Team Summit driver Jason Line captured the 50th win of his NHRA Pro Stock career Sunday at the Mopar Express Lane NHRA Nationals in the first race of the 2019 Countdown to the Championship playoffs at Maple Grove Raceway in Monhton, PA.
Jack Beckman in Funny Car, Richie Crampton in Top Fuel, and Jerry Savoie in Pro Stock Motorcycle were also winners in their respective categories.
Line defeated Fernando Cuadra in the final round of eliminations thanks to his 6.553-second pass at 210.60 miles per hour in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro. Line also took over the points lead from his KB Racing teammate Bo Butner. Cuadra, who was competing in his first career final round, also drives a KB-powered car.
“It was a big victory, for sure,” Line said. “Not one of my finer moments, but a big victory, nonetheless. I was a little tardy (leaving the starting line) so not what you want to do in the final round. But 50 wins just means I’ve had some great race cars to drive and some great people I’ve gotten to work with over the years. It’s been a fun ride.”
Beckman Wins Funny Car
It had been more than a year since “Fast Jack” Beckman parked his Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car in an NHRA winner’s circle, but on Sunday, he came out on top.
Not only did Beckman defeat John Force in the final round of Funny Car, but he also took over the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series points lead.
“Our Sunday, I think it was perfect,” Beckman said. “That car was consistent, and it was fast. It’s one thing to be consistent and be a 10th (of a second) off the field, but to run numbers as good as any other car out here, up and down the race track all four runs on race day.”
Beckman had been the runner-up four times in 2019 but his 3.958 at 330.07 gave him the holeshot win over Force’s quicker 3.952. One of the runner-up finishes was just two weeks ago at the U.S. Nationals against Force.
“In NHRA, you have zero control over what the car and driver in the other lane are doing. Did I want to beat him? Of course. Did it sting that he beat us in the Indy final? Duh. But none of that was going to help me be any better. Some fans came over before the final and said, ‘Hey, we’ll go razz John.’ And I said, ‘Don’t poke the bear.’ That guy always seems to find a way to get motivated and win more races.”
Crampton Wins Top Fuel
It was a battle of Kalitta Motorsports in the Top Fuel final round, but it was Crampton who raised the Wally trophy when he beat teammate Doug Kalitta with his 3.738 pass at 329.10 in his dragster. Crampton now ties team owner and NHRA legend Connie Kalitta with 10 career wins.
Doug Kalitta snagged the Top Fuel points lead when previous leader and reigning champ Steve Torrence made an early exit in round one.
“It was definitely a great day for the whole team,” Crampton said. “All four cars are running good, particularly the dragsters, of course. But for Doug to take the points lead heading out of here, and we made a good jump in the points as well, that’s what we need to do. It’s that time of the year. It’s time to execute on race day and Connie and (crew chief) Kurt Elliott gave me the car to do it.”
Savoie Wins Pro Stock Motorcycle
Savoie picked up his second consecutive win on his Suzuki motorcycle. He took down Steve Johnson with his 6.774 lap at 198.55 in the final round and went on to claim the Pro Stock Motorcycle points lead.
“It was just a great, great day for everyone. My whole team. I don’t take any of this credit. (Crew chief) Tim (Kulungian) and everybody on the team worked their butts off, and here we are. At my age, I can do it. I didn’t count on making the top 10 because I took three races off. And, bam! Here we are. No one, not even myself expected this.”
The Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues September 27-29 with the second race of the Countdown—NHRA Midwest Nationals at World Wide Technology Raceway in St. Louis, MO.
NHRA Pro Stock Point Standings
1. Jason Line 2,194
2. Bo Butner 2,155
3. Alex Laughlin 2,139
4. Erica Enders 2,116
5. Matt Hartford 2,103
NHRA Funny Car Point Standings
1. Jack Beckman 2,179
2. John Force 2,160
3. Robert Hight 2,155
4. Ron Capps 2,136
5. Tommy Johnson Jr. 2,105
NHRA Top Fuel Point Standings
1. Doug Kalitta 2,180
2. Brittany Force 2,147
3. Steve Torrence 2,133
4. Antron Brown 2,127
5. Richie Crampton 2,126
NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle Point Standings
1. Jerry Savoie 2,166
2. Andrew Hines 2,160
3. Matt Smith 2,143
4. Eddie Krawiec 2,134
5. Karen Stoffer 2,120
Drag Race Central and NHRA contributed to this report.