The 16th annual Toyota NHRA Nationals at the Lasa Vegas Motor Speedway (commonly known as the “Strip”) is the next to last event of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag racing Series season and the fourth of the six events in the final countdown to the championship.
In Top Fuel, Clay Millican drove his Great Clips/Parts-Plus dragster to the top qualifying spot with a track record 3.689 at 327.27 mph blast during the final round of qualifying. It was his second such achievement this season. Unfortunately, he was taken out in the second round of eliminations by JR Todd and his Seal Master Dragster team, who then marched into the final round by taking out Antron Brown in the semi-final round. On the other side of the eliminations ladder, Steven Torrence took out Richie Crampton, Doug Kalitta and #2 qualifier Leah Pritchett and her Pennzoil team. As he defeated Doug Kalitta in the second round, that clinched the season top fuel championship for Antron Brown and his Matco Tools team. In the final, Torrence was able to get away first (0.041 to 0.061) and defeated Todd for the event Top Fuel title with a strong 3.734 at 323.81 mph to 3.762 at 321.96 mph effort.
In Funny Car, Ron Capps and his Napa Dodge team are battling to stay on top of the season points race, over the likes of Tommy Johnson Jr, Jack Beckman and Matt Hagan. With the event’s completion, he heads into the final event in Pomona, needing only to win one round of racing to claim the season title. But, this event belonged to the John Force Racing Team. The 16-time Funny Car Season Champion, John Force qualified third and defeated John Bojec, Chad Head and Matt Hagan in his march into the final round. Force never ran slower than 3.982 seconds. On the other side of the ladder was Force’s daughter, Courtney Force (married to Indy Car driver, Graham Rahal). She qualified eighth, but quickly became the quickest car in elimination, as she turned in 3.88 second runs to take out Alexis DeJoria, Jack Beckman and Ron Capps to move into a final round match up against her famous father. In the “all Force final” Courtney Force took a starting line advantage (0.066 to 0.071) over her father, but the master got around her to take the win with a 3.884 at 327.19 mph to 3.906 at 325.85 mph effort. In the Funny Car category, the highlight reel was in heavy use as three drivers had major on track incidents. Alexis DeJoria’s car suddenly steered into the left side wall during qualifying, just past the finish line, taking her out of competition. Jon Capps (brother of Ron Capps) contacted the left side wall at the end of his final qualifying effort, causing heavy damage to his race car. During eliminations, Cruz Pedregon’s Snap-On Tools Toyota nearly went airborne at about 270 plus mph as he defeated Robert Hight. His wheel standing run was something that almost defied physics. In all three incidents, the drivers were unscathed.
In Pro Stock, Shane Gray took the event title over Drew Skillman with a 6.719 at 204.76 mph effort. In the Pro Stock Motorcycle category, Jerry ‘the Alligator Man’ Savoie shook up the points battle, as he defeated Andrew Hines in the final round with a 6.915 at 194.13 mph effort. Savoie had the dominating motorcycle the entire weekend. As they move on to the final event Hines and Eddie Krawiec are tied, with Savoie trailing by only three points.