Lucas Oil sportsman class champions were crowned late Monday night at the 65th Annual NHRA U.S. Nationals are Lucas Oil Raceway.
INDY – The NHRA U.S. Nationals Lucas Oil sportsman classes finally crowned champions late Monday night. Several morning rain delays created havoc for sportsman racers as the race schedule was a moving target over the last few days.
After only a few rounds of sportsman racing were completed over the weekend, the NHRA moved the majority of the sportsman eliminations to Monday afternoon after the Pro classes were completed.
With most racers sitting around for over a week, the racing action turned into a mad dash as each class raced towards the final rounds on Monday night. The changing weather and track conditions along with racing at night presented a new set of challenges for the Lucas Oil competitors.
The NHRA U.S. Nationals class winners included Frank Aragona (Comp), Tyler Cassil (SS), Austin Williams (STK), Lynn Ellison (SC), Nathan Vrooman (SG), Larry Demers (TS), and Rusty Baxter (TD).
Bill Skillman claimed the Factory Stock Showdown win on Sunday while Jimmy Daniels won his fourth consecutive HEMI Challenge on Friday.
Reigning world champ Frank Aragona collected his 12th national event win after defeating 1994 INDY champ David Billingsley in the final round.
Although Aragona only qualified #21 at -.569 under, he proved he had more power than he showed in qualifying as he bombed his index several times during eliminations.
On the other hand, Billingsley managed his index carefully during the first four rounds. That changed in the semifinals when he used a -.580 under 8.080 lap to defeat Brad Plourd and advance to his 11th final round.
In the final Aragona used a -.568 under 7.602 to capture the NHRA U.S. Nationals crown. Billingsley’s -.519 under 8.061 came up about fifteen feet short.
In a battle of first time NHRA national event finalists, Tyler Cassil drove his Camaro to the win over Dave Dupps Jr. While both drivers missed the tree in the final, Cassil’s .085 gave him the advantage over Dupps’ .108 reaction.
At the finish line, Cassil won the double-breakout race by .004-second. Tyler’s -.004 under 9.346 survived when Dupps followed him through by .019 to post an -.008 under 8.342 in the loss.
In the final four rounds, Cassil’s Camaro posted four runs within -.004 of it’s dial-in. That consistency along with solid reactions, excluding the final, made Tyler Cassil a U.S. Nationals champion!
The Stock class may have been the most intriguing on Monday evening as Austin Williams endured heads-up runs in the final two rounds to claim his first NHRA U.S. Nationals Wally.
In the semifinals, Williams drove past Eddie Brooks in a heads-up H/SA match up. Williams’ 11.101 outran Brooks’ 11.175.
The two-time world champion found himself in another heads-up race in the final round. Matt Antrobius had out qualified Williams by more than a tenth and looked to be the favorite.
But Williams had other plans as he posted a perfect .000 reaction in the final to grab an .011 advantage when Matt missed the tree. At the finish line, Williams hung on to the lead taking the win by a car-length when his 11.058 was well in front of the 11.043 by Antrobius.
2012 INDY champion Lynn Ellison pulled off a repeat on Monday evening when he defeated Rock Haas in the Super Comp final. Ellison used an .008 to .035 reaction time advantage to earn the win after posting an 8.923 to Haas’ 8.922.
Lynn’s opened eliminations with back-to-back 8.90’s after posting an 8.902 in round one and a 8.909 in round two. He followed those with two more 8.902 laps in rounds four and five.
Haas had been stellar at the tree in eliminations but posted his worst reaction of the weekend in the final. On the other hand, Ellison saved his best for last as his .008 reaction was he best reaction of the race.
Ellison also benefited from an odd ladder format that handed him two bye runs in a three round stretch. He earned the fifth round bye, came back and defeated Chris Sullivan in round six, and then had the bye in round seven to the final. When it’s your day, it’s your day!
Route 66 Nationals Super Gas champ Nathan Vrooman won for the second time in 2019 when he defeated 2018 INDY runner up Steve Hoyt. In the semifinals Vrooman defeated 2018 INDY champ Devin Isenhower to prevent a repeat of the 2018 final round.
Vrooman took a commanding lead off the line in the final when his .010 was well ahead of Hoyt’s .041. At the finish line, Vrooman sealed the win after posting a 9.919 to Hoyt’s losing 9.920.
In his last three competition runs on Monday night, Vrooman posted lights of .004, .002, and .010. Those reaction along with some great top end driving took Vrooman all the way to the NHRA U.S. Nationals winners circle.
Recent Lucas Oil Nationals winner Larry Demers just missed the INDY field qualifying 33rd in the 32-car field. Due to breakage, Demers ended up making the field as an alternate and proceeded to win the race!
Demers claimed his second-straight national event win after defeating Belva Brinegar in the final round. Larry was .019 dead two in the final to claim the close win over Brinegar’s .022 and .019 above.
After opening eliminations with a couple of .03 lights, Demers got dialed-in to the tree posting lights of .011, .009, and .019 in the final three rounds. His Cobalt was also dialed-in as it rarely moved from the 6.76 dial. Larry posted three 6.77’s, a 6.76, and a dead-on 6.75 throughout eliminations.
Larry Demers is your first ever NHRA U.S. Nationals Top Sportsman champion.
Rusty Baxter picked a great weekend to claim his first NHRA national event win. Baxter rolled into the U.S. Nationals final on Monday night and to find multi-time INDY winner Peter Biondo in the other lane.
In a great final, Biondo’s .014 take .005 was no good. Baxter posted a .015 light and a -.013 under 6.117 to earn the double breakout victory by just .004-second.
Baxter was solid at the tree during eliminations but stepped up as the rounds progressed. He posted a .025-package in round three and followed with a .022-package in round four. His round four lap included a .022 light and a dead-on 6.140 to defeat Zach Fisher.
Biondo was stellar throughout eliminations posting lights of .003, .006, .008, and .004 leading up to the final. He laid down a great lap in the final but needed to get behind to claim the win.
Factory Stock Showdown
Team Skillman continues to dominate the Factory Stock class in 2019 after Bill Skillman claims his second FSS victory at the NHRA U.S. Nationals. After qualifying it didn’t look as though Bill would be in the mix on Monday but he admitted to playing the ladder game during qualifying.
Once eliminations began, Skillman showed all of the horsepower that his Cobra Jet offered after out running David Barton in round one. He posted consistent 7.9-second laps in defeating Leonard Libersher, David Janec, and Doug Hamp before moving to the finals.
There he would face Texas-based Arthur Kohn. Kohn, running out of the Stanfield Racing stable, survived two close rounds on his way to the final. In the quarterfinals, Kohn used a holeshot to take our low qualifier Mark Pawuk, 7.95 to 7.94. He then won a close 7.936 to 7.941 race with teammate Steven Bell in the semifinals.
In the final round, Kohn grabbed a .021 lead off the line but came up .009 short at the finish line when Skillman’s 7.888 was just enough to outrun Kohn’s 7.918.
The win was Skillman’s second of the year in his third final round and his first NHRA U.S. Nationals title.
Look for more U.S. Nationals coverage later in the week as we will provide individual posts on each of the INDY champions. DragChamp is your source for NHRA sportsman drag race results.