The 65th annual Chevrolet Performance NHRA US Nationals – hosted at Indianapolis over the Labor Day weekend – represented the final regular season event, prior to the six-event Countdown to the Championship. The top 10 drivers in each professional category are then locked in for a chance at the NHRA Mello Yello Season Championship.
Doug Kalitta scored his first US Nationals Top Fuel event win, taking out Billy Torrence and the CAPCO Team #2 with his Mac Tools dragster. This was Kalitta’s fourth final round appearance at Indy. He was 0-2 in final round appearances this season, while Torrence was 2-2. Torrence had qualified second while Kalitta qualified eighth. Kalitta eliminated Clay Millican, Brittany Force and Austin Prock getting to the final round. Torrence took out Wayne Newby, Shawn Reed and Antron Brown. In the final, Kalitta got away first (0.058 to 0.062) and held on as both drivers lost traction and had their cars go silent before the finish line, leaving each coasting across. Kalitta won with a 4.144 at 212.43 mph to 4.220 at 206.01 mph performance.
In Funny Car, John Force claimed his fifth career NHRA US Nationals event title, tying him with Ed “the Ace” McCullough for the most Indy wins. It had been 17 years since his last win at Indy. Force’s final round opponent was Fast Jack Beckman, the #1 qualifier in Funny Car. Force qualified third and marched his Peak Industries Chevrolet into the final round, taking out Jonnie Lindberg, Robert Hight and Matt Hagan along the way. Beckman and his Infinite Heroes Dodge team dispatched with Justin Schriefer, Bob Tasca III and J.R. Todd. The final round matchup of two friends of opposing teams represented two of the sport’s fan favorites. At the flash of green, the two drivers left almost together, but Force pulled away to 3.919 at 324.44 mph to 3.940 at 325.92 mph half car length victory. Force now has 151 career event wins, the most by any driver in NHRA history. At the age of 70, Force loves the sport and the fans and drives a race car that accelerates from zero to about 120 mph in about 8/10ths of a second in 60 feet.
Erica Enders looked to be the favorite to win in the Pro Stock category throughout eliminations. She showcased the best reaction times every round, to go along with a strong performing race car. She dispatched with Richard Freeman (her Elite Motorsports team owner), Greg Anderson and Jason Line for a final round match up against teammate Alex Laughlin. She showed no mercy, as she treed him with a 0.007 to (way late) 0.120 reaction time advantage. Then her Pro Stock Chevy Camaro suffered mechanical problems, allowing Laughlin’s Hot Wheels Chevy Camaro to fly by to a 6.648 at 207.43 mph to 6.773 at 206.80 mph win. This was Laughlin’s first career win at the prestigious Indy event.
Jerry Savoie picked the right time to end a year and a half winless streak, as he collected his second career Pro Stock Motorcycle win at the Indy. After qualifying eighth, Savoie dispatched with Ryan Oehler and Joey Gladstone. In the semi-finals he defeated Harley Davidson rider Eddie Krawiec (6.864 at 194.91 to 6.941 at 194.55 mph) for a final round matchup against Harley Davidson rider, Andrew Hines. Savoie then captured the crown with a 6.851 at 195.25 mph run, as Hines’ motorcycle fouled out due to mechanical problems.