NHRA Pro Stock points leader Mike Edwards won his sixth race of Mello Yello Drag Racing Series racing season Monday, taking home the U.S. Nationals Wally at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis.
Shawn Langdon in Top Fuel and Robert Hight in Funny Car were also winners. John Hall won in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
Edwards’ dominance feels eerily similar to Allen Johnson’s championship run last year and his own run in 2010 where he won eight of the first 12 races of the season following his 2009 Pro Stock championship—his first and only.
All the signs are the same. Dominate on the tree. And dominate running down the track.
Edwards defeated V Gaines on a holeshot in the final round to continue his outstanding season. Edwards posted a winning time of 6.637 at 208.39 in his Chevy Camaro, using a quicker reaction time to beat Gaines, who went 6.62 at 208.78 in his Dodge Avenger. It was the second U.S. Nationals victory for Edwards, who claimed his other Indy title in 1998.
“If you keep running well and keep giving yourself opportunities, that’s all you can ask for,” Edwards said. “It’s a tremendous feeling to win this race. That was some of the best racing in Pro Stock in a long time. It’s just anybody’s race out there, and I’m just fortunate to get the win, especially doing it at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals. It really feels good.”
Edwards went as quick as 6.613 en route to the victory, beating Chris McGaha, defending world champion Johnson, and six-time Indy winner Greg Anderson to reach the championship round. Edwards will start the Countdown in the top position after dominating much of the regular season.
“I’m ready to start the Countdown,” Edwards said. “It’s going to be a battle and a fight, and it’s going to come down to what drive can perform the best. But I feel like with my car and my team that we’re capable of winning, and it’s going to be fun.”
In Top Fuel, Langdon made it a memorable double-win weekend.
A day after winning the special $100,000 Traxxas Nitro Shootout, Langdon earned another $100,000 payday after powering his 8,000-horsepower dragster to a run of 3.818 seconds at 320.97 miles-per-hour to beat Steve Torrence in the championship round for the second straight day.
Langdon, who earned a class-best fifth victory of the season and sixth of his career, also beat Pat Dakin, Terry McMillen, and Doug Kalitta to reach the final round.
“This is the biggest race of the year by far, and this team just did a phenomenal job,” said Langdon of his first U.S. Nationals victory. “With how special this event is and with the history behind the race, it was important for me to win this and I wanted it bad. This team has given me a great car and it’s a dream opportunity.”
Torrence and Bob Vandergriff secured the final two positions in the Countdown to the Championship. Everyone will start out chasing Langdon, who has plenty of momentum on his side as he is seeking his first Top Fuel world championship.
“Having a car like this gives you confidence and now it’s up to me to perform,” Langdon said. “We have a chance to contend and being part of this team is a great feeling. We want to keep the momentum going and keep working hard.”
In Funny Car, Hight broke a 35-race winless streak and claimed his 28th career victory and second at Indy by beating Jack Beckman in the final round. Hight went 4.111 at 312.64 in his Ford Mustang to earn the victory over Traxxas Nitro Shootout winner Beckman’s Dodge Charger. The victory also gave John Force Racing its sixth consecutive Funny Car win at the tradition-rich Indy event.
“This is definitely the biggest win of my career,” Hight said. “We won four races in a row last year and then to go into that dry spell, you start wondering and doubting yourself, and that wears on you. (Crew chief) Mike Neff really changed things for me this weekend, and this was the perfect time to get a win.”
A semifinal finish sent Tim Wilkerson into the Countdown to the Championship, and Del Worsham, who also fell in the semifinals, picked up a clutch second-round win against John Force to move him past Bob Tasca III into the #10 position. He will be one of nine drivers chasing points leader Matt Hagan when the Countdown to the Championship playoffs begin. That list includes Hight, who won the 2009 world championship.
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues Sept. 13-15 with the NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Concord, NC. It is the first race in the Countdown to the Championship.
Pro Stock Championship point standings
1. Mike Edwards 1,667 2. Allen Johnson 1,446 3. Jeg Coughlin 1,352 4. Vincent Nobile 1,145 5. Shane Gray 1,088 6. Jason Line 1,066 7. Greg Anderson 1,053 8. V. Gaines 978 9. Erica Enders-Stevens 779 10. Rodger Brogdon 775
Funny Car Championship point standings
1. Matt Hagan 1,297 2. Ron Capps 1,183 3. Johnny Gray 1,125 4. John Force 1,115 5. Jack Beckman 1,110 6. Cruz Pedregon 1,099 7. Courtney Force 1,071 8. Tim Wilkerson 1,023 9. Robert Hight 1,015 10. Del Worsham 948
Top Fuel Championship point standings
1. Shawn Langdon 1,488 2. Spencer Massey 1,273 3. Tony Schumacher 1,238 4. Doug Kalitta 1,086 5. Khalid alBalooshi 1,074 6. Antron Brown 1,035 7. Clay Millican 979 8. Morgan Lucas 968 9. Steve Torrence 893 10. Bob Vandergriff 821