Exciting Saturday Sets Qualified Fields For NHRA U.S. Nationals

Funny Car pilot Matt Hagan delivered Don Schumacher Racing its 350th career win, beating teammate Jack Beckman in the final round of the rain-delayed Lucas Oil NHRA Summernationals, which was completed during final qualifying of Saturday’s DENSO Spark Plugs U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.

In other racing, rookie Justin Ashley earned his first career Top Fuel win by beating T.J. Zizzo in the final round of the previously postponed Summernationals, while Matt Smith beat Scotty Pollacheck in Saturday’s Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle all-star bonus race to earn the $25,000 prize.

Photos courtesy NHR/National Dragster

Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel), Tommy Johnson Jr. (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Pollacheck (Pro Stock Motorcycle) finished as the No. 1 qualifiers at the U.S. Nationals, the sixth race of the 2020 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.

Hagan picked up his second win this season — both coming since the NHRA’s restart in July – and 35th overall, going 3.919-seconds at 328.54 mph in his 11,000-horsepower Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye in the final round to beat Beckman’s 3.940 at 325.53. It led to an emotional winner’s circle for Hagan, who helped DSR also claim its eighth straight Funny Car win.

“This is amazing and what a huge milestone to get for Don,” Hagan said. “I was probably as nervous as I am running for a championship because you want to get it done for Mopar. This car is running so well and (crew chief) Dickie Venables has put a great car underneath me. I’m just trying to do my job on the starting line. Don has been a big part of my career and to get a Wally on a Saturday, it doesn’t get much better than that.”

In a battle of first-time Top Fuel finalists, Ashley went 3.958 at 267.96 in his 11,000-horsepower Strutmasters.com/MANSCAPED Top Fuel dragster, knocking off Zizzo to become the NHRA’s 109th different Top Fuel winner. The matchup was also the first time since 1997 that two first-time finalists met in the championship round, and Ashley led from start to finish to secure the win.

“I’m going to have to hold back tears because this is a dream come true for me,” Ashley said. “To be here means the world to me. Truthfully, it’s not about me, but all the guys on this team and all the partners that have supported us to help get us to this point. Make no mistake, this trophy is for my dad (Mike Ashley) and we’re coming home with the win.”

Smith earned his second career victory in the Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle, winning immediately on his DENSO EBR when Pollacheck went red. Smith suffered problems on the bike, going 7.244 at 175.75, but the victory was already in hand as he outlasted seven other riders during Saturday’s special all-star race. He knocked off Angelle Sampey and Jerry Savoie to reach the final round.

“This race is a big deal for us and it means a lot,” Smith said. “I’m not sure exactly what went wrong, but somehow we got the win. For all the people that help me, thank you. And thank you to Mickey Thompson for putting this on for us in the class. We appreciate it a lot.”

In Funny Car qualifying, Johnson stayed red-hot at Indy, picking up his third No. 1 qualifier in the four races since the NHRA restarted its season in July thanks to a 3.878 at 326.40 in his 11,000-horsepower Riley Kids Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. It gives Johnson, who is seeking his second win of the season, his 21st career No. 1 qualifier, and he’ll race Dale Creasy Jr. to open eliminations. Ron Capps, who won the most recent event, qualified second with a 3.881 at 327.19 and Tim Wilkerson is third after a 3.906 at 326.63.

“The guys went for it,” Johnson said. “The sun started to set, it got a little darker and it was cooling down. I could feeling it cooling down and I knew we were going for it. It laid me back in the seat and I thought, ‘This thing is trucking.’ I saw the time and I knew we were going for it. We had to keep our streak going.”

Langdon’s 3.728 at 313.22 from Friday in his 11,000-horsepower DHL dragster held up, giving the former world champ his first No. 1 qualifier of the season and 19th in his career. He’ll start raceday against Joey Haas, looking for his first victory of the season. Steve Torrence qualified second with a 3.731 at 325.06 and Clay Millican will start eliminations from third after running 3.733 at 327.35.

“The car is fast and the guys have just done a great job,” Langdon said. “We’ve been working hard and doing some testing, and trying to get this car turned back around. I’m just glad we got everything back in sync in time. Every race we go to, we go to win, and we feel good about what we accomplished in qualifying. It always feels good to have a competitive car.

Anderson grabbed his 105th career No. 1 qualifier and first of the year in Pro Stock thanks to his impressive run of 6.549 at 209.52 in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro on Friday. Anderson will face off with Val Smeland to open eliminations as the four-time world champ will try for his seventh U.S. Nationals win and first victory of the year. Chris McGaha qualified second with a 6.553 at 208.52 and Deric Kramer took the third spot thanks to a 6.570 at 209.82.

“Raceday success is huge for me and I need to make some serious hay tomorrow at Indy,” Anderson said. “I’ve dug myself a bit of a hole. I’ve said it before, I love coming to Indy and racing the U.S. Nationals. Everybody brings their best and it brings out the best in everyone. I’ve had a lot of success here and had a lot of great memories. My car was great in qualifying and I’m hoping for a big, big day tomorrow.”

Pollacheck suffered the red light in the Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle, but he did take the No. 1 qualifier in Pro Stock Motorcycle with his run of 6.789 at 200.29, breaking the track speed record on his Strutmasters.com EBR. It gives Pollacheck his second career No. 1 qualifier and he will face Michael Phillips to open raceday. Eddie Krawiec qualified second with a 6.790 at 199.76 and Smith took the third spot with a 6.792 at 199.76.

“It’s been an awesome day, going 200 mph, getting the No. 1 spot and getting to race in the final round of the Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle,” said Pollacheck, who also earned the fourth and final spot in the DENSO 200 mph club. “It’s already been an awesome weekend and this has been a really good day for us.”

Sunday’s first-round pairings for eliminations for the 66th annual DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.

Top Fuel — 1. Shawn Langdon, 3.728 seconds, 313.22 mph  vs. 16. Joey Haas, 3.995, 296.63; 2. Steve Torrence, 3.731, 325.06  vs. 15. Kyle Wurtzel, 3.889, 312.78; 3. Clay Millican, 3.733, 327.35  vs. 14. Tony Schumacher, 3.863, 311.63; 4. Billy Torrence, 3.733, 326.00  vs. 13. Justin Ashley, 3.805, 318.09; 5. Doug Kalitta, 3.734, 328.06  vs. 12. Pat Dakin, 3.788, 319.52; 6. Leah Pruett, 3.742, 326.24  vs. 11. Terry McMillen, 3.773, 317.87; 7. Antron Brown, 3.747, 327.19  vs. 10. T.J. Zizzo, 3.769, 327.43; 8. Doug Foley, 3.756, 326.95  vs. 9. Cory McClenathan, 3.762, 304.74.
Did Not Qualify: 17. Cameron Ferre, 4.015, 301.67; 18. Luigi Novelli, 4.089, 276.52; 19. Lex Joon, 4.534, 193.40.

Funny Car — 1. Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 3.878, 326.40  vs. 16. Dale Creasy Jr., Charger, 4.211, 296.70; 2. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.881, 327.19  vs. 15. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.184, 283.19; 3. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.906, 326.63  vs. 14. Dave Richards, Mustang, 4.134, 293.54; 4. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.910, 327.11  vs. 13. Terry Haddock, Mustang, 4.118, 303.84; 5. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.919, 328.54  vs. 12. Paul Lee, Charger, 4.080, 276.07; 6. Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, 3.932, 326.48  vs. 11. Bob Bode, Mustang, 4.049, 313.07; 7. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.940, 325.53  vs. 10. Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 4.048, 299.00; 8. J.R. Todd, Camry, 3.976, 323.27  vs. 9. Blake Alexander, Mustang, 3.983, 320.51.
Did Not Qualify: 17. Justin Schriefer, 9.912, 74.52.

Pro Stock — 1. Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.549, 209.52  vs. 16. Val Smeland, Camaro, 6.630, 208.36; 2. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.553, 208.52  vs. 15. Mason McGaha, Camaro, 6.622, 206.89; 3. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.570, 209.82  vs. 14. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.619, 208.46; 4. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.572, 208.88  vs. 13. Fernando Cuadra, Ford Mustang, 6.613, 208.55; 5. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.576, 210.05  vs. 12. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.606, 208.55; 6. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.578, 209.72  vs. 11. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.597, 209.46; 7. Kyle Koretsky, Camaro, 6.580, 209.92  vs. 10. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.589, 208.49; 8. Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, 6.580, 209.07  vs.
9. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.582, 209.17.
Did Not Qualify: 17. Bob Benza, 6.641, 208.71; 18. Troy Coughlin Jr., 6.643, 208.04; 19. Richie Stevens, 6.667, 208.07; 20. Steve Graham, 6.715, 206.01; 21. Cristian Cuadra, 6.844, 203.22; 22. Robert River, 18.042, 42.38.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1. Scotty Pollacheck, EBR, 6.789, 200.29  vs. 16. Michael Phillips, Suzuki, 7.021, 194.44; 2. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.790, 199.76  vs. 15. Marc Ingwersen, EBR, 6.976, 193.21; 3. Matt Smith, EBR, 6.792, 199.76  vs. 14. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.955, 194.74; 4. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.799, 195.36  vs. 13. Chris Bostick, Suzuki, 6.942, 196.07; 5. Angie Smith, EBR, 6.807, 197.31  vs. 12. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.913, 190.48; 6. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.831, 197.57  vs. 11. John Hall, Suzuki, 6.909, 193.90; 7. Hector Arana Jr, EBR, 6.833, 197.88
vs. 10. Cory Reed, EBR, 6.881, 195.51; 8. Angelle Sampey, Harley-Davidson, 6.843, 197.05  vs. 9. Ryan Oehler, EBR, 6.868, 198.35.
Did Not Qualify: 17. Kelly Clontz, 7.045, 192.55; 18. David Barron, 7.054, 187.05; 19. Ron Tornow, 7.284, 184.30.

Pro Modified — 1. Jason Scruggs, Chevy Camaro, 5.717, 253.04  vs. 16. Kris Thorne, Camaro, 5.899, 224.96; 2. Khalid alBalooshi, Camaro, 5.722, 252.43  vs. 15. Mike Castellana, Camaro, 5.879, 247.93; 3. Brandon Snider, Chevy Corvette, 5.746, 249.03  vs. 14. Tommy D’aprile, Camaro, 5.850, 227.96; 4. Mike Janis, Camaro, 5.758, 250.46  vs. 13. Eric Dillard, Camaro, 5.828, 245.63; 5. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 5.759, 251.30  vs. 12. Chad Green, Corvette, 5.823, 250.09; 6. Rickie Smith,
Camaro, 5.760, 250.09  vs. 11. Jim Whiteley, Corvette, 5.802, 246.75; 7. Steve Jackson, Camaro, 5.764, 248.93  vs. 10. Clint Satterfield, Camaro, 5.785, 245.05; 8. Todd Tutterow, Camaro, 5.774, 250.97  vs. 9. Steve Matusek, Ford Mustang, 5.777, 257.83.
Did Not Qualify: 17. Jeffery Barker, 6.041, 244.69; 18. Rick Hord, 6.095, 233.60; 19. Jeff Jones, 7.287, 118.28; 20. Brandon Pesz, 21.632, 78.44; 21. Justin Jones, broke.

MICKEY THOMPSON PRO BIKE BATTLE

Final round-by-round results from the seventh annual Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.

ROUND ONE — Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.790, 199.76 def. Hector Arana Jr, Foul – Red Light; Matt Smith, 6.850, 195.48 def. Angelle Sampey, Harley-Davidson, 6.843, 197.05; Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.916, 193.10 def. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, Foul – Red Light; Scotty Pollacheck, 6.789, 200.29 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.821, 195.39;
SEMIFINALS — Smith, 6.792, 199.76 def. Savoie, 6.918, 192.52; Pollacheck, 6.820, 198.03 def. Krawiec, 6.868, 198.52;
FINAL — Smith, 7.244, 175.75 def. Pollacheck, Foul – Red Light.

About the author

Andrew Wolf

Andrew has been involved in motorsports from a very young age. Over the years, he has photographed several major auto racing events, sports, news journalism, portraiture, and everything in between. After working with the Power Automedia staff for some time on a freelance basis, Andrew joined the team in 2010.
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