Summit Vegas nationals

Ladies rule NHRA in Vegas: Alexis DeJoria (Funny Car), Erica Enders-Stevens (Pro Stock) win

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Sunday was Ladies Day in final eliminations of the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals, as Alexis DeJoria (Funny Car) and Erica Enders-Stevens (Pro Stock) flexed their girl power all the way to victory lane.

It was the second time that two female drivers have earned wins in the same NHRA event, the other time coming when Courtney Force and Enders-Stevens made history in 2012 at Pacific Raceways near Seattle.

Also winning in the fourth race of the 24-race season was Tony Schumacher in Top Fuel.

In conquering The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, DeJoria won her second career national event – and second race of the last three this season – while Enders-Stevens followed up Saturday’s win in the K&N Horsepower Challenge with Sunday’s triumph.

DeJoria recorded a final-round pass of 4.026 seconds at 309.98 mph to defeat Robert Hight (4.083, 315.42), who she also beat to earn her first national event win last month at Phoenix.

“This was definitely a grudge match [with Hight] coming off our win in Phoenix,” DeJoria said. “I was just in shock when we won there. It was gratifying and intense.

“Today my team gave me a good car and got me down the track first. I really appreciate them so much and all they give up to help this team go racing.”

Even with the defeat, Hight took over the Funny Car points lead, having reached the final round in three of this season’s first four races.

DeJoria, meanwhile, leads all Funny Car drivers with two wins and moved up to third in the standings.

As for Enders-Stevens, she was unbeatable in the Horsepower Challenge and then in Sunday’s four rounds of eliminations, her seventh career national event win.

She is now third on the all-time wins list of female drivers in the NHRA behind Pro Stock Motorcycle’s Angelle Sampey and Top Fuel legend Shirley Muldowney.

In addition, Enders-Stevens, who earned $100,000 in winnings and bonuses this weekend, becomes the first female to ever lead the Pro Stock points standings.

“This is storybook,” she said. “We’ve gone a few years without sponsorship; there were definitely more lows than highs. It would have been easy to quit. This is definitely a highlight. Next to winning a championship, this is probably the coolest thing in the world.”

Enders-Stevens covered the track in 6.612 seconds at 208.78 mph, preventing Jason Line (6.633, 208.23) from earning his second win of the season.

In Top Fuel, Schumacher earned his first win after 15 winless events dating back to last season, defeating points leader Doug Kalitta.

“I’m not angry that we hadn’t won in a long time,” Schumacher said. “I was disappointed, but I understand that you have to make leaps and bounds. Kalitta is running great, Antron (Brown) is running good, the Alan Johnson [Al-Anabi] cars are going to be bad to the bone pretty soon. We have to keep forcing the issue.”

Schumacher earned his eighth career win at Las Vegas and his 73rd overall career win (in his 126th final round appearance) with a run of 3.797 seconds at 326.16 mph. Even though he came up short at 3.814s seconds and 321.12 mph, it still was Kalitta’s  third final round appearance in the first four events.

“It was important for us to get this win,” Schumacher said. “There’s a lot of pressure early in the season to get a win and get into the Shootout for a chance to race for $100,000. I love the pressure. We’re a high-pressure, adversity kind of team.”

The next national event takes place in two weeks, from April 11-13, at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway near Charlotte, N.C.

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Below are the final finishing order of Sunday’s 15th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, followed by final round results, round-by-round final eliminations, and updated points standings in each pro class following the fourth of this season’s 24 national events:

Final finishing order (1-16):

TOP FUEL:

1. Tony Schumacher; 2. Doug Kalitta; 3. Antron Brown; 4. Steve Torrence; 5. J.R. Todd; 6. Bob Vandergriff; 7. Shawn Langdon; 8. Spencer Massey; 9. Khalid alBalooshi; 10. Terry McMillen; 11. Richie Crampton; 12. Troy Buff; 13. Mike Strasburg; 14. Steve Faria; 15. Clay Millican; 16. Brittany Force.

FUNNY CAR:

1. Alexis DeJoria; 2. Robert Hight; 3. Ron Capps; 4. Cruz Pedregon; 5. Jack Beckman; 6. Courtney Force; 7. Paul Lee; 8. Tony Pedregon; 9. Tim Wilkerson; 10. John Force; 11. Del Worsham; 12. Jeff Arend; 13. Matt Hagan; 14. Chad Head; 15. Jon Capps; 16. Tommy Johnson Jr..

PRO STOCK:

1. Erica Enders-Stevens; 2. Jason Line; 3. Chris McGaha; 4. Jimmy Alund; 5. Shane Gray; 6. Jeg Coughlin; 7. Dave Connolly; 8.  Steve Kent; 9. Larry Morgan; 10. Rodger Brogdon; 11. Deric Kramer; 12. Allen Johnson; 13. V. Gaines; 14. Vincent Nobile; 15. Mark Wolfe; 16. Matt Hartford.

FINAL ROUND RESULTS:

Top Fuel — Tony Schumacher, 3.797 seconds, 326.16 mph  def. Doug Kalitta, 3.814 seconds, 321.12 mph.

Funny Car — Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, 4.026, 309.98  def. Robert Hight, Ford Mustang, 4.083, 315.42.

Pro Stock — Erica Enders-Stevens, Chevy Camaro, 6.612, 208.78  def. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.633, 208.23.

FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS:

TOP FUEL:

ROUND ONE — J.R. Todd, 3.822, 323.74 def. Richie Crampton, 3.837, 312.57; Tony Schumacher, 3.808, 320.13 def. Troy Buff, 3.857, 310.27; Doug Kalitta, 3.844, 320.58 def. Steve Faria, 4.070, 249.26; Antron Brown, 3.758, 322.19 def. Mike Strasburg, 3.996, 305.01; Steve Torrence, 3.785, 326.63 def. Terry McMillen, 3.826, 301.33; Spencer Massey, 3.805, 320.43 def. Clay Millican, 4.212, 207.91; Bob Vandergriff, 3.824, 313.00 def. Brittany Force, 7.525, 68.56; Shawn Langdon, 3.796, 321.88 def. Khalid alBalooshi, 3.810, 319.45;

QUARTERFINALS — Kalitta, 3.837, 322.42 def. Vandergriff, 3.842, 316.97; Schumacher, 4.869, 220.69 def. Massey, 12.908, 68.25; Brown, 3.774, 326.48 def. Langdon, 3.873, 300.80; Torrence, 3.804, 324.83 def. Todd, 3.800, 321.96;

SEMIFINALS — Kalitta, 3.785, 325.37 def. Torrence, 4.941, 178.66; Schumacher, 3.812, 327.43 def. Brown, 3.875, 300.46;

FINAL — Schumacher, 3.797, 326.16 def. Kalitta, 3.814, 321.12.

FUNNY CAR:

ROUND ONE — Robert Hight, Ford Mustang, 4.082, 314.02 def. Jeff Arend, Dodge Charger, 4.768, 170.97; Ron Capps, Charger, 7.856, 82.57 def. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, foul; Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.125, 308.78 def. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 8.354, 80.00; Courtney Force, Mustang, 4.106, 310.05 def. Jon Capps, Chevy Impala, foul; Paul Lee, Charger, 4.132, 300.60 def. John Force, Mustang, 4.137, 302.96; Tony Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.171, 291.32 def. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.545, 211.39; Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.071, 305.08 def. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.998, 185.36; Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.757, 207.91 def. Chad Head, Camry, 5.050, 232.79;

QUARTERFINALS — R. Capps, 4.133, 311.63 def. Beckman, 4.135, 311.27; C. Pedregon, 4.104, 297.94 def. C. Force, 4.144, 308.43; Hight, 4.086, 316.82 def. Lee, 4.312, 269.40; DeJoria, 4.125, 307.37 def. T. Pedregon, 4.604, 190.59;

SEMIFINALS — DeJoria, 4.090, 309.34 def. C. Pedregon, 9.007, 82.23; Hight, 4.073, 315.86 def. R. Capps, 4.133, 310.84;

FINAL — DeJoria, 4.026, 309.98 def. Hight, 4.083, 315.42.

PRO STOCK:

ROUND ONE — Jimmy Alund, Chevy Camaro, 7.821, 194.18 def. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 8.110, 178.10; Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.647, 207.91 def. V. Gaines, Dodge Avenger, 7.498, 148.59; Steve Kent, Camaro, 6.673, 206.54 def. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.782, 207.43; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.645, 207.37 def. Deric Kramer, Avenger, 6.705, 206.29; Dave Connolly, Camaro, 6.657, 207.59 def. Matt Hartford, Avenger, 22.863, 24.93; Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.621, 207.69 def. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.702, 206.67; Jeg Coughlin, Dart, 6.697, 207.88 def. Mark Wolfe, Ford Mustang, 12.622, 68.35; Erica Enders-Stevens, Camaro, 6.645, 207.66 def. Larry Morgan, Mustang, 6.693, 206.80;

QUARTERFINALS — Alund, 6.689, 206.92 def. Coughlin, 6.653, 207.82; Line, 6.652, 207.72 def. Connolly, 6.654, 207.91; Enders-Stevens, 6.626, 208.39 def. Kent, 6.674, 206.86; McGaha, 6.644, 207.69 def. Gray, 6.649, 208.46;

SEMIFINALS — Line, 6.645, 207.98 def. Alund, 6.647, 208.10; Enders-Stevens, 6.618, 208.65 def. McGaha, foul;

FINAL — Enders-Stevens, 6.612, 208.78 def. Line, 6.633, 208.23.

UPDATED POINTS STANDINGS:

TOP FUEL

1.  Doug Kalitta, 412; 2.  Antron Brown, 339; 3.  Steve Torrence, 314; 4.  Tony Schumacher, 262; 5.  Spencer Massey, 236; 6.  Khalid alBalooshi, 229; 7.  Shawn Langdon, 223; 8.  Brittany Force, 191; 9.  Richie Crampton, 157; 10.  Bob Vandergriff, 150.

FUNNY CAR

1.  Robert Hight, 367; 2.  John Force, 358; 3.  Alexis DeJoria, 299; 4.  Ron Capps, 241; 5.  Del Worsham, 224; 6.  Courtney Force, 207; 7.  Tommy Johnson Jr., 205; 8.  Matt Hagan, 204; 9.  Jack Beckman, 202; 10.  Bob Tasca III, 194.

PRO STOCK

1.  Erica Enders-Stevens, 344; 2.  Jason Line, 329; 3.  Allen Johnson, 317; 4.  V. Gaines, 276; 5.  (tie) Dave Connolly, 267; Vincent Nobile, 267; 7.  Shane Gray, 237; 8.  Jeg Coughlin, 214; 9.  Chris McGaha, 191; 10.  Jimmy Alund, 169.

NHRA: Leah Pritchett sets new quickest national elapsed time record

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Photo: Don Schumacher Racing
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Pomona Winternationals winner Leah Pritchett added to her incredible start to the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season, one she came in with high hopes with anyway, with a slightly bigger accomplishment:

She set a new national elapsed time record for a 1,000-foot distance in NHRA history.

Pritchett, who drives the Don Schumacher Racing-entered, Todd Okuhara-tuned Papa John’s Top Fuel dragster, ran a 3.658-second pass at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park on Friday outside Phoenix during the first day of qualifying for this weekend’s Arizona Nationals. The speed was 329.34 mph.

Incidentally, both Pritchett and Courtney Force set unofficial best times in Top Fuel and Funny Car testing, also at Wild Horse Pass, earlier this month.

You could barely put a piece of cheese between Pritchett’s two times; her time at the test was 3.654 seconds, but because that’s a test it is not an official mark.

The previous official record in competition was a 3.671-second pass, which Steve Torrence set July 31, 2016 at Sonoma.

“To be behind the wheel of this machine that is constantly putting out time and time again fast numbers and quick numbers is, to be honest, a little bit difficult to comprehend,” Pritchett said, via NHRA.com. “It’s everything that dreams are made of. It’s almost too good to be true, but it’s not.”

For good measure, Pritchett’s teammate Tony Schumacher also eclipsed Torrence’s old mark with a side-by-side run to second at 3.667 seconds, and 323 mph and change in the U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster.

Force led the Funny Car charts on the first day of qualifying, while Jason Line led Pro Stock. Both drivers drive Chevrolets.

Lest Force’s day be overshadowed, she set a record of her own. Force broke the track’s elapsed time and speed records during the opening session of qualifying for Sunday’s NHRA Arizona Nationals with a pass of 3.838 seconds at 332.67 mph.

Force lost to Matt Hagan in the Pomona finals while Line beat his KB Racing teammate, Greg Anderson, for the Pomona win.

Butterball, Andretti Autosport extension is all gravy

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 27:  Ryan Hunter-Reay, driver of the #28 Andretti Autosport Honda Dallara, practices during Carb Day ahead of the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on May 27, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Andretti Autosport and Butterball, a U.S.-based provider of turkey and poultry products, announced a new expansion of their partnership. The newly revamped agreement will see Butterball branding on all four Andretti Autosport entries in 2017.

“Butterball has been a great partner since 2014 and I’m really excited to have them on board again this year,” said Ryan Hunter-Reay. “They were with me when I won the Indianapolis 500 which was a really special moment for everyone involved. Hopefully we can bring them back into victory lane this year, not only at Indy, but throughout the season as well.”

The machines of Marco Andretti, Alexander Rossi, and Takuma Sato will feature branding just below the front suspension components. Per the announcement, the placement has created a new nickname for the assembly: “the Butterball Wishbone.”

“Butterball is extremely excited about our sponsorship with Andretti Autosport in 2017,” said Butterball CEO and President Kerry Doughty. “With the addition of the new Butterball Wishbone Sponsorship on all Andretti Autosport Indy cars for the 2017 season, we are expanding the tremendously successful relationship that began with Michael and Ryan in 2014 when we won the Indianapolis 500 in our first season.”

Butterball’s tenure with Andretti Autosport dates back to May 2014, shortly before Ryan Hunter-Reay claimed victory at the Indianapolis 500. Branding has been featured on Hunter-Reay No. 28 entry ever since.

Newgarden completes busy day in Detroit

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Photo: IndyCar
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Josef Newgarden’s media prowess and charisma was again in full display on Thursday during a series promotional efforts for June’s Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear.

Specifically, Newgarden was in town for Detroit Grand Prix night at that night’s Pistons-Hornets NBA game.

The day began with Newgarden visiting a handful of Detroit news media outlets, where his most notable venture involved duking it out with Pistons mascot Hooper.

The day continued with Newgarden exploring more of the city, and getting in touch with its rock ‘n roll history.

That, Newgarden ventured to The Palace of Auburn Hills to the big promotional event of day, Detroit Grand Prix night. There, Newgarden was greeted with his own Detroit Pistons jersey and even tried a couple of half-court shots at halftime. However, he did not make any, making it less likely he’ll pursue a basketball career when he decides to hang up his helmet.

For an additional recap Detroit Grand Prix night, visit The Chevrolet’s Detroit Grand Prix twitter @detroitgp.

Entry lists revealed for MRTI Spring Training in Miami

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Kyle Kaiser in Miami, 2015. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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The first real good, if not final, looks at the season to come in the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires come with next week’s Spring Training, which sees four total days of action at the Homestead-Miami Speedway for all three rungs of the ladder.

The Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires will run February 27 on Homestead-Miami’s 1.5-mile oval and March 2 on the 2.21-mile road course. Meanwhile the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda series will run solely on the road course over two back-to-back days, February 28 and March 1.

Indy Lights’ field seems closest to being finalized from this group, while Pro Mazda and USF2000 still have some gaps to fill.

In one other bit, Mazda will announce the teams of competition for its Soul Red-liveried drivers this year, all of whom won Mazda Motorsports Advancement Scholarships for their next step up this year. That’s why Aaron Telitz (Indy Lights), Anthony Martin (Pro Mazda) and Oliver Askew (USF2000) teams are listed as TBAs.

Anyway, quick notes:

Indy Lights (14 cars

All drivers on the Indy Lights entry list have been officially announced, and as noted, Telitz’s team is the only significant TBA of note. Car numbers are revealed for Zachary Claman De Melo and Matheus Leist at Carlin of 13 and 26 respectively, with the known in advance.

In terms of team breakdown, it’s four each at Carlin and Andretti Autosport (with Colton Herta’s No. 98 car an Andretti Steinbrenner Racing entry), Juncos Racing and Belardi Auto Racing each with two official cars and Team Pelfrey the lone one-car entry.

Of the 14 drivers, the field is split exactly in half between seven veterans and seven rookies.

Questions from here are whether one or two more cars not at this test will join the grid at St. Petersburg and push the number back up. Since the debut of the Dallara IL-15 Mazda in 2015, the St. Pete weekend has had 13 cars in 2015 and 16 cars last year, with this one falling in the middle.

Pro Mazda (6 cars)

In what’s very much a survive-and-advance season for Pro Mazda in the final year with its existing car, a small batch of cars come from Team Pelfrey, World Speed Motorsports and the team TBA for Anthony Martin for this test.

Within a 20-to-30-plus, multiple-class series of racing, six cars for one class wouldn’t necessarily be a problem. But six on their own for an independent series is certainly an issue. The number simply has to grow by St. Petersburg to at least eight at a bare minimum, the low-water mark last year, with 10 a significant step forward at this rate (the series had 12 cars at St. Petersburg last year).

USF2000 (22 cars)

Quite by contrast, the new Tatuus USF-17 premieres in USF2000 with 22 cars at this test and the potential of more cars by St. Petersburg (the series had 26 starters last year with two additional withdrawals).

Six returning drivers join 12 rookies and four TBAs on this list, all split among 10 teams. Dutch driver Rinus VeeKay, initially announced as driving for Benik in 2017, is listed in a third Newman Wachs Racing entry for this test.