Labor Day weekend in Indianapolis can only mean one thing, time for the 63rd running of the Chevrolet performance NHRA US Nationals. Along with the biggest race of the year there was a pair of $100,000 Traxxas shootouts during qualifying for Top Fuel and Funny Car. These races feature eight cars in each class; the top seven are the first seven winners since the last time the NHRA was in Indianapolis. The eighth driver is done by fan vote.
In Top Fuel Steve Torrence scored the big bonus by mowing through the competition on Friday. Torrence’s Capco Contractor’s team took down Clay Millican in the opening round with a 3.725 @ 329 mph. He would then square off with Doug Kalitta and the Mac Tools squad. Torrence put a smooth 3.711 @ 329 mph on the scoreboard to score the win. In the final round he would take on the US Army team and seven-time Top Fuel world champion Tony Schumacher. Torrence got off the starting line first and never looked back running a 3.673 @329 mph to Schumacher’s 3.680 @ 330 mph.
The Funny Car shootout victory was scored by Fast Jack Beckman and the Infinite Heroes team. In the opening round he picked off teammate Tommy Johnson Jr.
In round two Beckman faced off with another teammate reigning series champion Ron Capps and the NAPA team. Both cars lost traction around 300 feet, and both drivers feathered the throttle trying to regain traction. Capp’s engine let go into a ball of fire cracking the carbon fiber body and all he could do was watch Beckman slide his car from side to side to pick up the win light. In the final round Beckman took on Robert Hight and the Auto Club of Southern California team. Beckman put a solid 3.952 @ 324 mph on the scoreboard while Hight’s car lost traction for the first time all weekend.
Top Fuel qualifying was led by Clay Millican and the Great Clips/Parts Plus team with a 3.663 @ 329 mph. The Papa John’s Pizza team with Leah Pritchett held the two spot with a 3.667 @ 329 mph. The Capco Contractors team of Steve Torrence picked up the third position with a 3.673 @ 329 mph. The US Army team and Tony Schumacher had the fourth spot heading into race day with a 3.68 @ 330 mph. Rounding out the top five would be Doug Kalitta and the Mac tools entry with a 3.682 @ 329 mph. Ashley Sanford in her America’s Best Value Inn dragster made her Top Fuel debut and qualified in the 14th position with a stellar 3.775 @ 321 mph.
Funny Car Qualifying was led by Matt Hagan with a 3.799 at 338. Robert Hight was close behind with a 3.807 @ 333 mph. Courtney Force’s Advance Auto Parts Chevy picked up the third spot with a 3.837 @ 334 mph. John Force took the fourth position with his Peak Antifreeze Chevy at 3.849 @ 336 mph. Fast Jack Beckman rounded out the top five with a 3.859 @ 333 mph.
Pro Stock featured a $5,000 dollar Burnout Challenge during the five sessions of qualifying. Deric Kramer earned that award by smoking his big Goodyear tires until he couldn’t see through the smoke in the car and the fans couldn’t see his car on the starting line. While Kramer scored that award Greg Anderson scored the pole award for Monday’s event.
Pro Stock motorcycle Eddie Krawiec and Andrew Hines on the Screaming Eagle Harley Davidson had the lead heading into Monday.
The Labor Day events were after press time for The Times.