Torrence, Wilkerson, Enders, and Krawiec Win Indy
Tim Wilkerson won for the first time in more than five years and came through at the biggest event of the season, racing to the Funny Car victory on Sunday at the prestigious 67th annual Dodge//SRT NHRA U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also won in their respective categories at the 13th event of the 2021 NHRA season. It is also the final race of the regular season before the Countdown to the Championship playoffs begins.
Wilkerson, who last won in 2016, powered his 11,000-horsepower Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Shelby Mustang to a run of 3.912-seconds at 320.36 mph in the final round, denying Ron Capps his first U.S. Nationals victory. Wilkerson picked up his second win at Indy and 21st career victory as well, also earning a trip to the winner’s circle for the first time in 114 races. Wilkerson got past Bobby Bode, John Force and Cruz Pedregon en route to the final round, where he raced past Capps early in the run and picked up the long-awaited win. He’ll open the playoffs ninth in points and with plenty of momentum after his memorable weekend at the Big Go.
“We go out there and run the car and race the lane,” Wilkerson said. “Capps has used me up the last 2-3 years. He’s whooped me every time in the finals. We’ve got a good car, ran well in Brainerd and I was making sure I was going down the track today. In the finals, I ran it like it was a night run. My guys do such a terrific job and there’s a lot of emotion in this. I’m really proud of them. This place and me, we’ve got a good relationship and it always treats me well.”
Capps defeated Justin Schreiber, Robert Hight and Alexis DeJoria to reach the final round for the fourth time this season and 129th time overall. With his strong showing, he jumped into the points lead heading into the playoffs, with Force in second.
Torrence’s incredible 2021 campaign continued at Indy, as rocketed past Brittany Force in the final round with an impressive run of 3.749 at 324.44 in his 11,000-horsepower Capco Contractors dragster. That gives the points leader and three-time defending world champ his eighth victory in 13 races this season and 48th in his career, as well as his second U.S. Nationals win. Torrence reached the final round by taking out Antron Brown, Greg Carrillo and his father, Billy, before easily dispatching No. 1 qualifier Force when she went up in smoke early in the run. It’s another impressive moment for Torrence, who has his sights on trying to win a fourth consecutive world title.
“It was just a great raceday and it’s unbelievable to be able to say you’ve won Indy and do it twice in Top Fuel, it’s the pinnacle race of our sport,” Torrence said. “This was a great weekend and there was some really good racing today. We’ve been so blessed to win eight races this season. We’re going to approach (the Countdown) one round at a time and one race at a time, and I’m going to lean on my guys and they’re going to lean on me and we’ll see what we can do.”
Force, who will start the Countdown to the Championship as Torrence’s chief competition and second in points, defeated Shawn Langdon, Alex Laughlin and Josh Hart to reach the finals for the fourth time this season and 27th time in her career.
Enders’ Indy dominance continued in impressive fashion on Sunday, as she won at the Big Go for the second straight year by slipping past Kyle Koretsky on a holeshot in the final round in her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro. Enders went 6.626 at 206.01 in the final round, with her .024 reaction time making the difference to beat Koretsky’s 6.613 at 206.35. It gives Enders her third win this season, third at Indy at 32nd in her career. The defending and back-to-back world champ beat Bruno Massel, Matt Hartford and points leader Greg Anderson to reach the final round at the U.S. Nationals for the third straight year. Now, she’ll aim to pick up her third straight world title and Enders will start the playoffs from second place.
“I had a really great car all day,” Enders said. “To win this in back-to-back years, it’s a great way to head into the Countdown. We’ve just got to keep it rolling, but it’s really humbling when you take a step back and realize what we’ve accomplished in a short time. Getting the win in 2020 and sticking it in the winner’s circle today, I had a good feeling this morning. To be victorious at the end of the day makes everything else go away. This one means a lot and it’s our Super Bowl.”
Koretsky’s impressive late-season surge continued as he advanced to his second straight final round with wins against Larry Morgan, Chris McGaha and rookie Dallas Glenn. Koretsky will open the playoffs in fourth, while Anderson maintains the points lead heading into the Countdown to the Championship.
Krawiec had an impressive weekend at the ideal time, picking up his first victory of the season by taking out Vance & Hines teammate Angelle Sampey in the final round with a run of 6.844 at 198.58 on his Buell. Krawiec qualified No. 1 for the first time this season and then rode that momentum to the winner’s circle for the 49th time in his standout career. He also won for the third time at the Big Go, taking out teammate Andrew Hines, Michael Phillips and Joey Gladstone to reach the final round. He raced past Sampey and appears to be rolling at the perfect time, heading into the playoffs fourth in points thanks to his tremendous Indy showing.
“It was a little bit of luck, a little bit of good and hopefully things just fall your way,” Krawiec said. “We came out with the No. 1 motorcycle right off the trailer and second round was my lucky round. In the final round, I knew we had to be good and I was just excited. We’re back in (the class) and that feels good. To get two team bikes in the final round, that was something special. This is a true Vance & Hines win and it’s really cool to do that for everybody. It’s just really great to get this.”
Sampey reached the final round for the second straight race and 76th time in her career, knocking off Cory Reed, Steve Johnson and defending event winner Scotty Pollacheck. Defending world champ Matt Smith will enter the playoffs with the points lead and Johnson is second.
On drag racing’s biggest stage, Jeffery Barker picked up his first career victory in the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service, racing past back-to-back world champ Stevie “Fast” Jackson in the final round at the prestigious Dodge//SRT NHRA U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.
The Pro Mod race, which was presented by ProCharger, was the seventh of 11 events during the 2021 E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service season.
In a thrilling final round, Jackson left first but Barker tracked him down in his nitrous-powered Bahrain 1 Racing/Lowe Toyota Camry, going 5.742-seconds at 251.67 mph to beat Jackson’s 5.785 at 248.29.
“This is absolutely perfect,” Barker said. “There’s so many people to thank, including Khalid alBalooshi and Stevie Jackson. I would not be here if it wasn’t for Stevie Jackson. This is the best weekend ever.”
Barker reached his first career final round in the class by racing past Doug Winters, Brandon Snider and No. 1 qualifier Rickie Smith.
Jackson, who had won at the U.S. Nationals in two of the previous three years, reached the final round for the fourth time this season and 21st time in his career by knocking off J.R. Gray, Jim Whiteley and Jerico Balduf. Jose Gonzalez maintains the points lead in the class, with Jackson moving to second. He trails Gonzalez by 66 points heading into the final four races of the year.
Sunday’s final results from the 67th annual Dodge//SRT NHRA U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. The race is the 13th of 20 in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series:
Top Fuel — Steve Torrence, 3.749 seconds, 324.44 mph def. Brittany Force, 13.165 seconds, 24.39 mph.
Funny Car — Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.912, 320.36 def. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 3.946, 326.63.
Pro Stock — Erica Enders, Chevy Camaro, 6.626, 206.01 def. Kyle Koretsky, Camaro, 6.613, 206.35.
Pro Stock Motorcycle — Eddie Krawiec, Buell, 6.844, 198.58 def. Angelle Sampey, Suzuki, 6.880, 195.51.
Pro Modified — Jeffery Barker, Toyota Camry, 5.742, 251.67 def. Steve Jackson, Chevy Camaro, 5.785, 248.29.
Top Fuel Harley — Ryan Peery, Weekend, 6.696, 196.16 def. Tyler Wilson, JIR, 7.072, 159.63.
Force Family Dominates Nitro Qualifying
The Force family dominated at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis on Friday, as both Brittany and John Force powered to the provisional No. 1 qualifying positions in Top Fuel and Funny Car, respectively, at the biggest race of the season, the 67th annual Dodge//SRT NHRA U.S. Nationals.
Kyle Koretsky (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are also the provisional No. 1 qualifiers at the 13th event of the 2021 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season. It is also the final race of the NHRA regular season before the Countdown to the Championship playoffs begin.
Brittany Force claimed the top spot on Friday in Top Fuel by going 3.684-seconds at 334.57 mph in her 11,000-horsepower Monster Energy dragster to continue her incredible run in qualifying. If it holds, it would give the former world champ her sixth straight No. 1 qualifier and eighth during her banner season. Earlier this year, the father and daughter Force won on the same weekend to become the first father-daughter winner on the same day in NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series history, and Brittany would love to see it happen again on drag racing’s grandest stage.
“It says a lot about this team,” Brittany said. “We want No. 1 qualifiers and we want to win on raceday. We want to do it here at the biggest race of the season. I love this place and we want to get this win. There’s so much history behind this race and winning here is the one thing every driver wants to do. I’ve been chasing the Indy win and we want to come out here and do it this weekend.”
Points leader and three-time defending world champ Steve Torrence clocked a run of 3.688 at 329.50 to sit second, while Doug Kalitta is third after going 3.751 at 317.05.
John Force raced to No. 1 in Funny Car with a run of 3.877 at 330.72 in his 11,000-horsepower PEAK Chevrolet Camaro. He is after his second No. 1 spot this year and 162nd in his legendary career. Another Indy victory could also put him back in the points lead at the key time of the season, and Force loved the 330-mph rush of running at the Big Go under the lights.
“I’ve always loved running here at night,” Force said. “Daniel Hood does a great job with my car. He’s a smart guy and he really knows what he’s doing. It’s a great night at Indy and I’m really proud of Brittany. We’re just doing really well together. When I go down there in the dark, I get so pumped up in there. I really just love getting in the car.”
Bob Tasca III ran a 3.889 at 332.67 to qualify in the second position, while Force’s teammate, Robert Hight, went 3.889 at 329.67 to sit third. Points leader Matt Hagan tested positive for COVID-19 and has withdrawn from competition this weekend. Veteran Tommy Johnson Jr. will be driving the team’s car this weekend.
Continuing his late-season surge, Pro Stock rising star Kyle Koretsky made the top run in the class on Friday, taking the No. 1 spot in his Lucas Oil Chevrolet Camaro with a run of 6.572 at 208.07. Koretsky, currently sixth in points, was the provisional No. 1 qualifier two races ago in Topeka, but it didn’t hold up as the second-year driver is seeking his first No. 1 qualifier of his young career and his first victory as well. Troy Coughlin Jr., who was the top qualifier in Topeka, is second after the opening session with a run of 6.584 at 206.57. Defending world champ and U.S. Nationals winner Erica Enders went 6.588 to 206.59 to put her third, while points leader Greg Anderson is seventh with his run of 6.607 at 207.24.
Looking to get his 2021 season going at the right time, Eddie Krawiec got off to a great start on Friday in Pro Stock Motorcycle, jumping to the top spot on his Vance & Hines Buell with a run of 6.826 at 199.40. If it holds, Krawiec would pick up his first No. 1 qualifier of the season and 49th in his career. Currently eighth in points and looking for his first win of the season before the Countdown to the Championship, Krawiec impressed on Friday with his standout run. Steve Johnson is currently qualified second with his run of 6.860 at 196.56 and Scotty Pollacheck, the defending U.S. Nationals winner, is third after going 6.866 at 197.74. Points leader Matt Smith went 6.892 at 200.17 to sit in the sixth spot.
Qualifying continues at 1:00 p.m. ET on Saturday at the Dodge//SRT NHRA U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.
Friday’s results after the first one of three rounds of qualifying for the 67th annual Dodge//SRT NHRA U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, 13th of 20 events in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday’s final eliminations.
Top Fuel — 1. Brittany Force, 3.684 seconds, 334.57 mph; 2. Steve Torrence, 3.688, 329.50; 3. Doug Kalitta, 3.751, 317.05; 4. Josh Hart, 3.755, 325.22; 5. Leah Pruett, 3.755, 322.88; 6. Billy Torrence, 3.756, 324.75; 7. Greg Carrillo, 3.769, 320.20; 8. Alex Laughlin, 3.771, 317.19; 9. Justin Ashley, 3.796, 324.05; 10. Kyle Wurtzel, 3.849, 311.77; 11. Tripp Tatum, 3.870, 282.36; 12. Joe Morrison, 4.107, 294.88; 13. Buddy Hull, 4.162, 257.63; 14. Krista Baldwin, 4.193, 215.17; 15. Antron Brown, 4.305, 192.14; 16. Shawn Langdon, 4.553, 188.86. Not Qualified: 17. Mike Salinas, 4.908, 142.40; 18. Lex Joon, 5.166, 136.70; 19. Clay Millican, 5.555, 117.09.
Funny Car — 1. John Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.877, 330.72; 2. Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 3.889, 332.67; 3. Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.889, 329.67; 4. Cruz Pedregon, Dodge Charger, 3.896, 323.66; 5. J.R. Todd, Toyota Camry, 3.905, 326.63; 6. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.907, 326.08; 7. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 3.915, 321.88; 8. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.949, 324.28; 9. Bobby Bode, Mustang, 3.952, 259.06; 10. Blake Alexander, Mustang, 3.970, 318.69; 11. Justin Schriefer, Charger, 4.097, 302.55; 12. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.176, 240.47; 13. Terry Haddock, Mustang, 5.194, 152.78; 14. Dale Creasy Jr., Charger, 6.609, 105.81; 15. Paul Lee, Charger, 7.240, 93.23; 16. Dave Richards, Mustang, broke. Not Qualified: 17. Chad Green, broke.
Pro Stock — 1. Kyle Koretsky, Chevy Camaro, 6.572, 208.07; 2. Troy Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.584, 206.57; 3. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.588, 206.29; 4. Dallas Glenn, Camaro, 6.592, 208.49; 5. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.598, 208.55; 6. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.606, 207.50; 7. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.607, 207.24; 8. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.629, 207.30; 9. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.631, 205.88; 10. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.632, 207.37; 11. Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, 6.635, 205.72; 12. Mason McGaha, Camaro, 6.639, 207.53; 13. Fernando Cuadra Jr., Ford Mustang, 6.644, 205.69; 14. Bruno Massel, Camaro, 6.682, 206.07; 15. Cristian Cuadra, Mustang, 6.696, 204.82; 16. Larry Morgan, Camaro, 6.791, 203.77. Not Qualified: 17. Bob Benza, 13.494, 62.64; 18. Fernando Cuadra, 16.943, 77.59.
Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1. Eddie Krawiec, Buell, 6.826, 199.40; 2. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.860, 196.56; 3. Scotty Pollacheck, EBR, 6.866, 197.74; 4. Hector Arana Jr, EBR, 6.871, 196.64; 5. Angie Smith, EBR, 6.886, 197.16; 6. Matt Smith, EBR, 6.892, 200.17; 7. Angelle Sampey, Suzuki, 6.924, 187.94; 8. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.954, 190.48; 9. Michael Phillips, Suzuki, 6.970, 191.97; 10. Cory Reed, Suzuki, 6.998, 187.83; 11. Ryan Oehler, EBR, 7.003, 191.76; 12. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 7.012, 192.36; 13. Jianna Salinas, Suzuki, 7.057, 191.02; 14. Ron Tornow, Victory, 7.087, 189.10; 15. Marc Ingwersen, Buell, 7.116, 186.33; 16. Andrew Hines, Buell, 7.138, 198.03. Not Qualified: 17. Kelly Clontz, 7.146, 184.98; 18. Jim Underdahl, 7.160, 190.43; 19. Chris Bostick, 7.160, 185.84; 20. Charles Poskey, 7.162, 186.87; 21. David Barron, broke.