Two Time Winners Take Center Stage at U.S. Nationals
Stevie “Fast” Jackson, Shawn Langdon, Jack Beckman, and Erica Enders-Stevens each walked away with the second U.S. Nationals win of their career on Sunday at the DENSO Spark Plugs event in Brownsburg, Indiana. It was the sixth of eleven events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and the third consecutive event of 2020 season at Lucas Oil Raceway for the E3 Spark Plugs Pro Mod division. Jackson defeated Todd Tutterow in the Pro Mod final with a near perfect .006 reaction time to claim his second U.S. Nationals Wally and the tenth Pro Mod win of his career.
The doorslammer class lived up to its reputation for extreme runs down the quarter-mile strip with Kristopher Thorne and Steve Matusek destroying their turbocharged rides in separate round one accidents. Fortunately, both drivers walked away unharmed. Nonetheless, a tight race for the points-lead, currently held by Jackson, will be continued Sept. 25-27 at the Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals at the historic Gainesville FL facility.
Shawn Langdon, who spent the past two seasons in the Funny Car division of NHRA’s 1000-foot Nitro class, earned his first Top Fuel Wally since the NHRA Nationals at St. Louis in 2016 and the second of his career at the U.S. Nationals. In the semi-final round against recent NHRA winner Justin Ashley, Langdon was late off the tree with a .039 RT to Ashley’s near perfect .001 RT. Unfortunately, the great starts turned sour as both drivers were in-and-out of the gas the entire length of the track. Langdon finally prevailed with 6.92 ET at 175 mph. Leah Pruett defeated Terry McMillen and Tony Schumacher to reach the semi-final round. In the semi, Pruett relied on a .053 RT for a hole-shot win over Steve Torrence who posted the better ET and top speed. In the final matchup of the day, Langdon nailed .015 RT in the DHL Dragster for Kalitta Motorsports and never looked back. He posted a winning run with a 3.705 ET at 326.32 mph. Doug Kalitta retained his points lead in Top Fuel, but Pritchett moved ahead of Steve Torrence into second place overall in the standings.
In NHRA Funny Car, Jack Beckman drove his Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger to the 32nd overall victory of his career and the ninth straight win in a row Don Schumacher Racing. It extended DSR’s victory count to 351 class wins. JR Todd barely missed an opportunity to earn his third U.S. Nationals victory in four years with a 3.960 ET to Beckman’s 3.908 elapsed time. Beckman left nothing in pits as his sponsor and benefactor Doug Chandler announced that his charity-related entry will not return in 2021. In NHRA Pro Stock, Erica Enders claimed her second U.S. Nationals title driving the Melling-sponsored entry for Elite Motorsports. Matt Hartford eliminated Jason Line in a close semi-final run before losing a very close final race to Enders. Enders had the holeshot with a .009 RT to Hartford’s .026 RT and stayed on the pedal for a 6.606 ET at 208.55 mph to Hartford’s 6.610 ET at 208.59 mph.
Teams head south to Gainesville Raceway in Florida for the AMALIE Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals on September 25-27.