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Auto Club NHRA Finals Memorable Ride
Erica Enders-Stevens, far lane, takes on Jason Line at Pomona in the NHRA final event of the season. Enders-Stevens claimed the pro stock championship, the first woman to do so in the history of the event. - photo by Photo Courtesy Of Jeff Burghardt

All four pro categories saw some really quick elapse times and big speeds at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona for the final event of the season. As the top fuel champion was crowned during qualifying, a part timer led the way on race day. The funny car champion was crowned and took home the Wally. The pro stock championship came down to the last run of the year with the winner being the champ. Pro stock motorcycle crowned a champion early in the day on race day but another star rose to claim the event win.

Newly crowned eight-time champion Tony Schumacher worked his way through some tough competition to earn the right to run for event champion in top fuel. Schumacher squared off against longtime rival Larry Dixon in the opening round. Dixon got the slight advantage off the line cutting a .054 rt to Schumacher’s .057 rt but from that point on Schumacher went around Dixon and marched his way to victory with a 3.749 at 327 mph to a losing 3.765 at 324 mph. Schumacher would then take on the Geico dragster driven by rookie Richie Crampton. This time Schumacher left first and never looked back running a 3.752 at 327 mph to Crampton’s 3.765 at 324 mph. In the semifinals Schumacher took on JR Todd and made quick work of him to advance to the final round. On the opposite side of the ladder was part timer Morgan Lucas, who would work his way past Billy Torrance in round one. Lucas left first and ran the second best elapse time of the first round with a 3.745 at 326 mph to Torrance’s 3.766 at 326 mph. In round two Lucas got a little racer’s luck as his Lucas Oil dragster put a hole out at the starting line which caused a loss of 1000 horsepower in a 10,000-horsepower engine. In the other lane was defending champ Shawn Langdon, who was having his own issues as his car lost traction which in turn let Lucas pass him to take the win light. Lucas from then on laid down the gauntlet, running the second and third quickest elapse times in the history of the sport. His semifinal elapse time was a 3.707 at 325 mph. This set him up for the big finish as he defeated Schumacher with the second quickest run in NHRA history and the quickest run of the 2014 season, a 3.704 at 325 mph to Schumacher’s 3.742 at 324 mph.

The funny car category was a tough battle for one of the championship contenders. John Force took his last ride in his Castrol Mustang all the way to the final round. Force in round one made quick work of Bob Tasca as he lost traction. Force put a 4.083 at 319 mph up on the scoreboard, thus advancing him to the second round to face Tim Wilkerson. Force left on Wilkerson and never looked back running a 4.031 at 318 mph to a 4.101 at 313 mph. Force would then face off with Alexis Dejoria in the semifinal round. Dejoria was the only car in the 3-second range in funny car and had the car to beat all day. She took the preferred lane but she would lose traction at 300ft and watch Force fly by with a 4.044 at 320 mph. On the other side of the elimination ladder was championship contender Matt Hagan. Hagan took out Chad Head in his opening round match up with a 4.015 at 320 mph to a tire smoking 5.083 at 167 mph. Hagan would then face teammate Ron Capps in round two. Capps left first but his NAPA Dodge lost traction by 300ft and Hagan ran the slowest winning run a 4.081 at 314 mph. Then in the semifinal round Hagan would take on another teammate in Tommy Johnson Jr.

Johnson also had one of the most consistent cars all weekend and had lane choice going into the round but took the non-preferred right hand lane. Johnson got off the starting line with a huge advantage cutting a .062 rt to a .100 rt. But much like his teammate Capps, Johnson would also lose traction at 300ft., handing the championship to Matt Hagan as he streaked by with a 4.065 at 315 mph. Hagan would go on to the final to face Force. Hagan left on Force but Force made up the difference and was leading until the engine’s blower belt broke just before the finish line. Hagan ran a 4.076 at 310 mph to a 4.086 at 276 mph.

In pro stock the championship came down to the final run of the year. In the semifinal round history was witnessed as championship contender Erica Enders-Stevens and Johnathan Gray squared off. Both drivers had perfect reaction times which is a first in competition. Enders-Stevens won the round and advanced to the final round to face the other championship contender. Whichever driver won the final round would be the season series champion. Both drivers red lighted but Jason Line had the worst offense with a -.011 rt to Enders-Stevens -.002 rt thus handing the event win and championship to Enders-Stevens. She became the first female to ever win a championship in the pro stock category.

The pro stock motorcycle championship was decided early in the day as Andrew Hines took the championship crown with his round one victory. But Hines would be taken out in the next round of eliminations. Hines’ teammate Eddie Krawiec would keep the team banner going all the way to the final round but would fall short of victory as Hector Arana Jr. laid down the second best run of the weekend with a 6.832 at 195 mph to a losing 6.977 at 176 mph.


With the close of the 2014 season all the teams are eager to get the 2015 season under way; the opening race will take place in Pomona, California in less than three months.