Jackie Fricke and Annie Whiteley led the list of winners at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals with victories in Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car, respectively.
Fricke won her third national event title after a final-round win against Dean Dubbin. Dubbin was out first with a .009-second reaction time, but Fricke rallied to win, 5.302 to 5.443. Earlier, Fricke topped former world champ Alan Bradshaw and Todd Bruce before earning a bye into the final. [Video]
Whiteley qualified No. 1 and faced off with Jay Payne in the final. Payne left first but couldn’t make a full run, allowing Whiteley to win with a 5.564, 267.37 mph. The win was her second national event title of the season and sixth of her career. [Video]
Fricke and Whiteley shared the Brainerd Int’l Raceway winner’s circle with a slew of first-time winners, including Brian Johnson (Super Stock), Don Nichols (Super Comp), Jeff Crooks (Super Gas) and Todd Fleck (Top Dragster presented by Racing RVs). Ben Line earned the Stock title for the second straight year, and J.R. Lobner won his third national event title in Top Sportsman presented by Racing RVs.
Brainerd regular Johnson is a versatile racer who has achieved success in everything from motorcycles to dragsters. Johnson grabbed his first national event Wally in the Super Stock class when he drove his SS/KA Duster to a final-round win against Jason DeForrest. The final was decided on a red-light start, though Johnson would have been tough to beat after running right on his 11.16 dial-in. [Video]
Driving his C/SA ’69 Mustang, Line ran his Brainerd win streak to 14 consecutive rounds and capped off the win with a win over Randi Lyn Shipp in a heads-up, no-breakout battle between C/SA entries in Stock. Line got the best of Shipp’s ’67 Firebird, 10.538 to 10.679. Just in case his performance advantage wasn’t enough, Line also helped himself with a near-perfect .009 reaction time. There were six members of the Line family racing in Brainerd, so it wasn’t a surprise to see Line race against his mother, Maxine, in her F/SA ’68 Chevelle in the first round. After an even start, Ben turned on the win light after Maxine broke out by .025-second at the finish line. [Video]
Three months ago, in Topeka, Nichols reached the final round of Super Comp before he was turned away by first-time winner Danielle Jaramillo-Miller. Nichols quickly made amends for that loss when he earned his first national event title in Brainerd. Paired with Donald Leisdon in the Super Comp final round, Nichols grabbed a big lead at the start and prevailed in an 8.899 to 8.877 double-breakout battle. Throughout the six-round race, Nichols was extremely sharp on the starting line with five reaction times of .012 or quicker, including a .004 in the final. He also tagged the 8.900 index perfectly in his quarterfinal win against Austin McClure, who wasn’t far behind with an 8.908. [Video]
The Super Gas class produced another first-time winner in Crooks, who picked up the victory after final-round opponent Tom Carlson fouled by five-thousandths. The Manitoba-based Crooks, in his ’67 Firebird, made his way through eliminations with a string of near-perfect lights. He was also good at the finish line when necessary, including a perfect 9.900 pass that held off Scott McMaster’s perfect .000 reaction time in round three. In that battle, Crooks turned on the win light by a scant .0009-second. [Video]
Fleck won the Top Dragster presented by Racing RVs title on a single run after Ross Laris broke. Fleck capped off the win with a competitive .007 reaction time. Fleck also scored wins against Joseph Hessling, Scott Murray, and Matthew Kreft en route to his maiden victory. Fleck’s best performance came against Murray when he ran a 7.391 on his 7.39 dial to light the win light. [Video]
Lobner took a big step toward a potential world championship in Top Sportsman presented by Racing RVs when he claimed his third win of the season. After a pair of divisional victories in Denver and Topeka, Lobner won the third national event title of his career when he drove his ’96 Cutlass past Michael Freischel and his Firebird in the final round. Lobner held on to win by .001-second with a 7.559 on his 7.54 dial. [Video]
Glenn Hall rounded out the winner’s circle, taking the holeshot win against Matt Ernst in Pro Stock Snowmobile. Hall went 8.273, 155.79 to Ernst’s 8.242, 155.19. [Video]