U.S. Nats Produce First-Time Winners, Watery Eyes

| , RacinToday.com Monday, September 7 2015
Taking home the hardware from the U.S. Nationals Sunday were Jerry Savoie, Erica Enders, Jack Beckman and Morgan Lucas.

Taking home the hardware from the U.S. Nationals Sunday were Jerry Savoie, Erica Enders, Jack Beckman and Morgan Lucas.


For the second time during this weekend’s U.S. Nationals, wet weather struck Lucas Oil Raceway. Sunday’s moisture at the historic old drag strip did not come in the form of rain, however. Rather it was the result of tears of joy as the first-time winners of The Big Go simply could not contain their emotions as they clutched their valued Wallys.

nhra logoMorgan Lucas, driving an abbreviated schedule this season, won in Top Fuel.

The win is Lucas’ first of the season while running just a six-race partial schedule and the 12th of his Top Fuel career. He defeated Leah Pritchett, teammate Richie Crampton and Brittany Force to reach the finals against Dave Connelly.
Lucas picked up his first U.S. Nationals victory with a final round performance of 3.864 at 319.90 in his Lucas Oil dragster to defeat Dave Connolly.
“It seems like we’ve found so many different ways to lose this season, I woke up this morning just wanting to get past the first round,” said a tearfully emotional Lucas, who ran the quickest pass of the day with his opening round 3.787. “We had a strong run in the first round, but we damaged the engine and (crew chief) Aaron Brooks made a big move to get ready for round two. We both made strong runs and we were able to get a hole-shot win over our teammate.  Then we had to pedal it in the semi-finals and we were really fortunate.  I had to channel my inner-drifter on that one. We went into in the final, aiming for a 3.87 and we ran a 3.86. With all the problems we’ve had this year, I’m just glad we saved this win for here in Indianapolis with my wife and son and in front of both of our families here.”

Connolly was racing in his second Top Fuel final after moving to the category this season after a successful career in Pro Stock. Despite the loss, the driver of the C&J Energy Services dragster was able to claim the final Countdown spot with his runner-up finish.

Defending and eight-time world champ Tony Schumacher will be the No. 1 seed in the playoffs.

 Jack Beckman, who on Saturday won the Nitro Shootout $100,000 bonus captured the Wally in Funny Car.

Erica Enders emerged from an all-Elite Motorsports final to win in Pro Stock.

In Pro Stock Motorcycles, it was veteran Jerry Savoie who got the victory and started the water works.

Beckman defeated three-time Indianapolis winner Robert Hight in the final with a reaction time advantage victory. Beckman ran his Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T to a 4.058-second pass at 310.77 mph while Hight ran a quicker 4.045 at 309.77 in his Auto Club Chevy Camaro SS. Despite running the slower time, Beckman had a superior 0.034 reaction time advantage to Hight’s 0.034 which helped him take the victory. It was his sixth win of the season, 21st of his career and first at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.

In addition to earning a coveted first victory at the tradition-rich event, Beckman also won the $100,000 Traxxas Nitro Shootout all-star race on Sunday and was the event’s No. 1 qualifier. Beckman outran Bob Bode, Ron Capps and Del Worsham to advance to the final.

“It’s hard to enjoy what just happened because you are worn out,” said Beckman, who enters the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s six-race playoffs, as the No. 1 seed. “Yesterday after the Traxxas Shootout I was thrashed. It was a hot day that ended up wonderful. Getting through today was the key. I think surviving this is an effort unto itself. I’ve got to let that trophy sit on the office shelf and stare at it for a while to realize that we actually did it.”

Hight, a three-time Indy winner who was making his sixth U.S. Nationals final round appearance, was the runner-up in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout. Hight, who made his third final of the season and second-in-a-row, will take some momentum into the playoffs as the No. 7 seed.

Enders claimed her first career Indianapolis victory and sixth win of the season in her Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro, defeating teammate Drew Skillman in the final on a holeshot with a 6.611 at 209.75 to Skillman’s quicker, but losing 6.606 at 209.98. Enders now has 18 career victories, which ties her for second on the all-time wins list by women in Mello Yello Series competition with the legendary Shirley Muldowney.

Enders used holeshot starts to win three of her four rounds during the day and she sped past V Gaines, Larry Morgan and Greg Anderson in the first three rounds.

“This is something I’ve dreamt about and worked for my entire life,” said a choked up Enders, who will enter the Countdown as the No. 1 seed for the first time. “I made my first pass at this track in a junior dragster when I was nine in 1994. I’ve had lots of really great memories here. It makes it worth it to be able to do it with the right people.”

Rookie driver Skillman was seeking his first win in Pro Stock after two previous runner-up finishes. Despite the loss, Skillman and his Ray Skillman Racing Chevy Camaro will be ready for the Countdown, where they are the No. 8 seed.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Savoie took home his second victory of the season with a 7.011 at 193.02 on his Savoie’s Alligator Farm Suzuki, beating No. 1 qualifier Chip Ellis who fouled out at the start on his PiranaZ/Pippin Motorsports Buell. The win was Savoie’s third career victory and his first at Indianapolis. He was the runner-up here in 2011 and 2014. He defeated Chaz Kennedy, Steve Johnson and Hector Arana Jr. to advance to the final.

“It’s a great day,” said Savoie, who will enter the Countdown as the No. 4 seed and who barely made it through post-race interviews as he struggled to hold back tears. “The last round was not the way we wanted to win but we held our composure. We had a good day and we’ve been blessed.”

Ellis was the No. 1 qualifier and was looking for his first win of the season. Despite the loss, Ellis was able to move around LE Tonglet and earn a Countdown spot.

Scotty Pollacheck secured the final Countdown spot when three-time world champ Angelle Sampey lost in the semifinals.

This is the second straight year that all four winners were first-time victors of the U.S. Nationals.

The Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s six-race playoffs, will begin in two weeks with the NHRA Carolina Nationals, Sept. 18-20, at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte, N.C. The championship is open to the top 10 in each professional category following the U.S. Nationals.

BROWNSBURG, Ind. — Final finish order (1-16) at the 61st annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway Park at Indianapolis.  The race is the 18th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.


  1. Morgan Lucas; 2.  Dave Connolly; 3.  Shawn Langdon; 4.  Brittany Force; 5.  Antron Brown; 6.  Richie Crampton; 7.  Doug Kalitta; 8.  Billy Torrence; 9.  Khalid alBalooshi; 10.  Leah Pritchett; 11.  Larry Dixon; 12.  Pat Dakin; 13.  J.R. Todd; 14.  T.J. Zizzo; 15.  Tony Schumacher; 16.  Steve Torrence.


  1. Jack Beckman; 2.  Robert Hight; 3.  Del Worsham; 4.  Tommy Johnson Jr.; 5.  John Force; 6.  Courtney Force; 7.  Tim Wilkerson; 8.  Ron Capps; 9.  Alexis DeJoria; 10.  Cruz Pedregon; 11.  John Bojec; 12.  Tony Pedregon; 13.  Matt Hagan; 14.  John Hale; 15.  Bob Bode; 16.  Chad Head.


  1. Erica Enders; 2.  Drew Skillman; 3.  Greg Anderson; 4.  Vincent Nobile; 5.  Larry Morgan; 6.  Shane Gray; 7.  Bo Butner; 8.  Jason Line; 9.  Allen Johnson; 10.  Jeg Coughlin; 11.  Alex Laughlin; 12.  V. Gaines; 13.  Chris McGaha; 14.  Deric Kramer; 15.  Jonathan Gray; 16.  Aaron Stanfield.



  1. Jerry Savoie; 2.  Chip Ellis; 3.  Hector Arana Jr; 4.  Angelle Sampey; 5.  Eddie Krawiec; 6.  Steve Johnson; 7.  Andrew Hines; 8.  Matt Smith; 9.  Karen Stoffer; 10.  LE Tonglet; 11.  Jim Underdahl; 12.  Shawn Gann; 13.  Hector Arana; 14.  Scotty Pollacheck; 15.  Angie Smith; 16.  Chaz Kennedy.

Monday’s final results from the 61st annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway Park at Indianapolis. The race is the 18th of 24 in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:

Top Fuel — Morgan Lucas, 3.864 seconds, 319.90 mph  def. Dave Connolly, 6.235 seconds, 83.47 mph.

Funny Car — Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 4.058, 310.77  def. Robert Hight, Chey Camaro, 4.045, 309.77.

Pro Stock — Erica Enders, Chevy Camaro, 6.611, 209.75  def. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.606, 209.98.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 7.011, 193.02  def. Chip Ellis, Buell, foul.

Pro Modified — Rick Snavely, Chevy Camaro, 5.890, 257.53  def. Mike Janis, Camaro, 5.945, 242.50.

Top Alcohol Dragster — Joey Severance, 5.314, 271.90  def. Cameron Ferre, 12.155, 87.81.

Top Alcohol Funny Car — Andy Bohl, Ford Mustang, 5.621, 258.17  def. Annie Whiteley, Chevy Camaro, 5.638, 262.23.

Competition Eliminator — Greg Kamplain, Dragster, 6.845, 194.02  def. Craig Bourgeois, Dragster, 6.912, 189.39.

Super Stock — Jeff Roell, Ford Mustang, 9.560, 135.54  def. Jimmy DeFrank, Chevy Cobalt, 8.822, 152.19.

Stock Eliminator — Kyle Ratcliff, Pontiac Firebird, 10.608, 120.55  def. Tom Rambo, Chevy Camaro, 11.194, 113.44.

Super Comp — Luke Bogacki, Dragster, 9.265, 129.18  def. Anthony Fetch, Dragster, 10.731, 70.05.

Super Gas — Lee Klingensmith, Ford T, 9.896, 158.33  def. Francis Ross, Chevy Camaro, 9.882, 165.60.

Final round-by-round results from the 61st annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway Park at Indianapolis, the 18th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:


ROUND ONE — Morgan Lucas, 3.787, 323.89 def. Leah Pritchett, 3.816, 320.05; Dave Connolly, 3.820, 324.59 def. Khalid alBalooshi, 3.809, 326.08; Doug Kalitta, 3.808, 317.42 def. Larry Dixon, 3.819, 326.16; Billy Torrence, 3.804, 326.16 def. T.J. Zizzo, 4.001, 255.29; Antron Brown, 3.796, 318.17 def. J.R. Todd, 3.905, 311.34; Richie Crampton, 4.159, 205.51 def. Steve Torrence, 4.666, 201.79; Brittany Force, 3.853, 318.99 def. Pat Dakin, 3.901, 314.17; Shawn Langdon, 3.841, 313.44 def. Tony Schumacher, 4.264, 212.83;

QUARTERFINALS — Langdon, 3.913, 292.33 def. Kalitta, 5.125, 146.24; Force, 4.058, 264.29 def. B. Torrence, 7.422, 58.71; Connolly, 3.828, 323.74 def. Brown, 3.825, 317.72; Lucas, 3.902, 297.42 def. Crampton, 3.899, 302.62;

SEMIFINALS — Lucas, 6.181, 169.08 def. Force, DQ; Connolly, 4.149, 231.36 def. Langdon, 7.063, 95.67;

FINAL — Lucas, 3.864, 319.90 def. Connolly, 6.235, 83.47.


ROUND ONE — Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 4.047, 302.55 def. Bob Bode, Toyota Solara, 5.022, 157.65; Robert Hight, Chey Camaro, 4.078, 315.78 def. John Bojec, Solara, 4.384, 285.41; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.054, 312.42 def. John Hale, Charger, 4.777, 177.32; Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 4.345, 237.46 def. Chad Head, Camry, 6.626, 83.41; Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.270, 259.91 def. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.511, 198.88; Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.064, 316.67 def. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.085, 307.02; John Force, Camaro, 4.079, 316.15 def. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.088, 307.72; Ron Capps, Charger, 4.490, 211.63 def. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.528, 237.34;

QUARTERFINALS — Johnson Jr., 4.093, 309.13 def. C. Force, 4.117, 312.93; Beckman, 4.057, 311.41 def. Capps, 4.516, 219.54; Hight, 4.064, 312.57 def. J. Force, 4.085, 316.52; Worsham, 4.130, 309.56 def. Wilkerson, 4.132, 306.33;

SEMIFINALS — Hight, 4.047, 313.58 def. Johnson Jr., 8.885, 81.08; Beckman, 4.058, 307.72 def. Worsham, 4.189, 299.20;

FINAL — Beckman, 4.058, 310.77 def. Hight, 4.045, 309.77.


ROUND ONE — Bo Butner, Chevy Camaro, 6.650, 209.10 def. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.626, 208.84; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.626, 208.59 def. Deric Kramer, Dodge Dart, 6.665, 208.42; Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.624, 209.69 def. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.641, 209.17; Larry Morgan, Camaro, 6.603, 209.85 def. Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.621, 209.17; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.604, 209.49 def. V. Gaines, Dart, 6.637, 209.10; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.602, 209.85 def. Aaron Stanfield, Dart, DQ; Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.630, 209.59 def. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, foul; Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.605, 209.59 def. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.632, 209.33;

QUARTERFINALS — Nobile, 6.621, 209.30 def. Line, foul; Skillman, 6.619, 209.30 def. S. Gray, 6.614, 209.85; Enders, 6.617, 209.01 def. Morgan, 6.613, 209.52; Anderson, 6.605, 209.39 def. Butner, 6.633, 209.04;

SEMIFINALS — Skillman, 6.619, 209.88 def. Nobile, 6.655, 209.75; Enders, 6.618, 209.39 def. Anderson, 6.591, 210.41;

FINAL — Enders, 6.611, 209.75 def. Skillman, 6.606, 209.98.


ROUND ONE — Chip Ellis, Buell, 6.880, 195.59 def. Angie Smith, foul; Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.877, 194.46 def. Chaz Kennedy, Buell, broke; Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.904, 195.36 def. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, foul; Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.910, 192.99 def. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.911, 194.69; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.916, 193.82 def. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 7.171, 188.33; Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.946, 193.38 def. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.977, 194.83; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.873, 193.96 def. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.919, 195.56; Matt Smith, 6.915, 192.85 def. Shawn Gann, Buell, foul;

QUARTERFINALS — Sampey, 7.000, 190.46 def. M. Smith, 6.960, 190.03; Savoie, 6.896, 194.30 def. Johnson, 6.945, 192.30; Arana Jr, 6.953, 194.07 def. Hines, 6.952, 192.93; Ellis, 6.900, 195.05 def. Krawiec, 6.923, 194.13;

SEMIFINALS — Ellis, 6.877, 196.47 def. Sampey, 7.130, 176.53; Savoie, 6.878, 194.77 def. Arana Jr, 6.963, 195.48;

FINAL — Savoie, 7.011, 193.02 def. Ellis, foul.

Point standings (top 10) following the 61st annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway Park at Indianapolis, the 18th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series –

Top Fuel

  1. Tony Schumacher, 1,398; 2.  Antron Brown, 1,375; 3.  Richie Crampton, 1,172; 4.  Larry Dixon, 1,142; 5.  Brittany Force, 1,051; 6.  Shawn Langdon, 1,045; 7.  Doug Kalitta, 1,032; 8.  J.R. Todd, 978; 9.  Steve Torrence, 931; 10.  Dave Connolly, 894.

Funny Car

  1. Jack Beckman, 1,458; 2.  Matt Hagan, 1,280; 3.  Tommy Johnson Jr., 1,271; 4.  Del Worsham, 1,149; 5.  John Force, 1,143; 6.  Ron Capps, 1,102; 7.  Robert Hight, 1,069; 8.  Tim Wilkerson, 1,022; 9.  Cruz Pedregon, 908; 10.  Alexis DeJoria, 905.

Pro Stock

  1. Erica Enders, 1,563; 2.  Greg Anderson, 1,499; 3.  Chris McGaha, 1,304; 4.  Jason Line, 1,275; 5.  Allen Johnson, 1,060; 6.  Larry Morgan, 1,035; 7.  Shane Gray, 999; 8.  Drew Skillman, 957; 9.  Vincent Nobile, 927; 10.  Jonathan Gray, 909.

Pro Stock Motorcycle

  1. Eddie Krawiec, 901; 2.  Hector Arana Jr, 766; 3.  Andrew Hines, 734; 4.  Jerry Savoie, 663; 5.  Karen Stoffer, 569; 6.  Matt Smith, 544; 7.  Jim Underdahl, 540; 8.  Chip Ellis, 510; 9.  Hector Arana, 497; 10.  Scotty Pollacheck, 454.


| , RacinToday.com Monday, September 7 2015
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