Enders-Stevens wins hometown race; Brown, Hight also score Houston victories
Sunday, April 27, 2014

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Erica Enders-Stevens drove to victory in Pro Stock Sunday at the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA SpringNationals presented by Super Start Batteries, notching her second win of the season and the 99th by a woman in the history of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

Immediately following Enders-Stevens’ win, Antron Brown (Top Fuel) and Robert Hight (Funny Car) each raced down Royal Purple Raceway to secure their third victories of the season.

Enders-Stevens faced Allen Johnson in the Pro Stock final, winning on a holeshot with a 6.594-second pass at 210.60 mph. Johnson, the 2012 Pro Stock world champion, ran a 6.588 at 210.28. Even though Johnson ran the faster elapsed time, Enders-Stevens’ superior reaction time enabled her to keep her slim lead the whole race.

“My team’s been really awesome,” said Enders-Stevens, driver of the Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro. “I’ve had a really consistent race car. That’s what it takes Sundays, consistency. We had to make last-second transmission change and go through the gears to make sure everything was right.”

Erica Enders-Stevens

The win was Enders-Stevens’ eighth career victory and her first in Houston. Enders-Stevens, the current Pro Stock points leader and the only female in Pro Stock history to lead the points, has enjoyed her quick start to the season but knows that she must keep it up to remain atop the Pro Stock class.

“The ball’s in our court,” Enders-Stevens said. “We’ve got to carry the momentum. That’s important in this game, and I know I keep saying that, but it’s huge, and we’re going to keep carrying it as long as we can. Pro Stock really goes in cycles, so I’m really hoping this is our cycle, and we’re going to keep fighting for it.”

Johnson, the 2012 Pro Stock world champion, was the No. 1 qualifier at the event and reached his third final of the season. With two wins in the season in Phoenix and Gainesville, Johnson leaves Houston second in Pro Stock points.

Robert Hight’s Auto Club Ford Mustang is the hottest car in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series appearing in his fifth straight Funny Car final. Hight ran a 4.055 at 314.90 to defeat Jack Beckman, who was appearing in his first final of the season. It was the 13th consecutive Funny Car final that featured a John Force Racing car.

“I had high expectations coming into this weekend because I got my first win here,” said Hight, who won his 32nd career race. “[Crew chief] Mike Neff has owned this place, and we came here on kind of a roll after four straight finals. Dating back to Indianapolis, that’s 13 final rounds in a row for John Force Racing in Funny Car, and some of those have been John [Force] and me together in the final."

Robert Hight
Antron Brown

Hight struggled during Friday’s qualifying session not completing a pass. The team rebounded, and Hight’s car went on to be the quickest Funny Car in the last six rounds of competition.

“It was like we didn’t show up on Friday,” Hight said. “It was horrible. We just totally missed it, but I never lost faith in my team. They showed confidence that we were going to get them tomorrow. On Saturday, we went out there and ran .07, .08, and then we went .07, .07, .07 before the final. Do you know how hard it is to do that in one of these cars? There are so many variables. It’s hard to make that many consistent runs in a row.”

With the win, Hight expands his points lead to 122 over John Force Racing owner and teammate Force.

Beckman, the 2012 Funny Car world champion, was appearing in his first final since St. Louis last season. The Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger ran a respectable 4.176 at 308.43 in the final, but it just wasn’t enough to top Hight.

In Top Fuel, Brown notched his second straight win of the season with a 3.793 pass at 317.72 over Khalid alBalooshi.

“I feel like we have a class-A, true all-star team," said Brown. "All the guys can execute under pressure. When we have a problem, we’re able to fix it and make it better for the next round."

Brown’s win over alBalooshi , the 44th victory of his career, was the second straight race where the Matco Tools dragster beat an Al-Anabi Racing driver. Brown defeated last year’s Top Fuel world champion Shawn Langdon at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at the last event in Charlotte.

“We have a lot of respect for the Al-Anabi guys," said Brown. "You have to beat them to contend for the championship because it goes through them. We get up for that challenge whenever we race them. Any time we beat them, it’s like hitting the jackpot. There are a lot of good teams out here, and we don’t take anybody lightly."

Brown took over the Top Fuel points lead from Doug Kalitta and leaves Houston with a 37 point advantage. Brown has also reached seven of the last 10 finals dating back to last season, winning five of them.

The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series returns to action May 16-18 at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway. 

Mike Janis drove past Mike Castellana to win the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series portion of the event.

Janis' Camaro beat Castellana, the Gainesville winner, with a 5.927-second pass at 244.56 mph to take home the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series race in Houston, presented by J&A Service at this event, victory. It was the Lancaster, N.Y., native’s third career victory in the doorslammer category and first at Royal Purple Raceway.

Janis, the No. 12 qualifier, defeated Dan Stevenson, Ron Muenks, and Steve Matusek prior to the final.

Castellana, who secured victory at the season-opening event in Gainesville, was looking for his sixth career Pro Mod victory. His Al-Anabi Racing 13’ Camaro beat Mike Knowles, Kevin Fiscus, and Danny Rowe before falling to Janis in the final.

Related stories
Friday: Crampton, Worsham, Johnson lead fields after opening day at Royal Purple Raceway
Saturday: Torrence takes over top spot in Top Fuel; Worsham, Johnson remain No. 1 at Royal Purple Raceway



Top Fuel
1 Antron Brown 580
2 Doug Kalitta 543
3 Steve Torrence 428
4 Shawn Langdon 408
5 Khalid alBalooshi 381
6 Tony Schumacher 353
7 Spencer Massey 342
8 Brittany Force 300
9 Richie Crampton 224
10 J.R. Todd 220
11 Bob Vandergriff Jr. 208
12 Clay Millican 202
13 Leah Pritchett 185
14 Terry McMillen 166
15 David Grubnic 138
16 Troy Buff 125
17 Sidnei Frigo 93
18 Morgan Lucas 71
19 Pat Dakin 42
20 Steve Faria 41
21 Larry Dixon 34
22 Mike Strasburg 31
23 Scott Palmer 21
24 Steven Chrisman 20
25 Ike Maier 10
Funny Car
1 Robert Hight 609
2 John Force 487
3 Alexis DeJoria 431
4 Del Worsham 361
5 Ron Capps 356
6 Jack Beckman 336
7 Tommy Johnson Jr. 323
8 Matt Hagan 289
9 Tim Wilkerson 277
10 Courtney Force 275
11 Bob Tasca III 260
12 Cruz Pedregon 258
13 Chad Head 217
14 Jeff Arend 189
  Tony Pedregon 189
16 Paul Lee 87
17 Blake Alexander 83
18 Gary Densham 76
19 Jeff Diehl 51
  Terry Haddock 51
21 Jon Capps 31
22 Bob Bode 10
  Phil Burkart 10
  Dale Creasy Jr. 10
  Dave Richards 10
  Todd Simpson 10
Pro Stock
1 Erica Enders-Stevens 554
2 Allen Johnson 477
3 Jason Line 437
4 Vincent Nobile 414
5 Shane Gray 390
6 Dave Connolly 366
7 Jeg Coughlin Jr. 344
8 V. Gaines 340
9 Chris McGaha 290
10 Jimmy Alund 282
11 Larry Morgan 208
12 Rodger Brogdon 190
13 Matt Hartford 155
14 Steve Kent 146
15 Jonathan Gray 116
16 Greg Stanfield 94
17 Shane Tucker 92
18 Deric Kramer 84
19 Robert Patrick 62
20 Greg Anderson 32
21 John Gaydosh Jr. 31
  Justin Humphreys 31
  Mark Wolfe 31
24 Paul Pittman 20
25 Kenny Delco 10
  Mark Hogan 10
  Lewis Worden 10