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Antron Brown breaks 30-race drought with first victory as Top Fuel team owner.
Funny Car’s Bob Tasca III as hot as conditions, tops John Force in final.
Troy Coughlin Jr. scores back-to-back feat, denies Anderson 100th trophy.
Horsepower-stifling, triple-digit temperatures showed NHRA racers no mercy all weekend at Topeka in the Menards NHRA Nationals presented by PetArmor.
But Antron Brown (Top Fuel) burned the competition for his first triumph as team owner Sunday at Heartland Motorsports Park. He broke a pattern of four first-round defeats and a drought that dates back to last May in his first final-round appearance of the season.
Joining him on the podium was Funny Car’s hot-streaking Bob Tasca III, who reached the final round for the fourth time in five races. The other winners were Troy Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock) and Joe Gladstone (Pro Stock Motorcycle), both of whom completed a back-to-back coup for their first and second pro victories.
Antron Brown Swipes Spotlight from Surging Mike Salinas
Thanks to Brittany Force’s opening-round elimination, No. 2-ranked driver Mike Salinas sliced her Top Fuel lead from 75 points to 31, with two events remaining before the Countdown to the Championship fields are set. But the day ultimately belonged to a three-time champion who began the day two places out of the elite top 10 and had won just five elimination rounds in the season’s previous 13 races combined.
Antron Brown, crying for joy at the top end of the racetrack after defeating winless and equally hungry four-time and current champion Steve Torrence, realized what he called his “big dream.” After postponing his break from Don Schumacher Racing and his debut as a team owner for one year because of the pandemic, he finally notched that first victory for Antron Brown Motorsports.
He said former racer Mike Ashley—father of his semifinal-round victim Justin Ashley—told him before racing started Sunday, “You’re going to win today.” And in his first money-round appearance since last year’s season finale, the 126th overall, Brown fulfilled the prediction.
Brown passed retired legend Joe Amato for his 53rd Top Fuel victory to become the No. 3-ranked driver in Top Fuel history (after 86-time winner Tony Schumacher and 62-timer Larry Dixon). The victory was the 69th overall for Brown, who won 16 Pro Stock Motorcycle trophies before he was the first and only racer to make the switch from bikes to dragsters. Had Torrence won, he would have tied Brown and Amato.
“I thank Jesus Christ, our Lord above. We kept our heads down. We had a lot of resistance. But here we come, baby!” Brown said. “I’m speechless, for a change.”
Tasca: ‘It’s Like Racing on the Surface of the Sun'
For the second straight race, after enduring an uncharacteristic weekend-long 90-degree blast furnace at Seattle, Bob Tasca III overcame molten Midwest conditions at Topeka to win from the No. 1 qualifying position.
“It’s like racing on the surface of the sun, but we got it done,” Tasca said after producing a victory on the 140-degree dragstrip for mother Jayne Tasca on her birthday and for clutch specialist Gerad Stewart, whose father passed away unexpectedly this past week.
What Tasca described as “glimmers of dominance” for the BG Products Ford Mustang team have melted the months-long frustration of over-trying and under-achieving and pressure he put on his shoulders by promising Ford he’d deliver championships if the automaker reinvested in drag racing.
“I would never use the word ‘cocky,’ because we're not. Trust me, I've been humbled out here as much as anyone,” Tasca said. “But we're very confident. We have everything that we need to win.”
That elevated performance, though, could prove thorny, Tasca said.
“I guess that's where the pressure mounts, when you're not winning and you're not performing. There's a lot of pressure and expectations,” he said. “And now, once you turn this corner, we have a long way to go. This is a set-up that we really started with in Sonoma. We have a lot of work to do and some fine-tuning. But the bottom line is now the expectation is to continue to win. And I think that's our mindset.
“We're peaking at a very good time going into the end of the regular season. And just, I think the best is yet to come for this team. I really believe it,” he said.
Competitive even with himself, Tasca adopted a no-carb, no-dairy, no-meat diet that had knocked seven pounds from his already slender frame to help his cause. He credited co-crew chiefs Mike Neff and Jon Schaffer for “really digging in this past off-season” to get him to where “we don’t look silly anymore.” But he said he thinks his new nutrition program is paying off, too.
“I think you can see us mature as a team,” he said, as the Camping World Drag Racing Series shifts to Brainerd, Minn., this coming weekend for the penultimate “regular-season” race. The Countdown scenario will be set Labor Day weekend at the U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis.
Troy Coughlin Jr. Stymies Pro Stock Veteran Greg Anderson
The “Greg Anderson 100th Victory Watch" continues—and so does Troy Coughlin Jr.’s streak in the Pro Stock class.
Coughlin has competed and won in Jr. Dragster, Super Comp, and Super Gas and has raced in Pro Modified and Top Fuel. He broke through for this first Pro Stock victory two weeks ago at Seattle and Sunday polished off a back-to-back triumph at Heartland Motorsports Park in his Jegs.com Chevy Camaro for Elite Performance Motorsports.
So now he has two trophies in the class, while runaway all-time victories leader Greg Anderson still is looking for that milestone 100th in his HendrickCars.com Camaro.
He ran his elimination-round record to 11-2 in the past four events.
“With a team like Elite Motorsports (which also fields four-time and reigning champ Erica Enders and hot-shoe title contender Aaron Stanfield), it’s hard to know what’s next,” Coughlin Jr. said.
Pro Stock Motorcycle Winner Joey Gladstone Living the Dream
Joey Gladstone came to Topeka to show that his first Pro Stock Motorcycle victory at Sonoma, Calif., was no fluke. No one could doubt him now.
He blistered the Heartland Motorsports Park quarter-mile as the No. 1 qualifier, set low elapsed time of every round on race day, and dusted off four-time champion Eddie Krawiec in the final for his second consecutive victory. (The bike class was not on the schedule for Seattle two weeks ago.)
“This is what dreams are made of. I feel like I’m dreaming. I always thought that it would feel like this, and I’m so thankful,” the Precision Service Equipment Suzuki rider said after shining in his fourth consecutive final round.
Kansas' Favorite Son Tyler Cassil Records Rare Double
Tyler Cassil, of Newton, Kan., joined an elite group Sunday, winning in both the Stock and Super Stock classes. He beat Tyler Bohanon in the Stock final and Greg Stanfield, who supplies his engines, in the Super Stock showdown. Only 29 racers have won in two classes at the same race. The tradition began here at Topeka with Pat Austin in the same two categories.
Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals
Sunday's final results from the 33rd annual Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals presented by PetArmor at Heartland Motorsports Park. The race is the 14th of 22 in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series:
Top Fuel -- Antron Brown, 3.902 seconds, 309.49 mph def. Steve Torrence, 4.443 seconds, 201.49 mph.
Funny Car -- Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 3.999, 316.82 def. John Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.131, 311.27.
Pro Stock -- Troy Coughlin Jr., Chevy Camaro, 6.680, 206.54 def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.701, 204.85.
Pro Stock Motorcycle -- Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.876, 195.59 def. Eddie Krawiec, Suzuki, 6.935, 195.36.
Top Alcohol Dragster -- Julie Nataas, 5.343, 274.61 def. Mike Coughlin, 5.326, 268.76.
Top Alcohol Funny Car -- Shane Westerfield, Chevy Camaro, 5.600, 261.47 def. Sean Bellemeur, Camaro, 5.857, 258.22.
Competition Eliminator -- Doug Engels, Dragster, 7.428, 178.73 def. Bruno Massel, Chevy Cobalt, 7.104, 193.29.
Super Stock -- Tyler Cassil, Chevy Camaro, 9.608, 139.47 def. Greg Stanfield, Camaro, Foul - Red Light.
Stock Eliminator -- Tyler Cassil, Chevy Camaro, 10.080, 131.14 def. Tyler Bohannon, Chevy Corvette, 10.529, 124.22.
Super Comp -- Austin Williams, Dragster, 8.889, 176.63 def. Jessica Bogacki, Dragster, 8.875, 174.73.
Super Gas -- Don Nichols, Chevy Camaro, 10.170, 133.25 def. Bo Butner, Chevy Corvette, Foul - Red Light.
Super Street -- Jordan Pratt, Chevy Camaro, 10.908, 142.01 def. Dell Hall, Pontiac Grand Prix, 10.928, 142.04.
Top Sportsman presented by Vortech Superchargers -- Todd Stallbaumer, Chevy Camaro, 7.212, 193.85 def. Greg Lair, Camaro, Foul - Red Light.
Top Dragster presented by Vortech Superchargers -- Anthony Bertozzi, Dragster, 7.284, 174.66 def. Paul Nero, Dragster, 7.352, 183.10.
Pro Modified -- Justin Bond, Chevy Camaro, 5.862, 243.90 def. Rickie Smith, Ford Mustang, 8.832, 101.51.
Round By Round
ROUND ONE -- Josh Hart, 3.823, 315.56 def. Austin Prock, 3.895, 258.86; Tony Schumacher, 3.779, 316.23 def. Doug Kalitta, 3.774, 320.81; Antron Brown, 3.816, 310.70 def. Brittany Force, 4.123, 219.40; Mike Salinas, 3.811, 323.89 def. Terry Totten, Broke; Justin Ashley, 3.842, 320.81 def. Buddy Hull, 12.432, 31.96; Steve Torrence, 3.771, 325.69 def. Kyle Wurtzel, 4.489, 179.54; Leah Pruett, 4.161, 264.70 def. Doug Foley, 5.149, 139.75; Shawn Langdon, 3.814, 318.09 def. Clay Millican, 3.819, 314.68;
QUARTERFINALS -- Ashley, 3.843, 317.57 def. Pruett, 4.810, 225.26; Brown, 3.812, 312.42 def. Hart, 3.940, 279.15; Salinas, 3.802, 324.83 def. Langdon, 4.544, 171.51; Torrence, 3.833, 320.13 def. Schumacher, 3.969, 298.73;
SEMIFINALS -- Brown, 4.757, 174.77 def. Ashley, 5.399, 208.39; Torrence, 4.105, 242.36 def. Salinas, 4.717, 179.52;
FINAL -- Brown, 3.902, 309.49 def. Torrence, 4.443, 201.49.
ROUND ONE -- Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 3.973, 322.19 def. Jack Wyatt, Dodge Charger, 4.323, 220.22; John Force, Chevy Camaro, 23.671, 53.29 def. Cruz Pedregon, Charger, Foul - Red Light; Robert Hight, Camaro, 4.003, 273.05 def. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.062, 310.13; Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.944, 316.52 def. Chad Green, Mustang, 4.155, 306.26; Paul Lee, Charger, 4.250, 234.04 def. Blake Alexander, Mustang, 5.309, 143.87; Ron Capps, Toyota Supra, 4.401, 245.49 def. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 8.729, 97.17; Alexis DeJoria, Supra, 4.416, 200.74 def. J.R. Todd, Supra, DQ - Tech;
QUARTERFINALS -- Hight, 3.987, 320.05 def. DeJoria, 4.580, 184.45; Tasca III, 3.983, 318.32 was unopposed; Hagan, 3.999, 312.71 def. Lee, 7.341, 86.41; Force, 4.033, 318.77 def. Capps, 4.047, 312.21;
SEMIFINALS -- Force, 4.000, 321.27 def. Hight, 4.052, 309.70; Tasca III, 4.011, 316.30 def. Hagan, 4.406, 223.06;
FINAL -- Tasca III, 3.999, 316.82 def. Force, 4.131, 311.27.
ROUND ONE -- Bo Butner, Chevy Camaro, 6.701, 204.91 def. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.711, 204.57; Fernando Cuadra Jr., Ford Mustang, 6.687, 205.04 def. Cristian Cuadra, Mustang, 6.661, 205.13; Dallas Glenn, Camaro, 6.669, 205.04 def. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.679, 205.07; Kyle Koretsky, Camaro, 6.685, 205.57 def. Mason McGaha, Camaro, Foul - Red Light; Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, 6.662, 206.76 def. Camrie Caruso, Camaro, Foul - Red Light; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 13.718, 62.38 was unopposed; Erica
Enders, Camaro, 6.662, 206.35 def. Fernando Cuadra, Mustang, Foul - Red Light; Troy Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.659, 207.02 def. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.753, 203.43;
QUARTERFINALS -- Anderson, 6.691, 204.63 def. Butner, Foul - Red Light; Enders, 6.673, 206.45 def. Glenn, 6.693, 204.91; Koretsky, 6.706, 205.66 def. Stanfield, 6.703, 206.16; Coughlin Jr., 6.676, 207.15 def. Cuadra Jr., 6.707, 205.07;
SEMIFINALS -- Anderson, 6.693, 204.98 def. Koretsky, 6.719, 205.44; Coughlin Jr., 6.692, 206.70 def. Enders, 6.711, 206.13;
FINAL -- Coughlin Jr., 6.680, 206.54 def. Anderson, 6.701, 204.85.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE:
ROUND ONE -- Angie Smith, 6.908, 197.86 def. Chris Bostick, Suzuki, Broke - No Show; Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.933, 194.21 def. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, Foul - Red Light; Matt Smith, Suzuki, 6.915, 196.87 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.946, 192.99; LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.911, 195.45 def. Marc Ingwersen, 6.943, 194.66; Angelle Sampey, Suzuki, 6.970, 196.02 def. Jianna Evaristo, Suzuki, Broke; Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.834, 197.48 def. David Barron, 7.512, 154.71; Eddie Krawiec, Suzuki, 6.908, 196.16 def. Ryan Oehler, 7.081, 192.36;
QUARTERFINALS -- Gladstone, 6.859, 196.82 was unopposed; A. Smith, 6.945, 197.10 def. Tonglet, 6.939, 194.69; Krawiec, 6.874, 196.36 def. M. Smith, 6.896, 198.52; Savoie, 6.964, 193.32 def. Sampey, 9.020, 85.32;
SEMIFINALS -- Krawiec, 6.913, 195.25 def. Savoie, 6.992, 193.54; Gladstone, 6.872, 196.87 def. A. Smith, 7.080, 195.11;
FINAL -- Gladstone, 6.876, 195.59 def. Krawiec, 6.935, 195.36.
1. Brittany Force, 1,122; 2. Mike Salinas, 1,091; 3. Justin Ashley, 989; 4. Steve Torrence, 960; 5. Josh Hart, 736; 6. Leah Pruett, 726; 7. Shawn Langdon, 709; 8. Doug Kalitta, 659; 9. Tony Schumacher, 625; 10. Antron Brown, 613.
1. Robert Hight, 1,334; 2. Matt Hagan, 1,097; 3. Ron Capps, 1,008; 4. John Force, 1,002; 5. Bob Tasca III, 921; 6. J.R. Todd, 741; 7. Cruz Pedregon, 718; 8. Alexis DeJoria, 712; 9. Tim Wilkerson, 611; 10. Jim Campbell, 488.
1. Erica Enders, 1,156; 2. Aaron Stanfield, 1,030; 3. Kyle Koretsky, 798; 4. Greg Anderson, 781; 5. Troy Coughlin Jr., 696; 6. Dallas Glenn, 668; 7. Mason McGaha, 604; 8. Camrie Caruso, 570; 9. Matt Hartford, 553; 10. Bo Butner, 528.
Pro Stock Motorcycle
1. Joey Gladstone, 724; 2. Angelle Sampey, 660; 3. Eddie Krawiec, 628; 4. Steve Johnson, 621; 5. Matt Smith, 615; 6. Angie Smith, 577; 7. Jerry Savoie, 541; 8. Karen Stoffer, 534; 9. Marc Ingwersen, 378; 10. Ryan Oehler, 298.