The 16th annual NHRA Summit Nationals featured several upsets and close racing in all three of the professional categories.
In Top Fuel Larry Dixon, who qualified 15th, struck the first blow by taking out Tony Schumacher, the #2 qualifier, in the opening round. Dixon left first (0.062 to 0.074) and took the win light with a strong 3.795 at 318.09 mph to 3.828 at319.29 mph. Brittany Force, who qualified #7, was next to fall to 10th qualifier, Clay Milligan in his Great Clips/Parts Plus dragster. Milligan got away first (0.078 to 0.083) taking the win, 3.815 at 315.12 mph to 3.846 at 323.66 mph. Doug Kalitta in the MAC Tools dragster qualified 6th and was taken out by the 11th qualified Spencer Massey in the DSR/Red Fuel/Sandvik dragster, 3.796 at 328.78 mph to 3.807 at 322.65 mph, to complete the first round upsets in Top Fuel. After upsetting Schumacher, Dixon advanced to the final round by taking out Milligan and Spencer Massey. Dixon, who two races earlier in Gainesville, experienced a catastrophic accident where his dragster broke in half at over 300 mph, now found himself in the final. Facing Dixon in the final would be Richie Crampton in the Geico/Lucas Oil dragster, who advanced over Troy Buff, Steve Torrence and J.R. Todd in eliminations. In the final, the Vegas heat would play heavily into the outcome as Dixon would lose traction about 300 feet out and watched as Crampton streaked to the win with a 3.902 at 301.33 mph.
In Funny Car, it looked like it was going to be the Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) show, as team DSR held onto the top three qualifying positions. Matt Hagan, Jack Beckman and Tommy Johnson led the way, with Ron Capps in the 7th spot. By the end of the first round, only Hagan and Johnson were left. In a monumental match up, crowd favorite John Force in his JFR/Peak Anti-Freeze Chevrolet Camaro would square up against the reigning Funny Car Champion, Hagan in his DSR/MOPAR Express Lube Dodge Charger. It was a huge John Force Racing (JFR) vs. Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) battle between the two premier teams in the class. Force, who had been struggling all season dusted himself off and knocked out Hagan, as he left first (0.067 to 0.070) and took a very popular 4.158 at 314.17 mph to 4.436 at 296.89 mph win. Force would then advance to the final round by taking out the 2014 event defending champion, Alexis DeJoria in the semi-finals. Robert Hight advanced to a final round matchup with Force by taking out Ron Capps (DSR/Napa Dodge), Cruz Pedregon (Snap-On tools/Toyota) and Tommy Johnson (DSR/Make-a-Wish Dodge). In the final, Hight got away first (0.063 to 0.067), but Force took the win, 4.148 at 312.35 mph to 4.154 at 306.05 mph by a mere 0.0021 seconds. It marked Force’s 142nd career win in Funny Car, the most by any driver in the history of the sport.
In Pro Stock, Erica Enders-Stevens had a chance to do what no one had done since the legendary Bob Glidden did it in 1987 and 1988 at Indianapolis, to “double-up” by winning the K&N Horsepower Challenge and the Event title on the same weekend in back to back years. She utilized consistent performances and superb reaction times to march into the final round for a chance at history. In a monster semi-final round battle against Greg Anderson in his Summit.Com Performance Camaro, she used a near perfect 0.001 reaction time to take the win, 6.673 at 207.24 mph to (a quicker) 6.671 at 208.71 mph. Vincent Nobile marched his way to a final round rematch with Enders-Stevens by getting around Roger Brogdon, Chris McGaha and Allen Johnson, utilizing consistent mid 6.6-second performances and some great reaction times (left ahead of each opponent). In the final both drivers ran the exact same 6.74 elapse times, but Ender-Stevens left first (again) for a 0.024 to 0.040 reaction time advantage (hole-shot) win and a 0.016 second margin of victory. Her “double up” win won her total of $100,000 for the weekend.