story by Tim Hailey , the NHRA, and team reports from all teams involved; photos courtesy of NHRA
Kwick Eddie’s trophy case is getting heavy
The answer is no one…no one appears poised to stop reigning NHRA Full Throttle Pro Stock Motorcycle champion Eddie Krawiec’s assault on the 2012 season. With confident, businesslike precision, Krawiec delivers the good promised—but not guaranteed by—the performance advantage of his Vance&Hines/Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson
Krawiec raced Hector Arana Jr. in the final round of this past weekend’s Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway, H2’s second final in two Brainerd races. Seems there’s something about the hard partying Aranas and the Brainerd Zoo that go well together, as Hector Sr. qualified #1.
Hector Arana Sr threw away his #1 qualifying position against Mike Phillips in round 1
But Arana Sr.’s problems started as soon as the engine fired on his Buell. “I started the bike, and it sounded different,” Arana Sr. said. “I just lost my concentration. I was thinking, ‘Why does the bike sound different? Something’s going on.’ That was it. I went out of my zone.” And out in round 1 with a redlight against #16 qualifier Michael Phillips. Mike is now 8-3 vs H1.
Arana Jr. beat Mike Berry, L.E. Tonglet and Andrew Hines (on a holeshot ) en route to the final round against Kwick Eddie, who himself raced past Shawn Gann, Karen Stoffer and John Hall. Arana Jr. redlit in the final, handing Krawiec the victory. “He jumped out in front of me and at first I thought I was late but about 300 feet out, I looked up and saw that my winlight was on,” Krawiec said. “I realized that he red-lighted.”
“It wasn’t like I was trying to kill the light,” Arana Jr. said. “I was just doing the same thing I always do. I don’t know if I was a little more amped up or what. I saw yellow, so I dropped the clutch. It was just on the wrong side. I didn’t think it was that red, but, oh, well. I wasn’t nervous or anything. It felt like it was a qualifying run. I was pretty excited, but it didn’t end up as good as we wanted to. It’s nice to do well for your sponsor. Maybe next year, we can seal the deal.
“The whole entire weekend, we were consistent. We only made minor changes, but other than that, it was very consistent. Even the last run, we ran another .90, which shows our consistency. We’ll just try it again next race.”
Arana Sr. remains fourth in the Pro Stock Motorcycle points standings, having already clinched his spot in the Countdown to the Championship. Arana Jr. is third in the points, also having secured a berth in NHRA’s playoffs. Both are eating whatever scraps the Vance&Hines team let fall from the table, but do maintain a consistent performance advantage over the rest of the field. Krawiec, Hines and Stoffer are also locked into the Countdown.
Karen Stoffer made the Countdown
Stoffer secured her spot by advancing one round further than Steve Johnson, as she beat Jim Underdahl in the first round, and Johnson fell to Scotty Pollacheck. “That was cool,” Stoffer said. “That isn’t necessarily our objective, as we have bigger fish out there to fry, but it’s nice that we’re locked in.”
After taking out teammate Underdahl, Stoffer fell to Krawiec in the second round despite getting an advantage on the tree. Still, Stoffer was pleased with the effort and performance of her GEICO team this weekend. “The GEICO Suzuki is still the fastest Suzuki on the block,” Stoffer said. “Props to (crew chief) Gary (Stoffer) and the team, specifically Gary. He’s been a tuning machine out there, and on Sunday, I’ve been racing good. We’ve been throwing down the lights we need to get these big guys—all the V-motors.”
toffer threw down two good lights Sunday, leaving first on Underdahl with a .023-second reaction time (to his .031) and on Krawiec with a .012 (to his .037). “You’ve got to race them,” Stoffer said. “You can’t beat them on horsepower, but you’ve got to race them. I look back, and I’ve raced every one of them and treed every one of them. Props to the team. We are definitely putting our best foot forward every attempt. We’re getting the light and getting good ETs. We’re just going to keep chugging away and do what we’ve got to do.”
Stoffer made a pass of 6.926 seconds at 192.14 mph in the first round, beating Underdahl’s 7.014-second run at 192.06 mph. That put her against defending class champion Krawiec, who also had lane choice. “We had struggled in the right lane all weekend long,” Stoffer said. “Everybody was favoring the left lane, and we knew Eddie was going to put us in the right lane, so we had to swag at the clutch on that pass. The right lane was really, really tricky for us, and we did slow down a tic.”
Despite Stoffer’s starting line advantage, her pass of 7.000 at 191.73 mph wasn’t enough to hold off Krawiec, who went 6.876 seconds at 194.94 mph. “But even if we had our best pass of the weekend by a couple hundredths, we wouldn’t have beaten that .87,” Stoffer said. “They throw it down in the heat of the day, and it’s just unbeatable.”
Ron Capps raced to the Funny Car victory Sunday at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals and moved into the Full Throttle Series points lead for the first time this season with one race remaining before the Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
Capps powered away from 15-time world champ John Force in the Funny Car final round to take his third win of the season, third at Brainerd International Raceway and 36th of his career. Capps cruised to a final round performance of 4.134 seconds at 304.05 mph in his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger, while Force’s Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang lost traction and finished in 6.633 at 116.35.
“I’m pretty excited to go to Indy with the points lead,” said Capps, who now leads Robert Hight by 53 points. “Force is cagey. He’s good here. He could be having the worst year ever and still come here and win. I was doubtful that we were going to get a win. He’s been eking it out all day and getting on a roll. He knows how to take it to the next level. I looked over at about 800 feet and didn’t see him ahead of me, and we got the winlight.”
In Top Fuel, Morgan Lucas edged Antron Brown at the finish line for his third victory of the season and his third win at this event, sponsored by his family’s oil company. Lucas posted a 3.818 at 316.90 in his GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster to hold off Brown’s charging Matco Tools dragster, which trailed with a 3.831 at 313.80.
“Anytime you can win here for our family, especially for my dad who is so involved in this race, is a dream come true,” Lucas said. “Hopefully, it’s a sign of good things to come for us. You can’t help but get a lot of confidence out of an outing like this. You never know with these cars. There is a lot of hard work put in that is starting to show on the track.”
With the runner-up finish, Brown moved into the series points lead, 58 ahead of Spencer Massey.
Erica Enders continues to make Pro Stock Car history as she raced to her third victory of the season and second in a row. She outran series points leader Allen Johnson in the final round with a performance of 6.649 at 208.26 in her GK Motorsports Chevy Cobalt. Johnson’s Team Mopar Dodge Avenger experienced tire shake at the start and slowed near mid-track. Enders is the first female to win at BIR since Shirley Muldowney won a Top Fuel title here in 1982.
“Beating AJ [Allen Johnson isn’t easy,” Enders said. “There are a lot of tough guys out there. To be able to run against the best out here shows that our hard work is finally paying off. We’ve been chasing them for a number of years.”
Hector Arana Sr leads Zoo Madness
Schumacher, Wilkerson and Enders also lead Day 1 at Brainerd
Hector Arana Sr., who has earned three No. 1 qualifying positions this season in Pro Stock Motorcycle, earned the qualifying lead with a performance of 6.882 at 192.63 on his Lucas Oil Buell at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway. “I was very surprised that we ran a 6.88 in the first round,” Arana Sr. said about doing well at his sponsor’s event. “We knew that it would be fast but we really didn’t think it would be that fast.”
The Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley Davidson duo of Andrew Hines and Eddie Kraweic, who have combined to win all eight races this season, were second and fourth respectively. Hector Jr. was third on his Lucas Oil Buell. These four have been the runaway performances leaders throughout the season.
Tony Schumacher raced to the Top Fuel qualifying lead Friday. Schumacher powered his U.S. Army dragster equipped with the new cockpit canopy to a leading time of 3.791 seconds at a track record speed of 323.97 mph. Schumacher’s team unveiled the NHRA-approved technology at this event and utilized the enclosed cockpit on his car for both qualifying attempts. “For the car to go out there, not miss a beat, and qualify No. 1 is a perfect situation,” said Schumacher. “The canopy takes some getting used to. You’re driving as though you have snow on the windshield and you wiped off the center of it to see through it, except you’re going 320 mph. It’s phenomenal, though. It’s safe, and that’s the whole point. Wally Parks founded NHRA to get people off the street and make things safe, and that’s exactly what we’re trying to continue to do.”
Schumacher claimed the top spot via his track record speed. Championship contender Antron Brown was second with an identical 3.791 at a slower speed of 323.74 in his Matco Tools dragster. Two-time season winner Morgan Lucas was third with a 3.800 at 322.81 in the GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster.
In Funny Car, Wilkerson led the field with a track record time of 4.049 at 307.16 in his Levi Ray & Shoup Ford Mustang. Wilkerson is currently 12th in points and needs a strong showing at the final two regular season events in order to make it into the top 10 and earn a berth into the Countdown to the Championship playoffs. “Obviously, the conditions are pretty stellar out there. Our car was trying to go a 4.12 or 4.13 on the first run, but I just missed it to be truthful,” Wilkerson said. “The track was a little bit better on the second run, we stood on it a little bit harder, and we were lucky enough to get the car to whistle right on through there for low e.t.”
John Force, an 11-time winner at BIR, was second in his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang with a 4.067 at 311.85, while his daughter Courtney, the category’s most recent winner, was 11th in her Traxxas Mustang with a 4.138 at 310.41. Series points leader Robert Hight, who has yet to win at BIR, qualified 13th in his Auto Club Mustang.
Enders continued her recent momentum in Pro Stock by powering her GK Motorsports Chevrolet Cobalt to a leading performance of 6.550 at 210.37. She has earned historic wins at Chicago and Seattle since early July. “The guys at our shop have been working hard as far as R&D and it is showing up on the scoreboard,” Enders said. “It’s proof that hard work pays off. In the first qualifying run, we went out and got a good baseline and in the second, we swung for the fences.”
Red-hot points leader Allen Johnson was second in his Team Mopar Dodge Avenger with a 6.560 at 210.87, while defending event winner and Minnesota native Greg Anderson was fifth in his Summit Racing Chevy Camaro with a 6.582 at 210.54.
Qualifying continues Saturday with sessions at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Sunday’s eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
Friday’s results after the first two of four rounds of qualifying for the 31st annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway, 16th of 23 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday’s final eliminations.
Top Fuel — 1. Tony Schumacher, 3.791 seconds, 323.97 mph; 2. Antron Brown, 3.791, 323.74; 3. Morgan Lucas, 3.800, 322.81; 4. Spencer Massey, 3.837, 319.14; 5. Shawn Langdon, 3.848, 318.09; 6. Clay Millican, 3.858, 317.94; 7. Khalid alBalooshi, 3.862, 283.25; 8. Brandon Bernstein, 3.872, 306.12; 9. Cory McClenathan, 3.895, 309.20; 10. Steve Torrence, 3.896, 308.99; 11. Terry McMillen, 3.907, 294.75; 12. David Grubnic, 3.914, 303.09. Not Qualified: 13. Scott Palmer, 3.946, 290.63; 14. Keith Murt, 3.950, 301.47; 15. Chris Karamesines, 3.959, 294.50; 16. Tim Cullinan, 3.983, 291.57; 17. Bruce Litton, 3.995, 247.97; 18. Doug Kalitta, 4.042, 233.20; 19. Bob Vandergriff, 4.402, 184.88; 20. Dom Lagana, 5.789, 110.81; 21. Luigi Novelli, 7.753, 82.77.
Funny Car — 1. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.049, 307.16; 2. John Force, Mustang, 4.067, 311.85; 3. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 4.073, 310.48; 4. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.076, 311.85; 5. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.087, 304.94; 6. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.090, 308.92; 7. Mike Neff, Mustang, 4.090, 306.12; 8. Johnny Gray, Charger, 4.098, 311.20; 9. Jim Head, Toyota Solara, 4.119, 306.19; 10. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.132, 308.21; 11. Courtney Force, Mustang, 4.138, 310.41; 12. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.138, 302.41. Not Qualified: 13. Robert Hight, 4.146, 303.37; 14.Jeff Arend, 4.160, 297.61; 15. Bob Bode, 4.171, 297.61; 16. Tony Pedregon, 4.184, 295.08; 17. Todd Lesenko, 4.230, 285.95; 18. Dale Creasy Jr., 4.234, 288.39.
Pro Stock — 1. Erica Enders, Chevy Cobalt, 6.550, 210.50; 2. Allen Johnson, Dodge Avenger, 6.560, 210.87; 3. Mike Edwards, Pontiac GXP, 6.573, 210.41; 4. Vincent Nobile, Avenger, 6.576, 209.56; 5. Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.582, 210.54; 6. Ron Krisher, GXP, 6.583, 209.43; 7. V. Gaines, Avenger, 6.584, 209.75; 8. Ronnie Humphrey, GXP, 6.585, 209.30; 9. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.590, 209.07; 10. Jeg Coughlin, Avenger, 6.597, 209.79; 11. Warren Johnson, GXP, 6.601, 209.20; 12. Mark Martino, GXP, 6.604, 209.56. Not Qualified: 13. Rodger Brogdon, 6.624, 208.14; 14. Chris McGaha, 6.633, 207.75; 15. Shane Gray, 6.635, 207.50; 16. Larry Morgan, 6.637, 208.46; 17. Mark Hogan, 6.722, 205.07; 18. Kurt Johnson, 7.410, 196.59.
Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.884, 192.82; 2. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.887, 193.57; 3. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.905, 192.71; 4. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.909, 192.77; 5. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.918, 192.30; 6. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.948, 192.08; 7. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.952, 189.71; 8. John Hall, Buell, 6.964, 190.86; 9. Michael Ray, Buell, 6.966, 190.03; 10. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.978, 190.94; 11. Matt Smith, Buell, 6.980, 188.15; 12. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.981, 192.25. Not Qualified: 13. Mike Berry, 6.987, 190.59; 14. Shawn Gann, 7.002, 191.35; 15. Chip Ellis, 7.032, 189.18; 16. Michael Phillips, 7.104, 190.65; 17. Buddy Robinson, 7.431, 177.14.