Khalid alBalooshi creates NHRA history in Pennsylvania
Khalid alBalooshi has created history by becoming the first Middle Eastern driver and only the third non-American to take an NHRA Full Throttle Series event victory after he defeated Championship leader Antron Brown in one of the biggest boilovers of the season.
With around half the event at Maple Grove Raceway rained off on Sunday, it added additional tension around the pits on Monday as the NHRA Series’ are coming towards their conclusion.
alBalooshi’s win was by no means a Monday fluke – on Sunday, he eliminated Spencer Massey and Ike Maier – before advancing to the decider against Brown by defeating teammate, Shawn Langdon.
“I give my team owner, the crew guys, and all the people who work with us thanks for making this win,” alBalooshi said. “I try my best, and I know that everybody on the team is trying their best, and finally, I won my first race.”
Brown is now 104 points at the head of Spencer Massey in the Championship table and increased his lead with going even faster than his national record of Sunday, charging down the strip in 3.701 seconds.
alBalooshi now joins Australian David Grubnic and Japanese Kenji Okazaki as winners of NHRA Full Throttle events. It was a huge win for the Top Fuel Rookie and the Qatari-funded Al Anabi racing team.
In Funny Car, Mike Neff got himself back to the top of the podium walking away with the victory over Johnny Gray in the Final.
With just two events left to go in the Series, the points race has heated up – with Jack Beckman now in a clear lead of the Title by 23 points over Ron Capps. Neff has advanced himself to third now and is right in the chase, just 54 points behind the leader after eliminating team owner, John Force in the semi-final.
Beckman, who was eliminated in the semi-finals, gained additional points by being the fastest man throughout the weekend joining Brown in setting a new national record for his category.
V. Gaines took out the victory in Pro Stock over Dave Connolly. It was the fourth win of his career, but his first since 2008.
Gaines had an incredibly tough road to the final eliminating points leader Allen Johnson, Greg Anderson and Jason Line.
“We didn’t qualify for five of the first of seven races, but then we started making improvements and began to run better and better,” said Gaines. “We were a bit worried about running in cold-weather conditions because you know that we’re from Denver where it is 5,000-feet high. We were really uncertain. But we showed this weekend that we can compete in the cold weather, and we’re just ecstatic.”
Johnson remains at the head of the points table, holding his advantage by 82 points despite being eliminated early.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE
Pro Stock Motorcycle will have to wait until Las Vegas (October 25-28) to award its Maple Grove Championship. The rain that struck on Sunday was due to hit again Monday.
The final was to take place between the dominant Screamin’ Eagle Harley Davidsons of Andrew Hines and Eddie Kraewic.
The category wasn’t without its excitement though, Hines ensured that three of the four major categories left Pennsylvania with new low elapsed time records.
He screamed down the track in a time of 6.728 seconds, which also crucially gave him another 20 points towards his Championship overall.
“That 6.72 was the best run of my career,” Hines said. “I had my best 60-foot time, but if I had run the back half like Eddie, it would have been a 6.70. I’m glad to get the record because this is probably the last time we’ll see it set this year. It’s not going to happen in Las Vegas, and it would take some extraordinary conditions for it to happen in Pomona. Those 20 points could come in handy at the last two races.”
Although Kraewic has been the dominant force thus far this season, there is nothing but a handful of points between the Harley riders.
The penultimate event in the Full Throttle NHRA Series will be in three weeks time, October 25-28 at The Strip, Las Vegas.