2000. “When you race a Kalitta car in the final for $100,000, they’ll throw a big run on you. We both didn’t make it down ‘cause we were pressing hard and we knew what was at stake.”

Kalitta, appearing in his first Traxxas Nitro Shootout final, ran 6.588-seconds at 86.46 mph after his DeWalt Tools dragster quit shortly after the hit of the throttle. He defeated Shawn Langdon and fan vote lottery winner Clay Millican en route to the final.

In other qualifying action, Larry Dixon (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Chip Ellis (Pro Stock Motorcycle) raced to provisional leads during the final event of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series regular season. Friday’s time trials were cancelled due to persistent rain.

Dixon was the No. 1 qualifier in Top Fuel at 3.744-seconds and 326.00 mph in his C&J Energy Services dragster. A three-time world champ, Dixon is searching for his second pole of the season and 53rd of his career with two sessions remaining. Dixon is a four-time winner of the U.S. Nats, drag racing’s most prestigious event.

“Other than trying to win the event, points-wise we’d like to try to get back into third place,” said Dixon, addressing his goals for the Labor Day weekend. “We got bumped down last week. It’s worth those points at the end of the year. I’ve lost a championship by two points and you never want to leave any on the table.”

Billy Torrence sits second at 3.771-seconds and 323.58 mph in his Capco Contractors dragster. Billy’s son, Steve, is third after a pass in 3.778-seconds at 326.08 mph in his Capco Contractors dragster.

In Funny Car, Beckman continued his hot summer streak with a 1,000-foot pass in 3.936-seconds at 323.74 mph _ both track records _ to claim the qualifying lead in his Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T. Beckman is on an incredible roll, having reset the national ET record multiple times while winning two of three races during the NHRA’s Western Swing. Beckman, the 2012 world champ from Don Schumacher Racing, is gunning for his fifth pole of the season and fourth in a row.

“We went a 3.91 in testing (at Lucas Oil Raceway Park) last week in way better conditions,” Beckman said. “The delays helped bring the track back into that zone where we could run a mid-3. We had that data with the 3.94 from Sonoma (Raceway) and it went within six-thousandths on that run. When the car becomes that predictable, it becomes a tough combination to beat.”

Robert Hight, the 2009 world champ from arch-rival John Force Racing, drove his Auto Club Chevy Camaro SS to a 3.971-second pass at 322.96 mph that was good for the provisional No. 2 spot. Tommy Johnson Jr., Beckman’s DSR teammate, sits third at 3.976-seconds and 318.32 mph in the Riley Children’s Hospital Dodge Charger R/T.

Anderson claimed the provisional Pro Stock pole with a quarter-mile pass in 6.562-seconds at 210.70 mph in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro, posting those numbers in the final pass of the second session. Anderson, four-time world champ and six-time Indy winner, is going for his second No. 1 starting spot of the season and 77th of his career.

“I’m very happy with the car and the performance so far,” said Anderson, who is looking for his third U.S. Nats pole. “It’s sad we lost last night’s run but today was great. I was second after the first run and first after the second. We’re going in the right direction and that’s why I love Indy.”

Jonathan Gray sits second at 6.567-seconds and 210.05 mph in the Gray Motorsports Chevy Camaro. Local favorite Drew Skillman, a leading contender for the Auto Club Road to the Future Award as NHRA’s top rookie, is third after posting numbers of 6.570-seconds at 210.05 mph in the Ray Skillman Racing Chevy Camaro.

Ellis covered the quarter-mile in 6.862-seconds at 193.63 mph aboard the Junior Pippin Trucking Buell to claim the qualifying lead in Pro Stock Motorcycle. Ellis is looking for his third pole of the season and 16th of his career.

“We’ve been trying to get the clutch straightened out,” said Ellis, whose last victory was recorded in 2008. “We came here and tested last Wednesday. I think we’re starting to get a handle on it. I had all the faith and confidence in my engine builder and team that we can get this job done.”

Four-time/reigning world champion Andrew Hines is second aboard his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson at 6.879-seconds and 193.29 mph. Jerry Savoie is third at 6.896-seconds at 194.35 mph aboard his Savoie’s Alligator Farm Suzuki.

Veteran rider Joe DeSantis was taken for a wild ride when his Suzuki went out of control and crashed near the finish line during his first qualifying attempt. DeSantis was checked and released by NHRA Emergency Services Officials on the scene.

Qualifying is scheduled to wrap-up Sunday with two sessions. In addition, the Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Funny Car will feature rounds at 12:30, 2 and 4:15 p.m.

The winning Funny Car team in an eight-car field will earn $100,000. First-round Shootout pairings: No. 1. Beckman vs. No. 8 Courtney Force; No. 2. Matt Hagan vs. No. 7. Hight; No. 3. Johnson Jr. vs. No. 6 Tim Wilkerson and No. 4 John Force vs. No. 5 Ron Capps.

A special world championship point system is in effect at this event, where drivers in Mello Yello Drag Racing Series categories will earn points based on a point-and-a-half system (150 points to win). A single racer in each category can earn a maximum of 208 points at this event. All other series events offer 100 points to win. Teams also will get 15 points instead of 10 for making a qualifying attempt. Qualifying bonus points will remain at 3-2-1 for the qualifying sessions and the standard 1-8 points will be given for qualifying positions. Drivers who set a national E.T. record will earn 20 points.

The U.S. Nationals is the 18th of 24 events on the schedule and last race in the regular season. Crampton (Top Fuel), Alexis DeJoria (Funny Car), Shane Gray (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) earned Wally trophies last summer.

At the conclusion of this event, the top 10 drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will be locked in to begin the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoffs, leading to 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships. Points will be reset for championship contenders with the leader getting a 30-point edge over No. 2 and the others separated by 10-point increments. The Countdown will start Sept. 18-20 at zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C., near Charlotte.

ESPN and ESPN2 will televise eight hours of coverage of the U.S. Nats. Qualifying and coverage of the Traxxas Nitro Shootout will air on ESPN from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (EDT) Sunday and on ESPN2 from 11 p.m. Sunday to 1:30 a.m. on Monday. Final eliminations will be featured during three hours of coverage on ESPN starting Monday at 4 p.m. (EDT).

Saturday’s provisional qualifying results after the first two of four rounds of time trials for the 61st annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway Park at Indianapolis in Brownsburg, Ind., 18th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Qualifying will continue Sunday for Monday’s final eliminations:

Top Fuel _ 1. Larry Dixon, 3.744-seconds, 326.00 mph; 2. Billy Torrence, 3.771, 323.58; 3. Steve Torrence, 3.778, 326.08; 4. Dave Connolly, 3.793, 323.58; 5. J.R. Todd, 3.795, 323.58; 6. Morgan Lucas, 3.795, 320.13; 7. Brittany Force, 3.798, 319.60; 8. Shawn Langdon, 3.806, 319.29; 9. Tony Schumacher, 3.812, 322.88; 10. Pat Dakin, 3.817, 319.75; 11. Leah Pritchett, 3.840, 320.66; 12. Antron Brown, 3.868, 318.69.

Not Qualified _ 13. Clay Millican, 3.897, 299.26; 14. Khalid alBalooshi, 3.963, 269.67; 15. Richie Crampton, 3.977, 280.78; 16. Chris Karamesines, 4.063, 294.82; 17. T.J. Zizzo, 4.080, 235.64; 18. Kebin Kinsley, 4.756, 157.98; 19. Wayne Newby, 4.804, 148.94; 20. Terry McMillen, 5.983, 116.98; 21. Doug Kalitta, 6.588, 93.14; 22. Luigi Novelli, 9.848, 86.61.

Funny Car _ 1. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 3.936, 323.74; 2. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.971, 322.96; 3. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.976, 318.32; 4. Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 3.978, 322.11; 5. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.998, 319.75; 6. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.000, 314.97; 7. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.017, 305.91; 8. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.064, 308.00; 9. John Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.090, 309.49; 10. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.153, 237.46; 11. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.179, 288.33; 12. John Hale, Charger, 4.196, 306.88.

Not Qualified _ 13. John Bojec, 4.308, 278.17; 14. Courtney Force, 4.848, 162.90; 15. Bob Bode, 5.765, 120.75; 16. Justin Schriefer, 5.910, 116.48; 17. Chad Head, 9.792, 66.26.

Pro Stock _ 1. Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.562, 210.70; 2. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.567, 210.05; 3. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.570, 210.05; 4. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.574, 210.50; 5. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.576, 209.26; 6. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.579, 210.18; 7. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.580, 209.95; 8. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.582, 210.50; 9. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.589, 209.49; 10. Deric Kramer, Dart, 6.602, 208.84; 11. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.605, 209.17; 12. V. Gaines, Dart, 6.620, 209.01.

Not Qualified _ 13. Larry Morgan, 6.622, 209.07; 14. Matt Hartford, 6.628, 207.78; 15. Vincent Nobile, 6.643, 209.07; 16. Alex Laughlin, 6.653, 209.04; 17. Kenny Delco, 6.671, 206.80; 18. Aaron Stanfield, 6.678, 207.46; 19. John Gaydosh Jr., 6.706, 205.16; 20. Wally Stroupe, 6.978, 198.64; 21. Steve Schmidt, 7.603, 134.70.

Pro Stock Motorcycle_1. Chip Ellis, Buell, 6.862, 193.63; 2. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.879, 193.29; 3. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.896, 194.35; 4. Hector Arana Jr., Buell, 6.903, 194.13; 5. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.908, 191.57; 6. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.915, 193.02; 7. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.941, 193.46; 8. Matt Smith, Victory, 6.952, 189.84; 9. Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.958, 191.43; 10. Shawn Gann, Buell, 6.977, 190.24; 11. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.990, 190.92; 12. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.990, 192.30.

Not Qualified _ 13. Chaz Kennedy, 7.004, 190.27; 14. Redell Harris, 7.075, 187.86; 15. Mike Berry, 7.075, 187.11; 16. Scotty Pollacheck, 7.083, 188.33; 17. Angie Smith, 7.144, 187.34; 18. Hector Arana, 7.187, 190.22; 19. Lance Bonham, 7.239, 185.15; 20. Joe DeSantis, 7.429, 154.26.

Final round-by-round results from the fourth annual Traxxas Nitro Shootout during the 61st annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway Park at Indianapolis:

ROUND ONE _ Doug Kalitta, 8.139, 93.14 def. Shawn Langdon, foul; Richie Crampton, 3.977, 280.78 def. Steve Torrence, 4.474, 238.64; Antron Brown, 3.868, 318.69 def. J.R. Todd, 4.462, 188.83; Clay Millican, 3.897, 299.26 def. Tony Schumacher, 3.906, 316.01;

SEMIFINALS _ Kalitta, 3.946, 307.44 def. Millican, 4.067, 270.59; Brown, 3.828, 320.43 def. Crampton, 4.225, 233.56;

FINAL _ Brown, 4.147, 220.62 def. Kalitta, 6.588, 86.46.

Khalid alBalooshi raced to the qualifying lead Saturday in the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series portion of the 61st annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, seventh of 10 events on the schedule.

alBalooshi, the 2011 NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Series world champion, pushed his Precision Turbo and Engine 1969 Chevy Camaro to a leading performance of 5.845-seconds at 246.39.78 mph. alBalooshi, chasing his first Pro Mod win since 2011, is one session away from earning his first pole of the season.

“It is very fun (racing in two categories),” said alBalooshi, who also is competing in Top Fuel in the Don Schumacher Racing entry recently vacated by Spencer Massey. “It is a tough deal between warming up the car here, then going over there to do something with the (Top Fuel) car, but nothing special when I’m on the starting line. It’s OK, but setting up both is a little tough.”

Sidnei Frigo, racing in his first career Pro Mod event, sits second in his Atrivinco Racing/FuelTech Chevy Corvette at 5.851-seconds and 252.71 mph. Michael Biehle II is third at 5.878-seconds and 253.28 mph in his Ford Mustang.

Troy Coughlin, second in the point standing, is fourth while series leader and Gainesville Raceway winner Bob Rahaim has not qualified through three rounds. The fourth and final round of qualifying will be held Sunday morning with the first round of eliminations at 2 p.m. (EDT).

Saturday’s qualifying results after the first three of four rounds of time trials for the 61st annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway Park at Indianapolis in Brownsburg, Ind., the seventh of 10 events in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. Qualifying will continue Sunday for Sunday’s first round of eliminations:

Pro Modified _ 1. Khalid alBalooshi, Chevy Camaro, 5.845, 245.09; 2. Sidnei Frigo, Chevy Corvette, 5.851, 252.71; 3. Michael Biehle, Ford Mustang, 5.878, 253.28; 4. Troy Coughlin, Corvette, 5.885, 252.19; 5. Rickie Smith, Camaro, 5.895, 246.80; 6. Steven Whiteley, Cadillac CTS-V, 5.898, 246.71; 7. Troy Coughlin Jr., Corvette, 5.903, 252.24; 8. Danny Rowe, Corvette, 5.913, 246.48; 9. Rick Snavely, Camaro, 5.930, 256.36; 10. Don Walsh, Camaro, 5.940, 250.74; 11. Mike Knowles, Mustang, 5.940, 237.25; 12. Clint Satterfield, Pontiac Firebird, 5.959, 248.39; 13. Mike Janis, Camaro, 5.962, 242.89; 14. Billy Harper, Dodge Viper, 5.969, 241.02; 15. Steve Matusek, Camaro, 5.976, 245.99; 16. Kevin Fiscus, Mustang, 5.978, 246.44.

Not Qualified _ 17. Chip King, 5.988, 238.81; 18. Jeff Naiser, 5.990, 240.51; 19. Mike Castellana, 5.994, 239.95; 20. Pete Farber, 5.997, 243.94; 21. Harold Martin, 6.002, 241.24; 22. Richie Stevens, 6.002, 240.55; 23. Bob Rahaim, 6.005, 243.90; 24. Jim Whiteley, 6.008, 242.54; 25. Bill Glidden, 6.008, 236.84; 26. Dan Stevenson, 6.012, 242.93; 27. Shane Molinari, 6.028, 246.80; 28. Doug Winters, 6.028, 240.12; 29. Kenny Lang, 6.059, 239.23; 30. Jimmy Widener, 6.077, 233.76; 31. Gerry Capano, 6.119, 234.04; 32. Jim Bell, 6.699, 188.62; 33. Jay Payne, 11.914, 98.89.

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, September 6 2015
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