BROWNSBURG, Ind. – Champions were crowned today in the sportsman classes at the NHRA U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway. The U.S. Nationals finals saw several racers claim their first INDY championship. In addition, DragChamp.com accurately predicted one of the four winners as Devin Isenhower, one of our Top 5 picks in the event preview article, captured his first national event win in the Super Gas final. Coverage of the semifinal and final rounds are listed below.
Factory Stock Showdown
Leah Prichett, yep Top Fuel driver Leah Prichett, captured her first Factory Stock national event victory after defeating Don Schumacher Racing teammate Mark “Cowboy” Pawuk in the final round. Prichett dominated qualifying and continued to out run the field during eliminations culminating in her INDY victory.
In the semi’s, Prichett easily defeated Louisiana racer Eric Bell with a 8.119 to Bell’s off-pace 8.593. Pawuk, who lost the first round but was reinstated when his opponent failed tech, made the most of his second chance as he reached the final round after taking a 8.235 to 8.261 win over Texas racer Arthur Kohn in the semifinals.
In the final it was all Prichett as her 8.109 easily overcame Pawuk’s small holeshot after he posted a 8.191. Prichett not only had the quickest car in the class, it was also one of the most consistent posting passes between 8.07 and 8.11 during four rounds of eliminations.
The FSS results from INDY proved the Dodge’s can easily run with the Chevy Camaro’s that have dominated the class as of late. Also, the DSR crew lead by former multi-time sportsman World Champion Kevin Helm’s is serious about the class. Both DSR cars were the class of the field at INDY with Leah having almost of tenth of a second advantage over everyone with the exception of her teammate.
In addition, the Stanfield Powered entries of Eric Bell, Arthur Kohn, and Aaron Stanfield are a close second to the DSR cars right now. We’ll see how this plays out over the remaining races this year.
Dennis Steward, Port Orange, Fla., drove his FGT/L ’64 Plymouth to the Super Stock win after taking a red-light win in the final round over Crosby, Tex. racer Dale Hulquist. The win was Steward’s first at INDY and his second national event win.
In the semi’s, Steward used a huge holeshot to take the breakout win over David Barton. Barton trailed .057 to .003 at the start and took .045 at the stripe to go -.042 under his dial. Steward ran .057 over his dial but his brilliant .003 reaction sealed the win and trip to the final round.
Hulquist used a perfect trip-zip light in the semi’s to defeat Jeffery Myers by about seven feet. After a .000 to .014 holeshot, Hulquist raced to a .040 over 10.320 to take the win over Myer’s posted a .062 over 9.242.
After a perfect light in the semi’s, Hulquist just missed in the final leaving -.003 early to hand the automatic win to Steward who left with an extremely late .203 reaction. I’m sure Hulquist will be kicking himself for years to come as it looked like Steward was either broke or just completely missed the tree in the final. To add salt to the wound, Hulquist posted a dead-on 10.307 lap in the final as Steward coasted down track.
T.C. Morris collected his first NHRA national event win in the INDY Stock Eliminator final after Texas-based Jerry Emmons red-lighted in the final round. Morris, New Haven, Ky., drove his ’04 Pontiac GTO to the win with .034 light and a .011 over 10.971 pass in the final. Morris used solid reaction times and stayed above his dial throughout eliminations to capture his first victory.
In the semi’s Morris took out red-hot Joey Shipp, who was looking to double as he was in the semi’s of Super Gas as well, after taking a .027 to .049 reaction time advantage and posting a .011 over 10.981. Shipp took .008 stripe in the breakout loss posting a -.020 under 8.800 to come up one round short of the final.
The other semifinal race featured a couple of B/SA big-block powered classic muscle cars going heads up for a shot at the final round as Jerry Emmons squared off against Larry Hill. Hill’s ’70 Plymouth had the advantage based on qualifying but Emmons tuned-up his ’69 Camaro taking a close win on a holeshot, 10.185 to Hill’s losing 10.175.
Joe Hessling captured his first INDY trophy after taking a close six-foot win over two-time INDY Super Comp champ Gary Stinnett. Both drivers posted their worst reaction times of the event in the final with Hessling taking a slight lead off the line, .035 to .047. At the stripe, Hessling took .021 stripe to go dead-on 8.903 for the win after Stinnett posted a 8.912. Judging by their final round MPH, it looked as though both drivers found a little brake pedal on the top end as Joe was down 2 mph and Gary was down 5 mph. It was a close race which is how most of Hessling’s wins occurred throughout the week of racing. Hessling definitely earned the Wally at INDY after he took out hitter after hitter during eliminations.
In the semi’s, Hessling advanced to the final when Steve Eckerd, driving a door-car in Super Comp, fouled by a “thou” sending Hessling to the final. Stinnett had a great semifinal race with Nichole Stevenson as both drivers left together with .015 lights. At the top end, Stinnett’s 8.868 prevailed after Stephenson posted an 8.854 to go further under the 8.90 index.
Devin Isenhower made DragChamp look good as he captured the Super Gas crown as predicted earlier this week. Devin used a .007 to .038 reaction time advantage to down Steve Hoyt in the final. Hoyt slowed to a 10.271 in the final and Isenhower almost gave him the win after he posted an on-the-brakes 9.907. Hoyt had laid down great runs all week only to slow in the final.
Isenhower is so good at INDY that DragChamp predicted him to win both Super Comp and Super Gas which wasn’t far-fetched as Devin posted a fifth round finish in Super Comp in addition to his Super Gas win.
In the semi’s, Isenhower used a holeshot to defeat Virgina Nationals winner Charlie Kenopic in a breakout race. Devin’s .018, 9.920 easily won after Kenopic missed the tree and the index with a .036 R.T. and a 9.878 E.T.
Hoyt once again made a spectacular pass to down double-up hopeful Joey Shipp, see Stock results above, in the semifinals. Hoyt’s perfect 9.900 was enough to overcome Shipp’s .010 to .029 starting line advantage after Shipp posted a 9.927. Hoyt took .008 stripe to move to the final round.
While DragChamp doesn’t cover much Comp racing, we had to give a special shout out to class winner David Rampy. Rampy claimed his fifth INDY championship and became the first person to win Comp at the U.S. Nationals four times. With his 98th national event triumph, Rampy is only two victories away from the 100-win threshold. Let’s hope David can find two more victories this year so he can hit the 100-win milestone.
Congratulations to all of the INDY winners!
DragChamp will post detailed write ups for each class later this week.