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