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Morgan Lucas raced to his third Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals Top Fuel victory in spectacular fashion Sunday to close out the rain-drenched NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event at Brainerd International Raceway.
The Funny Car final round between John Force and Ron Capps, along with the Pro Stock semifinals and final was postponed by NHRA officials due to darkness and inclement weather following a day filled with multiple rain delays. Racing in those categories will be completed during designated qualifying rounds at the 60th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, Aug. 27-Sept. 1 at Indianapolis.
Lucas was on and off the throttle of his 10,000-horsepower Lucas Oil / GEICO dragster as the engine erupted in flames when it crossed the finish line just in front of series points leader Doug Kalitta’s charging Mac Tools dragster. Both machines lost traction early in the thrilling side-by-side final round run, but Lucas was able to guide his machine to victory, the 10th of his career.
Lucas, who is running a limited schedule this season, won from the 12th qualifying position and outran Bob Vandergriff, Steve Torrence and Antron Brown en route to the final round. In his semifinal win over Brown, Lucas clocked a career-best elapsed time of 3.729 seconds.
“It’s fun,” Lucas said. “This is really what I was hoping it would be, just to come out here and have fun, and when you go rounds that is just the added value to it. I am just really lucky that Lucas Oil and GEICO support me. Racing guys like Doug (Kalitta) and Antron (Brown), they are number one and two in points, they are the best. To win this race again is just a really cool feeling.”
When the Funny Car final is held at Indianapolis during the second qualifying session on Saturday, Force will be racing in his fifth consecutive final round appearance of the season, and will once again be trying to defeat longtime rival Capps. Force, an 11-time Brainerd winner, advanced to the final by defeating Bob Bode, Del Worsham and Tommy Johnson Jr. Four-time BIR winner Capps reached the final with round wins over Jeff Arend, Jack Beckman and Alexis DeJoria. This is the third consecutive BIR final for Capps, who has won this race the last two seasons.
Although unofficial until completion of the event, Force took over the Funny Car points lead following his semifinal win over Tommy Johnson Jr. and leads Hight, who lost in the first round, by 18 points.
A new unofficial Pro Stock points leader also emerged in Brainerd as Jason Line raced to the semifinals in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro. When Pro Stock racing resumes at Indy Line will face surprise semifinalist Dave River, who raced past Erica Enders-Stevens and Dave Connolly in the first two rounds. Vincent Nobile and Jeg Coughlin will decide the other Pro Stock semifinal. The Pro Stock semis and final will be contested during the two Sunday qualifying sessions at Indy.
Several drivers in Top Fuel and Funny Car secured their berths into the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship during the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals. In Top Fuel, Spencer Massey, Steve Torrence, Brittany Force, Khalid alBalooshi and Richie Crampton earned playoff berths, while Ron Capps, Tommy Johnson Jr., Alexis DeJoria, Courtney Force and Matt Hagan all claimed Countdown playoff spots in Funny Car.
The 2014 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, entered the penultimate round of its 12-race championship series on Saturday with the inaugural running of the Thor Indiana National from Crawfordsville, Indiana. In what could be considered the most unpredictable conditions of the season, Saturday's racing action came away with very little surprises, including the crowning of the first National Champion of 2014 with Yamalube/Star Racing/Yamaha's Jeremy Martin clinching the 250 Class title one round early. In the 450 Class, Red Bull KTM's Ken Roczen emerged victorious with a 1-2 performance to further extend his points lead over teammate Ryan Dungey as the series heads into the final round next week.
With natural rolling hills and a flowing layout, the brand new Ironman Raceway track was quickly deemed one of the most favorable tracks on the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross circuit, that is until the rain began to fall Saturday morning. Track conditions went from being perfect, to less than idea, in just the matter of hours.
Roczen (94) made up another 13 points on his teammate Dungey in the championship chase
Photo: Simon Cudby
Roczen put himself into a favorable position right away by grabbing the Motosport.com Holeshot Award in the first 450 Class moto, Team Honda Muscle Milk's Trey Canard tucked in behind Roczen off the start, where he kept himself within striking distance through the first half of the moto.
Dungey experienced an issue off the start that caused him to get hung up just before the first turn, where he began around fifth on the opening lap. Roczen capitalized on the clear track ahead, especially with the muddy track conditions in the first moto, and put a gap on Canard and the rest of the field. However, Dungey was bound and determined to close the gap on his teammate early on and the Minnesota native eventually charged past Canard, who went down mid-moto, to take over second.
Dungey maintained second place in moto one, with Canard finishing in third. GEICO Honda's Eli Tomac, who claimed the Oakley Bomb Fastest Qualifier Award, made a late pass on Monster Energy Kawasaki's Brett Metcalfe to capture fourth, while BTO Sports/KTM's Matt Goerke rounded out the top five.
Trey Canard took the moto two win in the 450 Class
Photo: Simon Cudby / Racer X
In moto two, Team Honda Muscle Milk's Trey Canard grabbed the MotoSport.com Holeshot and pulled away from the rest of the field to earn his second win in the last three motos. Roczen jumped into the second place position on the opening lap, but the 450 Class points leader wasn't able to match the pace of a hard-charging Canard.
Rockstar Energy Racing/KTM's Ryan Sipes put himself into podium contention early on with a top-three holeshot in the second moto. Despite a crash late in the race, Sipes was able to tap into his newfound cross-country skills to maintain a solid and consistent pace. BTO Sports/KTM's Andrew Short maintained a top five running throughout the entire moto, engaging in battle with Sipes for the final podium position. In the end, Sipes prevailed to capture third in the moto, with Short in fourth and Toyota/JGRMX/Yamaha's Josh Grant rounded out the top five.
Dungey once again suffered from a bad start in the second moto, checking in just outside the top ten on the opening lap. The Red Bull KTM rider wasn't able to make up much ground, finishing a disappointing ninth place in the second moto. Dungey's 2-9 moto scores were good enough to capture third overall for the day, where he lost thirteen points in the championship standings.
"The second moto, that's where the downfall was," Dungey said. "It was tough in those conditions to come from behind, but no excuses though. I just got caught up in a little bit of mud, which isn't ideal at this point in the championship. I lost some points but I'm taking it race by race and all I can do is the best I can every time the gate drops."
Canard's moto two victory marks his second win in the last three rounds, as well as the his second career moto win in the 450 Class. Canard's 3-1 moto scores earned the Oklahoma native second overall for the day, just three points away from his first overall win.
"I'm definitely more comfortable these last two weeks," Canard said. "Obviously last week helped but in general I've just had more fun at the races the last two weeks."
Roczen's win helped the German rookie extend the 450 Class points lead over Dungey, bringing his championship lead to twenty points with one round to go.
"I really enjoy when it rains, it takes the edge off because most of the races it's sunny and everyone is going for it," Roczen said. "I think the track was overall super cool, like the layout and the entire venue. I think if it would have been dry this could be my new favorite track."
Canard sits third in the championship standings, 76 points behind, with Monster Energy Kawasaki's Brett Metcalfe fourth (-190) and Tomac jumping up all the way to fifth (-213) despite missing the first four rounds of the season with injury.
Heading into moto one, Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha's Jeremy Martin needed only nine points to claim his first career 250 Class Championship. The Minnesota native got off to a good start in the first moto and carried his momentum to a second place finish, which is good enough to clinch the title one round early.
Jeremy Martin celebrates with his Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha team
Photo: Simon Cudby / Racer X
"To be able to have the number one plate, I've been thinking of how good it would feel to hear Kevin [Crowther] from the AMA to be passing on the number one plate to me and this is the greatest moment of my life," Martin said after receiving the AMA #1 Plate and his first 250 Class title.
TLD/Lucas Oil/Honda's Jessy Nelson had a break out ride in the first moto of the 250 Class, beginning with a commanding MotoSport.com Holeshot. With Martin close in tow, Nelson set a blistering pace out front early on. The KTM trio of Joey Savatgy (Rockstar Energy Racing/KTM), Marvin Musquin (Red Bull KTM) and Jason Anderson (Rockstar Energy KTM) filled out the top five early on.
Nelson eventually stretched his lead to over seven seconds by the end of the moto en route to his first career moto win. Martin captured second to claim his first career title, with Musquin, Savatgy and Anderson rounding out the top five.
Nelson came out swinging in the opening moto
Photo: Simon Cudby
Nelson grabbed the MotoSport.com Holeshot once again in moto two but unlike the first moto, the young gun wasn't able to maintain the lead for too long. Rockstar Energy Racing KTM duo Joey Savatgy and Jason Anderson got off to a good start, but the Frenchmen Marvin Musquin and Christophe Pourcel came quickly charging.
It wasn't long before Musquin made his way past Savatgy and into the lead, with Valli Motorsports Yamaha's Pourcel close behind. Pourcel kept the pressure on Musquin for the lead but the Red Bull KTM rider held on to secure the win, with Pourcel in second and Savatgy rounded out the podium.
Nelson continued to fall back, eventually finishing eighth in the second moto, giving the California native third overall for the day with 1-8 moto scores. Savatgy put forth a consistent ride with 4-3 moto scores and second overall for the day.
Jeremy Martin left the inaugural Indiana National with his first ever 250 Class Championship in hand, while also scoring Yamaha its first 250 Class Championship since Jeff Emig's title in 1992. However, it was Musquin who secured the overall win with moto scores of 3-1, despite a muddy day of racing in Indiana.
"I think my technique worked pretty good today," Musquin said. "I've been in the U.S. for a couple years now and I've never really raced in the mud here. I was just trying to be smooth and smart but when you're on the track it's so easy to make a mistake, it's tough but that's part of the racing."
250 Class podium: Nelson, Musquin, Savatgy
Photo: Simon Cudby / Racer X
The 2014 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship hosts the final round of the championship next Saturday, August 23, with the 12th and final round of the season with the second annual Utah National. Action for the Utah National begins at 3 p.m. ET.
Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship
Thor Indiana National
Ironman Raceway - Crawfordsville, Indiana
August 16, 2014
Round 11 of 12
450 Class (Moto Finish)
10.Matt Goerke, Sun City, Calif., KTM (6-11)
450 Class Championship Standings
10.Chad Reed, Australia, Kawasaki, 185
250 Class (Moto Finish)
10.Blake Baggett, Grand Terrace, Calif., Kawasaki (14-4)
250 Class Championship Standings
10.Dean Wilson, Scotland, Kawasaki, 204
MX Sports Pro Racing
MX Sports Pro Racing manages and produces the world's most prestigious professional motocross series - the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing. The industry leader in off road power sport event production and management, its mission is to showcase the sport of professional motocross competition at events throughout the United States. Through its various racing properties, partnerships and affiliates, MX Sports Pro Racing organizes events for thousands of action sports athletes each year and attracts millions of motorsports spectators. Visitwww.mxsportsproracing.com.
Alli Sports is a media, event and branded content company that specializes in action, adventure, and adrenaline based sports. Alli Properties include the Dew Tour, Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, the Red Bull Signature Series and World of Adventure Sports presented by Go Pro. Alli Sports is a division of the NBC Sports Group. More information can be found at www.Allisports.com.
AMA Pro Racing
AMA Pro Racing is the premier professional motorcycle racing organization in North America, operating a full schedule of events and championships for a variety of motorcycle disciplines. Learn more about AMA Pro Racing at www.amaproracing.com.
Lucas Oil Products
Based in Corona, Calif., Lucas Oil Products, Inc is the world leader of High Performance Lubricants and Problem Solving Additives and produces and markets 272 unique formulations in thirty four countries around the globe and is growing country by country, market by market every year. Through innovative product research and development, along with progressive marketing programs, Lucas Oil Products has established itself as the top-selling additive line in the American truck-stop industry. Lucas Oil is involved in an array of motorsports sponsorships, including the "Official Motor Oil of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship." Visit: www.lucasoil.com.
MAVTV is a television network with its roots deep in the automotive world. With an unparalleled line-up of motorsports events and exclusive automotive reality shows, MAVTV is the answer for motor-heads from all walks of life. But MAVTV is much more than a motorsports destination, with original action/adventure programming, live MMA and an unbelievable library of blockbuster movies - MAVTV is a network the whole family can enjoy. A network by the people and for the people, made in America and American Real. Visit: www.mavtv.com.
(Lucas Oil Pro Motocross PR)
BROWN, J. FORCE AND A. JOHNSON EARN NO. 1 QUALIFYING POSITIONS AT LUCAS OIL NHRA NATIONALS IN MINNESOTA
Top Fuel driver Antron Brown raced to his third No. 1 qualifying position of the season Saturday at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway. John Force (Funny Car) and Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) also will lead their categories into Sunday’s 11 a.m. eliminations at the penultimate race in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series regular season.
Brown will try to score his sixth win of the season and continue to chase series leader Doug Kalitta when he faces J.R. Todd in the first round of eliminations. Brown, who won this race in 2011, took the 37th No. 1 of his career and his third Brainerd top qualifying effort with a performance of 3.810 seconds at 318.77 mph in his Matco Tools dragster.
“We were pushing to run better,” said Brown, who edged Kalitta for the top spot in a thrilling side-by-side pass to close out Top Fuel qualifying. “The cloud cover came in, and we were trying to run quicker. My guys did an incredible job. We’ll take that No. 1. Those are three more bonus points for the run and a couple points for qualifying No. 1.”
With only two races remaining before the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship begins, Brown knows that he doesn’t have much time if he’s going to grab the top seed in the class for the playoffs.
“We’re going to focus on that tough first-round matchup with J.R. Todd,” Brown said. “It’s going to be a really good race. We’re going to go after it and take it one round at a time.”
Kalitta will start second in his Mac Tools dragster with his Friday leading run of 3.812 at 322.96 and defending world champ Shawn Langdon qualified third in his Al-Anabi Racing dragster with a 3.815 at 321.27.
Force powered to his fifth No. 1 qualifying position of the season and 151st of his career in Funny Car after an afternoon rain shower cooled off the track and set the stage for his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang to sprint to a weekend-best performance of 4.060 at 315.27. The 11-time Brainerd winner will face Bob Bode in the opening round.
“It cooled down and we knew everybody would step up,” said Force, who has advanced to the last four final rounds, winning twice. “We knew it was there. I told the TV camera I was going for No. 1. I have never said that in 30 years because it just don’t work that way. I have to start making a move now. I have to get this hot rod to where it will win and build the confidence in myself and all the kids around me. I laughed about it that I said it. It’s very simple, [crew chief] Jimmy Prock is on his game. That car makes big horsepower and he always swings for the fence.”
The brief rain delay helped to shake up the Funny Car ladder as four-time Brainerd winner Ron Capps moved to the second spot with a 4.064 at 314.17 in his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger and his teammate Matt Hagan improved to third with a 4.068 at 311.99 in his Rocky Boots / Mopar Charger. Friday leader Robert Hight fell to fifth in his Auto Club Mustang with a 4.081 at 307.37.
In Pro Stock, Johnson claimed his fifth No. 1 of the season and 36th of his career with his Friday run of 6.614 at 207.98 in his Magneti Marelli / Team Mopar Dodge Dart. The Tennessee driver hopes to follow his first Brainerd top qualifying effort with his first win here. He was runner-up in 2012 in his only final round appearance at this event.
“I’ve had a great car all weekend and the new Dodge Dart really likes this surface at Brainerd,” Johnson said. “It’s our best start here at Brainerd. I think we’ve got a good game plan for tomorrow. That last run was pretty nice. Having a good shot at the track tomorrow (with the first round bye run) will pay dividends for us because we will be able to get after it a little more than we normally would if there was a car in the other lane, so that will tell us how far we can push it tomorrow.”
Minnesota native Jason Line made Saturday’s quickest run in his Summit Racing Chevy Camaro with a 6.622 at 207.91 to move to second overall and he will try to win his hometown race for the first time. Series leader Erica Enders-Stevens qualified third with a 6.630 at 207.85 in her Elite Motorsports Camaro and three-time BIR winner Greg Anderson qualified fourth in his Summit Racing Camaro with a 6.632 at 208.39.
Nathan's Famous has announced that the official 2015 qualifying tour for the annual Fourth of July International Hot Dog-Eating Contest will kick off in Brooklyn, Michigan, at Michigan International Speedway on August 17. The official qualifying event, which is the first of more than a dozen contests that will be held in cities across the United States prior to the July 4 contest, will take place at 10 am before the Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Race.
The event will feature top-ranked eaters, including world pork rind- and watermelon-eating champion Buffalo Jim Reeves. Reeves, a chicken wing-eating veteran from Buffalo, NY, is known for his extraordinary jaw strength. Also competing will be Nicole Rodriguez, a rookie who is a fast-rising star in the eating community.
The top male and top female finishers will earn a spot to compete in the finals at the original Nathan's Famous in Brooklyn, NY. In recent years, an estimated 35,000 fans have traveled to the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues in Coney Island on July 4 to watch the contest in person. The ESPN live telecast of the event has achieved top ratings, attracting millions of viewers each year since it was first aired in 2004.
"The annual hot dog-eating contest circuit is synonymous with summer and all the enjoyment it brings," said Wayne Norbitz, president and COO of Nathan's Famous. "Nathan's Famous is proud to be part of the American summer, and we look forward to a great contest in Michigan."
Joey Chestnut of San Jose, CA holds the world record for eating 69 Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs and Buns in 10 minutes. Sonya Thomas of Alexandria, VA, consumed 45 Hot Dogs and Buns in 10 minutes to set a record for females.
According to archives, the Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest has occurred each July 4th in Coney Island, NY since 1916, the year Nathan Handwerker opened the legendary restaurant. Major League Eating, the governing body of all stomach-centric sport, sanctions the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Circuit and ensures the contests are judged professionally and that safety standards are in place at each event.
Those interested in competing in the qualifier should visit www.majorleagueeating.com to obtain information and register. All competitors must be over 18 years of age.
Funny Car points leader Robert Hight raced to the qualifying lead Friday at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.
Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel) and Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) also were qualifying leaders at the penultimate event in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series regular season.
After opening qualifying with a tire-smoking pass that dropped him to 17th position, Hight rebounded on the day’s second attempt and powered to the No. 1 position with a performance of 4.085 seconds at 313.29 mph in his 10,000-horsepower Auto Club Ford Mustang.
Hight was the first car out in the second session and says he was surprised that the elapsed time stayed at the top after the remaining cars made their runs.
“Given we messed up the first run to come out and go 4.08, it was pretty awesome,” Hight said. “It shows that [crew chief Mike] Neff has a great handle on this car and he can make it do what he wants. It was an unbelievable run and exactly what we needed to do.”
Hight is hoping to turn his fortunes around at Brainerd this weekend. The veteran driver has never won or earned a No. 1 qualifying position at the scenic Minnesota dragstrip. He says on the second run he was determined to keep his car in the groove.
“When you are not qualified you aren’t as amped up,” Hight said. “You are making sure you drive the car down the middle of the lane and give your team the best opportunity for a good run. That was my focus to keep it right down the middle and we did that.”
Cruz Pedregon qualified second with a 4.093 at 308.21 in his Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry and 11-time Brainerd winner John Force was third with a 4.099 at 311.77 in his Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang.
Top Fuel points leader Kalitta earned the top spot with a 3.812 at 322.96 at the controls of his Mac Tools dragster. He is seeking his sixth No. 1 qualifying position of the season and fourth at Brainerd.
“It was cooling off and with the four cars behind us anything could’ve happened,” Kalitta said. “I was real happy with the run. It was nice and straight. On the first run it dropped a cylinder and smoked the tires so it wasn’t really going anywhere. My guys made the right changes and [crew chief] Jim [Oberhofer] is definitely on his game this year tuning this thing. I am real proud of him.”
Kalitta has two career wins in three final round appearances at Brainerd and is hoping to keep some recent momentum going at this event following his second victory of the season two weeks ago in Seattle.
“This is a great event for the Kalitta family,” said Kalitta, who won the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in 2005 and 2003. “We’ve had good luck up here over the years. It would be great to get a win on Sunday here.”
Defending world champ Shawn Langdon was second in his Al-Anabi Racing dragster with a 3.815 at 321.27. Rookie Richie Crampton was third in the GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster with a 3.827 at 320.97 and Antron Brown sits fourth in his Matco Tools dragster, also posting a 3.827 with a 316.38.
In Pro Stock, Johnson was quickest in his Magneti Marelli / Team Mopar Dodge Dart, covering the distance in 6.614 at 208.04.
“The conditions got a little dryer and that helps the Pro Stock cars so we absolutely murdered it in the first 330 feet on that run,” Johnson said. “Hats off to the team. They pulled that one off. I just pulled the levers and the parachute.”
With a successful Western Swing, Johnson moved to second in the points standings and entered this event only 32 markers back of the series leader, Erica Enders-Stevens.
“We’re in Countdown mode right now, trying to get every single point we can,” Johnson said. “The first run tomorrow could be the best conditions of the weekend for our class, so it will be close.”
Enders-Stevens, who sat out the last two races to prepare for the upcoming six-race NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs, qualified second with a 6.630 at 207.69 in her Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro. Local favorite Greg Anderson, a native of Minnesota and three-time winner here, qualified third in his Summit Racing Camaro with a 6.632 at 208.26.
Qualifying continues Saturday with sessions at 1 and 3:30 p.m. to set the fields for Sunday’s 11 a.m. eliminations.
Top Eliminator Club (TEC) tickets for the 60th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals are sold out, and reserved seats are going fast for the upcoming milestone celebration of the world’s most prestigious drag race.
Reserved seats and general admission tickets are still available. Also, general admission tickets for kids 12 and under are free. A waiting list for 2015 TEC tickets has been established for fans who want to make sure they get a seat in the premium seating section next year.
TEC members enjoy great amenities during the race weekend, including the deluxe members-only hospitality center, incredible starting line grandstand seats, complimentary breakfast and lunch buffets Saturday-Monday, complimentary beverages and snacks every day, live on-track action via closed-circuit television, members-only souvenir store, private restrooms, members-only full bar, gift bag with exclusive TEC cap and official 60th Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals event program, and TEC preferred parking pass with purchase of four TEC tickets.
“TEC tickets have been in high demand at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals for many years, and this season we have sold out earlier than ever before,” said Randy Simpson, Lucas Oil Raceway general manager. “Fans who take advantage of the TEC experience can enjoy the world’s most prestigious drag race with great views of the racing action, high quality food and access to exclusive press conferences, driver appearances and autograph sessions.”
The most historic and tradition-rich event in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals has been contested annually since 1955. The 60th installment of the Labor Day weekend drag racing spectacular takes place Aug. 27-Sept. 1 and will feature 1,000 competitors in 12 categories during the event. The 18th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series for 2014 is also the final event in the regular season. Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel); Robert Hight (Funny Car); Mike Edwards (Pro Stock); and John Hall (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners.
As part of the 60th anniversary celebration, there will be very special tributes designed to recognize six of the most iconic moments in Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals history that involves many of the sport’s greatest legends, including “Big Daddy” Don Garlits, Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, Kenny Bernstein, Shirley Muldowney, Bob Glidden and Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen. In addition, the event will feature fan-favorite Cacklefests, vintage racecars on display in the Hot Rod Junction, autograph sessions with many of the legends of the sport, a Monday edition of the SealMaster NHRA Track Walk, fireworks displays, special social media contests and much more.
On the racetrack, the 60th anniversary Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals will feature intense side-by-side racing at more than 320 mph, as drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle compete for their share of the $2 million purse and battle for important world championship points. The race is the final regular season stop for the circuit and will establish the top 10 fields for the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs. Perhaps more importantly, drivers will compete to earn a permanent spot in NHRA history, as a Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals winner.
The race will also showcase the Traxxas Nitro Shootout, where the top drivers in Top Fuel and Funny Car will race for $100,000 bonuses, as well as the annual Mopar HEMI Challenge for Super Stock cars and thrilling competition in both the Lucas Oil Series and Pro Mod Series.
To purchase tickets for the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, fans can contact NHRA’s Ticket Sales Center at (800) 884-NHRA (6472), or get their tickets online at www.NHRATIX.com.
McWilliams, Rapp split AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series victories at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
The AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series has quickly established itself as one of the highlights of the Red Bull Indianapolis GP weekend, and this year's doubleheader did not disappoint. For fans that like bar-to-bar racing and outcomes in doubt right up until the checkered flag drops, last weekend's races produced in spades.
The Indy event is unique for the riders of the AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series. While the class usually wages just one contest per race weekend, in Indianapolis, the single-make class and its riders are twice thrust into the spotlight as the sole AMA Pro representative of the high-profile event.
With the world watching, Jeremy McWilliams and Steve Rapp came away from the ultra-competitive contests at the Brickyard with a hard-earned victory each.
Rapp, the reigning series champ, finally achieved a goal that was a long time coming. The Californian had been a constant presence up front at the Brickyard but repeatedly found himself the loser in the drafting battle down the long start/finish-line straight that determines the final results. Rapp had shown plenty of pace before, but was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
On Saturday, Rapp found the familiar refrain as he ran in the lead pack. The Suburban Motors Harley-Davidson ace was yet again shuffled completely off the podium on the race's final lap.
However Rapp finally broke through the following day. He jumped past both Benny Carlson and series point leader Danny Eslick at the line to win by just 0.011 seconds.
"To win at Indy finally - I wanted to check that off my list," Rapp said. "I'm running out of time and I finally got it, so that's cool.
"I had a lot of years to practice where not to be. I could tell going down the back Danny sat up but I didn't want anything to do with it either so I sat up. Ben went by and I was like, 'cool, that works.' We got back in line and I wasn't sure if I was going to pass them but it worked out pretty good. They got next to each other and built a little draft there. It went great."
McWilliams, a Northern Irishman with a long career in Grand Prix and the 2010 UK Harley-Davidson XR1200 Trophy Champion, won on Saturday. At 50 years old, McWilliams showed no signs of slowing down as he backed up the popular win he scored at the venue last year for the Harley-Davidson of Bloomington squad.
McWilliams ultimately won out in the slipstream over Rapp's teammate Carlson, on the last lap by 0.083 seconds back after ten laps.
McWilliams later admitted that he almost blew it on Saturday. He went too hard too quickly and left little in reserve for the end.
"You put a bit of pressure on yourself when you start from pole because I suppose you've done all that work and you don't want to give it away on the first lap," McWilliams said. "So I got the hammer down and stupidly thought I could break away. I gave it everything - I tried to maintain the tire a little bit but to be honest, that didn't really work - Benny caught me.
"He taught me a few things when he got through - he was just using his superior height to get the bike back on the big, fat part of the tire and I thought if he keeps doing this, we're going to be in trouble. So I had to keep working hard to get back on him on the last sector, because once the draft's broken, it's gone. I'm lucky Bloomington Harley gave me a bike that can stay in the draft. It's as good as it was last year and it's a pleasure to ride. That's a big weight off my shoulders to get a win here. I just wanted one again because it's such a special place to do it."
While he didn't add to his victory total on the weekend, Ruthless Racing pilot Eslick was a winner in the larger scheme. He now leads the points by 16 over Carlson (159-143) with just the New Jersey finale to go.
On Saturday, title leader Eslick scrapped with Tyler O'Hara, who came into Indy ranked second in points, for position on the track. Although out of the lead group, Eslick was able to gain a point on O'Hara in finishing seventh to the Californian's eighth.
On Sunday, Eslick took second while O'Hara crashed out. The Oklahoman leapfrogged Carlson for the lead on the last lap but then had the same technique shown to him by Rapp.
Eslick saw his place in the points flash before his eyes in the first part of the race.
"There was lots of crazy stuff on the first start," Eslick said. "McWilliams missed a shift and I had to swerve to go around the outside of him. I had a couple-of-hundred-yard tank slapper, which is an eye-opener when you're in the lead of the championship. I tried to calm down and settle in and then we had the red flag. Everyone had their strong sections of the track and we had to figure out where we wanted to be for the run to the finish line. I was on the lead on the back straightaway and I wanted no part of the lead through the last section of turns and onto the front straight. I sat up and pulled off to the side and let Benny go by. I tucked back in line and thought I had enough. I got by Benny but Steve came by and caught the draft perfect. It was a great race and these guys rode awesome."
Carlson rode well once again, was the only double-podium rider on the weekend and came very close to earning his elusive first AMA Pro Road Racing victory. The Wisconsin native made it to the front on the last lap both times out only to lose out in the final draft to the stripe.
"It was the second day coming on the front stretch in first and it ended up working out not so well," Carlson said. "Nonetheless, being on the podium two days in a row is an ultimate result and we moved up in the championship; it doesn't get much better than that."
"I just wished we would have knocked down Danny or something," Carlson added in jest. "But hey, it was great."
Kyle Wyman also earned a podium, taking third on Saturday. The KWR/Millennium Technologies pilot ran in the lead pack again on Sunday before earning fourth place.
In the weekend's opening race, Wyman made a charge to the podium as he ran down the front-running group from nearly three seconds back.
"I just showed up a little late to the party," said Wyman. "I didn't really get a bad start, but I was on the third row and got caught up with a couple of guys. By the time I was free, I had lost some ground. I knew we had a little better tire life on our bike with our Nitron shocks, so that was the key for me. I knew if I stayed consistent with fast laps and didn't make any mistakes, the tire life would be in my favor. The last laps, those guys slowed down and I stayed the same. It allowed me to make two passes on the last lap. I would have liked to have seen what I could have done if I had been up there from the get-go."
Malaysian teen Ramden Rosli showed plenty of speed in his first trip to Indy. The Grand Prix hopeful came up short of greater glory in getting shuffled to fourth on Saturday and - as often happens to Harley-Davidson Series newcomers still learning the limits of the big XR1200s - he crashed on Sunday.
Travis Wyman took sixth on Saturday on the Harv's Harley-Davidson entry.
Hayden Schultz earned his best result of the season with sixth on Sunday. The Chili Pepper Racing young gun learned the ropes on Saturday while racing with Eslick and O'Hara. On Sunday, he took advantage of the red flag to claim sixth.
"On the restart, another rider fell coming onto the front straight," Hayden said. "Everyone scattered and I was lucky to keep from getting taken out myself. I put my head down and was able to pull a half-second gap on the guys behind me for sixth place. I'm happy with that!"
Another young pilot, Nick Hansen, earned seventh on Sunday.
Other riders earning the top ten at Indy included Josh Chisum, David Estok and Brice Cooper.
With just New Jersey Motorsports Park left on the schedule, Eslick appears to be the strong favorite to win his second AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series title. A deep field with plenty of motivated competitors might have something to say about that, however.
Top 10 finishers at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Race 1
1. Jeremy McWilliams
2. Ben Carlson
3. Kyle Wyman
4. Ramden Rosli
5. Steve Rapp
6. Travis Wyman
7. Danny Eslick
8. Tyler O'Hara
9. Hayden Schultz
10. David Estok
Top 10 finishers at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Race 2
1. Steve Rapp
2. Danny Eslick
3. Ban Carlson
4. Kyle Wyman
5. Jeremy McWilliams
6. Hayden Schultz
7. Nick Hansen
8. David Estok
9. Josh Chisum
10. Brice Cooper
Top 10 in AMA Pro Road Racing Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series points
1. Danny Eslick 159
2. Ben Carlson 143
3. Tyler O'Hara 127
4. Steve Rapp 119
5. Kyle Wyman 108
6. Gage McCallister 84
7. Nick Hensen 82
8. Hayden Schultz 80
9. Josh Chisum 72
10. Darren James 67
All four AMA Pro Road Racing championships will be decided next month at the 2014 AMA Pro Road Racing season finale. The Kawasaki Devil's Showdown will take place on September 13-14 at New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville, New Jersey.
The $2,500 Roadracing World Young Gun Award will go to the eligible rider in either AMA Pro GoPro Daytona SportBike or AMA Pro SuperSport who earns the most overall points and was no older than 18 years old at the start of the 2014 AMA Pro Road Racing season.
Jake Lewis, aboard his MotoSport.com/Meen Yamaha YZF-R6, has put together a tremendous season in GoPro Daytona SportBike competition and has all but locked up the coveted Roadracing World Young Gun Award this season.
Lewis's 182 points are 54 points higher than the next closest contestant, Kaleb De Keyrel, who has accumulated 144 points in SuperSport and four points in GoPro Daytona SportBike. The only way for De Keyrel to catch Lewis with one round remaining would be to win both SuperSport races next month when the series heads to New Jersey Motorsports Park, and have Lewis somehow not finish either race.
In other words, the coveted $2,500 award that Roadracing World has so graciously offered up as a prize for the up-and-coming stars of the sport, will be in the hands of Lewis at the season's conclusion next month, and deservingly so. The Princeton, Ky. native has had by far the best season of his young, yet promising career, as he currently sits second in the overall GoPro Daytona SportBike point standings, just seven behind Jake Gagne.
"It means a lot to be in such good position to win this award," said Lewis. "To be one of the youngest riders in the sport and have the opportunity to achieve something like this is huge for me and my team. I won Rookie of the Year last year and got my first win this season so I'm happy about that. It's also very generous of Roadracing World to offer the $2,500 that they have, to the winner."
If his lead holds true, Lewis will officially claim the 2014 Roadracing World Young Gun Award at AMA Pro Road Racing's awards banquet set to be held Monday afternoon, Sept. 15 at NJMP following the Kawasaki Devil's Showdown scheduled to run on Sept. 13-14.
The Young Gun Of The Year Award is based on Roadracing World magazine's 18 consecutive years of recognizing the best young road racers in North America. The 2014 version of the annual feature was published in the April issue and recognized 32 riders - 12 of them AMA Pro riders.
"We're happy to work with AMA Pro Racing to name the 2014 Roadracing World Young Gun Of The Year," said Roadracing World founder John Ulrich. "For almost two decades we have recognized the top up-and-coming road racers in the country in our annual Roadracing World Young Guns feature. Many of our Young Guns have gone on to professional racing careers, and this award is a great way to acknowledge their aspirations and accomplishments."
Fans can view all of the racing action live on FansChoice.tv. For tickets and more information to the New Jersey round, please visit http://store.njmp.com/store/category/9/69/AMA-Pro-Racing/.
SERKET Racing driver Mark Llano maintained his recent streak of success by picking up two more podium finishes at Road America. Former Marine Llano fought his way through the field to finish third in both the Gold Cup and Gold Masters classes in Round 12 of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama season, the second of three races for the series last weekend at Road America.
"The competition was definitely intense all weekend," Llano said. "I'm just thankful to have had my family here, and I'm very honored to bring this trophy home for the veterans."
It was an encore performance from July at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park where Llano took home his first two career podiums. The Road America race weekend also marked the second event in a row in which Llano raced in his former backup car.
"We had a great car all weekend," Llano said. "This track is a long, technical track that's also very high speed, and the crew at NGT did a great job getting me the perfect setup on the car. This was a total team effort from start to finish."
Prior to earning a spot on two podiums, Llano finished sixth in Gold Masters for Round 11. In Round 6, a makeup race after being postponed at Lime Rock Park earlier in the season, Llano took the checkers in fourth place.
Llano and SERKET Racing will have a brief break before the next round of action Sept. 19-20 at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas. The team will announce details shortly on a special program throughout the weekend at COTA to benefit a special group of veterans. The program also will involve the larger International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) community.
For more information on SERKET Racing and its mission, visit www.serketracing.com.
Sunoco "Go the Distance Award" up for grabs in both AMA Pro Road Racing and AMA Pro Flat Track divisions
The 2014 Sunoco "Go the Distance Award" will go to the eligible AMA Pro Road Racing and AMA Pro Flat Track riders who complete the furthest distance throughout the season in their respective classes. Sunoco has graciously granted AMA Pro Racing with a $15,000 purse for each series to disperse to the deserving riders who win each award.
With just one round of AMA Pro Road Racing action remaining in 2014, Monster Energy Graves rider Josh Hayes, aboard his Yamaha R1, is paving the way in SuperBike with 412 laps and 1,156 miles ridden in total. Over the years, Hayes has dedicated his time to the track, as he's won this award five times running. If he were to add another Sunoco "Go the Distance Award" to his collection, he will be the recipient of the $5,000 prize that comes along with it.
Another Graves rider, JD Beach, aboard his Yamaha R6, leads the way in GoPro Daytona SportBike with 432 laps and 1,272 miles ridden. If Beach were to hold on and earn the 2014 Sunoco "Go the Distance Award" with one round remaining, he would also be the benefiter of Sunoco's gracious payout of $5,000 for achieving the most miles ridden in his class.
Patricia Fernandez, aboard her ADR Motorsports Yamaha R6, has ridden the furthest distance in SuperSport competition with a total of 253 laps and 798 miles over the last five rounds. Fernandez would be awarded $2,500 if she can do it again at NJMP next month.
In Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series competition, Hayden Shultz, aboard his Chili Pepper Racing machine, leads the way with 709 miles ridden. If Shultz can hang on, he would receive a check for $2,500.
After 11 rounds of AMA Pro Flat Track action, Jake Johnson leads the way in GNC competition with 314 miles ridden. Though the season has barely breached its midway point, Johnson will be granted $4,000 if he were to hold on to his lead and claim the coveted 2014 Sunoco "Go the Distance Award." Johnson has raced on four different branded motorcycles so far in 2014, (Harley-Davidson, Ducati, Kawasaki, and Honda) and he's excelled on every single one of them.
In Pro Singles competition, Bronson Bauman and Kyle Johnson are paving the way with 181.98 miles completed after 11 rounds of action. However, like in the Grand National Championship, no lead is safe with as many races as there are left. Bauman and Johnson are neck and neck heading into the latter half of the season. The winner of the 2014 Sunoco "Go the Distance Award" would receive a check from Sunoco for $2,000.
Headquartered in Philadelphia, Pa., Sunoco's retail business markets its brand of gasoline through more than 5,000 retail outlets from Maine to Florida and west to Michigan and Louisiana, including more than 600 APlus convenience stores. Sunoco is the official fuel of NASCAR and more than 50 other racing sanctions. For more information on Sunoco Retail, or to find a local Sunoco location, visithttp://www.gosunoco.com/.
Sunoco provides AMA Pro Racing with the Sunoco 260 GTX, a premium unleaded racing fuel designed to meet the racing needs of AMA Pro Racing as well as many other high performance racing applications.
Where are they next?
Fans can watch the Sunoco "Go the Distance Award" battle heat up in AMA Pro Flat Track competition this weekend when the series heads to Peoria, Ill. for the Peoria TT on August 17. For tickets and more information on the event, please visit http://www.peoriamotorcycleclub.net/ticket-booth/. All of the action will be streamed LIVE on FansChoice.tv.
The next time AMA Pro Road Racing takes to the track will be September 13-14, when all four disciplines take to NJMP for the Kawasaki Devil's Showdown in Millville, N.J.