Usual Suspects Show Up Big at Dodge NHRA Indy Nationals
At the last round of the 2020 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series at the Lucas Oil NHRA Summernationals, former world champions and many veteran winners of NHRA national events were eliminated one-by-one. Before heavy rains washed out the final rounds of the day, the improbable results during eliminations had race fans wondering if Keyser Söze was going to mysteriously advance. Nonetheless, the world of drag racing returned to normal last weekend at the Dodge NHRA Indy Nationals also hosted at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis. In Pro Stock division, five-time NHRA world champion Jeg Coughlin, Jr. eliminated Val Smeland, Alex Laughlin, and Greg Anderson to meet up with his nephew Troy Coughlin, Jr. in the Funny Car finals. Troy Jr. had eliminated Kyle Koretsky as well as hard-chargers Erica Enders and Jason Line en route to his first ever Pro Stock final event. Jeg Jr., who is retiring from a full-time NHRA schedule at season’s end, claimed the 65th Wally in his Pro Stock career with a dominating win.
With the entire John Force Racing team sidelined for the remainder of the 2020 Mello Yello NHRA Drag Racing series, the Funny Car team of Don Schumacher Racing claimed its seventh win in a row and its 349th overall win to go along with the team’s seventeen world championships over the past two decades. Driver Ron Capps had a Ron Capps’s-like day to win for the first time at Indianapolis as well as for the first time in 2020. Capps, who claimed his 65th Wally in NHRA Funny Car, eliminated Tim Wilkerson, Blake Alexander, and Bob Tasca III to reach his first final round of the season. After twenty-three seasons of trying, Capps drove his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat to victory over another former-world champion J.R. Todd driving his familiar yellow DHL Toyota Camry. J.R. made history in 2018 when he became the first African American driver to win the NHRA World Championship and only one of seventeen drivers to win a Wally in both Nitro classes (Funny Car and Top Fuel).
In Top Fuel, Steve Torrence, the defending and back-to-back NHRA world champion in NHRA’s elite division, claimed his second Wally of the 2020 Mello Yello Racing Series. His opponent, Terry McMillen, had qualified his AMALIE Motor Oil XTERMIGATOR Top Fuel machine in the Number One spot for the first time in his career. McMillen eliminated Lex Joon, Billy Torrence and points leader Doug Kalitta en route to his ninth final round appearance. Nonetheless, the final run of the day wasn’t pretty, as both drivers struggled to get their 11,000-horsepower Nitro burning machines from the Christmas Tree to the finish line at Lucas Oil Raceway. McMillen was very late off the start (.234) and Torrence had do a balancing act after his Capco Contractors dragster smoked the tires late in the run and posted winning speed of 224.17 mph at the 2020 Dodge NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil. With the Aug. 14-16 NHRA Nationals at Brainerd postponed until further notice, race teams return to Indianapolis Sept. 3-6 for the DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway.