UPDATED THROUGHOUT THE DAY
Clay Millican and Shawn Langdon hooked up in a wild first-round Top Fuel pedalfest that kicked off with two superior reaction times. Langdon left first with a sterling .024 reaction time with Millican not far behind with an .039.
Langdon was up in smoke just feet off the line and Millican’s mount lit the slicks not much later. Both worked their throttle pedals furiously but Millican stayed ahead for the win, 5.48 to 5.55, despite Langdon’s faster closing speed, 248 mph to Millican’s coasting 199.
"I wasn’t panicking, I was just thinking finish line,” said Mllican. “We’ve got a new sponsor here in Nurtec ODT and NASCAR drivers everywhere. Maybe I need to hop in a sprint car. Ol’ Langdon is a tough customer.”
Spencer Massey, known as one of the better starting-line leavers in Top Fuel during his tenures with car owners Don Prudhomme and Don Schumacher, showed that he hasn’t lost a step despite only driving a handful of times over the last five years.
Massey, at the wheel of veteran Pat Dakin’s Commercial Metal Fabrication entry, left on and upset Antron Brown in the first round, winning on a 3.807 to 3.785 holeshot, taking the win stripe by an infinitesimal .0005-second.
Texas privateer Terry Haddock has raised eyebrows before with unexpected deep runs into eliminations, including a semifinal finish earlier this year in Epping, but his upset of No. 2 qualifier Robert Hight will be one of the bigger upsets of his career.
Haddock, who has missed three of the last four events -– including last weekend in Reading while he was in England helping out one of his European friends –- got an easy win after Hight’s Auto Club Chevy suffered an apparent safety-system malfunction as the throttle cut off right on the launch.
Seven of the eight winners in the first round of Funny Car ran in the threes, with Haddock’s 5.99 being the outlier.
Ron Capps’ 3.901 was the best of the round, followed by birthday boy Cruz Pedregon (3.903), Alexis DeJoria and J.R. Todd (3.913), Matt Hagan (3.929), Tim Wilkerson (3.931), and John Force (3.983).
The first-round Pro Stock tangle between Chris McGaha and son Mason was their fourth over the last two seasons and Mason has now won all four. Dad suffered some issues on the burnout that may have affected his run, which ended early.
Prior to today, Mason beat his dad on a holeshot the first time they raced, in the first round of last year’s U.S. Nationals, then finished ahead of him (in second place) at this year’s Four-Wide Nationals in Las Vegas and also beat him in the first round at the New England Nationals.
In a stunning surprise, No. 1 qualifier Aaron Stanfield red-lighted against No. 16 Wally Stroupe. Both drivers actually left before the green, but Stanfield’s -.294 reaction was before Stroupe’s -.148, giving the upset win to Stroupe.
Erica Enders’ first round marked the 600th time she’s pulled to the starting line in eliminations and her victory over Alan Prusiensky boosted her career record to 373-227
Her first round-win came at the 2005 Reading event, where she defeated Rickie Smith. She’s had a winning record in nine of the last 10 seasons highlighted by an exceptional 45-16 mark in 2014, when she won her first of four world championships.
Six of the eight better-qualified bikes advanced to round two of Pro Stock Motorcycle led by Matt Smith's 6.833 and Angelle Sampey's 6.848, which were both better than No. 1 qualifier Steve Johnson's 6.867, perhaps foreshadowing a change in favorites. Scotty Pollacheck, the No. 9 qualifier, won without lane choice to advance and he somehow overcame a .039 to .111 starting-line disadvantage to MSR teammate Angie Smith to emerge with a 6.92 to 6.99 win.
Josh Hart started the season with a win at the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, scoring in his debut to give him the early lead in the Rookie of the Year balloting. After running five of the first seven events, he sat out the next five events before returning in Indy, In the meantime, Pro Stock freshman Dallas Glenn collected two wins and a runner-up to become the frontrunner.
Hart’s R&L Carriers team lost in the semifinals at Indy to Brittany Force and in round one of the Reading event to Billy Torrence due to a blower belt issue, so the team changed suppliers for this event and the change seems to be working as they have advanced to the semifinals after beating No. 2 qualifier Mike Salinas.
“I do not know if there is a shelf life for them, or if we were doing something wrong,” he said. “I assume that we’re not. We’ll get it. I’m just going to run them once now as I’ll never take the chance to run them more than once. We’ll give them to the fans after the one run. Ron [crew chief Ron Douglas] and I have spoken, and I told him if the Torrences do not use it, I do not want it on my car."
After losing his points lead to Matt Hagan Saturday night after a 10-point penalty for a centerline infraction, John Force had a chance to regain it following Hagan’s loss to DSR teammate Ron Capps ahead of him in round two.
Force got out on Tim Wilkerson and appeared to take a 3.97 to 3.95 holeshot win, but his left header clipped the centerline finish-line block, disqualifying him and costing him an additional 15 points to drop him even further behind Hagan.
Wally Stroupe’s amazing Pro Stock raceday continued with a second-round victory against Deric Kramer. After getting the better of a dual red-light situation in round one against low qualifier Aaron Stanfield, Stroupe, in a Camaro he built that has just seven runs under its body panels, put a .017 to .100 holeshot on Kramer and advanced to the semifinals on a 6.68 to 6.65 score. Stroupe will face Kyle Koretsky in the semifinals.
Erica Enders couldn’t stop Greg Anderson from getting his 97th career win, losing to him in the semifinals in Reading, but she’ll get another chance today to stop him from getting a class-leading 98th when they race in the semifinals. Anderson has lane choice based on their respective 6.59 to 6.62 second-round times.
Reaction times were the name of the game in the second round of Pro Stock Motorcycle where Angelle Sampey beat Andrew Hines on a 6.907 to 6.901 holeshot (.022 to .051 RTs), Scotty Pollacheck went .000 perfect but couldn’t hold off Steve Johnson, and Matt Smith left .004-second too soon and red-lighted against Eddie Krawiec.
The other second-round race was decided on a holeshot as Joey Gladstone beat teammate Cory Reed, 6.94 to 6.93, which was followed by a scary moment when, despite a massive amount of body English, Reed’s bike drifted in front of Gladstone’s bike, which clipped his rear tire and pitched Reed off the bike and he made contact with the guardwall. Reed was conscious and examined by the NHRA medical team and was transported to a local hospital for further evaluation.
For a moment in the semifinals, it looked like Steve Torrence had taken back his points lead from Brittany Force in the most satisfying way, beating her on a holeshot in the semifinals, 3.751 to 3.721 – because the win light inadvertently came on his lane.
Torrence got the reaction-time edge, .071 to .097, and but Force beat him to the stripe for the win and added to her points lead.
Force will take on Gatornationals champ Josh Hart in the final round with lane choice after Hart’s traction-plagued 4.12 victory over Justin Ashley.
Just two races after his huge win in Indianapolis, Tim Wilkerson is back in the final round and will have lane choice against Cruz Pedregon, who is celebrating his 58th birthday today. Wilk took down Ron Capps with a 3.909 while Pedregon advanced over Alexis DeJoira with a 3.95.
Greg Anderson will get the chance to make Pro Stock history at his hometrack after beating archrival Greg Anderson in the semifinals. Anderson, who tied Warren Johnson for the all-time class wins lead at 97 last weekend, will have to get past Kyle Koretsky, who’s looking for his first career Pro Stock win.
Anderson will have lane choice – which may be a factor considering how bad Enders shook the tires in the right lane alongside him – after his 6.59 bettered Koretsky’s 6.66 by a wide margin.
Joey Gladstone, who got tangled up with teammate Cory Reed in winning his second-round race when Reed crossed in front of him in the shutdown area, had a déjà vu moment when Steve Johnson crossed in front of him in the semifinals after hitting the finish line block.
Gladstone, who almost didn’t return to contest the round, wanting to go with his good friend to the hospital, is glad he did after low qualifier Johnson’s disqualification has put him into the final round with a chance at his first victory; he previously was runner-up last year in Dallas. Gladstone had his own two-wheeled misfortune in April when he came off another of his motorcycles at a non-national event and suffered broken ribs, a broken collar bone, a broken shoulder blade, a bruised lung, and multiple abrasions.
Gladstone will face off with three-time world champ Angelle Sampey, who was .001 on the Tree and then ran away from teammate Eddie Krawiec in the semifinals, 6.86 to 6.90.
LUCAS OIL SERIES WINNERS
Top Alcohol Dragster -- Matthew Cummings, 5.320, 277.32 def. Karen Stalba, 10.667, 95.02.
Top Alcohol Funny Car -- Sean Bellemeur, Chevy Camaro, 5.532, 263.67 def. Nick Januik, Camaro, 5.554, 262.33.
Competition Eliminator -- Frank Aragona, Roadster, 7.600, 149.03 def. Larry Pritchett, Pontiac Sunfire, 8.733, 115.01.
Super Stock -- Dan Fletcher, Chevy Camaro, 10.411, 102.87 def. Herbie Null Jr, Camaro, Foul - Red Light.
Stock Eliminator -- Timothy Stickles, Chevy Malibu, 12.194, 98.02 def. Brad Plourd, Chevy Nova, 11.067, 107.91.
Super Comp -- Bob Prose, Dragster, 8.920, 183.37 def. Michael Handras, Dragster, Foul - Red Light.
Super Gas -- Craig Porter, Ford Mustang, 9.893, 164.05 def. Iggie Boicesco, Chevy Corvette, 9.885, 170.88.
Top Sportsman presented by Vortech Superchargers -- Vince Hoda, Chevy Camaro, 6.549, 212.73 def. Sandy Wilkins, Camaro, 6.525, 212.39.
Top Dragster presented by Vortech Superchargers -- Danny Nelson, Dragster, 6.149, 224.73 def. JB Strassweg, Dragster, 6.274, 210.67.
CAMPING WORLD SERIES FINAL RESULTS
Pro Stock Motorcycle: Angelle Sampey scores an emotional Pro Stock Motorcycle victory in Charlotte