NHRA: Top Fuel Harley at 2019 U.S. Nationals – Tharpe and Andras Win!
Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals
Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis
Aug 28 – Sep 02, 2019
Coverage courtesy of Samson Exhaust
Top Fuel Harley
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In the Mickey Thompson Tires Top Fuel Harley Series, Tii Tharpe won his second championship in the class on Monday. The title chase came down to the final day for the second straight year, and Tharpe again edged out Doug Vancil. Tharpe, who won three races in 2019, wrapped up the title by going 6.398 at 219.33 in the semifinals on his Spevco/Jay Turner Racing Harley. Randal Andras who qualified #1 with a 6.158 was unstoppable at this event as went on to win the event. Andras with the starting line advantage over Tii Tharpe, stayed in front of for the pass to take the win by 34 feet! This was Andras his first Top Fuel Harley Wally win and in his third final round appearance.
Tii Tharpe secures second Mickey Thompson Tires Top Fuel Harley title
For the second straight year, the championship of Mickey Thompson Tires Top Fuel Harley Series came down to the last day of their season at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, and for the second time Tii Tharpe edged Doug Vancil for the championship.
Both drivers won their first-round races at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, with Tharpe dispatching Kevin Boyer and Vancil winning on a 6.34 to 6.33 holeshot count against Mike Scott.
With a two-round points lead, Tharpe needed just to beat Rickey House in the semifinals to lock up the title regardless of what Vancil did behind him. House left on Tharpe, but the power of the Spevco/Jay Turner Racing Harley powered him past House before the finish line, 6.39 to 6.49 to lock up his second title.
Vancil lost behind him, falling to low qualifier Randal Andras, making Tharpe’s win a moot point and the championship a walk-off success.
“I think this championship was harder,” Tharpe admitted. “After I won it last year people told me I’d have a bulls-eye on me, and they were right. There’s a whole other part of the mental game that comes with that. The first one was pretty special and hard to top, but this one is sweet, too.
“I can’t thank Jay Turner enough. I remember just wanting to win an AHDRA race or a Top Fuel Harley race anywhere it would be really big, but to win an NHRA race and then back-to-back NHRA championships … having Jay in your corner just gives you confidence. That and great equipment and all of the people. Obviously Jay and Dorothy, the whole crew, my family, everybody at Spevco, Samson, Mickey Thompson, and NHRA … and the fans, man. They’re just great.”
Even though Tharpe didn’t win the final, losing there to low qualifier Randal Andras, there was still plenty to celebrate.
“Losing the final doesn’t take anything away from today,” he said. “Randal [Andras] has had the bike to beat all year, so I was super happy and proud to see him get his first Wally. The final was super fan for both of us.”
Tharpe’s season started out on a strong note with a runner-up finish behind Vancil at the season-opening Winternationals, but the Spevco machine suffered breakage and first-round losses at the season’s next three events, in Phoenix, Gainesville, and Houston before rebounding with the first of three straight wins, at the tour stop in Topeka.
Tharpe defeated Bob Malloy in the Topeka final as well as in the final round in Bristol, then stopped Rickey House to claim the trophy in Epping.
Tharpe saw his lead begin to evaporate as Vancil fought back with wins in Seattle and Brainerd. Tharpe was a surprising first-round loser in Seattle, where Vancil beat Randal Andras, and Tharpe was then on the losing end of the final-round race in Brainerd, where engines woes slowed him against Vancil, whose win pulled him into striking distance at Indy.
ROUND 1 ELIMINATIONS
|Driver||Bob Malloy||Rickey House – WIN|
|660 FT MPH||171.31||180.00|
Weather conditions: air temperature 77 degrees, relative humidity 69 percent, barometer 29.12 inches, adjusted altitude 2,996 feet, track temperature 103 degrees. House with the starting line advantage, but Malloy has the lesd by 150 feet. Malloy loses the engine with a quick flash of flames around 800 feet and House rides back around him. House gets the win.
|Driver||Mike Scott||Doug Vancil – WIN|
|660 FT MPH||186.25||182.43|
Vancil with the starting line advantage and the hole shot win. Vancil with the win keeps his Championship hopes alive. Scott was out of the groove, but stayed with it. He carried the front wheel until just past the finish line…he has a big top-end speed in the losing effort just off the National speed record. He sets the track speed record.
|Driver||Tii Tharpe – WIN||Kevin Boyer|
|660 FT MPH||184.19||170.02|
Boyer with the slight starting line advantage, but Tharpe chased him down just past half-track and
|Driver||Andy Beauchemin||Randal Andras – WIN|
|660 FT MPH||—||207.78|
Andras with the starting line advantage and never trailed for the win. He will give up lane choice to Vancil in the semifinal. Beauchemin broke right off the starting line and came to a stop.
ROUND 2 ELIMINATIONS
|Driver||Tii Tharpe – WIN||Rickey House|
|660 FT MPH||184.07||178.47|
Weather conditions: air temperature 85 degrees, relative humidity 50 percent, barometer 29.14 inches, adjusted altitude 3,397 feet, track temperature 120 degrees. House with the starting line advantage, but Tharpe chases him down just past half track and takes the win. Tii Tharpe’s MOV: 0.0718 seconds (approximately 23 feet). Tharpe wins the Top Fuel Harley Championship with the win.
|Driver||Doug Vancil||Randal Andras – WIN|
|660 FT MPH||147.44||184.47|
Andras with the slight starting line advantage and kept it hooked up to take the win. He will have lane choice over Tharpe in the final.
|Driver||Tii Tharpe||Randal Andras – WIN|
|660 FT MPH||183.77||187.89|
Weather conditions: air temperature 81 degrees, relative humidity 54 percent, barometer 29.14 inches, adjusted altitude 3,092 feet, track temperature 112 degrees. Andras with the starting line advantage and never trailed for the win. Randal Andras’ MOV: 0.1068 seconds (approximately 34 feet). Andras wins his first Top Fuel Harley Wally in his third final round.
On Friday Randal Andras grabbed the #1 qualifying spot, and on Saturday not much changed in the qualifying order as he holds on to that going into Sunday eliminations. The field will be tight on Sunday with the top eight competitors running from a 6.15 to 6.504 qualifying times.
Sunday Eliminations Pairings
1 Randall Andras 6.158
8 Andy Beauchemin 6.504
4 Doug Vancil 6.283|
5 M Scott 6.389
2 Bob Malloy 6.216
7 Rickey House 6.502
3 Tii Tharpe 6.266
6 Kevin Boyer 6.468
Final Qualifying Order
Randal Andras takes provisional #1 spot after Friday qualifying. In round two of qualifying, Andras launched hard and kept it hooked up to go to the number one spot for Friday’s qualifying. He also sets both ends of the track record with his 6.178 at 225.07 mph times. Randal Andras’ incremental times: 60ft-1.088 sec., 330ft-2.769, 660ft-4.095/190.16 mph, 1,000ft-5.199.
Tii Tharpe, Doug Vancil will decide Mickey Thompson Tires Top Fuel Harley title at Indy
The Mickey Thompson Tires Top Fuel Harley season championship will be decided this weekend at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals in a two-rider showdown between points leader and defending series champ Tii Tharpe and second-ranked Doug Vancil.
Tharpe, rider of the Spevco Harley that runs under the umbrella of Jay Turner Racing, leads by 27 points and can clinch the championship by reaching the final round. Vancil, who wheels the Vance & Hines powerhouse, comes into the event hot off of back-to-back wins in Seattle and Brainerd, the latter in a crucial final-round conquest of Tharpe.
Vancil won the season opener in Pomona, then battled breakage before winning the two most recent events. Tharpe also owns three wins, in Epping, Topeka, and Bristol.
“I try not to think about the points too much, but obviously we’d like to leave here with two trophies,” said Tharpe, who is riding “Lagertha” (named after the feared Viking shieldmaiden), the bike that Turner rode to the 2017 championship. “There’s a little more pressure because last year I felt like we had nothing to lose because we didn’t have the lead, but we’re still feeling pretty good. I’m trying to ignore the pressure but it’s pretty undeniable.
“We’ve had some piston-ring problems the last few events –- we hurt it pretty good in Brainerd and had to run Doug in the final with a hurt motor –- but we think we’ve got it figured out. We’ve got some brand-new old stuff in the bike for this weekend.”
Tharpe benefits from being part of a three-bike team, with the bike driven by Turner and a new entry wheeled by 2018 AMRA Pro Fuel Harley champ Tyler Wilson, who made his debut in Brainerd. All three bikes run the same clutch tune-up and weigh within a few pounds of one another, giving the team reams of data to work from that Vancil’s single-bike team does not have.
This year’s title race flips the script from last year, where Vancil had a small points lead (18 points) entering Indy but struggled in qualifying and ultimately surrendered the lead and the title to Tharpe. Despite his hot streak, Vancil knows he faces a steep climb to the championship.
“We just have to go race,” said Vancil. “Unless we race Tii early, we’re not really in control of anything other than our own bike.”
Vancil scoffed at the prospect that he could try to strategically qualify to try to earn a first-round race with Tharpe.
“With one of these things?” he asked incredulously, thumbing over his shoulder at the 235-mph nitro-burning monster in his pit area. “Anyone who tells you they can plan where they’re going to qualify, they’re full of crap or a helluva lot better than me. Good luck. We’re just going to go out and run as fast as we can and be the No. 1 qualifier and run our best.”
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