NHRA: Brown, Worsham make it 2 in row in Countdown

(Photo courtesy NHRA)
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Antron Brown and Del Worsham are threatening to make it a runaway in the Nitro classes of the NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship.

Both drivers won their second consecutive race in the six-race Countdown in Sunday’s eliminations of the AAA Insurance Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Ill.

Brown (3.721 seconds at 325.92 mph) earned his fourth consecutive Top Fuel win at Gateway, his sixth win of the 2015 season and his 37th career win (53rd overall, including his prior tenure as a Pro Stock Motorcycle rider), defeating Dave Connolly (3.753 seconds at 328.94 mph) in the final round.

“There are two words: truly blessed,” Brown said afterward. “When [track owner] Curt Francois and [general manager] Chris Blair brought this track back [in 2011], they brought it back better than ever. You can put a slew of runs together that are quick and fast, because you’re not worried about the track not being there.”

Brown now holds a stout 77 point lead over teammate Tony Schumacher in the Top Fuel standings. But he also knows big leads can be precarious.

“We have to keep marching right now,” Brown said. “We had a 200-point lead in 2012 and almost lost the championship at the end. We’re off to an incredible start (in the Countdown).”

In Funny Car, Worsham had one of the better weekends of his lengthy drag racing career. Worsham (3.964 seconds at 320.13 mph) defeated defending Funny Car champ and No. 1 qualifier Matt Hagan (3.983 at 324.20) in the final round, earning the victory in spectacular fashion when the engine on his Toyota exploded as he crossed the finish line. Worsham was uninjured in the mishap.

“It made a hard dart to the right, I had full input on the wheel to the left, and it went ‘ka-boom’ right before I got to the finish line,” Worsham said. “It blew up, the dash came up, and fire went back there. Luckily, in today’s racing, the chutes deployed themselves and slowed it down right away.

“In my 25 years of racing, I don’t know if I’ve ever driven a Funny Car that made that many good runs. The team assembling it, the tune-up, and what [team owner] Connie Kalitta has given us here has been unreal. When I came back to Funny Car racing [in 2012], this is the dream I had.”

In addition, the Southern California native lowered the NHRA national Funny Car elapsed time record (3.899 seconds during Saturday’s qualifying), which is an automatic 20-point bonus in the standings.

Worsham now leads No. 2-ranked Hagan by 90 points heading into the third race and the midpoint of the Countdown, next weekend’s Keystone Nationals in Reading, Pa.

In Pro Stock, rookie Drew Skillman (6.529 seconds at 211.63 mph) earned his first career win, defeating teammate and defending champ Erica Enders (lost traction).

“This is my fourth time to the finals and I knew that Erica has been insane on the Tree,” said Skillman. “A little luck came our way and we got it done this weekend.

“I lost the first three finals but I don’t know how you can get frustrated when you get to a pro category for the first time and have the kind of year we’re having. This is not normal. I’m just very excited to win this today. I have a great team.”

Despite the loss, Enders increased her lead in the Pro Stock standings to 113 points over No. 2 ranked Greg Anderson.

Lastly, in Pro Stock Motorcycle, Hector Arana Jr. (6.680 seconds at 196.50 mph) earned his second win of the season, defeating his father, Hector Arana (6.932 at 195.03), in the final round.

“This has been a great week; I don’t know if I could ask for anything more,” the younger Arana said. “On Monday, I pulled the trigger and asked my beautiful girlfriend [Nicole Nobile] to marry me and to get this win is just icing on the cake.

“I tell you what, that is a bittersweet win. I watched my dad win in the semis and I said to myself, ‘I have to win’ so we can see which one of us can take home the Wally (winner’s trophy). I want to see him win and of course he wants to see me win, but at the same time I want to beat him. We also needed this to move forward in the points.”

Arana Jr. is now second in the standings, just 34 points behind points leader and defending season champ Andrew Hines.


TOP FUEL: 1.  Antron Brown; 2.  Dave Connolly; 3.  Billy Torrence; 4.  Brittany Force; 5.  Steve Torrence; 6.  Shawn Langdon; 7.  Doug Kalitta; 8.  Tony Schumacher; 9.  Larry Dixon; 10.  Clay Millican; 11.  Wayne Newby; 12.  Terry McMillen; 13.  Kyle Wurtzel; 14.  J.R. Todd; 15.  Richie Crampton; 16.  Troy Buff.

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

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

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1.  Hector Arana Jr; 2.  Hector Arana; 3.  Steve Johnson; 4.  Chip Ellis; 5.  Jerry Savoie; 6.  Andrew Hines; 7.  Karen Stoffer; 8.  Chaz Kennedy; 9.  Mike Berry; 10.  Matt Smith; 11.  Eddie Krawiec; 12.  Adam Arana; 13.  Angie Smith; 14.  Brian Pretzel; 15.  Jim Underdahl; 16.  Scotty Pollacheck.


Top Fuel: Antron Brown, 3.721 seconds, 325.92 mph  def. Dave Connolly, 3.753 seconds, 328.94 mph.

Funny Car: Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 3.964, 320.13  def. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.983, 324.20.

Pro Stock: Drew Skillman, Chevy Camaro, 6.529, 211.63  def. Erica Enders, Camaro, 17.947, 46.65.

Pro Stock Motorcycle: Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.860, 196.50  def. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.932, 195.03.


TOP FUEL: ROUND ONE — Dave Connolly, 3.739, 329.34 def. J.R. Todd, 3.952, 250.00; Tony Schumacher, 3.762, 326.56 def. Clay Millican, 3.763, 321.27; Brittany Force, 3.746, 327.11 def. Troy Buff, 5.899, 107.73; Steve Torrence, 3.756, 324.67 def. Kyle Wurtzel, 3.870, 308.21; Antron Brown, 3.767, 322.19 def. Terry McMillen, 3.846, 322.58; Billy Torrence, 3.746, 329.91 def. Larry Dixon, 3.753, 329.02; Doug Kalitta, 3.777, 328.06 def. Wayne Newby, 3.777, 323.43; Shawn Langdon, 3.753, 329.26 def. Richie Crampton, 4.228, 226.92;

QUARTERFINALS — Brown, 3.727, 324.28 def. Langdon, 3.759, 326.87; Force, 3.773, 325.85 def. Kalitta, 3.762, 323.58; Connolly, 3.724, 329.75 def. S. Torrence, 3.741, 329.42; B. Torrence, 3.739, 328.86 def. Schumacher, 3.762, 321.12;

SEMIFINALS — Brown, 3.733, 322.88 def. B. Torrence, 3.761, 327.11; Connolly, 3.764, 329.99 def. Force, 4.309, 219.15;

FINAL — Brown, 3.721, 325.92 def. Connolly, 3.753, 328.94.

FUNNY CAR: ROUND ONE — Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.002, 320.74 def. John Hale, Charger, 4.199, 300.26; Jack Beckman, Charger, 5.308, 135.96 def. John Bojec, Toyota Solara, foul; Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 3.945, 325.69 def. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.884, 184.19; Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.955, 325.22 def. Brian Stewart, Ford Mustang, 4.132, 303.71; Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 3.966, 292.77 def. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.332, 211.49; Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.025, 267.32 def. Chad Head, Camry, 6.863, 90.67; Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.983, 323.12 def. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 5.263, 187.23; John Force, Camaro, 4.670, 172.85 def. Robert Hight, Camaro, 6.440, 103.15;

QUARTERFINALS — C. Pedregon, 3.992, 311.13 def. Beckman, 11.469, 77.16; Hagan, 3.979, 323.97 def. J. Force, 4.014, 323.43; Worsham, 3.956, 324.36 def. Wilkerson, 3.974, 323.04; Capps, 3.949, 324.67 def. DeJoria, 7.810, 87.23;

SEMIFINALS — Worsham, 3.952, 326.40 def. C. Pedregon, 13.070, 60.74; Hagan, no time def. Capps, DQ;

FINAL — Worsham, 3.964, 320.13 def. Hagan, 3.983, 324.20.

PRO STOCK: ROUND ONE — Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.559, 211.00 def. Shane Gray, Chevy Camaro, foul; Larry Morgan, Camaro, 6.554, 211.59 def. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.526, 211.63; Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.577, 210.24 def. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 8.654, 109.87; Deric Kramer, Dart, 6.569, 207.69 def. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.822, 168.60; Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.543, 211.39 def. Aaron Strong, Camaro, 7.014, 155.87; Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.530, 211.43 def. V. Gaines, Dart, 6.664, 185.05; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.528, 212.03 def. Mark Hogan, Pontiac GXP, 6.681, 206.92; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.586, 210.87 def. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.819, 200.23;

QUARTERFINALS — Enders, 6.520, 211.66 def. Nobile, 6.561, 210.31; Butner, 6.543, 210.67 def. Morgan, 6.604, 209.39; Skillman, 6.525, 211.39 def. Kramer, foul; Johnson, 6.558, 211.26 def. Anderson, 6.533, 211.49;

SEMIFINALS — Skillman, 6.528, 211.79 def. Johnson, foul; Enders, 6.524, 212.06 def. Butner, 6.520, 212.43;

FINAL — Skillman, 6.529, 211.63 def. Enders, 17.947, 46.65.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: ROUND ONE — Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.980, 193.82 def. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 7.136, 185.64; Chip Ellis, Buell, 6.897, 193.54 def. Angie Smith, foul; Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.919, 194.41 def. Adam Arana, Buell, 7.009, 191.59; Hector Arana, Buell, 6.907, 194.38 def. Mike Berry, Buell, 6.915, 192.00; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.858, 195.19 def. Brian Pretzel, Buell, foul; Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.867, 194.21 def. Matt Smith, foul; Chaz Kennedy, Buell, 6.974, 191.89 def. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.938, 193.99; Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.870, 196.42 def. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 7.098, 174.28;

QUARTERFINALS — H. Arana, 6.876, 195.22 def. Savoie, 6.866, 194.30; Ellis, 6.886, 193.49 def. Kennedy, 6.966, 190.97; Johnson, 6.919, 194.58 def. Stoffer, foul; Arana Jr, 6.872, 195.73 def. Hines, 6.882, 194.91;

SEMIFINALS — H. Arana, 6.889, 195.00 def. Ellis, 6.925, 193.16; Arana Jr, 6.881, 196.30 def. Johnson, 6.902, 195.42;

FINAL — Arana Jr, 6.860, 196.50 def. H. Arana, 6.932, 195.03.


Top Fuel: 1.  Antron Brown, 2,320; 2.  Tony Schumacher, 2,243; 3.  Larry Dixon, 2,161; 4.  Brittany Force, 2,157; 5.  J.R. Todd, 2,149; 6.  Doug Kalitta, 2,139; 7.  Richie Crampton, 2,133; 8.  (tie) Dave Connolly, 2,127; Steve Torrence, 2,127; 10.  Shawn Langdon, 2,126.

Funny Car: 1.  Del Worsham, 2,327; 2.  Matt Hagan, 2,237; 3.  Tommy Johnson Jr., 2,211; 4.  Jack Beckman, 2,208; 5.  John Force, 2,178; 6.  Ron Capps, 2,177; 7.  Alexis DeJoria, 2,123; 8.  Cruz Pedregon, 2,116; 9.  Tim Wilkerson, 2,107; 10.  Robert Hight, 2,099.

Pro Stock: 1.  Erica Enders, 2,331; 2.  Greg Anderson, 2,218; 3.  Allen Johnson, 2,195; 4.  Drew Skillman, 2,171; 5.  Larry Morgan, 2,167; 6.  Chris McGaha, 2,162; 7.  Vincent Nobile, 2,155; 8.  Jason Line, 2,125; 9.  Shane Gray, 2,117; 10.  Jonathan Gray, 2,066.

Pro Stock Motorcycle: 1.  Andrew Hines, 2,259; 2.  Hector Arana Jr, 2,225; 3.  Eddie Krawiec, 2,208; 4.  Jerry Savoie, 2,205; 5.  Matt Smith, 2,167; 6.  Karen Stoffer, 2,146; 7.  Hector Arana, 2,135; 8.  Chip Ellis, 2,131; 9.  Jim Underdahl, 2,094; 10.  Scotty Pollacheck, 2,041.

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Jett Lawrence wins Pro Motocross opener, remains perfect at Fox Raceway; Hunter wins in 250s

How they finished in the 450 Overall at Fox Raceway
Align Media

PALA, California – In his 450 bike debut, Jett Lawrence scored a perfect round at Fox Raceway in Pala, California to win Pro Motocross Round 1. He posted the fastest time in both qualification sessions, won the holeshot in both motos, and scored a pair of wins to take the overall victory and the early points’ lead.

Chase Sexton stalked Jett Lawrence throughout Moto 2, but could not find his way past. – Align Media

No one seriously questioned Lawrence’s opportunity to make noise in the 450 class. Few would have been surprised to see him podium in his Pro Motocross National, but Lawrence outperformed all expectations by dominating Moto 1. He entered the weekend with zero points and his eye on 20th in the standings so he would receive an automatic invitation to the inaugural SuperMotocross World Championship (SMX).

He well surpassed expectations.

“It’s awesome,” Lawrence told NBC Sports’ Jason Thomas. “I can finally smile. I’ve been trying to stay serious and not get too excited with emotions coming up – and now I can finally let loose. The second one was a little harder, I couldn’t hear him but I’d look back and I’d still see the red bike. It was like a chess match.”

By the end of the race, Lawrence made up 30 percent of the points he needed to claim 20th and served notice that he will be one of the favorites to win the championship. He closed the gap even further in Moto 2, but the two races had entirely different storylines.

While Lawrence was able to run away from the field in the first race and win with a 10-second advantage, Honda teammate and defending Monster Energy Supercross champion Chase Sexton pressured him for the entire 30 minutes plus two laps that made up Moto 2.

Lawrence is the 16th rider to win in his first Pro Motocross race, the 10th to do so in an opener and second youngest, (behind Rick Johnson, 17 when he won at Hangtown in 1982).

Sexton was within two seconds of Lawrence for the entire moto. He rode a patient race with the realistic expectation that the 450 rookie Lawrence might make a mistake. Lawrence bounced from rut to rut in this race, but would not be forced into losing his focus.

“Toward the finish line area I had some decent lines, I thought maybe, if I could get close enough, I could make a move,” Sexton said. “I tried my hardest; I got close. I made a bit of an attempt with maybe 10 minutes to go and messed up. Jett was obviously riding really good. We were pushing the pace and it was a fun moto. It felt a little like last year.”

With his 1-1 finish and the overall victory, Lawrence remains perfect at Fox Raceway after sweeping Victory Lane in five rounds his 250 career.

Dylan Ferrandis returned to the track after suffering a concussion in the Supercross season in Round 4 in Houston. He attempted to return for the Daytona Supercross race, but another hard crash on Media Day set him on the sideline.

“Earlier this week I was pretty far from a podium position, so got together with the team and we made it happen,” Ferrandis said. “It was very hard. [Aaron Plessinger] was pushing me and I had to dig very deep.”

RESULTS: How they finished in the 450 Overall at Fox Raceway

In a pre-race news conference, he indicated that the best course of action was to get up to speed before he fully sent his bike into the turns. But adrenalin is a wonderful factor and once he got into the pace of the race, he held off charges from Cooper Webb in Moto 1 and Plessinger in Moto 2. Ferrandis’ 3-3 finishes in the two races earned 40 points and puts him back in the conversation to be among the top 20 in the combined SuperMotocross standings.

Plessinger and Webb each ended the day with 34 points. Plessinger won the tiebreaker for fifth overall in the standings. But it was an adventurous afternoon for Plessinger who had to overcome a pair of falls in the first Moto to finish fifth.

Round 1 of the Pro Motocross season marked the return of Webb after he suffered a Supercross series ending concussion in a heat race at Nashville.

“This was a last minute decision,” Webb said. “I sat out last summer and I didn’t want to do that again. Once I got cleared from the doctor, it was game on.”

The battle between Lawrence and Sexton gave Honda a 1-2 finish in this race for the second straight year, but perhaps most importantly, it provided a glimpse of what can be expected during the opening rounds.

I think there is more to come from Chase,” Lawrence said. “He had that crash in practice so it rung his head a bit, but I know it’s going to be a war in the outdoor season. I know there’s going to be times when I’m behind Chase and can’t get around him. It’s going to be an awesome season and I can’t wait to race my teammate.”

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Jett wasn’t the only Lawrence to win Fox Raceway Motocross. Hunter’s win in the 250 class marked the first time in history that brothers won a Motocross National on the same day.

The reigning 250 East Supercross champion scored the overall victory with a third in Moto 1 and a victory in Moto 2. A poor start in the first race forced Lawrence to mount a charge from behind. Riding with discomfort, Lawrence was out of his rhythm early. A spirited battle with Jo Shimoda and Justin Cooper for third through fifth forced him to push through the pain of an injury suffered at the start of the week.

“The start was crucial,” Lawrence said. “I had a massive crash Monday and could barely ride press day for three laps, I was in so much pain. This one goes out to Dr. [Rey Gubernick]. He has magic hands.”

Lawrence’s strong start to Moto 2 put him in a better zone and he pulled an eight-second advantage over the second-place rider.

Haiden Deegan got a taste of the Motocross series last year, but that was all it was: a nibble.

Deegan failed to crack the top 10 in either of two starts and had some questions for himself before the race began. Deegan did not believe there were high expectations placed on him for this race, which is precisely how he described his first Supercross attempt. In that inaugural SX race, he finished fourth and was as surprised as anyone in the field.

Again: The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Deegan surprised himself again by finishing second in only his third Motocross National. He finished sixth in Moto 1 and second in Moto 2, giving him a second-place finish overall.

“I’m actually a little surprised,” Deegan said. “A lot of people said I wouldn’t even be close to this. I guess we’re proving people wrong and that’s what we’ve got to do Second place in my first full season. I’m hyped.”

Deegan is closing in on his first 250 win.

Click here for 250 overall results

RJ Hampshire had to overcome a pair of falls in Moto 2 to score the final podium position in the overall standings. – Align Media

RJ Hampshire made a statement in Moto 1. An entirely new discipline allowed Hampshire to grab an early advantage. But then a poor start to Moto 2 provided an entirely different challenge. Two falls on Lap 1 dropped Hampshire to 39th in the running order.

“I didn’t have a great start and got mayhem in that second corner and went down,” Hampshire said. “Picked [myself] up in last and made some really good passes and then going uphill on the [backstretch], someone got out of whack – took me out and I was dead last again. I didn’t really know if I had a shot at the podium, but I was digging really deep.”

It took half of the race to get back into the points in 20th, but Hampshire kept digging. Passing riders one at a time, he climbed to 11th in Moto 2 and salvaged enough points to give him the third position overall.

Maximus Vohland made a statement of his own by holding off a determined Lawrence on the last two laps. Lawrence was able to pressure Vohland when they were slowed by a lapped rider who fell in front of the battle.

Tom Vialle was in a position to take the final overall podium spot with a solid third-place finish in the second moto. He did everything he could, but Hampshire’s determined charge from the back of the pack was capped off with a two-position advance on the final lap to slide onto the final step of the box.

2023 Supercross Race Recaps

Salt Lake City: Chase Sexton ends the season with win
Denver: Chase Sexton wins, takes points’ lead with Eli Tomac injury
Nashville: Chase Sexton keeps hope alive; Cooper Webb out
New Jersey: Justin Barcia wins muddy race; first in two years
Atlanta: Chase Sexton is back in the championship picture
Glendale: Eli Tomac wins 51st, breaks tie with James Stewart
Seattle: Eli Tomac wins and ties Webb for first
Detroit: Chase Sexton inherits win after Aaron Plessinger falls
Indianapolis: Ken Roczen gets first win in more than a year
Daytona: Eli Tomac extends Daytona record with seventh win
Arlington: Cooper Webb wins for second time, closes to two of Tomac
Oakland: Eli Tomac ties Ricky Carmichael with 48 wins
Tampa: Cooper Webb gets first 2023 win
Houston: Eli Tomac bounces back from A2 crash to win third race of 2023
Anaheim 2: Triple Crown produces new winners Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen
San Diego: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Eli Tomac wins opener for the first time

More SuperMotocross coverage

Record Supercross attendance reported in 2023
450 Champion Chase Sexton takes back what he gave away
250 West Supercross champion Jett Lawrence ends dream career
250 East Supercross champion Hunter Lawrence overcomes doubt and injury
Cooper Webb returns to action at Pala
Caden Braswell joins Troy Lee Design
SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Supercross finale