Hagan, Force & Enders Dominate Dodge NHRA Nationals
Brittany Force (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) all won in their respective categories at the penultimate event in the 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. The 19th annual Dodge NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was the fifth of six Countdown to the Championship playoff events.
Don Schumacher Racing MOPAR driver Leah Pritchett came alive in the final Top Fuel qualifying session on Saturday, making the quickest run in track history with a remarkable 3.654 ET at 329.83 mph. By setting the track record, Pritchett eclipsed the record-setting run on Friday by Advanced Auto's Brittany Force. Qualifying Number One in Top Fuel for the first time this season and 12th time in her career, cemented a clean sweep for Don Schumacher Racing in nitro qualifying.
During the Top Fuel semifinals, Doug Kalitta's MAC Tools dragster backfired on the burnout, deploying the vehicle's parachutes. The costly glitch cost Kalitta a chance to close the gap on Top Fuel points leader Steve Torrence. A record-setting weekend for Brittany Force ended with a victory at the 19th annual Dodge NHRA Nationals and moved the John Force Racing driver into second place behind Steve Torrence. It also served as the 151st overall win for females in NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series racing history.
The day after Jack Beckman set the track speed record for Nitro Funny Car with the quickest run in The Strip history at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday. Fast Jack's pass earned the veteran driver the Number One qualifying spot at the 19th annual Dodge NHRA Nationals [resented by Pennzoil. Beckman powered the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge SRT Hellcat to a record-breaking run of 3.835-seconds at 331.94 mph during Saturday’s final qualifying session. It was the third time in 2019 and for 27th time in his career that Beckman was Number One qualifier.
Eventual race winner and Dodge Funny Car driver Matt Hagan led the SealMaster Track Walk as race fans got to take a stroll down the actual racing surface at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Matt Hagan's win pulled him back into the title chase and the veteran driver did it in front of an audience that included executives from both Dodge and Pennzoil. Hagan suddenly finds himself back in the championship mix in Funny Car his MOPAR Dodge SRT Hellcat Widebody. Hagan bettered Jonnie Lindberg’s 3.945 ET at 321.12 mph, leaving him third in points and 56 behind leader Robert Hight.
Erica Enders made double history by winning in Pro Stock. Her win was not only the 200th for the Camaro brand in the Funny Car class and the 150th win by a female in NHRA Mello Yello competition. Points leader Enders came up big in Vegas again thanks to her 6.617 ET at 208.04 mph in her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro against teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr.. It extended her points lead to 92 points over Coughlin, as Enders eyes her third world title.
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues Nov. 14-17 with the final race in the 2019 season and the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs, the Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona CA.