NHRA: Live blog from U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis — Lucas, Beckman, Enders and Savoie win


BROWNSBURG, Indiana — It’s hot both forecast-wise (expected high in the mid-to-high 90s) and action-wise at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway in suburban Indianapolis.

MotorSportTalk will bring you continuous updates throughout the day, as well as full coverage of the final rounds in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle.

4:55 pm ET UPDATE — The final round for all four pro classes is underway. This is for all the marbles!

First up, PRO STOCK MOTORCYLE — This is the seventh consecutive year that the PSM winner will be a first-time champ at Indy.

It’s Louisiana alligator farmer Jerry Savoie with the win, as No. 1 qualifier Chip Ellis’ bid for the victory falls short with a red-light start. Savoie earns his second victory of the season and his first win in three final-round appearances at Indy.

Next up, PRO STOCK  It’s defending series champ Erica Enders vs. rookie Drew Skillman.

Befitting of her role as U.S. Nationals Grand Marshal this weekend, Enders (6.11 seconds at 201.75 mph) wins her first U.S. Nationals title, defeating Elite Motorsports teammate Skillman.

It’s Enders’ sixth win of the season and 18th of her career, tying her with legendary three-time Top Fuel champ Shirley Muldowney.

Next up, FUNNY CAR — It’s Robert Hight vs. “Fast Jack” Beckman. We’re about ready to go.

This is the eighth time both drivers have raced in a final round, with Hight winning seven. The only time Beckman beat Hight was seven years ago at Phoenix.

But this season, Beckman and the Infinite Hero team is an undefeated 14-0 in round wins vs. John Force Racing.

Beckman (4.058 seconds at 310.77 mph) leaves the starting line and goes on to win his sixth win of the season, but more importantly, his first-ever win in the U.S. Nationals. Make that 15-0 vs. JFR in 2015 for Beckman in his Don Schumacher Racing Funny Car.

Next up, TOP FUEL — It’s Morgan Lucas against Dave Connolly. Ironically, three years ago, Connolly defeated Enders to win the Pro Stock title at Indy.

And it’s Lucas with the win with a run of 3.86 seconds at 319 mph, while Connolly smoked the tires at half-track.

It’s quite fitting as Lucas’ family is the entitlement sponsor of Lucas Oil Raceway.

So, there are your winners — Morgan Lucas in Top Fuel, Jack Beckman in Funny Car, Erica Enders in Funny Car and Jerry Savoie in Pro Stock Motorcycle. Congratulations to all!

And how about this: all four winners are first-time winners at Indy, the second year in a row that has occurred.

Thanks to everyone who checked today’s live blog. We hope you enjoyed it.

We’ll have more stories on the individual winners coming up shortly on MotorSportsTalk. Please check back soon.


4 pm ET UPDATE — We’ve gone through the first three rounds of eliminations and are preparing for the final round of all four professional categories. Look for a start time around 5 pm ET.


ROUND THREE (3:25 pm ET) — We’re underway with the semifinals of pro eliminations

First up, PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: No. 1 qualifier Chip Ellis (6.877 seconds at 196.47 mph) continues his run through the field, defeating Angelle Sampey (7.130/176.53).

In the other match, Louisiana alligator farmer Jerry Savoie (6.878/194.77) defeated Hector Arana Jr. (6.963/195.48).

So it’ll be Ellis vs. Savoie in the final round coming up in a little over an hour from now. 

Next up, PRO STOCK: The amazing story of Pro Stock rookie Drew Skillman continues. Skillman has now reached his third final round of the season. Skillman (6.619 seconds at 209.88 mph) defeated Vincent Nobile (6.655/209.75).

In the other semifinal, defending Pro Stock champ Erica Enders bids for her first career U.S. Nationals title. Enders (6.618/209.39) topped former two-time Pro Stock champ Greg Anderson (6.591/210.41).

So it’ll be Enders vs. Skillman in the final round. 

Next up, FUNNY CAR: For the 10th consecutive edition of the U.S. Nationals, a driver from John Force Racing has reached the finals of the sport’s biggest race of the season.

JFR president Robert Hight (4.047 seconds at 313.58 mph) roared to victory over Tommy Johnson Jr. (8.885/81.08), who lost traction shortly after leaving the starting line.

In the other semifinal match, “Fast Jack” Beckman continues to close in on the coveted U.S. Nationals title. Beckman (4.058/307.72) defeated Del Worsham (4.189/299.20) in the semifinal.

So in the final round, it will be Hight vs. Beckman for the U.S. Nationals Funny Car title. And in an ironic twist, this is Beckman’s third final round at the U.S. Nationals. The driver he lost to both previous times? Robert Hight.

“We intend to reverse fortunes today,” Beckman said.

One other note on Beckman: he is 11-0 against all three JFR drivers this season in elimination rounds. Looks like Hight and JFR will have their work cut out for them.

Up next: TOP FUEL SEMIFINAL — Both Morgan Lucas and Brittany Force lost traction shortly after leaving the starting line and each driver tried to correct things.

Lucas, whose family is entitlement sponsor of Lucas Oil Raceway, won before he even reached the finish line, as Force’s dragster crossed the center line, resulting in immediate disqualification.

In the other semifinal, Dave Connolly held off Shawn Langdon. In a way, Connolly’s win helped lessen the disappointment of teammate and No. 1 qualifier Larry Dixon being eliminated in the first round today.

In addition, Connolly gets an even bigger bonus: by defeating Langdon, Connolly qualifies for the Countdown to the Championship.

So in the final round of Top Fuel, it’ll Connolly vs. Lucas. 


2:25 pm ET — We’re through the first two rounds of eliminations in the pro categories, with two more rounds to go. The semifinals are expected to go off after 3 pm ET. Here’s the highlights of Round Two:

ROUND TWO (1:30 pm ET) — We’re underway with second round of pro eliminations. Cars are hitting the staging lanes, with Top Fuel first.

The track temperature is 134 degrees.

TOP FUEL: Shawn Langdon (3.913 seconds at 292.33 mph) powered to a win over Doug Kalitta (5.125 seconds at 146.24 mph), who lost traction at about 60 feet.

Brittany Force (4.058 seconds at 264.29), looking to earn her first career national event win in Top Fuel, advances to the semifinals with a win over Billy Torrence (smoked tires).

In another upset of the day, Dave Connolly (3.828/323.74) upset Antron Brown (3.825/317.72) by .0017 of a second. Brown was hoping to sweep the weekend, having won Saturday’s Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Top Fuelers.

In a battle of Lucas Oil teammates, Morgan Lucas (3.902/297.41) defeated last year’s U.S. Nationals winner, Richie Crampton (3.899/302.62).

Here’s the semifinal matchups: Langdon vs. Connolly and B. Force vs. Lucas.

FUNNY CAR: Courtney Force, who hoped to make the Countdown to the Championship, fell short in her quarterfinal match with Tommy Johnson Jr. As a result, Alexis DeJoria, who Force beat in the first round, makes the Countdown.

“Say thank you, Alexis,” Johnson said. “I don’t have one of those trophies. We’re hungry.”

In a battle of two other John Force Racing teammates, Robert Hight (4.064/312.57) defeated father-in-law John Force (4.085, 316.25). Force’s hopes of earning a fifth U.S. Nationals title, and his first since 2002, will have to wait until next year’s race.

Top qualifier “Fast Jack” Beckman (4.057 seconds at 311.41 mph) advanced to the semifinals with a win over Ron Capps (4.51, 219 mph). And Del Worsham (4.130/309 mph) held off Tim Wilkerson (4.132/306 mph).

Here’s the semifinals matchups: Hight vs. Johnson Jr. and Beckman vs. Worsham.

PRO STOCK: In a classic battle between defending series champ Erica Enders (6.617 seconds at 209.01 mph) and veteran Pro Stock driver Larry Morgan (6.613/209.52), Enders won off the starting line and advanced to the semifinals. Enders is looking for her first career U.S. Nationals title.

In other matches, Vincent Nobile (6.621/209.30) defeated Jason Line, who red-lighted. Also, Greg Anderson (6.605/209.39) held off Bo Butner (6.633/209.04) and Drew Skillman (6.619/209.30) defeated Shane Gray (6.614/209.85).

Here’s the semifinal matchups: Nobile vs. Skillman and Enders vs. Anderson.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: Former series champion Angelle Sampey closed in on her bid to make this season’s Countdown to the Championship, defeating veteran rider Matt Smith.

Jerry Savoie beat two-time U.S. Nationals winner Steve Johnson, while Hector Arana Jr. upset defending series champ Andrew Hines. Lastly, pole-sitter Chip Ellis continued his run, defeating last year’s U.S. Nationals winner, Eddie Krawiec.

Here’s the semifinal matchups: Sampey vs. Ellis and Savoie vs. Arana Jr.



11:00 am ET — After the National Anthem, the kings of the sport, Top Fuel, took center stage first.

Two big surprises came in both the first run of the day and the last run of the same round.

First, pole-sitter Larry Dixon (3.819 seconds/326.16 mph) lost to 16th qualifier Doug Kalitta (3.808/317.42).

But an even bigger shock came in the final pair of the first round when No. 9 seed and eight-time and defending Top Fuel champ Tony Schumacher (4.264/212.83), who was looking for a record 10th U.S. Nationals win, lost to No. 8 Shawn Langdon (3.841/313.44).

In the rest of the Top Fuel ranks: No. 2 qualifier Billy Torrence (3.804/326.16) got past No. 15 TJ Zizzo (4.001/255.29), No. 3 Steve Torrence (4.666/201.79) was upset by defending U.S. Nationals winner and No. 14 qualifier Richie Crampton (4.159/205.51).

No. 4 Dave Connolly (3.820/324.59) topped No. 13 Khalid alBalooshi (3.809/326.08), No. 5 J.R. Todd (3.905/311.34) lost to No. 12 Antron Brown (3.796/318.17).

No. 6 Morgan Lucas (3.787/323.89) defeated No. 11 Leah Pritchett (3.816/320.05) and No. 7 Brittany Force (3.853/318.99) topped No. 10 Pat Dakin (3.901/314.17).

Here’s the second-round matchups: Kalitta vs. Langdon, Connolly vs. Brown, B. Torrence vs. B. Force and Crampton vs. Lucas.

In Funny Car, one day after winning the $100,000 Traxxas Funny Car Shootout, pole-sitter “Fast Jack” Beckman (3.047 seconds/302.55 mph) continued on his quest to sweep the weekend with an easy first round win over No. 16 Bob Bode (5.022/157.65).

No. 2 Robert Hight (4.078/315.78) defeated No. 15 John Bojec (4.384/285.41), No. 3 Tommy Johnson Jr. (4.054/312.42) held off No. 14 John Hale (4.777/177.32) and No. 4 Del Worsham (4.345/237.46) held off No. 13 Chad Head (6.626/83.41).

No. 5 Tim Wilkerson (4.270/259.91) held off No. 12 Tony Pedregon (4.511/198.88), while No. 6 and last year’s Funny Car U.S. Nationals winner Alexis DeJoria (4.085/307.02) was upset by No. 11 Courtney Force (4.064/316.67). In so doing, Force keeps her hopes to qualify for the Countdown to the Championship alive.

In the 99th career meeting between the two, four-time U.S. Nationals winner and No. 10 seed John Force (4.079/316.15) won for the 67th time over No. 7 Cruz Pedregon (4.088/307.72). Force is seeking his first U.S. Nationals victory since 2002.

Force’s win sets up a quarterfinals matchup with Hight, his teammate and president of John Force Racing.

Lastly,No. 8 and defending Funny Car champ Matt Hagan (4.528/211.63) fell to No. 9 Ron Capps (5.022/157.65).

Here’s the second-round matchups: Beckman vs. Capps, Worsham vs. Wilkerson, Hight vs. J. Force and Johnson Jr. vs. C. Force.

In Pro Stock, No 1 qualifier Greg Anderson (6.602/209.85) roared to an easy win over No. 16 Aaron Stanfield, who failed to stage in time.

In a huge upset, No. 2 Jonathan Gray red-lighted and lost to No. 15 Vincent Nobile (6.630 seconds at 209.59 mph). Also, No. 3 Drew Skillman (6.605/209.59) held off No. 14 Alex Laughlin (6.632/209.33).

Defending series champ and No. 4 seed Erica Enders (6.604/209.49), who was also Grand Marshal for this event, held off No. 9 V. Gaines (6.637/209.10), while in a battle between two veterans of the sport, No. 12 Larry Morgan (6.603/209.85) defeated No. 5 Allen Johnson (6.621/209.17).

No. 6 Shane Gray (6.624/209.69), who won the Pro Stock class in last year’s U.S. Nationals, beat No. 11 Chris McGaha (6.641/209.17) by a half-fender.

No. 7 Jason Line (6.626/208.59) held off No. 10 Deric Kramer (6.665/208.42), while No. 8 Bo Butner (6.650/209.10) upset No. 9 five-time Pro Stock champ Jeg Coughlin Jr. (6.626/208.84).

Here’s the second round matchups: Anderson vs. Butner, Enders vs. Morgan, Nobile vs. Line and Skillman vs. S. Gray.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, three riders red-lighted and a fourth broke in the first round.

Pole-sitter Chip Ellis (6.880 seconds at 195.59 mph) defeated No. 16 Angie Smith (red-lighted). No. 2 Andrew Hines (6.916/193.82) defeated No. 15 Scotty Pollacheck (7.171/188.33), No. 3 Jerry Savoie (6.877/194.46) defeated Chaz Kennedy (broke at starting line) and No. 4 Angelle Sampey (6.910/192.99) stopped Karen Stoffer (6.911/194.69).

No. 5 Matt Smith (6.915/192.85) beat No. 12 Shawn Gann (red-lighted), No. 6 Hector Arana (6.977/194.83) was upset by No. 11 Steve Johnson (6.945/193.38), No. 7 Hector Arana Jr. (6.904/195.36) defeated Jim Underdahl (red-lighted) and No. 8 L.E. Tonglet (6.919/195.56) fell to last year’s U.S. Nationals winner, No. 9 Eddie Krawiec (6.873/193.96).

Here’s the second-round matchups: Ellis vs. Krawiec, Sampey vs. M. Smith, Hines vs. Arana Jr., and Savoie vs. Johnson. 

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