The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing series returned to Indianapolis for the ‘Granddaddy’ of all drag races, the Denso Spark Plugs NHRA US Nationals, over the Labor Day weekend.
In Top Fuel Shawn Langdon and his DHL team qualified in the number one spot and swept through the field to capture the event win. In the opening round Langdon took out top fuel rookie Joey Haas. Round two, Langdon would match up with returning top fuel driver Cory McClenathan. McClenathan gave Langdon all he could handle running a 3.731elapsed time @ 330mph but fell short to Langdon’s 3.723 et @ 319mph. In the semifinal round Justin Ashley would be Langdon’s next opposition. Both drivers lost traction right at the starting line and both began pedaling their respective cars desperately trying to get the big tires to regain traction. Langdon was able to get to the finish line first to advance to the final round. Leah Pruett would be his final round opponent, Langdon made short work of Pruett with a stellar 3.705 et @ 326mph to Pruett’s 5.141 @ 145mph.
In Funny Car, Fast Jack Beckman and his Infinite Heroes team would take top honors. Beckman qualified in the middle of the pack at number seven. This would pair him off against Cruz Pedregon. Pedregon left the starting line first but had problems around 300ft and could only watch Beckman thunder by to a 3.909 et @ 327mph. In round two Beckman squared off against teammate Ron Capps. Capps got off the starting line first but lost traction around 300 ft. and much like Pedregon could only watch as Beckman again thundered by for the round win. In the semifinal round Beckman would challenge Tim Wilkerson in one of the best side by side races of the day. Beckman left the starting line first with a .075 reaction time to Wilkerson’s .083 and needed every bit of that advantage with Wilkerson running a hair quicker with a 3.914et to Beckman’s 3.915et. In the final round Beckman would take down JR Todd. Beckman put up a 3.908et @ 327mph to Todd’s 3.960et @ 324mph to capture the trophy.
In Pro Stock, reigning series champion Erica Enders Stood atop the field scoring her 27th career victory and second US Nationals win. She qualified sixth and took down Kenny Delco in round one, Deric Krammer in round two and Mason McGaha in the semifinal round. Her final round opponent would be Matt Hartford. Enders made a solid 6.606et @ 208mph to defeat Hartford’s 6.610et @ 208mph.
Pro Stock Motorcycle saw a first-time winner as Scotty Pollacheck defeated reigning series champ Andrew Hines to score his first career victory.
Due to proper event coordination at the previous COVID events this season, NHRA was allowed to increase the fan attendance. This event featured approximately two-and-a-half times the fan level of the previous three events. Masks were required to be worn and everyone entering the track went through a medical temperature screening process. The next planned event is in Gainesville, Florida for the delayed Gainesville Nationals, scheduled for Sept. 25 through 27.