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.

MRTI: Toronto digest

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Last year’s visit to the streets of Toronto for the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires proved to be a pivotal point in the championship chase that year.

Kyle Kaiser swept both races in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, and doing so gave him firm control over the championship, and he all but clinched it ahead of the season finale at Watkins Glen – Kaiser needed to only start that event to wrap up the title.

And in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, while Parker Thompson swept the weekend, Oliver Askew was caught up in a crash in Race 2. Combine that with a second place finish from 2017 title rival Rinus VeeKay – VeeKay also finished third in Race 1 – and it kept the championship within reach of VeeKay, who took it all the way to the finale at The Glen.

The 2018 visit north of the border will likely be remembered for a similar impact on the MRTI championships, both in Indy Lights and USF2000 and, maybe most significantly, in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires.

A look at big stories to emerge from a wild weekend on the streets of Toronto is below.

Indy Lights

Santi Urrutia scored a much needed win in Race 2 on the streets of Toronto. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
  • Santi Urrutia’s championship hopes were teetering entering the weekend – he was 49 points out of the lead and had been vastly overshadowed by title combatants Pato O’Ward and Colton Herta for most of the season. But, his Race 2 victory combined with a second place in Race 1 to close him to within 40 points of O’Ward for the championship lead. He’s still a bit of a long shot, but his chances look much brighter leaving Toronto than they did entering.
  • More significantly, Colton Herta’s title hopes may have taken an enormous hit. After crashing in Race 1 qualifying, just after grabbing the pole as well, Herta suffered a thumb fracture that he aggravated again after crashing during Race 1. It forced the team to recommend Herta essentially sit out Race 2 – he pulled off after running only a couple laps and finished sixth – and he dropped to 18 points behind O’Ward, who won Race 1 and finished second in Race 2. The margin is hardly a commanding one for O’Ward, but with the next stop at the ultra-physical Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Herta’s injured hand could remain a factor in the coming races and allow O’Ward to widen the margin.
  • One can’t help but feel bad for Victor Franzoni. Coming off the high of winning his first Indy Lights Race at Road America, Franzoni’s season took a turn for the worse. He crashed in Race 1 and then pulled off in Race 2 in order to conserve finances and resources – Franzoni detailed afterward that the budget is tight for him this year and crash damage from Race 1 does him no good. It would be a genuine shame if Franzoni’s season was derailed by funding issues, as the likeable Brazilian has made great progress all year and has the potential to make it as a Verizon IndyCar Series driver. He just needs the backing to get there.

Pro Mazda

Rinus VeeKay now trails Parker Thompson by only seven points in the Pro Mazda championship. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
  • No Mazda Road to Indy Championship was shaken up as much as Pro Mazda. Parker Thompson entered the weekend with a sizeable lead of 46 points over Rinus VeeKay. He exits the weekend only seven points ahead after finishes of eighth in both races – he was involved in a crash in Race 1 and made an unscheduled pit stop after thinking he suffered suspension damage in Race 2. Meanwhile, VeeKay dominated the weekend, winning from the pole in both races. It all means that what was once looking like a possible runaway has been all but reset. And we might see a genuine duel between them all the way to the season finale at Portland International Raceway.
  • There are few words to describe the relief everyone felt in seeing Harrison Scott walk away unhurt after his frightening airborne crash in Race 1. This was the first major crash test in a race for the Tatuus PM-18, and it aced it. And big kudos should also be given to the AMR Safety Team, who were already tending to Scott barely a few seconds after his car had come to a rest. Scott did start Race 2, but pulled off with a mechanical problem…which seems minor in comparison to what could have happened in Race 1.
  • Oliver Askew had his best race of the year in Race 2, finishing second to VeeKay for his second podium of the season. It’s been a tough year for Askew and Cape Motorsports after winning last year’s USF2000 title, and getting a podium under their belt could be just what they needed heading into the season’s stretch run.

USF2000

Kyle Kirkwood continued his USF2000 dominance on the streets of Toronto. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
  • After another weekend sweep, Kyle Kirkwood has one hand on the USF2000 championship. He leads Kaylen Frederick by a staggering 131 points – that’s over four road course races worth of points. He may well leave Mid-Ohio as the USF2000 champion. And even if he doesn’t, it would take something unheard of to keep the championship from his grasp.
  • Kaylen Frederick sits second, only three points up on Igor Fraga. Fraga had his best race since Race 2 on the streets of St. Petersburg, when he finished second, and he nearly outdueled Kirkwood for the win in Race 2. Both he and Frederick have caught fire of late, and their battle for second is very evenly matched.
  • Don’t count out Rasmus Lindh in the battle for second in the championship either. The Swedish driver is seven points behind Frederick and scored his third podium of the year by finishing third in Race 2 at Toronto. Second is well within his reach.

The Mazda Road to Indy is off this weekend before heading to Mid-Ohio, where Indy Lights and USF2000 again have double headers, while Pro Mazda will enjoy a triple header.

Follow@KyleMLavigne