NHRA: Beckman blazes to second Funny Car win of season at Kansas; Crampton, Enders-Stevens also win


Despite issues with rain all weekend, the NHRA was finally able to get in all rounds of final eliminations in Sunday’s Kansas Nationals finals at Heartland Park in Topeka, Ks.

Winners were Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Richie Crampton (Top Fuel) and Erica Enders-Stevens (Pro Stock).

Beckman (3.984 seconds at 316.45 mph) defeated 16-time Funny Car champ John Force (4.002 seconds/324.51 mph) in the final round in an event that was spectacular when it came to speed.

As the NHRA said in its post-race media release, “Just how quick were the Funny Cars at Topeka? There were 19 three-second runs in the entire 2014 season and just this weekend there were a total of 15. Beckman accounted for five of those.”

“I have all the respect in the world for John Force,” Beckman said. “It makes a difference when you race him. You’re getting a chance to play against Babe Ruth.

“It’s so unique in our sport, that a guy [who is] the best there has ever been in this sport, can still mix it up with us. I’ve said this before, I can’t wait to tell my grandkids I got to compete against John Force. This trophy will be extra special because it was John Force we beat in the final.”

It was Beckman’s second win of the season, 17th of his career and second in Topeka.

Ironically, it was Force’s former crew chief, Jimmy Prock, that led Beckman to the win over the rest of the field, including his own boss.

“We had an outstanding week of racing,” said Beckman, who set the record for the most three-second Funny Car runs by a driver in a race weekend. “That’s a function of the Jimmy Prock tune-up, (the car) is so much fun to drive.”

While Beckman moved into third place in the NHRA Funny Car standings, teammates Ron Capps and defending world champ Matt Hagan remain 1-2.

In the final round of Top Fuel, Crampton (3.738 seconds at 318.09 mph) earned his second win of the season and fourth career victory, beating Larry Dixon (3.787 seconds at 308.28 mph).

“It’s huge to get two wins so early in this sophomore season; it’s surreal,” said Crampton, who won in Las Vegas in April. “Being undefeated in finals is pretty special. It says a lot about crew chief Aaron Brooks and the team.

“I am glad this event went ahead and I am glad we were able to put our Lucas Oil dragster in the winner’s circle.”

There had been some concern that the race would not be held after the Topeka City Council rejected a bid to purchase Heartland Park two weeks ago.

But NHRA stepped in to oversee most activities and to assure a successful event would be held.

Antron Brown, who lost in the second round of eliminations to Dixon, remains atop the Top Fuel points standings with a 53-point lead over teammate and defending champ Tony Schumacher. With the win, Crampton moved into third place in the standings.

In Pro Stock, 2014 season champ Enders-Stevens (6.584 seconds at 209.33 mph) earned her third win of the season, defeating Greg Anderson (6.591 seconds at 209.14 mph).

“The last time we did this was Norwalk last year — low e.t. of every round of qualifying and eliminations,” Enders-Stevens said. “It’s definitely a feat, especially with Pro Stock being as competitive as it is.”

Enders-Stevens added a bit of good-natured talk about her rivalry with Anderson.

“I know he doesn’t like to lose to me,” she said with a smile. “He doesn’t like to lose to anybody; he has a very competitive spirit. He got us last weekend in Atlanta, so I was happy to pay him back a little bit – but all in good fun.”

With the win, Enders-Stevens takes over the top spot in the Pro Stock points standings. Former points leader Jason Line drops to second, while Anderson remains in third.

The next NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event – the ninth race on the 24-race national schedule – is in two weeks, June 4-7, with the Toyota Summernationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J.


TOP FUEL: 1.  Richie Crampton; 2.  Larry Dixon; 3.  Brittany Force; 4.  Doug Kalitta; 5.  Spencer Massey; 6. Tony Schumacher; 7.  J.R. Todd; 8.  Antron Brown; 9.  Steve Torrence; 10.  Shawn Langdon; 11.  Leah Pritchett; 12.  Clay Millican; 13.  Kyle Wurtzel; 14.  Kebin Kinsley; 15.  Luigi Novelli; 16.  Dave Connolly.

FUNNY CAR: 1.  Jack Beckman; 2.  John Force; 3.  Matt Hagan; 4.  Del Worsham; 5.  Tim Wilkerson; 6.  Ron Capps; 7.  Chad Head; 8.  John Hale; 9.  Courtney Force; 10.  Tommy Johnson Jr.; 11.  Alexis DeJoria; 12.  Tony Pedregon; 13.  Cruz Pedregon; 14.  Brian Stewart; 15.  Robert Hight; 16.  Todd Simpson.

PRO STOCK: 1.  Erica Enders; 2.  Greg Anderson; 3.  Larry Morgan; 4.  Chris McGaha; 5.  Jonathan Gray; 6. Vincent Nobile; 7.  Shane Gray; 8.  V. Gaines; 9.  Drew Skillman; 10.  Rodger Brogdon; 11.  Bo Butner; 12.  Allen Johnson; 13.  Deric Kramer; 14.  Dave River; 15.  Mark Hogan; 16.  Jason Line.


Top Fuel: Richie Crampton, 3.738 seconds, 318.09 mph  def. Larry Dixon, 3.787 seconds, 308.28 mph.

Funny Car: Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 3.984, 316.45  def. John Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.002, 324.51.

Pro Stock: Erica Enders, Chevy Camaro, 6.584, 209.33  def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.591, 209.14.


TOP FUEL: ROUND ONE — Larry Dixon, 3.767, no speed def. Leah Pritchett, 3.787, 321.73; Spencer Massey, 3.751, 326.56 def. Clay Millican, 3.865, no speed; Brittany Force, 3.780, 325.53 def. Steve Torrence, 3.773, no speed; Tony Schumacher, 3.719, 325.45 def. Kebin Kinsley, 4.059, no speed; Antron Brown, 4.081, 232.11 def. Luigi Novelli, 4.126, no speed; Richie Crampton, 3.762, 316.52 def. Kyle Wurtzel, 3.909, no speed; J.R. Todd, 3.739, 326.24 def. Dave Connolly, 5.870, no speed; Doug Kalitta, 3.751, 28.71 def. Shawn Langdon, 3.781, 317.49;

QUARTERFINALS — Crampton, 3.710, no speed def. Massey, 3.731, 327.82; Kalitta, 3.761, no speed def. Todd, 3.764, 322.04; Force, 3.772, no speed def. Schumacher, 3.748, 325.92; Dixon, 3.771, 329.91 def. Brown, 3.795, no speed;

SEMIFINALS — Dixon, 3.736, 329.18 def. Kalitta, 5.476, 97.90; Crampton, 3.720, 327.59 def. Force, 3.806, 322.58;

FINAL — Crampton, 3.738, 318.09 def. Dixon, 3.787, 308.28.

FUNNY CAR: ROUND ONE — Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.984, 318.24 def. Tony Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.124, no speed; Chad Head, Camry, 4.057, 313.51 def. Todd Simpson, Chevy Camaro, 12.319, no speed; Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.042, 320.13 def. Brian Stewart, Mustang, 5.598, no speed; John Hale, Charger, 4.083, no speed def. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.434, 198.52; John Force, Camaro, 4.034, 324.12 def. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.039, no speed; Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.984, 321.58 def. Courtney Force, Camaro, 4.035, no speed; Del Worsham, Camry, 3.988, no speed def. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.040, 308.35; Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.027, 321.58 def. Robert Hight, Chevrolet Camaro, 6.000, no speed;

QUARTERFINALS — Worsham, 3.984, no speed def. Wilkerson, 4.005, 315.42; Hagan, 4.014, 315.93 def. Head, 4.783, no speed; Beckman, 3.972, 322.04 def. Hale, broke; J. Force, 4.023, 320.66 def. Capps, 4.340, no speed;

SEMIFINALS — J. Force, 3.997, 324.83 def. Hagan, 4.255, 310.48; Beckman, 4.169, 319.45 def. Worsham, 4.331, 216.03;

FINAL — Beckman, 3.984, 316.45 def. J. Force, 4.002, 324.51.

PRO STOCK: ROUND ONE — Jonathan Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.606, 208.71 def. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, foul; Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.669, 207.88 def. Drew Skillman, Camaro, foul; Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.616, 208.75 def. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.651, 207.46; V. Gaines, Dart, 6.632, 206.73 def. Jason Line, Camaro, 7.334, 143.05; Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.605, 208.46 def. Deric Kramer, Dodge Avenger, 6.673, 207.37; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.588, 209.04 def. Dave River, Chevy Cobalt, 6.830, 195.34; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.579, 209.10 def. Mark Hogan, Pontiac GXP, 6.855, 201.58; Larry Morgan, Camaro, 6.605, 208.62 def. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.616, 207.75;

QUARTERFINALS — McGaha, 6.591, 208.59 def. Nobile, 6.622, 208.01; Morgan, 6.610, 208.55 def. Gaines, foul; Anderson, 6.609, 208.68 def. S. Gray, 6.642, 207.88; Enders, 6.586, 208.78 def. J. Gray, 6.607, 208.68;

SEMIFINALS — Anderson, 6.598, 209.04 def. McGaha, foul; Enders, 6.579, 208.94 def. Morgan, 6.609, 208.68;

FINAL — Enders, 6.584, 209.33 def. Anderson, 6.591, 209.14.


Top Fuel: 1.  Antron Brown, 628; 2.  Tony Schumacher, 575; 3.  Richie Crampton, 547; 4.  Spencer Massey, 530; 5.  Doug Kalitta, 502; 6.  Larry Dixon, 476; 7.  Shawn Langdon, 473; 8.  J.R. Todd, 411; 9.  Clay Millican, 395; 10.  Steve Torrence, 392.

Funny Car: 1.  Ron Capps, 580; 2.  Matt Hagan, 575; 3.  Jack Beckman, 531; 4.  Del Worsham, 507; 5.  John Force, 502; 6.  Robert Hight, 460; 7.  Tommy Johnson Jr., 456; 8.  Tim Wilkerson, 447; 9.  (tie) Alexis DeJoria, 395; Cruz Pedregon, 395.

Pro Stock: 1.  Erica Enders, 719; 2.  Jason Line, 661; 3.  Greg Anderson, 654; 4.  Chris McGaha, 542; 5. Rodger Brogdon, 493; 6.  Larry Morgan, 452; 7.  Drew Skillman, 424; 8.  Vincent Nobile, 421; 9. Shane Gray, 401; 10.  Allen Johnson, 369.

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IndyCar disappointed by delay of video game but aiming to launch at start of 2024

IndyCar video game 2024

An IndyCar executive said there is “absolutely” disappointment that its long-awaited video game recently was delayed beyond its target date, but the series remains optimistic about the new title.

“Well, I don’t know how quick it will be, but the whole situation is important to us,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said during a news conference Monday morning to announce IndyCar’s NTT title sponsorship. “Motorsport Games has spent a lot of money, a lot of effort to create an IndyCar title. What we’ve seen of that effort, which is not completely obvious, is very reassuring.

“I think it’s going to be outstanding. That’s our shared objective, that when it is released, it’s just widely accepted. A great credit both to IndyCar racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, something that our fans love.”

In June 2021, IndyCar announced a new partnership with Motorsport Games to create and distribute an IndyCar video game for the PC and Xbox and PlayStation consoles in 2023.

But during an earnings call last week, Motorsport Games said the IndyCar game had been delayed to 2024 to ensure high quality.

Somewhat compounding the delay is that IndyCar’s license for iRacing expired after the end of the 2022 season because of its exclusive agreement with Motorsport Games.

That’s resulted in significant changes for IndyCar on iRacing, which had provided a high-profile way for the series to stay visible during its 2020 shutdown from the pandemic. (Players still can race an unbranded car but don’t race on current IndyCar tracks, nor can they stream).

That’s helped ratchet up the attention on having a video game outlet for IndyCar.

“I wish we had an IndyCar title 10 years ago,” said Miles, who has been working with the organization since 2013. “We’ve been close, but we’ve had these I think speed bumps.”

IndyCar is hopeful the Motorsports Game edition will be ready at the start of 2024. Miles hinted that beta versions could be unveiled to reporters ahead of the time “to begin to show the progress in a narrow way to make sure we’ve got it right, to test the progress so that we’re ready when they’re ready.”

It’s been nearly 18 years since the release of the most recent IndyCar video game for console or PC.

“(We) better get it right,” Miles said. “It’s something we’re very close to and continue to think about what it is to make sure we get it over the line in due course.”