For the 15th year the NHRA Mello Yello drag racing series made its way across the famed Hoover Dam to Las Vegas for the NHRA Toyota Nationals. Championships would be decided on Sunday along with race winners capturing their own trophies.
Antron Brown driver of the Macto tools top fuel dragster captured his second season series championship. Brown was in a title race with eight time series champ Tony Schumacher and the US Army team. Schumacher’s title hopes came to a halt when three-time champ Larry Dixon and the CJ energy services team drove around him with a 3.777 at 326 to Schumacher’s 3.812 at 321 mph. Brown would fall in the next round to Doug Kalitta and the Mac tools team. Kalitta put up a3.774 at 322 mph to Brown’s 3.786 at 317 mph. This put Kalitta in the final round. His opponent would be Dixon who had just defeated Clay Millican and the Great Clips/Parts Plus team in the semifinal round. In the final round Kalitta was able to capture his 38th career victory when Dixon’s car lost traction at the step of the throttle, but near the finish line Kalitta’s car backfired the supercharger into a huge fire ball in which shattered the carbon fiber injector hat.
In funny car the championship battle was between Del Worsham and the DHL Toyota team and Fast Jack Beckman and Infinite Hero team. At the start of race day the two teams were 37 points apart with Worsham leading. Beckman would fall in the second round to teammate Ron Capps and his Napa auto parts team. Capps left the starting line with a .070 reaction time to a .084. Both cars ran a 3.988 elapse time. Two short pairs later Worsham would also fall but at the hands of the Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro of Robert Hight. They left the starting line together, as they neared the finish line Hight would slowly edge out in front running a 3.983 at 318 to a 3.994 at 319 mph. Worsham will hold the same 37 point lead over Beckman as the series moves to the final race of the season in Pomona. In the Semifinal round Hight would take on Chad Head. Hight put up a 3.971 at 323 mph to a 4.035 at 313 mph to advance to the final round. On the opposite side of the ladder Capps would take on Tommy Johnson Jr and his Make-A-Wish Dodge. Johnson left the starting line first and never looked back as he ran a 3.968 at 313 mph to a 3.978 at 319 mph. In the final round Hight would make quick work of Johnson as Johnson’s car lost traction about 100 feet off the starting line. Hight put up a 3.955 at 323 mph to capture his 36th career victory.
In pro stock Erica Enders Stevens had a dominant race car. She was the number one qualifier and was the quickest car in every round of eliminations on Sunday. She opened the day with a 6.585 at 209 mph in round one. In round two she put a 6.598 at 208 mph, then in the semifinal round she ran a 6.595 at 208 mph to defeat her teammate Drew Skillman. In the final round she took on rookie Bo Buntner. Erica who is undefeated since 2013 at Las Vegas was not going to be denied. She cut a perfect .000 reaction time and put up a 208 mph run to capture her 21st career victory. Erica captured her second career pro stock season championship.
Andrew Hines captured his 42nd career pro stock motorcycle event win. He has a 46 point lead over Jerry Savoie with one event left.
The NHRA Mello Yello Series will travel next to Pomona for the 51st annual Automobile of Southern California Finals Nov 12-15.