The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series ventured into Las Vegas for the fifth race of the 24 race season. Champions and a past rookie captured NHRA Summitracing.com Nationals wins.
The 2014 rookie of the year took top honors in Top Fuel. Richie Crampton and his Lucas Oil top fuel dragster were able to conquer the hot desert race track. Crampton opened up eliminations against Troy Buff in the Bill Miller Engineering car. Crampton’s 3.821 at 322 mph made easy work of Buff as his car lost traction. In the second round Crampton whipped out a 3.838 at 315 mph to Steve Torrance’s 3.899 at 301 mph to capture the round win. In the Semifinal round he would find himself matched up with number one qualifier JR Todd. Todd’s Red Line Oil dragster gave Crampton all he could handle with a 3.837 at 321 mph, but Crampton put up a 3.828 at 318 mph to take the win light. In the final round he matched up with Larry Dixon and his C&J Energy team, still reeling from a spectacular crash in Gainesville, Florida two races ago. Crampton left the starting line first and never looked back running his slowest run of the day a 3.902 at 301 mph to a tire smoking 4.466 at 201 mph. This is his third career win in two years of racing.
Sixteen-time champion John Force and his new look Chevrolet Camaro team didn’t have the best hand in each round but it was just good enough to take down their competition. In the opening round Force defeated Chad Head with a 4.138 at 312 mph which was the slowest winning elapse time of the round. In round two he faced arch rival and two-time series champion Matt “Hulk” Hagan and his Mopar express lube Dodge. Force left on Hagan and drove away running a 4.158 at 314 mph to a tire smoking 4.436 at 235 mph. This would then match him up with defending event winner Alexis Dejoria and her Tequila Patron XO Café Toyota. Dejoria left first but lost traction almost immediately and watched as Force put up a 4.165 at 312 mph. In the final Force faced off with his teammate Robert Hight in the Auto Club Chevrolet. Force and his team barely made it back to the starting line in time for the final round as the tow strap that connects the car to the tow vehicle broke, with no time to spare the team pushed the race car a quarter of a mile through the pits and up the staging lanes to get ready for their final round match up. Hight had run 4.087, 4.102, and 4.145 elapse times to get him to the final round. He had a small starting line advantage with a .063 to a .067 rt, but Force muscled past him for the win, running a 4.148 at 312 to a 4.154 at 306 mph. This was Force’s 142nd race win and his first win with his new team.
After capturing the $50,000 dollar K&N Horsepower challenge race for the second year in a row, Erica Enders-Stevens looked to double up the event win for the second year in a row as well. Enders who qualified second got a bye run in the first round as Matt Hartford was unable to answer the call with a broken engine. In round two she punched out European champion Jimmy Alund with a 6.661 at 207 mph to a 6.697 at 206 mph. In the semifinal round she took down Greg Anderson on a whole shot cutting a .001 rt to a .055. Anderson ran a 6.671 to her 6.673. The final round was a rematch of the K&N Final round between Vincent Nobile and Enders. Enders again left first with a .024 to a .040 rt and both running 6.674 at 207 mph.