2014 Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals Sunday photo gallery
Sunday, June 22, 2014

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NHRA New England Nationals
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The pre-race Track Walk presented by SealMaster was a massive affair, led by Robert Hight (below), who is sponsored this weekend by AAA of Northern New England. Eager fans took to the actual racing surface of New England Dragway to walk in the very tracks that the heroes of the sport would run later in the morning.

New England fans (like fans everywhere) love John Force; the 16-time champ drew a raucous welcome.

  (Above) NHRA Members Wayne Walsh, Peter Mahler, and John Stiber Jr. and their guests got to enjoy the National Dragster Backstage Pass experience, with VIP access to the drivers during pre-race introductions. Walsh, second from right, was joined by his buddy Gary Porter while Mahler, center, brought along road-trip pal Dale Phillips. Stiber was joined by his family, wife Amy and sons John and Ty.

(Left)  National Dragster Associate Editor John Hoven made sure that Walsh and Porter got to spend time chatting with John Force.

NHRA Members can get the chance to win a similar experience at a future NHRA Mello Yello event by sending an e-mail to backstagepass@nhra.com.

 (Above) Two of NHRA's drivers from Australia, Top Fuel rookie Richie Crampton, left, and Pro Stock newcomer Shane Tucker, chatted prior to the opening of eliminations.

(Right) First-round Top Fuel opponents Antron Brown, left, and Todd Paton debated who would be advancing to round two; that honor went to low qualifier Brown, who ran a 3.858.

[11:30 p.m.] Doug Kalitta scored his 500th career round-win and also ran low e.t. of the first round of Top Fuel with a 3.810 victory over Terry McMillen. Tony Schumacher defeated Steve Torrence and earned lane choice over teammate Antron Brown in round two. Second-round pairings (lane choice first): Schumacher vs. Brown; J.R. Todd vs. Clay Millican; Kalitta vs. Khalid alBalooshi; Spencer Massey vs. Richie Crampton.

  [12:05 p.m.] Ron Capps (left) earned his keep in round one of Funny Car, beating Bristol runner-up Tim Wilkerson by .006 via a small holeshot, 4.064 to 4.061. The run also was low e.t. of the first round and one of three holeshot victories in the round.

John Force (above) also used his starting-line reaction to advance, running 4.129 to beat Matt Hagan’s 4.119. Del Worsham also won with a slower e.t., 4.127 to 4.123, over Jack Beckman.

Second-round pairings (lane choice first): Robert Hight vs. John Force; Alexis DeJoria vs. Tommy Johnson Jr.; Capps vs. Cruz Pedregon; Courtney Force vs. Worsham.

[12:25 p.m.] After struggling to qualify just No. 12, Allen Johnson (above) upset his Dodge Dart teammate, Jeg Coughlin Jr., in round one and will pick his lane over Shane Tucker in round two. Dave Connolly (below) had low e.t. of the first round with a 6.513 on a solo pass after opponent Kenny Delco had to be shut off on the starting line. Second-round pairings (lane choice first): Jonathan Gray vs. Shane Gray; Johnson vs. Shane Tucker; Erica Enders-Stevens vs. Greg Anderson; Connolly vs. Vincent Nobile.

[12:35 p.m.] Defending event champ and local favorite John Hall (above) picked up four-hundredths over his qualifying best and ran low e.t. of the first round of Pro Stock Motorcycle with a 6.820 on the B.R.A.K.E.S./Matt Smith Racing Buell. Two of Hall’s three MSR teammates joined him in round two, including Angie Smith (below), who got a solo when Jim Underdahl was a no-show; Smith’s husband and team leader Matt also advanced to the quarterfinals, which also features both Harleys and all three Arana Racing Buells. Second-round pairings (lane choice first): Eddie Krawiec vs. A. Smith; Hector Arana Sr. vs. Andrew Hines; Hall vs. Hector Arana Jr.; M. Smith vs. Adam Arana.

[1:10 p.m.] Clay Millican (above), who entered the event with just two round wins in the season’s first 10 races, has doubled that and will appear in his first semifinal of the season after beating J.R. Todd in round two. He’ll cede lane choice to Tony Schumacher, who ran low e.t. of eliminations, 3.787, to beat Antron Brown. Rookie Richie Crampton (below), winner in Englishtown earlier this year, remains unbeaten in the Northeast through six elimination rounds after taking out Spencer Massey on a 3.800 to 3.794 holeshot. Crampton has semifinal lane choice over Doug Kalitta, who ran 3.813.

[1:20 p.m.] Defending event champ Courtney Force (above) is two rounds away from a repeat after putting her Traxxas Mustang into the semifinals by defeating Del Worsham with a 4.12. She’ll surrender lane choice to Ron Capps, who ran a 4.09. Alexis DeJoria (below), already a two-time winner this season with the Patron XO Café Toyota, will take on John Force in the semifinals; Force beat teammate Robert Hight on a holeshot, 4.09 to 4.06.

[1:30 p.m.] For the second straight weekend, rookie Jonathan Gray (above) beat his more experienced brother, Shane, in the second round and again did it on a holeshot. He’ll have semifinal lane choice over Allen Johnson. Greg Anderson (below) continues his strong comeback by taking out points leader Erica Enders-Stevens on a holeshot as both ran 6.551. He will surrender lane choice to Dave Connolly, who thumped out a 6.526.

[1:40 p.m.] Points leader Andrew Hines (above) just keeps rolling; the two-time 2014 winner has reached at least the semifinals for the fourth straight event and will be looking for a little revenge in the semifinals against Angie Smith, who beat his Harley teammate, low qualifier Eddie Krawiec, on a holeshot. Hector Arana Jr. (below) will have lane choice over Angie’s husband, Matt, in the other semifinal after running a 6.808.

For the first time in NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series history, a wife and a husband will race for the event win. Angie Smith (left), who is appearing in her first career final round, will take on her husband, Matt, the reigning NHRA Mello Yello champ, for the event title. The only other husband-wife final in NHRA history was the 1971 Summernationals Stock final, where Judi Boertman won on husband Dave's red-light.

Pro Stock rookie Jonathan Gray (above), runner-up last weekend in Bristol in his first career final-round appearance, will get another shot at it when he races teammate Dave Connolly (below) for the Pro Stock Wally. Connolly will have final-round lane choice based on his superior semifinal performance, 6.51 to 6.58.

 Ron Capps (above) has made it to his first final round of the year with the NAPA Auto Parts Dodge, and a victory would mean much more than just another notch in his belt; it would give him the final open berth in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout.

To reach the winner's circle, Capps is going to have to overcome the challenge of Alexis DeJoria (right), who is bidding to become the first woman in NHRA history to win three Funny Car titles in the same year.

DeJoria has lane choice based on her 4.08 to Capps' 4.10.

Doug Kalitta (above) has reached the final round for the eighth time in 11 events so far this season with the Mac Tools dragster and will take on longtime rival Tony Schumacher (below). Kalitta has lane choice based on his superior semifinal time, 3.79 to 3.82. There's a lot at stake for both drivers. A Kalitta win will be his 35th in Top Fuel, tying him with legendary "Big Daddy" Don Garlits for fifth overall in class wins. A victory by Schumacher, Top Fuel's all-time win king, would be his 74th, tying him for eighth overall among all drivers. Greg Anderson has 74 wins in Pro Stock; Jeg Coughlin Jr. has 74 combined victories in Pro Stock (58) and Sportsman (16) competition.

Angie Smith, far lane, had the day of her life thus far at the racetrack. She took out both Harley-Davidson’s earlier in eliminations, and then downed husband Matt Smith in the Pro Stock Motorcycle final. He had a big lead after she was late off the line, but a suspected engine problem downtrack caused him to slow, and she crossed the stripe first.

Dave Connolly, near lane, earned the first victory of the season for Gray Motorsports in Epping today after he bettered teammate Jonathan Gray in the Pro Stock final, using a 6.536, 213.23-mph pass for the victory. It was the 24th class win for D.C. and 27th overall in his career.

Ron Capps, far lane, picked up his first win of the 2014 season when he bested Alexis DeJoria in the Funny Car title round. Capps had the lead at the Tree and outran DeJoria, 4.095 to 4.121. The win was the 41st of Capps’ career and earned him the final berth in the NHRA Traxxas Nitro Shootout.

Tony Schumacher, far lane, picked up his second win of the season and 74th of his career when he edged out Doug Kalitta by .009-second in the Top Fuel final. Schumacher got the reaction-time lead, .051 to .071, and turned it into a 3.824 to 3.813 holeshot win.

The event's NHRA Mello Yello winners, from left: Ron Capps, Tony Schumacher, Angie Smith, and Dave Connolly.

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