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Decade in Review: Best NHRA racers of the 2010s

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The past ten years have seen a multitude of drivers reach the winner’s circle in NHRA Mellow Yellow Drag Racing competition.

With multiple different drivers winning in multiple classes any given race weekend, it would be both difficult and unfair to pick just one driver as the best of the decade.

Instead, we’re going to offer our picks for the top five racers of the decade in each of the NHRA’s four major classes.

Do you agree with our picks, or do you have other drivers in mind? If so, please leave us a comment.

Without further ado, here’s our picks for the best NHRA racers of the 2010s:

 

TOP FUEL

 

Antron Brown. (Photo: NHRA)

1. Antron Brown: With 42 victories and three championships within the last decade, Brown is easily the most successful Top Fuel pilot of the 2010s.

In addition to winning the championship in 2012, 2015, and 2016, Brown finished second overall in 2013 and third overall in 2011. He is also one of only two Top Fuel drivers to finish in the top 10 final standings each year of the decade, and enters the 2020 season looking to extend his streak of 12 consecutive Countdown to the Championship appearances.

Brown is fourth on the all-time Top Fuel wins list with 50 total victories.

2. Tony Schumacher: “The Sarge” may have missed the 2019 season due to a lack of sponsorship, but with an eighth championship in 2014 and four second-place finishes over the course of the last decade, he continued to build on his legacy as one of the sport’s all-time greats.

Schumacher also accumulated 23 victories during the 2010s, including two victories in the U.S. Nationals in 2012 and 2016. He is the all-time Top Fuel wins leader, with 84 overall victories.

3. Steve Torrence: No Top Fuel racer has been more dominant over the course of the last three years than Torrence.

The 36-year-old Texan has led the class with the most victories each year from 2017 to 2019, and has 36 total victories to his name – all of which have come within the last eight years.

Torrence’s dominance towards the end of the decade led him to his first world championship in 2018, a season in which he also became the first driver in NHRA history to sweep all six races in the Countdown. He successfully defended his title in 2019, winning eight races en route to his second consecutive championship.

4. Doug Kalitta: Though he failed to win a championship during the 2010s, Kalitta remains one of the most successful drivers of the decade, finishing second overall in 2019 and 2016.

Kalitta joins Brown as the only Top Fuel driver to have finished in the top ten final standings every year this decade, and won 16 races over the last 10 years – including the U.S. Nationals in 2019.

With 47 career victories in Top Fuel, Kalitta is ranked fifth on the all-time wins list.

5. Shawn Langdon: Before moving to Funny Car competition in 2018, Langdon was one of the most successful Top Fuel competitors on the circuit, clinching 14 victories over the course of the decade.

Langdon’s best season came in 2013, where he won six events, including the U.S. Nationals, en route to his first NHRA title. He also finished fourth overall in 2012 and 2014, and fifth overall in 2010 and 2016.

Since moving over to Funny Car competition full-time, Langdon has accumulated one victory and two Countdown appearances.

 

FUNNY CAR

 

Matt Hagan. (Photo: NHRA)

1. Matt Hagan: The 2011 and 2014 Funny Car champion, Hagan finished outside the top five in points just twice over the course of the last ten seasons. 

In fact, he finished third or better overall six times in the last ten years, with runner-up finishes in 2010 and 2013.

Hagan also collected 32 Funny Car victories in the 2010s, including a win at the U.S. Nationals in 2016.

2. Robert Hight: No driver won more Funny Car races in the 2010s than Hight, who won a total of 37 over the last 10 years, including the U.S. Nationals in 2013.

Hight also won two championships over the last decade, coming in 2017 and 2019, respectfully. He also had a runner-up finish in 2018.

Third on the all-time Funny Car wins list, Hight will likely continue to bring both victories and championships to John Force Racing for many more years to come.

3. Jack Beckman: Having won the 2012 championship and accumulating three runner-up finishes, Beckman finished the decade with nine top 10 finishes.

In addition, he won 20 events, including the 2019 season finale at Pomona, where he narrowly finished second to Hight in the overall standings by a slim margin of eight points.

4. Ron Capps: In the past decade, Capps won 34 Funny Car events, including eight in 2017.

He also won his first championship in 2016, firmly establishing himself as not only one of the best drivers of the decade but also one of the best in NHRA history.

Capps enters 2020 with 63 career Funny Car wins, the second most all-time.

5. John Force: Though he may have not won races and championships as frequently as he did in the 1990s and 2000s, Force still had plenty of accomplishments to be proud of in the 2010s.

He won his 15th and 16th Funny Car titles in 2010 and 2013, respectfully, and also won 24 races during the 2010s – including his 150th victory, which came in the 2019 Northwest Nationals in Seattle.

 

PRO STOCK

 

Erica Enders. (Photo: NHRA)

1. Erica Enders: The record for then most Pro Stock titles won over the course of the past 10 years goes to Enders, who took the top honors in 2014, 2015, and 2019.

Enders also won 25 races in the 2010s, with her first career victory coming in 2012 when she beat Greg Anderson in the finals of the Route 66 Nationals. Enders also won the U.S. nationals in 2015.

2. Jason Line: One of the most consistent Pro Stock competitors of the decade, Line won the Pro Stock championship in 2011 and 2016.

Line also finished runner-up in 2012 and 2017, and finished within the top five overall in all but one season. In addition, Line won 29 races within the last 10 years.

Having won twice in 2019, Line remains a potential title contender for 2020 and beyond.

3. Greg Anderson: Already entering the decade as a three-time Pro Stock champion, Anderson began the decade with a bang when he won his fourth title in 2010.

But although he has yet to win another championship since then, Anderson remained a legitimate contender for the title throughout the decade, recording three consecutive second-place finishes between 2015 and 2017.

Additionally, he won 34 races over the course of the last decade, bringing his overall total to 94. Anderson enters the 2020s needing only four more victories to become the all-time Pro Stock wins leader.

4. Jeg Coughlin Jr:  Despite a four-year winless streak in the middle of the decade, Coughlin still managed to find plenty of success in the 2010s.

He won four races en route to his fifth championship in 2013, and also ended the decade with a runner-up finish in 2018 and again in 2019.

Coughlin won 15 total races in the last 10 years, bringing his total win count to 63.

5. Allen Johnson: 

Though he’s been racing in Factory Stock since 2017, Johnson’s previous achievements in Pro Stock should not be overlooked.

Johnson won 19 times between 2010 and 2016, and won his lone Pro Stock championship in 2012. He also finished runner-up in 2015 and third overall in 2013.

 

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE

Eddie Krawiec. (Photo: NHRA)

1. Eddie Krawiec: The 2011, 2012, and 2017 Pro Stock Motorcycle champion, Krawiec dominated the circuit year in and year out.

In addition to his three championships, Krawiec had four second place finishes and two third place finishes within the 2010s

He also won more races than any other rider during the 2010s, with 42 total victories.

2. Andrew Hines: Like Krawiec, Hines won the PSM championship three times in the 2010s, taking the honors in 2013, 2015, and 2019.

He also had three runner-up finishes, and two third place finishes within the decade.

His 37 wins over the last ten years include two U.S. Nationals victories, which came in 2012 and 2016.

Hines is the all-time wins leader in PSM, with 57 overall victories.

3. Matt Smith: In addition to winning the PSM title in 2013 and 2017, Smith never finished worse than sixth in the final standings over the past decade, making him one of the most consistent riders on the tour.

Additionally, Smith won 14 races in the 2010s, including four in both of his championship seasons.

With two victories and a third place finish in the 2019 standings, Smith may very well be a title contender once again in 2020.

4. L.E. Tonglet: In 2010, Tonglet won five races, including the U.S. Nationals, to became just the third rider in PSM history to win the championship in his rookie season.

Though he has yet to win another title since, Tonglet continued to find success in the class throughout the 2010’s, picking up 15 more wins, including two more in the U.S. Nationals in 2011 and 2018.

Tonglet also recorded a 3rd place finish in in the standings in 2017 and a fourth place finish in 2018.

5. Jerry Savoie: Making his PSM debut in 2011, Savoie did not win his first race until 2014 at St. Louis. Since then, he’s won 11 more times, with two victories coming at the U.S. Nationals in 2016 and 2019.

In 2016, Savorie won three races less than both Krawiec and Hines, but still managed to accumulate enough points to win his first championship.

Savorie followed up with a second place finish three years later in 2019, and also finished third overall in 2015.

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Inside IndyCar’s iRacing revolution: Oliver Askew, team take it seriously

SimMetric Labs
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No laps have been turned in the NTT IndyCar Series this season, yet rookie Oliver Askew incessantly is analyzing fresh lap data with his Arrow McLaren SP team.

For the past two weeks, Askew has turned hundreds of laps in iRacing at Watkins Glen International and Barber Motorsports Park, and his support team meticulously has scoured the data in real time.

Race engineer Blair Perschbacher, assistant engineer Mike Reggio and strategist Billy Vincent are connected via all the software and timing systems that are on Askew’s real-world No. 7 Dallara-Chevrolet. After every run, numbers instantly are crunched, and Askew debriefs with his crew on improving the handling of his car in search of every fraction of a second as he would in real life.

WATCH: IndyCar iRacing Challenge, 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday, NBCSN or streaming here

The only difference is Askew is sitting inside a simulation rig housed by a 45-foot trailer in West Palm Beach, Fla., while each team member is in an Indianapolis area home.

“They basically set up their own timing stands in their living rooms,” Askew told NBCSports.com. “It’s awesome.”

It’s the new reality for IndyCar, which will play host to the second round of the IndyCar iRacing Challenge at 2:30 p.m. Saturday (NBCSN) at virtual Barber Motorsports Park.

Last Saturday, Askew started and finished fifth at Watkins Glen International, where he practiced with the advisement of his team for more than 15 hours in the SimMetric Driver Performance Labs simulator. Despite a relative sim racing newbie, Askew, 23, finished only two spots behind Will Power, who has more than 1,500 starts and 150 victories on iRacing road courses.

Askew already has practiced for more than 10 hours this week in his simulator for Barber, where he hopes to make the podium against a 29-driver field that will include many champions and winners.

“We’re taking this very seriously,” he said. “You can tell by the results at Watkins Glen. You know which drivers have built their sims properly. How much they’ve been practicing. Those are the guys who finish up front.

“I’m still trying to represent everyone. It’s cool we have the same paint scheme. We’re just trying to represent Arrow and our partners the best as possible. We know they’re all watching, and it seems the viewership is going up.”


The Jupiter, Florida, native has found an edge through his friendship with SimMetric Driver Performance Labs, which is based in nearby West Palm Beach, Florida. Askew and SimMetric CEO Greg De Giorgis met last year through mutual friends. Last year, Askew had done a few simulator sessions before winning the 2019 Indy Lights championship (and graduating to the ride with Arrow McLaren SP).

With an official simulator partnership in the Road to Indy program, SimMetric’s CXC Motion Pro II simulator travels in a trailer to racing events around the country, providing drivers with extra preparation time for the real world.

The full-motion simulator includes a motion system developed by drivers and engineers, hyrdaulic brakes and force-feedback steering system. Though at the high end for simulators available to the general public, it retails for much less than the seven-figure simulators used by auto manufacturers with race programs.

“While time in a driving simulator will never fully replace real seat time, sim seat time can go a very long way in supplementing the seat time a driver gets,” De Giorgis told NBCSports.com in an email. “With three added benefits you don’t get in the real car: Significantly lower cost per hour, no risk of bodily harm or damage to the car, and of course, no limitations on time.”

There are some limitations for how much Askew can practice, though. A schedule was set up last week so the team, Askew and De Giorgis (who helps run the simulator and maintain communications with the team) could work together while also maintaining self-isolation with their families.

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The trailer with the simulator is parked indoors at the Riviera Beach, Florida, shop of Extreme Velocity Motorsports, which also has an unofficial affiliation with SimMetric.

“We’re practicing social distancing and making sure the trailer and everything is clean,” Askew said. “We’re taking that very seriously. It’s still a job for me, so I need to get what I can out of it.”

He’s gotten a lot from it despite a lack of experience. The team can compare simulation data from iRacing to real-world historical data from past races and test sessions.

Reggio handles fuel data, and Simpson monitors strategy and timing. While setups are fixed for the iRacing IndyCar Challenge, Perschbacher is able to work with brake bias. “He’s just trying to bend the rules as much as we can,” Askew said. “We’ve done a lot with brake bias. That’s pretty much all we can change.”

Fans also can watch Askew practicing via a YouTube channel provided by De Giorgis, who has chatted with viewers about the car’s laps in real time during the streams that are available by clicking here.

Fans will be able to find a live stream of Askew’s race Saturday by clicking here.


It’s all relatively new to Askew, who doesn’t even have a sim rig at his Indianapolis home. His previous sim experience mainly came on the Chevrolet simulator in Huntersville, North Carolina.

“Honesty, for me personally, I’m a little late to the party,” Askew said. “I don’t think a lot of people realize that. I’m young and they assumed I’ve been doing this. I’ve never even had my own iRacing account before. Guys like (McLaren driver) Lando Norris, (Watkins Glen winner) Sage (Karam), all these guys have been streaming live on Twitch and have been running iRacing for multiple years now.

“ It’s a great way to get fans engaged in the race weekend and get eSports get bigger and bigger every year. Very interesting moving forward. It’s cool that IndyCar has dipped their feet into these waters now. Even once the season starts, I wouldn’t be surprised if we do more of these races.”

If so, he and his team have learned to keep an eye on Power, a real-world ace on road courses. During some practice races Thursday, Askew thought he’d done well by qualifying third, but Power then put a half-second on the field by winning the pole position.

“Will is unbelievably quick and does the same things in real life as well,” said Askew, who did turn the fastest lap in the practice race. “He just pulls it out somehow. That’s where the engineers and our staff in Indy come into play because they’re able to watch his on-board in real time and replay his on board to figure out what he’s doing to get the most of out of his car in the video game.

“It gets the creative juices flowing again. It’s still very different from real life, but I think we’re going to be able to start the season a little more fresh than we would have without this.”

Chris Graythen / Getty Images