Clearly, no National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Pro Stock Motorcycle (PSM) team spent the COVID19 delay better than “Flyin’ Ryan” Oehler and his small, independent team. His B&K Cylinder Heads EBR hit the ground at Lucas Oil Raceway near Indianapolis for the unique E3 Spark Plug NHRA Nationals ready to make quick, consistent laps. And when raceday required a cool head and quick thinking—no one in the field was better than Oehler.
In his fully-equipped, Bloomington, Illinois, machine shop, “Bad Brad” Oehler—Ryan’s dad and engine builder—spent the “down time” hard at work, squeezing more power and reliability out of their S&S, billet, V-twin motors.
And starting with Friday’s test session at Indy, Oehler and his team were very pleased with their ability to apply that power from start to finishline. They weren’t the quickest bike at Lucas Oil Raceway, but their fifth place qualifying position showed they had a good piece to race with.
Ryan’s day started with a round 1 win over fellow independent EBR racer Marc Ingwersen. As in qualifying, Oehler’s 6.92 at 196 miles per hour (MPH) wasn’t the round’s quickest or fastest, but was easily good enough to advance.
Oehler’s team was on the receiving end of some racing luck in round 2 when opponent Scotty Pollacheck threw away one of the best laps anyone ran all weekend with a -.001 redlight start, advancing Ryan to the semis.
Now it was really time to show what the B&K Cylinder Heads EBR could do with round-leading, team-best performance. Oil company funded semifinal opponent Hector Arana Jr. took the tree by .009, but Oehler was able to drive around with a quickest-of-the-semis 6.90 at 196.34 mph (both bests of the weekend for the team) to Arana Jr.’s 6.98 for the win and the trip to the final round.
This was Oehler’s first final at a two-wide NHRA event, and it couldn’t have started out much worse. Too late, the team realized the clutch free-play was out of adjustment and as soon as the bike was started, it began pulling Ryan forward. Against an opponent as stout as three-time champion Matt Smith, this seemed like a fatal blow.
But Oehler kept his cool, holding back as long as possible while staging the bike, knowing that the bike would pull him through for a redlight if he didn’t. It was timed perfectly, with the bike rolling through for a good, green .010 reaction time. Oehler had executed perfectly in a situation that is an Achilles heel for salaried, multi-time champions.
The unusual start made for an awkward launch and poor 1.11 60 foot time for Oehler, and his goose looked cooked. But Smith’s struggles in the other lane were worse. A thrashed engine swap before the final left Smith rolling the dice, and the bike bogged to a 1.15 60. It didn’t get any better for Matt, whose transmission dead-headed and left him coasting across the finishline with Oehler’s winlight flashing brightly in the other lane.
Here’s a video of the final round:
Here’s a lively video interview with the personable winner:
Oehler’s naturally positive outlook, clean-cut looks, work ethic, and devotion to American-made technology make for a great marketing partner in our uncertain times.
“I really want to thank the coalition of sponsors who help keep this little program going—and winning!” said Ryan, who added: “There’s room for more, corporate America, so climb on board to go fast and get in the winners’ circle!”
If only there was a winners circle at this event….at the bare bones race colloquially referred to as the Coronavirus Nationals—niceties such as winners circles were dispensed with.
Ryan Oehler thanks the Birch Family , Cybernautic , Over Kill Motorsports , Precision Plastic Products , Gas Jockey Graphics , High Performance Lubricants , Fogler Signs , S&S , D&G Chassis , Bates Leathers , Worldwide Bearings , MRE , Smith Systems, Inc. , Liberty Gears , NGK Spark Plugs , AirTec, Inc. , B&K Cylinder Heads and Flyin’ Ryan Racing , his family, and crewmen Terry Sutton and Scott Hamilton.
When NHRA set up two limited-spectator races at their own Lucas Oil Raceway, they also reduced purses—by 50% for Pro Stock Motorcycle (PSM). So with half the purse available, independent racer Oehler must have decided he needed to start winning if he was going to be able to afford this sport. And so at the track the Bloomington, Illinois racer (but Indy native) considers home, Ryan rode his B&K Cylinder Heads EBR all the way to the winners circle.
ROUND ONE — Hector Arana Jr, 6.942, 194.66 def. John Hall, Suzuki, 6.978, 191.43; Angelle Sampey, Harley-Davidson, 6.925, 192.69 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.920, 191.84; Angie Smith, 6.971, 193.65 def. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 7.012, 192.36; Ryan Oehler, 6.921, 196.33 def. Marc Ingwersen, 7.077, 189.73; Scotty Pollacheck, 6.948, 196.42 def. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 7.149, 188.04; Andrew
Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.890, 194.55 def. Ron Tornow, 7.172, 184.93; Eddie Krawiec,
Harley-Davidson, 6.887, 195.53 def. David Barron, 7.341, 176.26; Matt Smith, 6.855, 197.71 def. Chris Bostick, Suzuki, 7.963, 166.21;
QUARTERFINALS — Oehler, 6.942, 194.41 def. Pollacheck, Foul – Red Light; Hines, 6.927, 193.65 def. A. Smith, 6.956, 195.48; Arana Jr, 6.928, 194.16 def. Krawiec, 6.873, 195.53; M. Smith, 6.856, 197.36 def. Sampey, Foul – Red Light;
SEMIFINALS — Oehler, 6.901, 195.39 def. Arana Jr, 6.984, 192.91; M. Smith, 6.943, 195.42 def. Hines, 6.943, 193.68;
FINAL — Oehler, 6.974, 194.16 def. M. Smith, 10.126, 83.38.
Pro Stock Motorcycle points:
- Ryan Oehler, 115; 2. Matt Smith, 101; 3. Andrew Hines, 78; 4. Hector Arana Jr, 73; 5. Eddie Krawiec, 63; 6. Scotty Pollacheck, 55; 7. Angie Smith, 54; 8. Angelle Sampey, 52; 9. Steve Johnson, 33; 10. (tie) John Hall, 32. Marc Ingwersen, 32. Jerry Savoie, 32.
NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycles are scheduled to race next August 7-9 in the Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway near Denver, Colorado.
Funny Car’s Hagan drove to his first win of the 2020 season in his 11,000-horsepower Mopar Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, beating Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. in the final round with a 4.328 at 215.00. It gave the two-time world champ his 34th career win, and he advanced to his 61st final round thanks to victories against both Daniel and Tim Wilkerson, as well as DSR teammate and points leader Jack Beckman.
“We’re so glad to be doing this here with NHRA and fans in the stands,” Hagan said. “I can’t just say enough about NHRA and this team. These guys are my family and what an amazing job by my crew chief Dickie Venables. He’s dangerous when you give him a couple laps.”
Johnson, the No. 1 qualifier at the event, reached his 54th final round by knocking off teammate Ron Capps, Blake Alexander and J.R. Todd.
ROUND ONE — J.R. Todd, Toyota Camry, 4.391, 275.11 def. Alex Miladinovich, Camry, 5.067, 160.98; Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 4.099, 250.60 def. Mike McIntire, Camry, 4.506, 203.55; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.896, 324.90 def. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.956, 294.24; Jonnie Lindberg, Ford Mustang, 3.965, 322.65 def. Bob Bode, Mustang, Broke; Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.009, 315.05 def. Dale Creasy Jr., Charger, 4.567, 228.27; Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.025, 315.27 def. Daniel Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.238, 249.44; Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.005, 319.82 def. Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 4.096, 280.31; Blake Alexander, Mustang, No Time Recorded def. Paul Lee, Charger, Foul – Centerline;
QUARTERFINALS — Todd, 4.128, 278.86 def. DeJoria, 4.697, 162.12; Johnson Jr., 3.963, 318.32 def. Alexander, Broke; T. Wilkerson, 3.982, 321.12 def. Lindberg, 3.990, 318.99; Hagan, 3.949, 321.19 def. Beckman, 3.969, 316.90;
SEMIFINALS — Johnson Jr., 3.959, 319.29 def. Todd, 9.211, 77.50; Hagan, 3.959, 322.34 def. T. Wilkerson, 4.349, 211.43;
FINAL — Hagan, 4.328, 215.00 def. Johnson Jr., 5.854, 117.84.
Funny Car points
- Jack Beckman, 278; 2. Tommy Johnson Jr., 276; 3. Matt Hagan, 238; 4. Tim Wilkerson, 179; 5. John Force, 173; 6. Ron Capps, 159; 7. Alexis DeJoria, 154; 8. Bob Tasca III, 149; 9. J.R. Todd, 141; 10. Robert Hight, 100.
Facing off with points leader Doug Kalitta in the final round, Billy Torrence went 3.802-seconds at 322.34 mph in his 11,000-horsepower Capco Contractors dragster to beat Kalitta’s 3.852 at 307.86 in a thrilling side-by-side race. It gave Torrence his first win in 2020 and sixth in his career. Torrence reached the final round by knocking off Terry Totten, T.J. Zizzo, and his son, Steve, the defending and back-to-back Top Fuel world champ.
“To come out here and be able to compete at this level, it’s always gratifying,” Torrence said. “These boys worked so hard to give me a competitive car. If you can’t have fun doing this, you can’t have fun doing anything. For the people that come out here to put these events on and for all the people trying to keep all of us safe and all, just thank you. We (also) need to thank the good Lord for us being out here as a family and being able to enjoy the freedoms to come out here and drag race.”
Kalitta picked up round wins against Lex Joon, Leah Pruett and Antron Brown to advance to his 94th final round, also earning his 700th career round win. Kalitta has now advanced to the final round at every race in 2020.
ROUND ONE — Shawn Langdon, 3.789, 315.19 def. Justin Ashley, 3.960, 256.99; Clay Millican, 3.845, 314.17 def. Doug Foley, 3.878, 310.13; T.J. Zizzo, 3.778, 326.40 def. Cory McClenathan, Broke; Antron Brown, 3.997, 242.71 def. Terry McMillen, 6.659, 89.70; Doug Kalitta, 3.847, 311.56 def. Lex Joon, 4.045, 230.02; Steve Torrence, 3.758, 325.92 def. Luigi Novelli, 11.809, 66.62; Billy Torrence, 3.768, 326.32 def. Terry Totten, Foul – Centerline; Leah Pruett, 3.817, 262.03 def. Tony Schumacher, 4.108, 253.14;
QUARTERFINALS — Brown, 3.780, 316.01 def. Millican, 4.145, 222.80; Kalitta, 3.803, 321.58 def. Pruett, 3.813, 319.14; B. Torrence, 3.774, 324.75 def. Zizzo, 3.822, 319.14; S. Torrence, 3.760, 324.75 def. Langdon, 3.828, 316.38;
SEMIFINALS — Kalitta, 3.794, 319.07 def. Brown, 5.565, 125.00; B. Torrence, 3.801, 322.42 def. S. Torrence, 4.216, 210.24;
FINAL — B. Torrence, 3.802, 322.34 def. Kalitta, 3.852, 307.86.
Top Fuel points
- Doug Kalitta, 310; 2. Steve Torrence, 199; 3. Billy Torrence, 190; 4. Leah Pruett, 189; 5. Antron Brown, 174; 6. Brittany Force, 153; 7. Shawn Langdon, 144; 8. Clay Millican, 142; 9.Justin Ashley, 140; 10. Austin Prock, 131.
PRO STOCK CAR
In a battle of retiring Pro Stock drivers, top qualifier Jason Line knocked off No. 2 qualifier Jeg Coughlin in a thrilling final round, going 6.647 at 207.21 in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro to slip past Coughlin’s 6.658 at 206.76. Line picked up his first win this season and 51st in his career, also extending his incredible streak to 17 consecutive seasons with a victory. Line’s road to the finals included victories against Alan Prusiensky, Alex Laughlin and KB Racing teammate Greg Anderson.
“I wish I could see my dad’s face because he’s big into streaks and it was very important to him that I win one race every race that I’ve done this, and we got it done today,” said Line, who has 104 final round appearances. “I want to thank Greg because he worked his tail off through all this to give us good stuff.”
Coughlin, who won the opening race of the season in Pomona and moved into the points lead, beat Bruno Massel, Chris McGaha and defending world champ Erica Enders to reach the final round for the 113th time.
ROUND ONE — Alex Laughlin, Chevy Camaro, 6.634, 206.42 def. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.658, 206.51; Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.644, 207.27 def. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.654, 206.57; Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, 6.620, 206.64 def. Kyle Koretsky, Camaro, 6.654, 208.17; Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.630, 206.07 def. Val Smeland, Camaro, 6.712, 205.10; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.603, 207.43 def. Troy Coughlin Jr., Ford Mustang, 6.648, 206.10; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.615, 206.70 def. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.647, 207.50; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.615, 206.83 def. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 7.062, 159.21; Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.622, 206.70 def. Bruno Massel, Camaro, 7.093, 155.60;
QUARTERFINALS — Coughlin, 6.651, 206.99 def. C. McGaha, 6.773, 206.83; Enders, 6.621, 207.02 def. Stanfield, 6.647, 207.11; Line, 6.609, 207.59 def. Laughlin, 6.674, 206.20; Anderson, 6.620, 207.75 def. Hartford, 6.648, 206.76;
SEMIFINALS — Coughlin, 6.651, 207.05 def. Enders, 6.723, 206.45; Line, 6.622, 207.34 def. Anderson, 6.683, 208.14;
FINAL — Line, 6.647, 207.21 def. Coughlin, 6.658, 206.76.
Pro Stock Car points
- Jeg Coughlin, 297; 2. Jason Line, 289; 3. Erica Enders, 282; 4. Kenny Delco, 165; 5. Bo Butner, 162; 6. Chris McGaha, 158; 7. Alex Laughlin, 157; 8. Greg Anderson, 143; 9. Matt Hartford, 139; 10. Aaron Stanfield, 125.
PSM story and photos by Tim Hailey, car stories by NHRA