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Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals: Lucas zooms to title in darkness-shortened event

Funny Car drivers John force (left) and Ron Capps joke with each other at the top end Brainerd International Raceway after the Funny car semi final at the NHRA Lucas Oil Nationals Sunday. After several rain delays and darkness, the final will be run in two weeks at Indianapolis, the next stop on the NHRA Nationals circuit. (Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls1 / 6
Doug Kalitta sets a new Brainerd International Raceway track record Sunday during the first round of the NHRA Lucas Oil Nationals qualifying with a low ET of 3.722 reaching 326.16 MPH. (Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls2 / 6
Morgan Lucas hugs a teammate after winning the Top Fuel final in the NHRA Lucas Oil Nationals Sunday at Brainerd International Raceway. Morgan's time was 4.886 ET at 229.55 MPH over Doug Kalitta. (Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls)3 / 6
Stopped at the starting line, the Ron Capps Funny car team waits with a covered dragster during a rain delay Sunday at NHRA Lucas Oil Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway near Brainerd. The first round was completd with Capps' ET of 4.112 and 314. mph. (Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls)4 / 6
Minnesota native Jason Line reached the low ET of 6.573 with the top speed Sunday of 209.69 MPH at the NHRA Lucas Oil Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway. First round is finished and workers are dring the track for round two. (Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls)5 / 6
Alexis DeJoria leaves the starting line in the second round of Funny Car qualifying Sunday at Brainerd International Raceway. Alexia Dejoria broke the track record for Funny Car and was the first Funny Car driver to drop below 4.0 ET at BIR with her time of 3:998 sec. reaching 315.93 mph. (Brainerd Duspatch /Steve Kohls)6 / 6

After more than four hours of delays due to rain, engine explosions, and a scary crash, Morgan Lucas emerged as the only pro champion on a wacky Sunday in the finals of the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.

The Funny Car final between John Force and Ron Capps was postponed by darkness. It will be run Aug. 27-Sept. 1 in the final regular-season event at Indianapolis. Force beat Tommy Johnson in the semifinals while Capps defeated Alexis DeJoria.

The Pro Stock semifinals and final were also postponed because of darkness and will also be finished at Indianapolis. Jason Line, Dave River, Vincent Nobile and Jeg Coughlin Jr. are the four remaining Pro Stock drivers.

Lucas, in only his third race of the season, went 4.885 at 229.55 to defeat Doug Kalitta who finished 4.987 at 256.16, for the Top Fuel championship. Both battled engine troubles to the finish.

"There was so much dew coming down on the windshield of the car," said of his final run. "Jack Wyatt had to come over and wipe the windshield off because it was kind of like looking through a fish tank. I kind of broke the tires loose, saw Doug poke out but knew he was having problems so I straightened it out and got it back out there.

"It's the final and you aren't going to leave anything on the table. And then the car lit up and that was actually kind of cool because my second thought after realizing we had won was this is going to look to good on (ESPN's) 'SportsCenter.' I am really blessed to have the team that we do."

A crash in a Sportsman category race between Don Kritzky of Cottage Grove and Monte Green of Haxtun, Colo., at about 7:15 p.m. stopped the event for about 45 minutes. Both dragsters broke apart, slid on their sides and one burst into flames. Fortunately they crashed about 100 feet apart.

Green was treated and released at the scene. Kritzky was alert and conscious and was airlifted to North Memorial Medical Center in Minneapolis for additional evaluation.

With track surface temperatures dropping about 40 degrees from Friday and Saturday, and the actual air temperature dropping about 20 degrees, conditions became unbelievably favorable for record-setting runs Sunday.

• Top Fuel

Kalitta set a track record in the second round with an elapsed time of 3.722.

In the first round, Bob Vandergriff Jr. ran a low ET of 3.760, but was defeated by Lucas, who won on a hole shot with a reaction time of .071 to move on to the second round.

Antron Brown was the No. 1 seed and there have now been 22 races since a top seed moved on to the finals. The last driver to move on to the championship round was Lucas last year at Charlotte. Brown had a record of 18-4 against Lucas going into that run.

• Funny Car

In the quarterfinals, DeJoria broke track records in consecutive runs of 4.010 and 3.998, becoming the first Funny Car driver ever to record a 3-second run at BIR.

In the opening round, DeJoria defeated Courtney Force. DeJoria defeated Matt Hagan in the second round. DeJoria also set the top speed record at 320.89 for BIR.

• Pro Stock

There were upsets in the opening round as Deric Kramer knocked off native Minnesotan Greg Anderson. Kramer was seeded 13th while Anderson was seeded fourth.

An even bigger upset was season points leader Erica-Enders-Stevens going out in the first round to David River.

Semifinal matchups will send Jason Line of Wright, Minn., against River. Vincent Mobile will go up against Jeg Coughlin Jr. in the other semifinal. Line has never won a championship at BIR.

• Darkness forced Top Dragster, Super Stock, Stock, Super Comp and Super Gas semifinals and finals were moved to the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Aug. 22-23 in Topeka, Kan.

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