Thursday, June 13, 2024

Rusty Baxter Wins Top Dragster at U.S. Nationals

Rusty Baxter became the first-ever Top Dragster champion at the NHRA U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway.

INDY – Rusty Baxter became the first-ever Top Dragster champion at the NHRA U.S. Nationals after defeating Peter Biondo in the final round. The introduction of the fast dragster class to the INDY lineup proved to be a smart decision.

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Top Dragster qualifying proved exciting and eventful while eliminations were just as competitive. Low six-second bracket racing at 220+ mph was exciting for the fans and the competitors. It’s still amazing just how good these racers are running as fast as they do.

In the end, Rusty Baxter outlasted the talented field on Monday evening. After qualifying sixth with a 6.115, Baxter drove through the field to claim his first NHRA national event victory in his first final round.

The Texas-based Baxter cruised past Michael Kalin in round one after Kalin ran a second over his dial-in. In round two, Baxter advanced when Wayne Landry let go -.014 too soon.

Rusty Baxter TD at Tulsa photo by Charles Judd
Rusty Baxter – photo by Charles Judd

At eight cars, Baxter once again benefited from a red-light start by his opponent. This time it was John Biagi who left -.009 early. Baxter was ready for a fight as he laid down .025 total (.013 light with a .012 over 6.162).

In the semifinal round, Baxter laid down his best lap of eliminations, a .022 light combined with a dead-on 6.140, to move past Zack Fisher. Fisher was .018 take .011 to go -.007 under his 6.16 dial-in.


Six-time INDY champ Peter Biondo was Baxter’s opponent in the final round. Although Biondo was the recipient of two red-lights and a bye run, his box score was impressive to say the least. The “Terminator” opened eliminations with four straight .00 reactions and a .005 window between his best and worst lights.

Looking for lucky #7 at the U.S. Nationals, Biondo let go .014 and took .005 stripe in the final although it wasn’t enough. Baxter’s .015 light and -.013 under 6.117 lap was just enough to claim the first-ever Top Dragster championship at the U.S. Nationals.


Once again, I can’t say enough about how good the Top Dragster racers performed at INDY. The top 16 qualifiers were only separated by .003-second, it took a 6.23 just to qualify for the 32-car field, and the impressive packages and top-end driving were unbelievable.

Congrats to Rusty Baxter and his family on their impressive and historic U.S. Nationals victory!

To find more NHRA Lucas Oil sportsman drag race results from the U.S. Nationals, click here.

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