Antron Brown increases NHRA lead with St Louis win
Antron Brown has assumed an outright lead as the NHRA Full Throttle Top Fuel Series heads towards its conclusion after a victory in St Louis, whilst Erica Enders continued her tilt at the Pro Stock Championship with a victory and Jack Beckman (Funny Car) and Eddie Kraewic (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also walked away with their respective ‘Wallys’.
Brown and fellow Championship aspirant, Spencer Massey made it through to the decider, Brown’s victory edging him 21 points in front of Massey after the pair entered the first event in the St Louis area in two years locked together at the pinnacle of the Championship.
Brown eliminted Bruce Litton, Steve Torrence, and Brandon Bernstein on his way to the final. His 3.766 seconds at 523.29kph (325.22mph) final run was his quickest of the day. He was also the fastest qualifier.
“Matching up against my teammate (Massey) in the final was big,” admitted Brown. “We’ve been back and forth in the points. It’s great to have six wins, but right now, they’re all in the past. We need to go back to the shop and get focused on these last three races. It’s just so competitive out here, and this points race is going to go down to the last race.”
Erica Enders took her fourth victory of a sensational season in Pro Stock, advancing herself to third in the Championship with three rounds to go. Sitting 126 points off the Championship lead, it is unlikely that she will walk away with the NHRA Full Throttle crown, however as she has proven all season long, she can have a significant involvement in the outcome.
By absolute millimetres, Enders defeated Championship leader, Allen Johnson in a holeshot victory. Johnson crossed the line faster than Enders by 0.002 and half-a-mile an hour quicker. It was his third straight final round appearance and his Championship lead has extended to 109 points over Jason Line.
Enders outran Shane Gray, teammate Dave Connolly, and top qualifier, Line to advance to the final.
“This is the win I wanted to get in Texas last week, but I’ll take it,” Enders said. “We were definitely consistent this weekend, and that’s why we got to the final so I could race Allen and get to the winner’s circle.”
By taking victory at St Louis, Jack Beckman has moved to within 30 points of the Funny Car Championship lead. He beat home last year’s Champion, Matt Hagan – who is outside the Countdown chase – but is proving to be a fly in the ointment for those who are in line to walk away as Champion. He eliminated current Championship leader, Ron Capps in the second round.
Hagan was too quick away in the final bringing on the red light – ensuring a surprised Beckman scored an easy win light.
“From my perspective, you’re ready to go up there and squeeze the trigger if anything happens,” Beckman said. “I heard noise, saw the red light come on, and saw the big DieHard logo from Matt’s car. It’s nice to know that we have a car that can challenge for the championship. It’s awesome to know that we have three races to go and are only 30 points back. All we want is a fighting chance going into Pomona.”
Earlier in the day, Beckman eliminated Alexis DeJoria, Jeff Arend, and Tony Pedregon.
It was a terrible day for Team Force, with a majority of the JFR Fords now out of contention for the Championship. By the end of the second round all four of the Castrol-backed Mustangs were on the sidelines, ensuring plenty of soul searching will be underway in the super-team before the next event. Courtney and John Force and Robert Hight all bowed out in round one. Mike Neff was the only driver to make it to round two after he eliminated the younger Force. He was tossed out by Tony Pedregon.
Neff now sits third in the Championship, 101 points off Capps’ mark.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE
With his seventh win of the season, Eddie Kraewic has advanced his Championship lead for Harley Davidson to 33 points.
The 18th win of his NHRA career was secured against Screamin’ Eagle team-mate, Andrew Hines. Kraewic had an interesting day, seeing three competitors bow out with red lights – Hines being one of those. He knocked out Steve Johnson, Chip Ellis and Hector Arana Snr. on his way through to the decider.
“Andrew and I were lucky to take out the Hectors (Arana Jr. and Snr. respectively) in the semi’s, and that really helped us in the points,” Krawiec said. “I lost in Dallas due to rider error. I had a .066 light which is unacceptable. This week, I was good on the Tree and had a good bike, which is what it takes to win some rounds. Yes, I had three red-lights against me here, but I did well, and all my runs were good. I pushed it a little in the final, but I know the potential of what he (Hines) has. He crushed me in Charlotte.”
The quick fire Countdown Series in the NHRA Full Throttle Championship will continue next weekend at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pennsylvania.