NHRA 2018 U.S. Nationals: Coverage of The Big GO!

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NHRA Mello Yellow drag racing series

Coverage of The Big GO!

by Tom McCarthy , NHRA.com, and Matt Polito

MONDAY

Top Fuel Harley

When eliminations began on Sunday, Jay Turner and Doug Vancil had everyone watching closely as this run would have a big impact on the 2018 championship season. As the two bikes launched, Jay got out first by a bunch with a .029 reaction to the tree and Vancil responded with a .060 RT that had him in the hole – but only for a moment. Jay Turner’s rear tire broke traction, close to sixty-feet out and suddenly it was Vancil storming away for the round win.

In the next pair, Rickey House and Bobby Malloy faced off. Just after the launch, Rickey House broke traction and his bike got into a wiggle, so he backed off the throttle. When he did, Bobby Malloy thundered down the left-lane for the win as Sharkey just rumbled on idle down the 1320 to complete his run.

The match up of Randal Andras and Jason Pridemore looked to be a good one. Randall had a 6.31 in qualifying and Jason a personal best 6.28, so they were closely matched.  Randal’s bike, got out first on Jason, but developed an issue about 300’ down track. Pridemore motored on for the win with a 6.55 @ 204 MPH effort.

Then for the fourth and final pair of the round came the all important race between Chris Smith and Tii Tharpe. Both racers killed it on the tree, Tii with a .027 and Chris Smith with a .030 RT, they were out for blood! Glued side-by-side to half track, it was a heck of a drag race. Chris Smith drifted R to L while thundering down the right lane during the first half of the run. Tii went straight down the groove in the left lane and at 1000’, Tii shot past Chris Smith for the big win.

When the big Harleys rolled out for E-2, it was the semi-finals and Tii & Doug Vancil were still battling it out for the 2018 NHRA T/F Harley title.  The first pair out was Jason Pridemore Vs Tii Tharpe.  Jason red-lit his chances for a US Nationals victory away at the launch with a -.202 red-eye and Tii Tharpe completed his run with a fine, 6.41 @ 218 MPH to advance to the final round.

Then came the match up of Bobby Malloy and Doug Vancil, two cagey veterans who know how to win. Doug Vancil’s .040 RT was better by a bunch over Bob Malloy’s .070 and Vancil’s front end hiked up high right off the launch and he motored by Bobby, to win a close one, 6.327 for the win by Doug Vancil and a great 6.389 by Bobby Malloy.

This set up the biggest race of the season, Doug Vancil Vs Tii Tharpe in the championship round. 14 points separated the two contestants going into the final battle. With the final round of racing on the line for the 2018 season, the runner up of the race would receive 64 points and the winner would receive 85 points, so someone was about to receive 21 championship points and with it the 2018 NHRA points championship.

When they came to the line, both teams came to win. BOTH drivers had .043 reaction times to the tree, then about 250 feet out, Doug Vancil’s machine began to falter, it slowed, Tii just motored on to victory and with it a dramatic come from behind victory! One he will remember for all the days of his life. His winning elapsed time was a 6.44 to Doug Vancil’s troubled 7.05 effort.

Congratulations are in order for the Jay Turner Racing team and especially to Tii Tharpe, NHRA 2018 Mickey Thompson Tires Top Fuel Harley champion!

Eliminations Round 1
LANEDRIVERRT60 FT330 FT660 FT660 FT MPH1000 FTETMPH
WINDoug Vancil0.061.1312.8434.194181.55.3786.387220.76
Jay Turner0.0291.1133.0785.054115.767.1199.163104.8
1:11 p.m. - Weather conditions: air temperature 91 degrees, relative humidity 52 percent, barometer 29.28 inches, adjusted altitude 3,778 feet, track temperature 119 degrees. Turner got off the starting line first but then spun the rear tire at about 330 feet. Vancil caught Turner before they reached 330 feet and went on for the win.
WINBob Malloy0.0991.1132.8054.213164.095.5866.834176.42
Rickey House0.0331.2143.4585.90590.348.50711.00485.97
Malloy got the win here and will race Vancil in the next round. House got off the throttle at mid-track.
WINJason Pridemore0.1561.1012.8154.269173.095.4886.555204.39
Randal Andras0.0231.1513.074.773143.46.2827.731145.42
Andras was first off the starting and was out in front at 60 feet. His motorcycle had problems on the track and Pridemore powered by him to take the win.
WINTii Tharpe0.0271.1192.8484.189183.895.3596.367215.65
Chris Smith0.031.092.8894.253183.675.4066.411227.73
Tharpe was first off the starting line but fell behind at 60 feet. Smith's bike was rocking back and forth on the track while Tharpe was able to drive by him for the win. Tharpe will race Pridemore in the next round.
Eliminations Round 2
LANEDRIVERRT60 FT330 FT660 FT660 FT MPH1000 FTETMPH
WINDoug Vancil0.041.0872.7834.134181.285.3136.327221.74
Bob Malloy0.071.1252.8474.188182.775.3636.389213.54
Vancil had this race from start to finish to move on to the next round and keep his championship hopes alive.
WINTii Tharpe-0.0211.1062.8364.208180.075.3966.415218.3
Jason Pridemore-0.2021.1062.8484.245178.175.4446.563191.48
Tharpe took the win after Pridemore lit the red light. This is the last race of the Top Fuel Harley season. Tharpe and Vancil are in the top two spots in the championship points race, so the final round here will be a race race for both the event win and the season championship.
FINAL Eliminations
LANEDRIVERRT60 FT330 FT660 FT660 FT MPH1000 FTETMPH
WINTii Tharpe0.0431.142.8854.244182.115.4246.442224.02
Doug Vancil0.0431.1042.8434.294159.995.6947.054155.45
3:39 p.m. - Weather conditions: air temperature 93 degrees, relative humidity 45 percent, barometer 29.26 inches, adjusted altitude 3,903 feet, track temperature 128 degrees. Coming into this race, Tharpe and Vancil have raced each other only once in the final round and Tharpe won that race. Vancil and Tharpe had identical reactions times but Vancil was out in front at 330 feet. After that, Tharpe's motorcycle started to pull ahead and he went on to take the win. It's Tharpe's fifth win this year and seventh of his career. But just as important, this win gave Tharpe the season championship in Top Fuel Harley.

 

Pro Stock Motorcycle

Tonglet rode to the Pro Stock Motorcycle win with his 6.864 pass at 197.10 on his Nitro Fish Racing Suzuki to defeat four-time world champion Eddie Krawiec and his Mello Yello Vance & Hines Harley Davidson’s 6.884 pass at 197.02. This is Tonglet’s second career victory at Lucas Oil Raceway, his third win on the season and 19th of his career.
“I try not to think about anything,” Tonglet said. “We just go up there and try our best and whatever happens, happens. I don’t lose sleep over this since this is still a hobby for us. We just come out here to have fun.”
Tonglet took down Ryan Oehler, Chip Ellis and Steve Johnson before seeing Krawiec who beat Jerry Savoie, teammate Andrew Hines and Hector Arana Jr., in the finals.

 


ROUND 1
 The battle for the final Countdown heated up during a thrilling first round of Pro Stock Motorcycle eliminations. The drama began early in the first pair when Steve Johnson defeated Hector Arana Sr. in a battle of the class’ two most senior riders. The win allowed Johnson to move past Arana for the final Countdown spot. However, Johnson’s spot is not secure because Jimmy Underdahl score a massive upset when he took down low qualifier Matt Smith, who’s EBR bogged badly off the starting line. That set up a quarterfinal match between Johnson and Underdahl with the winner in the Countdown and the loser out of playoff contention. In addition to Arana, Joey Gladstone was also knocked out of playoff contention. All three Harley-Davidson riders, Eddie Krawiec, Andrew Hines, and Chip Ellis made it to the second round where Krawiec and Hines will race each other.

 

ROUND 2  The winner-take-all battle for the final spot in the Pro Stock Motorcycle Countdown to the Championship went to Steve Johnson following his clutch win over fellow Suzuki rider Jimmy Underdahl. The win vaulted Johnson up to eighth during what is his 21st season in the class. Johnson will face 2010 Indy winner LE Tonglet who rode his Nitro Fish Suzuki to a win against Chip Ellis.

The all-Harley battle between teammates Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec went to Krawiec, who wrapped up the top seed with a close 6.90 to 6.92 win on his special edition Mello Yello Harley Street Rod. The quickest run of the round came from the Lucas Oil EBR of Hector Arana Jr., who came from behind to stop Mark Paquette, who led early with a .004 reaction time.

SEMIFINALS  Eight years after he announced his arrival to the spot with a U.S. Nationals victory and a Mello Yello series championship, LE Tonglet will once again race for the title at NHRA’s biggest event. Tongelt defeated Steve Johnson in the semifinals, 6.876 to 6.934 to move to the final round where he will face off against defending Indy winner Eddie Krawiec. Krawiec also ran a 6.876 in his semifinal win over Hector Arana Jr., but had a slightly faster speed than Tonglet so he will pick his lane in a Harley-Davidson vs. Suzuki final round.

FINAL LE Tonglet, near lane, claimed the 19th NHRA national event title of his career and his second Indy title by riding his Nitro Fish Suzuki to a final round win over reigning world champ and defending Indy winner Eddie Krawiec. Tonglet was slightly quicker at the start and made a better run down track to win by a 6.864 to 6.884 margin. Tonglet, the 2010 world champ, has now won three times this year in four finals including the recent events in Richmond and Sonoma. Tonglet will enter the Countdown to the Championship as the No. 3 seed in the class, behind Krawiec and his Harley-Davidson teammate Andrew Hines.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE WINNER LE TONGLET: “Eddie beat us in Reading last year and I haven’t forgotten. We had transmission issues but today we showed that we can beat him, and we can out-run him. In the final when I popped the clutch in the left lane it went immediately to the left and I just sort of kept it in the left tire track and I stayed straight from then on and we were able to get the round win. We just go up there and try our best and whatever happens, happens. It’s just a lot of fun having Jerry [Savoie] as a teammate and riding one of his bikes. They are so smooth and fast.

 

Eliminations Round 1
LANEDRIVERRT60 FT330 FT660 FT660 FT MPH1000 FTETMPH
WINSteve Johnson0.0551.0732.8894.42159.645.7556.899195.08
Hector Arana0.0591.1432.9854.527158.975.8687.011196.3
12:33 p.m. - Weather conditions: air temperature 91 degrees, relative humidity 52 percent, barometer 29.28 inches, adjusted altitude 3,778 feet, track temperature 117 degrees. Hector Arana won his only Indy title in 2009. Steve Johnson has two Indy wins to his credit. They came in 2005 and 2008. Johnson came off the starting line just 0.004 seconds before Arana but extended his lead as the pair made their way down the race track. Johnson got the win with his best run of the event so far.
WINMark Paquette0.0311.0952.9094.457158.115.8086.968192.25
Joey Gladstone0.0381.0972.9034.451157.715.8076.97192.8
Paquette was first off the starting line and stayed in front to take the win. Mark Paquette's MOV: 0.0092 seconds (approximately 3 feet).
WINLE Tonglet0.0761.0622.8674.392160.865.726.857196.59
Ryan Oehler0.071.1122.9424.502156.645.8647.031192
LE Tonglet was the 2010 champ here. Oehler did his burnout and as he tried to stage, the motorcycle lost power. He was able to get it started again to make the run. Oehler was a bit quicker off the starting line but Tonglet took the lead right away and went on to win.
WINAndrew Hines0.0281.0772.8674.395159.595.7356.88195.59
Angelle Sampey0.1031.072.8744.421157.675.7776.937193.49
Andrew Hines has been to the final round four times at Indy. He won in 2012 and 2016. Angelle Sampey has won this race in 2001 and 2002, and has been runner-up on three other occasions. Sampey did not make the field until the last qualifying session. Hines was first off the starting line and stayed in front for the win.
WINChip Ellis0.0391.0642.8574.381160.735.7126.857195.08
Scotty Pollacheck0.0351.1092.9474.949108.787.1969.49791.74
Ellis got the win and will race Tonglet in the next round. Tonglet and Ellis had identical ETs but Tonglet gets lane choice on the basis of speed.
WINHector Arana Jr0.0251.0892.8934.407161.875.7266.849199.29
Karen Stoffer0.0131.0852.914.459157.655.8156.975192.93
Hector Arana Jr. was the 2011 winner here and has been the runner-up in each of the last two years. This is the 369th round for Karen Stoffer and that is the ninth most in the history of the motorcycle class. Stoffer was first off the starting line but Arana took the lead before they reached 330 feet. After that, he pulled away for the win. He'll have lane choice over Paquette in the next round.
WINJim Underdahl0.0371.0992.9094.455158.075.8086.966193.63
Matt Smith0.0381.1663.0154.547159.725.8817.022196.07
Matt Smith won here in 2006. The number one qualifier in the Pro Stock Bike class has won Indy three times in the last 15 years. Jim Underdahl is making his 111th start. Underdahl was a tick quicker at the starting line and stayed out in front to take the win and keep alive his hopes of making the Countdown. Underdahl will race Johnson in the next round and Johnson will have lane choice.
WINEddie Krawiec0.0321.0752.8614.386160.55.7196.859196.24
Jerry Savoie0.0081.0852.9024.432160.045.776.915195.45
Eddie Krawiec won Indy in 2014 and 2017. Jerry Savoie won this race in 2015. This is just the third time these two have met in the first round, and Eddie has won both of the previous meetings. Savoie was first off the starting line and was out in front at 60 feet. From that point, Krawiec took the lead and went on for the win. Krawiec will have lane choice over Hines in the second round.
Eliminations Round 2
LANEDRIVERRT60 FT330 FT660 FT660 FT MPH1000 FTETMPH
WINSteve Johnson0.0181.1112.9314.476158.375.8256.98193.57
Jim Underdahl0.0171.1112.9374.504155.975.8687.028193.63
2:08 p.m. - Weather conditions: air temperature 93 degrees, relative humidity 45 percent, barometer 29.27 inches, adjusted altitude 3,832 feet, track temperature 124 degrees. Underdahl is 2 - 1 against Johnson in prior events. Underdahl was a tick quicker at the starting line but Johnson got by him to take the win. Johnson's win not only moves him on to he next round, it locked up his spot in the Countdown.
WINEddie Krawiec0.0131.0912.8864.421159.515.7596.902195.87
Andrew Hines0.0181.092.894.431158.745.7786.929194.58
Krawiec is 30 - 20 against Hines in prior events. Krawiec's motorcycle lost power as he was getting ready to stage it. He got it restarted and went on to win this race.
WINLE Tonglet0.0091.082.8884.421159.75.7566.897196.44
Chip Ellis0.0941.1212.9584.504158.655.8547.014192.96
Tonglet is 5 - 2 against Ellis in prior events. Tonglet was quicker off the starting line. He won the race and will have lane choice over Johnson in the next round.
WINHector Arana Jr0.0841.0882.8914.416160.425.7446.875198.12
Mark Paquette0.0041.1022.9254.505153.655.8957.083188.81
This is the first time Paquette and Arana Jr have faced each other in eliminations. Paquette had the quicker start and was ahead at 330 feet. Arana got by him then and took the win. Arana will have lane choice over Krawiec in the next round.
Eliminations Round 3
LANEDRIVERRT60 FT330 FT660 FT660 FT MPH1000 FTETMPH
WINLE Tonglet0.0541.0682.8684.401159.895.7366.876196.13
Steve Johnson0.0351.082.8954.435158.765.7816.934193.6
3:24 p.m. - Weather conditions: air temperature 93 degrees, relative humidity 45 percent, barometer 29.26 inches, adjusted altitude 3,903 feet, track temperature 128 degrees. Johnson was quicker off the starting line but Tonglet was quicker on the track to take the win and earn a trip to the final round. LE Tonglet's MOV: 0.0397 seconds (approximately 11 feet).
WINEddie Krawiec0.031.0892.8764.406159.725.7366.876196.47
Hector Arana Jr0.0191.1012.9174.442161.195.7646.892198.7
Arana was quicker off the starting line but could not hold the advantage. Krawiec took the win and will race Tonglet in the final round.
FINAL Eliminations
LANEDRIVERRT60 FT330 FT660 FT660 FT MPH1000 FTETMPH
WINLE Tonglet0.0221.072.8724.399160.445.7286.864197.1
RUEddie Krawiec0.0281.0942.8864.417160.295.7496.884197.02
4:19 p.m. - Weather conditions: air temperature 93 degrees, relative humidity 45 percent, barometer 29.24 inches, adjusted altitude 3,923 feet, track temperature 128 degrees. Tonglet was a bit quicker off the starting line and stayed out in front the entire way down the track. LE Tonglet's MOV: 0.0264 seconds (approximately 8 feet). This was Tonglet's second win here at Indy, with his first win coming in 2010. This win gives him three wins for the season and 19 wins in his career.

 


SUNDAY

Top Fuel Harley

Sunday qualifying for the NHRA US Nationals was just gang-busters with two final rounds of Top Fuel Harley action. When the smoke cleared, the new and final bump-spot became a 6.33, the lowest, quickest bump of the entire 2018 season.

So the final qualifying order became: Jay Turner 6.22, Tii Tharpe 6.25, Jason Pridemore 6.282, Rickey House 6.287, Bob Malloy 6.30, Randal Andras 6.31, Chris Smith 6.32, and Doug Vancil with a 6.33 elapsed time. On the outside looking in were, in descending order, quickest first: Mike Scott, Dennis Fisher, Beau Layne, Tracey Kile, Jake Stordeur, Kevin Boyer, David Larson and Julian Seaman – who all gave their best effort to qualify.

POSITION DRIVER ET MPH
01 Jay Turner 6.225 233.88
02 Tii Tharpe 6.258 231.12
03 Jason Pridemore 6.282 223.36
04 Rickey House 6.287 221.02
05 Bob Malloy 6.306 211.2
06 Randal Andras 6.317 218.58
07 Chris Smith 6.322 231.71
08 Doug Vancil 6.333 220.19
09 Mike Scott 6.410 208.26
10 Dennis Fisher 6.419 214.66
11 Beau Layne 6.478 213.91
12 Tracy Kile 6.562 215.2
13 Jake Stordeur 6.582 204.23
14 Kevin Boyer 6.656 204.91
15 David Larson 6.890 208.52
16 Julian Seaman 7.240 173.01

Pro Stock Motorcycle

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Smith secured his third No. 1 qualifier of the season, 29th of his career and fourth at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals with his 6.814 pass at 199.14 on his Victory Magnum during the final round of qualifying.

“I’ve got a lot of confidence in our motorcycle,” Smith stated. “Ever since we debuted this bike it has been the fastest thing on the property and it showed it again today. I’ve just got to do my job and we must have no failures of any kind.”

Smith will face-off against Jim Underdahl in the first round of eliminations. Hector Arana Jr. qualified second with his 6.817 pass at 198.58 on Sunday, he will race Karen Stoffer in the first round. Scotty Pollacheck secured his spot in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship and will face Chip Ellis first round.

POSITION DRIVER ET MPH
01 Matt Smith 6.814 199.14
02 Hector Arana Jr 6.817 198.58
03 Eddie Krawiec 6.825 197.02
04 Chip Ellis 6.831 197.48
05 LE Tonglet 6.847 196.73
06 Andrew Hines 6.852 196.04
07 Mark Paquette 6.893 194.13
08 Hector Arana 6.926 195.62
09 Steve Johnson 6.932 193.54
10 Joey Gladstone 6.937 194.07
11 Angelle Sampey 6.940 195.11
12 Ryan Oehler 6.940 193.93
13 Scotty Pollacheck 6.940 193.02
14 Jerry Savoie 6.941 195.22
15 Karen Stoffer 6.941 192.74
16 Jim Underdahl 6.949 193.27
17 Angie Smith 6.952 191.02
18 Kelly Clontz 6.992 191.43
19 Ron Tornow 6.994 190.06
20 Odolph Daniels 7.182 186.48
21 Andie Rawlings 7.501 171.18
22 Wendell Daniels 8.019 170.77

Matt Smith’s 6.814-second, 199.14 mph Pro Stock Motorcycle run from Sunday afternoon is a legit contender for the run of the event regardless of class. Smith’s V-twin has been one of the best bikes in the class all season and he’s seen a marked improvement since switching to the sleek new EBR body at the last event in Brainerd. He delivered the quickest run in qualifying during what many had considered to be the slowest of the five sessions begging the question of what would the bike have run if he’d have made that run during Friday’s nighttime qualifying run.

“On Friday, I’d have probably run 6.77 or 6.78 and might have run over 200 [mph],” said Smith. “I just didn’t make a really good run until Sunday. We just had a few small issues with our bike and it took me a while to find them. This thing is mean. It’s hateful. This is probably the best bike I’ve ever had. I just need to be able to avoid bad luck and make four good runs today [Monday].”

Smith also spend time on Sunday consoling his wife, Angie, who was bumped from the field during the final session by Angelle Sampey. Even though Angie’s Denso Buell won’t be part of Sunday’s final eliminations, she’s very likely to remain in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs, which is her primary goal. Angie entered Monday’s final eliminations as the No. 8 seed and could only be bumped out if she’s passed by three riders, a highly unlikely scenario considering the ladder.

“I told Angie that she’s going to be just fine,” said Matt. “Sure, she was upset and I don’t blame her but she’s done a good job this year and she deserves to be in the Countdown. As long as all the fast bikes to what they’re supposed to today, including myself, she’s going to be just fine as far as the Countdown goes. I sure don’t plan on cutting anyone any slack today.”

Matt Smith’s first-round opponent is Jimmy Underdhal, one of the riders who could potentially bump Angie from the Countdown.

The dramatic highs and lows of Indy were on full display during Sunday’s final Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying session when three-time world champ Angelle Sampey bumped Angie Smith from the field. Smith entered the final session on the bump spot and was first to make an attempt on her Denso Buell. She encountered a transmission problem after the burnout and despite the best efforts of her crew chief and husband Matt to fix the issue, she wasn’t able to make a full run. Smith was understandably devastated, knowing that at least one of the bikes behind her would likely bump her from the field. She didn’t have to wait long as Sampey was next up and delivered the knock out blow with a 6.940 that was good for the No. 11 spot in the field. There were tears on both ends of the track; tears of sorrow for Smith and tears of pure joy for Sampey, who has only failed to qualify three times in her entire career.

“I felt like that was going to be the last run I ever made,” Sampey said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen next year and if I wasn’t sure if we would qualify or if we would go to the Countdown races if I didn’t get into the top ten. It’s really emotional but I decided to calm myself and enjoy that run just in case it was my last run. I had all the confidence in the world in Larry Morgan’s power and my crew chiefs Ken [Johnson] and Derrell [Mullis] but I was just preparing myself mentally for it just in case. When I got to the top end and they told me I got in, it was super emotional.”

As if qualifying at Indy isn’t important enough, the sequence of events could also alter the landscape of the upcoming Countdown to the Championship points battle. Had Sampey not qualified, she almost certainly would have been bumped from the top ten. As it stands, she’s now ninth and has a chance to move up. Smith is eighth and could get knocked out should several riders behind her win the first round of eliminations on Monday.

“I almost gave up this weekend because I was so frustrated,” said Sampey. “Before that last qualifying run Ken [Johnson, co-crew chief] told me, ‘I’m not about to quit so don’t you quit on me.’ That was all I needed to hear. We made a good run and got in the show and that was huge for our team.”

 


SATURDAY

Top Fuel Harley

On Saturday, September 01, 2018, day two of three days of qualifying for the NHRA 2018 US Nationals took place in Clermont, Indiana with Q-2 and Q-3 completed on time for Saturday’s event. It was expected that the initial day of qualifying on Friday would produce a list of qualifiers that would change from day-to-day and indeed it did.

On Friday, the bump-spot for the ladder was a 6.76, that number was lowered to a 6.43, a substantial slash, overnight dropping .330 of a second by day’s end. Several racers who were in on Friday, are out for the moment, with new racers in that were out at day’s end on Friday. New to the competition ladder are now Rickey House and Dennis Fisher. Bumped out are Beau Layne and Jake Stordeur.

Rickey House stepped up to the #2 qualifier spot with stout 6.28 pass to assure him a place in the Big Go Show for Monday.

Jay “Bull Dog” sat out Q-3 as did Bobby Malloy. Both racers ran 6.24 and 6.31 respectively during Q-2, so with them solid in the field they each opted out on the third qualifier. The qualified field as of the end of day two stands with Jay Turner in the #1 spot with an excellent 6.22, Rickey House 6.28, Bob Malloy 6.30, Tii Tharpe6.39, Mike Scott 6.410, Dennis Fisher 6.419, Jason Pridemore 6.42, and Randal Andras with a 6.43 on the bump spot. As mentioned yesterday, the quickest qualified bump during the 2018 season is a 6.41, that happened in Houston, earlier this season.

Conspicuous by his absence on the qualified ladder thus far in qualifying is the current NHRA #1 points leader Doug Vancil. His best so far is a 6.62, putting him in the 13th spot, outside-looking-in for a slot in the 8 bike qualified field to be established for Monday. Doug Vancil, sponsored by Vance & Hines Racing, was 18 points ahead of Tii Tharpe before the start of the US Nationals, which is the last point’s race of the NHRA season for the Mickey Thompson Tires, Top Fuel Harleys. Doug Vancil needs to qualify well and go rounds on Monday to secure his championship points lead.

Sunday qualifying is do or die day for the following racers who are giving it all they have at the 2018 NHRA US Nationals. Going into the final day of qualifying on Sunday, the DNQ’s are, as of Saturday night: Beau Layne, Chris Smith, Tracy Kile, Jake Stordeur, Doug Vancil, David Larson, Julian Seaman and Kevin Boyer. With a little luck and a lot of performance, any of these racers can crack the field for the Big Go. They have all run big numbers before. The only question remaining is – can they run quicker than 6.43 during the next 24 hours?

POSITION DRIVER ET MPH
01 Jay Turner 6.225 233.88
02 Rickey House 6.287 221.02
03 Bob Malloy 6.306 211.2
04 Tii Tharpe 6.398 221.09
05 Mike Scott 6.410 208.26
06 Dennis Fisher 6.419 214.66
07 Jason Pridemore 6.426 212.73
08 Randal Andras 6.431 217.7
09 Beau Layne 6.478 213.91
10 Chris Smith 6.548 207.53
11 Tracy Kile 6.580 213
12 Jake Stordeur 6.582 204.23
13 Doug Vancil 6.624 183.47
14 David Larson 7.028 197.31
15 Julian Seaman 7.738 162.12
16 Kevin Boyer 11.397 77.39

Tracy Kile is giving it his best effort to get into the show at the US Nationals.

Pro Stock Motorcycle

Krawiec remained atop of the Pro Stock Motorcycle category with his pass of 6.825 at 197.02 Friday evening on his Mello Yello Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson. He is chasing his third No. 1 qualifier of the season and back-to-back victories at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.

“Tomorrow mornings run could be pretty good,” Krawiec said. “Everyone stepped up that second session and it wasn’t just because the air got better. We’ve been picking away at the tune up on my bike because we need to understand what it likes and where its window is heading into Monday.”

Teammate Chip Ellis moved up to the No. 2 spot with a 6.831 at 197.48.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE Q2 : Saturday’s warm temperatures and bright sunshine didn’t leave much room for improvement in Pro Stock Motorcycle but apparently no one told Hector Arana Jr. The first rider to run over 200-mph made a solid improvement over last night’s effort with a 6.847 that was good for low E.T. of the session and four qualifying bonus points. Arana Jr. also moved to second in the field behind Eddie Krawiec, the provisional leader. Krawiec was second-quickest with a 6.862 on his special edition Mello Yello Harley Street Rod and teammates Chip Ellis and Andrew Hines also collected bonus points. Matt Smith was expected to produce a big number but his EBR-bodied V-twin bogged off the starting line.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE Q3: A shift in wind direction and a bit of cloud cover helped improve performances during the third round of Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying. Several riders bumped their way into the field including Karen Stoffer, who used a 6.941 to all but secure a spot in Monday’s 16-bike starting field. Chip Ellis, in his first race of the season, set the pace with a 6.831, 197.48 on his Harley Street Rod to move into the second spot. Provisional low qualifier Eddie Krawiec continued to collect bonus points with a second-best6.834 while Hector Arana Jr. was third best of the round with a 6.839 in a tightly-bunched field. Arana Jr. also has top speed of the event thus far with a 198.32 blast. With two runs remaining, Angie Smith sits on the bump with a 6.95 best from her Denso Spark Plugs Buell.

SATURDAY PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE LOW QUALIFIER EDDIE KRAWIEC: “I would say by past history tomorrow morning’s run could be pretty good. You saw what happened today. everyone got better, and it wasn’t because air got better. The wind just turned around. To us bike guys that makes a big difference. We’ve been picking away at tune-up, changing little things. We’re gonna try to more things tomorrow. We tried something today and for it to respond on last run is something. It showed us what it’s got. I ran almost 198-mph. I could maybe have gone a 6.81. I’ve got a good motorcycle underneath me. My Mello Yello Harley-Davidson is running fast.

“To have my daughter up here with me, and my family here at the track is what makes this special. That’s the thing about NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing. When you do this, it’s done as a family. A lot of us are very close out here. We have all the people from our shop here. I hit my ticket bank this week. It’s what makes this even so special.”

POSITION DRIVER ET MPH
01 Eddie Krawiec 6.825 197.02
02 Chip Ellis 6.831 197.48
03 Hector Arana Jr 6.839 198.32
04 Matt Smith 6.850 196.47
05 LE Tonglet 6.858 196.73
06 Andrew Hines 6.866 195.11
07 Mark Paquette 6.893 194.13
08 Hector Arana 6.926 195.62
09 Steve Johnson 6.932 193.54
10 Joey Gladstone 6.937 194.07
11 Ryan Oehler 6.940 193.93
12 Scotty Pollacheck 6.940 193.02
13 Jerry Savoie 6.941 195.22
14 Karen Stoffer 6.941 192.74
15 Jim Underdahl 6.949 193.27
16 Angie Smith 6.952 191.02
17 Angelle Sampey 6.977 193.21
18 Kelly Clontz 6.992 191.43
19 Ron Tornow 7.039 189.92
20 Odolph Daniels 7.182 186.48
21 Andie Rawlings 7.501 171.18
22 Wendell Daniels 15.654 9999

As soon as he arrived home from the recent Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, Hector Arana Sr. went to work rebuilding the engines on his two EBR V-twin Pro Stock Motorcycles. Arana Sr. took the team’s best two engines, tore them down and completely rebuilt them in anticipation of the sport’s biggest event. Positive results on a dyno are one thing, but results on the race track are what matter most. Hector Jr. was third-quickest on Friday with a 6.88 and Hector Sr. was 14th quickest with a 6.98. Both Arana’s were at the top of the speed charts at over 197-mph.

“I’m feeling pretty good right now,” said Arana Sr. “When they handed me my time slip I was really disappointed with the E.T. The bike bogged and it was really slow in the first sixty-feet but then I looked at the eighth-mile speed and the quarter-mile speed and I knew my engines were very good. Junior made a good run so he’s fine and I just need to work on my bike; on the clutch and I think I can run right with him. I had been pretty frustrated with the way my bike was running but that was really good. I’m pretty happy now.”

Arana Sr. is one of the riders fighting for a spot in the Countdown to the Championship. Arana Sr. entered Indy as the tenth-ranked rider in the class but he’s just ten points ahead of 11th place Jimmy Underdahl. He also has to fend off Steve Johnson and Joey Gladstone, who are fighting to make the playoffs.

“I know I’m going to need to win a round or two on Monday,” said Arana. “This isn’t going to be easy but if the bike runs the way it should we’ll be just fine.”


FRIDAY

Top Fuel Harley

As the NHRA US Nationals unfolds, as of 31 August 2018, to date, 15 Mickey Thompson Tires Top Fuel Harley teams have entered the event. On Friday night, Q-1 of five rounds of TFH took to the track to begin their bid to race on eliminations day at the prestigious US Nationals. Originally, only four rounds of Top Fuel Harley were on the run sheets, prior to the race. Two rounds each for Saturday and Sunday, eliminations for the eight quickest to be run on Monday. But in racing, well racing happens and suddenly the Top Fuel Harleys were informed on Friday, “Hey, be ready for Q-1 at 6-PM.” That was not a problem for the 15 big bikes as that’s exactly what they came to Lucas Oil Raceway Park for.

Mike Scott is racing the biggest race of his life at the 2018 NHRA US Nationals. On Friday his 6.66 made the top 8.

This is the biggest and best drag race of the year in the eyes of the drag racers the world over. If you ask the majority of veteran drag racers “If you could only win one NHRA drag racing event, in your entire life, which one would it, be?” I’m willing to wager the majority of respondents would tell you emphatically, without hesitation INDY!

Beau Layne, in the show on Friday with a solid 6.47 pass, right off the trailer. The quickest bump in 2018 was a 6.41, prior to this race.

Top Fuel Harley racer, Mike Scott, had this to say about his first trip to running at the US Nationals “This has been on my bucket list since I was 16 years old, back when I started racing my 4 speed, Super-Bee in the 1/8th mile. The competition is as tough as it gets here and there are 15 rock-solid entries right now shooting for eight racing spots on the ladder for Monday. I’ll tell you, to win at Indy compares to a game winning home run, bottom of the 9th, game 7 of the World Series.”

Bobby Malloy of Boninfante Friction continues to prove he’s a threat, each time he’s racing. His 6.30 put him solid in #2 on Friday.

The last time Top Fuel motorcycles ran for points at the US Nationals was in 1984, when Sam Wills won it with a fierce 7.03, the quickest pass ever on a Top Fuel motorcycle at that time. Sam accomplished that with an I-4 cylinder configured drag bike back then. 34 years ago that was the quickest drag bike on the planet. Fast forward to 2018, that world record time would not make the bump-spot against today’s Top Fuel Harley motorcycles.

Jay Turner’s 6.22 run during Q-1 was the quickest qualifying run by a Top Fuel Harley this season so far.

After Q-1 at the US Nationals, the top eight qualifiers are: Jay Turner 6.22, Bob Malloy 6.30, Jason Pridemore 6.42, Randal Andras 6.43, Beau Layne 6.47, Tii Tharpe 6.51, Mike Scott 6.66, and Jake Stordeur with a 6.76 elapsed time.DNQ’s after the first qualifying session are: Ricky House, Julian Seaman, Tracy Kile, Dennis Fisher, Chris Smith, Doug Vancil and David Larson. With four more qualifying sessions to go in the next two days, expect the names on this list to shift positions dramatically.

Rickey House has been working hard for new sponsor Cat Spot Racing and is expected to make the field for Monday.

For a first qualifying session, the field is showing itself to be a strong one. The quickest bump-spot for the 2018 season so far was Houston Texas, in April, with a 6.41 bump-spot. Interestingly enough, the current low qualifier, Jay “Bull Dog” Turner with a 6.22, right off the trailer, is the quickest qualifying run by a Top Fuel Harley during the 2018 season. This is day one of four days of racing – this may well be a historic, record-breaking weekend for the Mickey Thompson Tires Top Fuel Harleys.

Round 1 Qualifying

POSITION DRIVER ET MPH
01 Jay Turner 6.225 233.88
02 Bob Malloy 6.306 211.2
03 Jason Pridemore 6.426 212.73
04 Randal Andras 6.431 217.7
05 Beau Layne 6.478 213.91
06 Tii Tharpe 6.512 217.53
07 Mike Scott 6.669 231.32
08 Jake Stordeur 6.762 207.18
09 Rickey House 7.013 215.51
10 Julian Seaman 7.738 162.12
11 Tracy Kile 11.552 79
12 Dennis Fisher 12.952 70.56
13 Chris Smith 15.256 72.4
14 Doug Vancil 17.443 67.49

 


Pro Stock Motorcycle

Coverage by nhra.com

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE Q1: Moments after unveiling his special edition Mello Yello paint scheme, world champion Eddie Krawiec rocketed to the top of the qualifying charts in Pro Stock Motorcycle with a 6.825, 197.02. Krawiec, the defending U.S. Nationals winner, knocked Matt Smith from the top spot after Smith rode his EBR-bodied V-twin to a 6.850. Chip Ellis, aboard a Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson, and Andrew Hines also earned bonus points with runs of 6.856 and 6.866, respectively. The U.S. Nationals figures to be one of the most competitive fields of the year and after one run, there are already 16 riders in the six-second zone.

EDDIE KRAWIEC: “I think that’s an awesome run for off the trailer especially for the conditions. It didn’t rattle. It didn’t shake and overall, I’m very happy with it heading into the biggest race of the year. Unveiling the [special edition] Mello Yello motorcycle, it was fitting for me to put it on the pole and for it to all work out in my favor. I’m excited to fly the Mello Yello colors this weekend. We’re located a mile from here, and we have a lot of family and friends here. To do this here is very special.

 

“I wouldn’t say we found something more. Honestly, this is the same engine I’ve had in my bike the last few races. It doesn’t hurt that our shop is a mile from here. A lot of our data is acquired here. That gives us an edge especially coming here. Two weeks ago, in Brainerd, we weren’t fastest or had the lowest E.T. You just need to consistently make good laps every single run. We refine our tune up every single lap and occasionally we try stuff. That’s why we have Chip Ellis riding our second bike. That’s merely an R&D effort. We want to educate ourselves for 2019 because we need to be better. We have to be conscious of everything that’s going on. We’re always working on something new.”

POSITION DRIVER ET MPH
01 Eddie Krawiec 6.825 197.02
02 Matt Smith 6.850 196.47
03 Chip Ellis 6.856 196.44
04 Andrew Hines 6.866 195.11
05 LE Tonglet 6.879 195.11
06 Hector Arana Jr 6.883 197.51
07 Mark Paquette 6.893 194.13
08 Steve Johnson 6.934 193.38
09 Ryan Oehler 6.940 193.93
10 Joey Gladstone 6.941 193.71
11 Angie Smith 6.952 191.02
12 Jim Underdahl 6.961 191.78
13 Scotty Pollacheck 6.962 190.94
14 Hector Arana 6.986 197.28
15 Jerry Savoie 6.991 192.08
16 Kelly Clontz 6.992 191.43
17 Ron Tornow 7.080 190.81
18 Angelle Sampey 7.091 191.29
19 Andie Rawlings 7.501 171.18
20 Karen Stoffer 13.187 58.53
21 Wendell Daniels 15.654 9999

NHRA FEATURES

Last week, the Vance & Hines team announced that veteran rider Chip Ellis was added to their Harley-Davidson team as a third rider for the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals and a select number of Countdown races. Some opponents were quick to label Ellis as a “blocker” but the veteran insists that his primary role with the team is more focused on testing new components for the Countdown and the 2019 season.

“The boys have made a lot of changes to these bikes and there are a lot of things they want to try and they figured the best way to do that was by adding a third bike,” said Ellis. “They just asked me if I wanted to ride their bike and give them so data. No one ever said anything about being a blocker and I don’t expect them to. If I have to race either Andrew [Hines] or Eddie [Krawiec] it’s game on. I mean, I’d hate to cost either one of them a shot at a championship but I certainly don’t plan to lay down for either of them. That’s not what I’m here for.”

Ellis made his NHRA debut at Indy in 2004 on an S&S-powered Buell and immediately made his presence felt with by qualifying No. 1., and setting low elapsed time of the event. Ellis accomplished a similar feat in 2007 and in 2015, he went to the final of the “Big Go” before red-lighting against Jerry Savoie. Overall, Ellis has a 15-12 round-win record in 12 appearances at Indy.

Ellis hasn’t raced a bike of any kind this season, but he doesn’t expect to be very rusty ahead of his first runs at Indy. He is one of the most experienced riders in the field and he was hired based on his ability to quickly adapt to almost any sort of bike.

“It might take a run or two to get my timing down but I’m not too about it,” said Ellis. “It all comes back pretty quickly.”


Angie Smith heads into the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals ranked eighth in the Countdown to the Championhip standings and while she’s yet to clinch her spot in the playoffs, there is an air of confidence in the Denso camp. Smith holds a 66-point advantage over 11th ranked Jimmy Underdahl so even with the unique points-and-a-half format at Indy, she’d have to yield more than two rounds to her opponents in order to get knocked out of the top ten.

“I haven’t spent a lot of time doing the math, but I think that as long as I qualify I’ll be okay,” said Smith. “Even if I go out early, everyone behind me would have to make it to the semifinals or better and what are the odds of that happening? Honestly, I just need to take care of business on my end. If I can qualify well and win the first round we should be all set. That’s all I’m focused on right now.”

Two weeks ago in Brainerd, Smith had one of her best outings of the year when she bolstered her spot in the Countdown by reaching the semifinals. Smith outran LE Tonglet in the first round and then defeated her husband, Matt, in the second. Smith’s shot at a second-career final round ended in the semifinals with an early red-light against Vance & Hines Harley rider Andrew Hines.

“That was so frustrating,” Smith said. “For the most part my lights have been good this year. That was only my second red-light. I know what I did though. After I beat Matt I let that get to me. I lost my focus and red-lighted. We looked at the run on video a few times and I know what I did, and I know how to fix it. I’ll know better for next time. I am excited because I know I have a good bike and I’ve been riding pretty well and I hope that translates to some good races during the Countdown. I don’t just want to be there. I want to be a factor.”


There is rarely a dull moment in Pro Stock Motorcycle class and that’s especially true this weekend thanks to the epic points battle that is brewing ahead of the Countdown to the Championship. We know that the first six spots have been locked up and Andrew Hines, Eddie Krawiec, Hector Arana Jr., LE Tonglet, Jerry Savoie and Matt Smith will all be competing for the Mello Yello championship. Of the six, Arana Jr. is the only one who is not a former world champ is Arana Jr., but he’s one of just two riders in the field who have officially run over 200-mph. The real drama comes when it’s time to fill the final four spots this weekend with seven riders having a realistic shot at getting into the playoffs.

Scotty Pollacheck, Angie Smith, Angelle Sampey, and Hector Arana Sr. came into the U.S. Nationals in the top 10 but any one of them could be bumped from the field by Jimmy Underdahl, Steve Johnson, or Joey Gladstone, who are lurking in the 11-13 spots. Underdahl is just ten points behind 10th-ranked Arana Sr. so it’s possible that he could be in the top ten by the end of qualifying. Gladstone is in an interesting spot, not because he’s 36-points out of the top 10, but because he recently switched teams. Last week, Gladstone abruptly left the Stoffer/Underdahl team and joined the Liberty Racing team where he will ride Cory Reed’s Buell V-twin. Reed is still mathematically eligible to make the Countdown but has elected to forgo that opportunity in order to help Gladstone. Reed will not ride in Indy while Gladstone teams with Liberty rider Sampey.  It’s possible that Gladstone could bump Sampey from the Countdown but it would take a strange turn of events for that to happen.

For the record, the points structure at Indy awards 30-points for each round win. The maximum amount of points a pro competitor can earn in Indy is 195 including 20 qualifying bonus points, 150 for a win, ten for qualifying No 1, and 15 for entering the race.

Mello Yello’s Al Rodnon helped Eddie Krawiec pulls the wraps off to reveal a special Mello Yello-themed Harley that Krawiec will ride this weekend. Mello Yello also had special paint schemes on the Funny Car of Del Worsham (2016) and the Top Fueler of Antron Brown (2017).

 


Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 24 national events featuring the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA. NHRA also offers NHRA Jr. Street for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. In addition, NHRA owns and operates five racing facilities: Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; Gainesville Raceway in Florida; National Trail Raceway in Ohio; Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to NHRA.com