Two-time Indy Top Fuel champ Shawn Langdon kicked off his pursuit of a third crown with a cylinder-dropping 3.80 that was enough to get around two-time Indy Top Alcohol Dragster winner Josh Hart’s troubled pass.
"We got a little bit lucky there," said Langdon. "I think it dropped it down there, but it kicked the rods up through the finish line. Luckily they did get the oil out there on the racetrack."
Clay Millican and team fell behind the curve early in qualifying after putting a brand-new supercharger on for Q1, a decision that quickly regretted as they didn’t get qualified until Q4. Millican, who’s never won the U.S. Nationals advanced past T.J. Zizzo, who’s never beaten Clay Millican in a career that included NHRA and IHRA national events and match races,
Antron Brown entered raceday 7-1 against Brittany Force in round one, including a win over her on a holeshot earlier this year in Bristol where, oddly enough, they were qualified the same as they are at this event: Force is No. 2 and Brown is No. 15 after a trouble-plagued qualifying effort
Brown ran that record to 8-1 on a 3.74 to 3.87 count after Force’s Fla-R-Pac dragster backfired the blower downtrack after a near-even race to halftrack.
"We were neck and neck," said Brown. "I felt her all the way down the racetrack. Our car shot two plugs out of the side. We knew it was going to be gonna be a tough round matchup, trying to run a low 70. That's what they were healing there. We're both going to go there and run like a .73, .72. That's what we are trying to run. It's a tough team over there."
With his first-round win over Doug Foley, Justin Ashley clinched the No. 1 spot in points for the regular season and will enter the Countdown to the Championship as the No. 1 seed with the points lead. Ashley’s Phillips Connect entry blasted to a 3.71 while Foley, who ran a 3.80 and a pair o f3.81s in qualifying, ran even better with a 3.76 but still finished second.
Doug Kalitta made the first 3.6-second pass at the event with a stout 3.68 to defeat Spencer Massey. Kalitta qualified fourth with a 3.71 but only made it down the track under full power on two of five qualifying passes. Kalitta won the U.S. Nationals in 2019, 25 years after his uncle, car owner Connie Kalitta, won “the Big Go.”
Steve Torrence and team showed no ill effects after changing cars, running an easy 3.71 that matched their qualifying pace and took out the MacRack entry of past Indy Top Fuel champ Larry Dixon Jr.
Torrence looking for his fourth U,S. Nationals title, and despite all of his championship success, he still understands the gravity of an Indy win.
“You can win every race and multiple championships, but if you don't win Indy, I don't think you've had a complete career,” he told us Saturday. “it's the one that everybody strives to hold up that Wally at the end of this racetrack and walk out of here and say, ‘I'm an Indy winner.’ I did it in Top Alcohol [Dragster, in 2005] the first time I ever came here, and I didn't know what I had done. It took me quite a few times [to win] the final round here in Top Fuel [in 2017, after runner-ups in 2013, ’15, and ‘16]. but it was all so better when I got to taste that victory.”
Mike Salinas eked out a narrow victory by just .005-second over 10-time Indy winner Tony Schumacher, who jumped out to a small lead at the start but was run down by Salinas’ high=speed machine, 3.75 to 3.77.
Leah Pruett, who won her sponsor's other event, the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals last year, is hoping to add another one at this Dodge Power Brokers race. Pruett, who won this event in Factory Stock, is off to a good start with a 3.74 to 3.77 victory over Austin Prock. Combined with Brittany Force's first-round loss, Pruett's win moved her into fourth place in points.
Second-round pairings (lane choice first): Steve Torrence vs. Shawn Langdon; Doug Kalitta vs. Mike Salinas; Antron Brown vs. Clay Millican; Justin Ashley vs. Leah Pruett
How close is Funny Car racing going to be today? Alexis DeJoria beat Bob Bode with a 3.889, Bob Tasca III defeated Terry Haddock with a 3.889, and low qualifier Robert Hight beat Paul Lee with a 3.889. DeJoria's win moved her into fifth place in the points standings.
Hight’s Cornwell Tools Chevy was impressive in qualifying, earning 18 of a possible 20 session bonus points by having the best run in three session and the second-best in the other two, and he also put down a solid run in round two of the Pep Boys Callout, which did not count towards qualifying but made for six full-power runs in varying conditions. He and crew chief Jimmy Prock are ready for whatever the day holds.
Ron Capps, at the wheel of the Hot Wheels/Don Prudhomme tribute car is trying to duplicate “the Snake’s” Funny Car win from 50 years ago and put away Dale Creasy Jr. with a 3.894 to earn second-round lane choice over Matt Hagan, who sped to a 3.91 to trailer tire-smoking Alex Laughlin.
"The conditions are good and all the crew chiefs were pushing," said Hagan. "We've got a great racetrack. It's going to get hotter for sure. We will have to adapt as we go, slow down a little bit, but they just pay me to push the gas and smile real big and say 'Dodge'a lot. That is all I know how to do. The rest of the crew chiefs."
In a rematch of their 1995 Indy final, Cruz Pedregon defeated Saturday's Mission Challenge winner John Force in a side-by-side three-second duel. Pedregon, who won the U.S. Nationals three times between 1992 and '95, has not won the "Big Go" since that 1995 race,
Because the team skipped the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA Mile-High Nationals after their win in Norwalk, those forfeiting the chance to make the playoffs due to the "perfect attendance" rule,, Blake Alexander’s only chance of making it into the Countdown to the Championship via points required him to win the event and for 10th-place Cruz Pedregon to lose in round one.
That part was out of his hands before he ever ran as Pedregon beat Force, but the final nail was driven in when he lost to J.R. Todd in the next pair.
The final pair of round one of Funny Car featured Tim Wilkerson racing the car tuned by his son, Daniel, with Chad Green at the wheel. Tim, who has won this race twice (2001 and '03) got the win with a solid 3.91. His reward? A second-round date with Robert Hight,
Second-round pairings (lane choice first): Robert Hight vs. Tim Wilkerson; Ron Capps vs. Matt Hagan; Bob Tasca III vs. J.R. Todd; Alexis DeJoria vs. Cruz Pedregon
Camrie Caruso’s second career round win at the U.S. Nationals came on a single run after her opponent, Cristian Cuadra was shut off after leaving a trail of fluid on the starting line following his burnout. Cuadra’s crew apparently left the filler cap off the rear end, preventing them from making the run. Caruso, who upset Aaron Stanfield in last year’s U.S. Nationals, recorded a 6.630 on a single run with her Tequila Comisario Camaro. Caruso, who won her first Pro Stock event earlier this season in Phoenix, came into Indy as the No. 8 seed in the Countdown to the Championship.
After a lengthy delay due to Cristian Cuadra’s oil down, brother Fernando Cuadra Jr., picked up a much-needed round win when Bo Butner spun the tires and shut off early. Cuadra posted a competitive 6.652 elapsed time in his Corral Boots entry, scoring his first round win since the Charlotte Four Wide race where went to the final round.
The best race of the round was decided by three-thousandhts of a second as Dallas Glenn continued to rack up win lights with his RAD Torque Systems Camaro. Glenn posted a narrow 6.631 to 6.636 win over Deric Kramer, in a race that featured two drivers favored to contend for the championship.
Low qualifier Matt Hartford continued to set the pace with a strong 6.613 run to move his Total Seal Camaro into the quarterfinal round. Hartford has been extremely confident all weekend as he ran a 6.56 to qualify No. 1 on Friday and also grabbed the lion’s share of the qualifying bonus points awarded during the rest of the weekend.
Hartford may have set the pace in round one, but his advantage over the rest of the field, particularly world champ Erica Enders is quite slim. Enders was able to maintain pace with Hartford with a 6.618 to get her JHG Camaro past fellow Texan Chris McGaha in round one.
Round two pairings (lane choice first): Matt Hartford vs. Camrie Caruso; Erica Enders vs. Dallas Glenn; Aaron Stanfield vs. Kyle Koretsky; Troy Coughlin Jr. vs. Fernando Cuadra Jr.
For the second straight year. Ron “the Rat” Tornow collected a round win at “the Big Go.” Last year, Tornow defeated Angelle Sampey in a stunning upset and this time, he got the best of Jianna Evaristo, 7.00 to 7.12. Tornow will have his work cut out for him the rest of the way as he’s paired against championship leader Gaige Herrera in round two.
Kelly Clontz came into the 2023 season with just four round wins but she’s nearly doubled that total with a win against Steve Johnson, who appeared to hurt an enging in his MacRak Suzuki. Clontz slowed to a 7.45 on her new Suzuki Hayabusa, but it was good enough to turn on the win light. A few moments later, Clontz got even more good news when she clinched her spot in the Countdown to the Championship thanks to a loss by Ryan Oehler. “This is everything we’ve worked for the last six year,” said Clontz. “I wouldn’t be able to do this without Steamfitters 602 and my husband, Chris.”
Eddie Krawiec can’t catch his teammate, Gaige Herrera for the top spot in the championship standings but he can secure second place. Krawiec, who already has multiple Indy wins, helped his cause with a 6.870 in his win against Bud Yoder, who finished off his successful NHRA debut with an improved 7.02. Krawiec will now face off with Angie Smith, with whom he’s always enjoyed a spirited rivalry.
Round two pairings (lane choice first): Matt Smith vs. Chase Van Sant; Hector Arana Jr. vs. Kelly Clontz; Eddie Krawiec vs. Angie Smith; Gaige Herrera vs. Ron Tornow.
Antron Brown’s back-from-the-dead continues. After nearly failing to qualify for the Top Fuel field, he’s now in the semifinals after beating cylinder-dropping Clay Millican.
Brown remains the only driver in NHRA history to win the U.S. Nationals in Pro Stock Motorcycle (2000, 2004) and Top Fuel (2011, 2022).
Leah Pruett's dreams of adding an Indy Top Fuel win to her Factory Stock Showdown triumph evaporate in tire smoke as points leader Justin Ashley just keeps on keeping on with a 3.75.
Steve Torrence gets a real scare as his Capco car quits before the finish line and coasts to a 4.08 to barely hold off Shawn Langdon, who expertly pedaled through tire haze and put the hammer back down to a 4.26.
I pedaled it once then pedaled it again and it quit," said Torrence., "I could hear him charging hard but we ran good enough early to hold on for the win."
The tire smoke that claimed Langdon also claims Mike Salinas, allowing Langdon's teammate Doug Kalitta to escape for the win with a cylinder-dropping 3.888. Kalitta already has climbed two spots today, from eighth to sixth in the points.
Semifinal pairings (lane choice first): Justin Ashley vs. Antron Brown; Doug Kalitta vs. Steve Torrence
Right behind the two tire-smoking Top Fuelers, J.R. Todd has no problem negotiating the left lane and beats Bob Tasca III on a holeshot, 3.97 to 3.94. If Todd reaches the final round, he'll climb all the way up to fifth place in points after starting eighth today.
A rematch of the first round of Sunday’s callout goes the exact same way as Cruz Pedregon defeats Alexis DeJoria. His 3.94 will earn him semifinal lane choice over J.R. Todd as Pedregon tries to win Indy for the first time in 28 years.
Incredibly, this is the first time all season that Pedregon has reached the semifinals. "Things have really changed for since we made some big changes in the clutch department two months ago," he said. "We're running consistently now with good numbers.
Low qualifier Robert Hight runs his string of three-second runs to eight with a 3.95 to beat Tim Wilkerson, who lost traction at halftrack. Hight, winner of Sunday’s Pep Boys Callout, is hoping to duplicate boss John Force’s shootout/Indy win from 1996.
Ron Capps makes like a 1973 Funny Car driver in his Don Prudhomme tribute car, wheeling and dealing his way through a loose run to stay ahead of Matt Hagan, who also has his hands full with a loss of traction. Capps takes the wild pedalfest win, 4.58 to 5.14. The victory assure Capps that he will finish the regular season in the top points position.
Semifinal pairings (lane choice first): Robert Hight vs. Ron Capps; Cruz Pedregon vs. Alexis DeJoria
After Erica Enders watched her teammate Troy Coughlin Jr. shake the tires in the left lane against Fernando Cuadra Jr., the five-time champ and her Elite team called an audible and swapped to the right side. Whether or not that played a part in her win against Dallas Glenn is debatable as she used a slight holeshot to take out the leader, 6,638 to 6.644. Enders was outside of the Top 10 for much of the season but has now moved to third place, leapfrogging over Deric Kramer and Coughlin Jr. by reaching the semifinals. “It’s a great weekend to have a great weekend. Two down and two to go,” said Enders.
Kyle Koretsky picked a perfect time to have his best light of the season as he used a .003 leave to get past Aaron Stanfield, 6.65 to 6.64. Much like Enders, Koretsky got off to a slow start in the 2023 season but he appears to be peaking at the right time. Koretsky drove his Lucas Oil Camaro to the final round in Brainerd two weeks ago to solidify his spot in the Top 10. Of course, the next NHRA event is held at Maple Grove Raceway, the venue that is owned by Koretsky’s father, Kenny.
Semifinal matchups (lane choice first): Matt Hartford vs. Erica Enders; Kyle Koretsky vs. Fernando Cuadra Jr.
If not for the performance of Gaige Herrera this season, Hector Arana Jr. would likely be getting a lot more attention. After winning two events late last year, Arana landed sponsorship from GETTRX to do a full season and he’s made the most of it with now five semifinals to go with his victory in Norwalk. Arana rode to a 6.82 to defeat Kelly Clontz, keeping his hopes for a second Indy win intact.
Luck often plays a part in an Indy victory and Angie Smith got her fair share of it when Eddie Krawiec’s bike bogged in their second round match-up. Krawiec ran a 6.87 in round one, but slowed to a 7.05, allowing Smith to take the win with a 6.93 on her Denso Buell. Smith could potentially face her husband, Matt, in the final after he defeated Chase Van Sant. “It would be fun, but we’re taking it one round at a time. We had bike problems but we got it fixed yesterday,” said Smith.
Semifinal matchups (lane choice first): Gaige Herrera vs. Matt Smith; Hector Arana Jr. vs. Angie Smith
Steve Torrence must have his lucky horseshoe on board as he escapes into the final round with his second straight four-second pass as Doug Kalitta smokes the tires. Torrence’s mount quit early again as he crossed the finish line at just 255 mph. The round win assures Torrence that he will finish in second place in the regular season behind Justin Ashley. Torrence will be racing for his fourth Indy win and his third in Top Fuel.
Somehow Torrence's 4.08 will give him lane choice in the final as Antron Brown wins with an even slower 4.92 after both he and Justin Ashley have major traction issues, Ashley almost turns his dragster sideways trying to pedal and catch the fleeing Brown bt keeps all four wheels on the ground. The final will pit the winners of the last two U.S. Nationals, Torrence in 2021 and Brown last season.
J.R. Todd, who won the "Big Go" back to back in 2017-18, will get a shot at his third trophy after taking an easy win after Cruz Pedregon had to shut off early. Todd's 4.00 gets him to the final and assures that he will finish the regular season in fifth place. There's some drama for him at the top end as he has an issue with the brakes and ends up in the turnoff grass. The car does not appear to have suffered any damage,
Todd's 4.00 will give him lane choice for what will be an all-yellow Toyota Supra final as Ron Capps puts the Hot Wheels/Don Prudhomme entry into the other lane with a 4.02 after Robert Hight backfires the blower 300 feet into the run,
The battle for the U.S. Nationals Pro Stock title will be between low qualifier Matt Hartford and upset-minded Fernando Cuadra Jr., who is appearing in his first final round.
The semifinal race between Kyle Koretsky and Cuadra Jr., was close, but not in the way most Pro Stock fans are accustomed to. Both drivers shook the tires as soon as they dumped the clutch, and Cuadra was able to recover more quickly to take a 7.27 to 7.30 win against Koretsky.
Cuadra, a semifinalist in last year’s U.S. Nationals, will have the opportunity to win his first event when he takes on Hartford, who scored a huge win in the semi’s with a 6.64 to 6.67 win against five-time champ Erica Enders. Hartford won in Norwalk earlier this year and has six career Pro Stock wins.
Hector Arana Jr. will have an opportunity to win another title at the Dodge Power Brokers U.S. Nationals, but he’ll have to climb a tall mountain as he’s paired with his old rival, six-time world champion Matt Smith.
Arana Jr., so far the only rider to top 200 mph this weekend, stopped Angie Smith in the semifinal round with a 6.896, preventing an all-Smith final round.
Matt Smith scored perhaps the biggest upset of the weekend when he took out low qualifier Gaige Herrera, who lost for just the third time this season when his Vance & Hines Suzuki stumbled off the line. Smith, who rarely lets that sort of opportunity pass, went to the final and earned lane choice with a 6.87 on his Denso Suzuki.
FINAL-ROUND RESULTS: Brown, Capps, and Smith successfully defend Indy titles; Hartford scores his first
LUCAS OIL DRAG RACING SERIES RESULTS
TOP ALCOHOL DRAGSTER
Madison Payne def. Julie Nataas
TOP ALCOHOL FUNNY CAR
Sean Bellemeur def. Doug Gordon
Chase Williams def. Troy Gailbraith
Wyatt Wagner def. Frankie Morris
Donnie Beeler def. Ross Ponville
Devin Isenhower def. Jason Kenny
Bo Butner def. George Meyer
RIGHT TRAILERS TOP DRAGSTER
Jeff Strickland def. Holden Laris
RIGHT TRAILERS TOP SPORTSMAN
Chris Osborn def. Steve Jaeger
FUELTECH PRO MOD Presented by Type A Motorsports
Kris Thorne def. Justin Bond
FLEXJET FACTORY STOCK SHOWDOWN
Jesse Alexandra def. Stephen Bell
FACTORY X Presented by Holley
Greg Stanfield def. Chris Holbrook