The 15th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals saw the crowning of the season champions in two of the four professional categories.
In Top Fuel, Antron Brown and his Matco Tools team claimed the second career NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel season championship when his Don Schumacher Racing teammate, Tony Schumacher was defeated in the second round of eliminations by Larry Dixon (3.777 at 326.34 mph to 3.812 at 321.35 mph). Brown was then taken out by Doug Kalitta in the semi-final round of elimination, 3.774 at 322.73 mph to 3.786 at 317.94 mph. In the final round, Kalitta and his Mac Tools “Wrenching for a Cure” team defeated Larry Dixon and his C&J Energy Services team in a wild tire smoking battle. It was Kalitta’s sixth win at the Vegas track and 38th career Top Fuel national event win.
In Funny Car the championship battle was a tight one between Del Worsham and his DHL/Toyota team and the Don Schumacher/Infinite Heroes team of “Fast” Jack Beckman. Tommy Johnson Jr and his Make-A-Wish/Dodge team were also remotely in the mix. In a surprising second round battle, Ron Capps and his Napa/Dodge got away first (0.070 to 0.084) to take out (teammate) Beckman and his Infinite Heroes/Dodge 3.988 at 321.88 mph to 3.988 at 318.47 mph. Then, Robert Hight and his AAA of Southern California/Chevy Camaro took out the points leader, Del Worsham with a 3.983 at 318.92 mph to 3.994 at 319.24 mph effort. Both Johnson and Hight won their respective semi-final round match ups over Ron Capps and Chad Head to advance to the final round. In the final, Johnson got away first (0.049 to 0.086) but lost traction as Hight sped away to 3.955 at 323.97 mph to 8.279 at 85.02mph win. It was his 36th career victory and second of the season. Going into the final event of the season in Pomona, Worsham leads the way by 38 points over Beckman and 97 points over Johnson. There are 150 total points available at each national event (a national elapse time record includes 20 of those points), making it a three-way battle for the NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car season title in Pomona.
In Pro Stock, it was all Erica Enders as she simply dominated the field. She qualified on the pole and never looked back, using fantastic driver reaction times and amazing on track performances that featured the low elapse time of every round, on the way to claiming her second consecutive NHRA Mello Yello Pro Stock season championship. To top it off, she claimed her fourth consecutive national event win at the Las Vegas track, stretching her consecutive round win total to 22 at this track. She capped it off with a 6.595 at 208.97 mph to 6.610 at 209.33 mph final round win over Bo Butner, which included a perfect 0.000 second reaction time.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Andrew Hines took his Vance & Hines Screamin’ Eagle Harley to the winner’s circle, taking out a red-lighting Jerry “the Alligator Man” Savoie in the final round. As they head into the final event of the season, Hines leads Savoie by 46 points (just over two rounds of racing) in the championship battle.
The AAA of Southern California NHRA Finals at Pomona Raceway over the weekend of November 12-15 will close out the season and determine the season champions in Funny Car and Pro Stock Motorcycle.