The TRAXXAS Nitro Shootout for Top Fuel and Funny Car is literally a ‘race within a race.’ Each year at Indy, this special event is hosted that pits the best eight Top Fuel cars against each other for bragging rights and a $100,000 cash purse in a highly competitive battle run during qualifying on Saturday and Sunday.
Funny Car features the same battle, held on Sunday. To qualify for this special event, drivers in Top Fuel and Funny Car compete for access, starting at the season opening Winter Nationals in Pomona, California. Entry is gained by winning a nationals event or by the total number of championship points earned before the US Nationals in Indy over the Labor Day weekend. The first seven drivers to collect a Top Fuel or Funny Car national event win are qualified. The eighth and final spot in both Top Fuel and Funny Car is determined by a combination fan vote and random lottery. The more fan votes a driver receives, the more ping-pong balls they have in the lottery. If only six drivers score event wins, the non-event winning driver with the most points is the seventh seed in the eliminations ladder. The “fan vote” driver is the eighth seed. The remaining seeding is determined by number of wins and then points. If a driver wins the shootout and the US Nationals, they receive a double up cash bonus.
In Top Fuel, Antron Brown was the top seed with his Matco Tools/Toyota/US Army dragster. Terry McMillen and his Amalie Oil team was the number eight seed, fan vote/lottery winner. McMillen was able to pull off the big opening round upset, by taking out Brown by a narrow margin 0.024 seconds. McMillen ran 3.774 at 318.69 mph to advance over Brown’s 3.808 at 312.42 mph effort. But, the big winner was Steve Torrence and his Capco Construction team dragster, as he advanced from the number two positon into the final round for the trophy, cash and bragging rights against Tony “the Sarge” Schumacher and the US Army dragster. Torrence left first (0.048 to 0.061) and drove away to victory, 3.673 at 329.50 mph to 3.680 at 330.31 mph.
In Funny Car, Ron Capps and his Napa Dodge team were the top seed and the ever popular Courtney Force and her Advanced Auto Parts/Chevrolet team were the number eight seed. Ron Capps beat Courtney Force in the opening round and then was taken out in the semi-final round by Fast Jack Beckman and the Infinite Heroes team. Capps literally went out with a “bang” as his Napa Dodge exploded an engine, allowing Beckman to power by into the final round. On the other side of the ladder was Robert Hight and his AAA of California Chevrolet Team, the quickest and fastest Funny Car on the planet. Hight marched into the final round match up with Beckman with consistently quick and fast (336 plus mph) runs. But, wins are not determined on paper, but on the track. It takes driver skill, a good race team and car and sometimes a little racer’s luck to close the deal and Beckman had all three. Hight left first and was pulling away, until his car lost traction at around half track, allowing Beckman to charge by for the win and $100,000 payout, with a 3.952 at 324.67 mph effort.
Qualifying for the Chevrolet Performance/NHRA US Nationals closes with Clay Millican and his Parts Plus/Great Clips dragster leading Top Fuel with a track record 3.663 at 329.10 mph effort. Matt Hagan leads Funny Car with a blistering 3.779 at 338.77 mph effort. Gregg and his Summit Chevy Team leads the Pro Stock field with a 6.561 at 210.11 mph effort. The Harley of Eddie Krawiec (6.822 at 196.70 mph) and Andrew Hines (6.825 at196.02mph) lead the way in Pro Stock Motorcycle. The final event of the weekend was run after press time for The Leader.