Given the rich history and tradition of the Dodge//SRT NHRA U.S. Nationals, it would be difficult for anyone to win NHRA’s oldest and most prestigious event and not feel at least a small amount of emotion. That wasn’t a problem for the 10 Lucas Oil Series champions crowned at this year’s event including Jackie Fricke and Doug Gordon, who earned wins in Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car.
Fricke and Gordon shared the spotlight with a mix of first-time winners and veterans including Jim Greenheck (Comp), Matt Morris (Super Stock), Matt Lisa (Stock), Nick Isenhower (Super Comp), Edmond Richardson (Super Gas), Larry Paden (Super Street), Jimmy Lewis (Top Sportsman presented by Vortech Superchargers) and Zach Sackman (Top Dragster presented by Vortech Superchargers).
Fricke won a race at Lucas Oil Raceway last season when he earned the JEGS Allstars title but this year’s win over Matt Cummings was easily the biggest of her career. Fricke, who ran nothing but 5.1s including a best of 5.14 on race day, had to get past current championship favorite Rachel Meyer in the semifinals and then topped Cummings with a 5.164.
Gordon, the reigning Indy champ and world champion, drove his Beta Motorcycles Camaro to career win No. 14 by stopping Shane Westerfield in the final round. Both drivers ran 5.492 in the final, but the race ended on the starting line after Westerfield fouled out by two-thousandths of a second.
Two years ago, Greenheck earned his first national event title in Brainerd and now he’s got a second after wheeling his C-Tech Manufacturing D/AA Camaro to the Comp title over three-time world champion Frank Aragona Jr. Greenheck helped himself in the final by leaving nearly a tenth ahead of Aragona and lit the win light with a (-.516) 7.504. Greenheck also beat past Indy winner Todd Frantz to earn a bye into the final.
Super Stock champ Morris didn’t let the pressure of an Indy final get to him as he used a .008 light and a 9.748 on a 9.72 dial to claim the win against Gary Emmons, who broke out in his Lucas Oil entry. Morris had a tough road to the final with races against world champs Jimmy DeFrank and Bryan Worner as well as Hemi Challenge champ Jimmy Daniels.
A pair of Northeast Division racers squared off in the Stock final with Lisa earning his first win against Todd Hoven’s high-flying Dodge Coronet. Lisa ran under his 10.97 dial with a 10.959 but that was enough as Hoven also ran under with a 9.826 on his 9.94 prediction. Lisa also had to get past JEGS SPORTSnationals winner Eric Campolito and the COPO Camaro of Daren Poole-Adams to advance to the final.
Isenhower competes regularly at Lucas Oil Raceway, and he put that experience to good use during his run to the Super Comp title. After defeating former Indy winner Lynn Ellison and JEGS Allstar rep Rusty Cook, Isenhower won the final round after Mike Jirousek fouled by two-thousandths of a second. Isenhower, who outlasted a field of nearly 150 drivers, would have been tough to beat with a .013 light and an 8.896.
The Super Gas final marked the return of four-time world champ Richardson, who claimed his 49th career win and first in Super Gas when Tim Gillespie fouled in the final round by .008-second. Richardson, had his work cut out for himself in the late rounds with tough races against Jason Kenny and Pro Stock driver Troy Coughlin Jr.
Paden became just the second driver to win a U.S. Nationals title in Super Street, joining 2020 champ Raymond Miller. Racing his Chevy S-10 against the best 10.90 drivers in the country, Paden got to the final with wins against Shawn Fricke and Mark VonHeeder, and then finished the job by topping Trevor Larson in the final. Paden was almost perfect off the starting line with a .001 light and rolled to a 10.958 to hold off Larson’s 10.963.
Lewis won 11 national events and a world championship in Super Gas, but he’d never won Indy until he beat current championship leader Allen Firestone in the final of Top Sportsman presented by Vortech Superchargers. Lewis got the win with a 6.356 on his 6.35 dial after Firestone broke out by a thousandth of a second. Lewis also won in Denver two months ago.
The win in Top Dragster presented by Vortech Superchargers went to Sackman, who previously won the Chicago race in 2017. Sackman was at his best in the final with a .003 light and a 6.113 against his 6.11 dial to stop Bradley Johnson’s last year’s championship runner-up. [nhra]