2014 O'Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals Sunday photo gallery
Sunday, June 29, 2014

News and views from the O'Reilly Auto Parts
Route 66 NHRA Nationals
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NHRA Top Fuel legend Shirley Muldowney and NHRA announcer Joe Costello led fans on the SealMaster NHRA Track Walk down Route 66 Raceway.

Sixteen-time Mello Yello Funny Car champion John Force signed autographs and took pictures for the throngs of Illinois race fans lined up outside the Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang pit.

Shades of Mike Dunn: clutch-specialist-turned-driver Richie Crampton was called into double-duty on the GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster after clutch specialist Andrew Polk was injured on Thursday. Crampton faces local favorite TJ Zizzo in the opening round.

Pre-race action:

(Left) Tequila Patron XO Cafe Toyota Camry Funny Car driver Alexis DeJoria is feeling better after battling a case of food poisoning that kept her out of the cockpit on Friday. She faces John Force in the opening round.

(Below left) Second-generation Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Jimmy Underdahl was joined by 7-month-old son Dylan. Underdahl will try to play the role of giant slayer on the Bad Boy Buggies Suzuki by taking on Andrew Hines.

(Below) Paul and Steve Besser, Keith Latimer, Morgan Huff, Jim Garris, and Randy Wratni were the National Dragster Backstage Pass winners for the event.

They got to interact with their favorite drivers in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series with whom they received autographs and posed for photographs.

Shawn Langdon recovered from his lowest starting spot in his career with the Al-Anabi team (No. 12) by using a holeshot to down Steve Torrence, who went low e.t. of the round at 3.78 seconds. Langdon's 3.79 gives him lane choice over Brittany Force in the second round.

(Above) With crew chief John Stewart tuning by phone, hometown favorite Bob Bode earned his first round-win since the spring Las Vegas event in 2012 by upsetting Del Worsham in a pedalfest in the opening round of Funny Car. (Below) John Force and daughter Courtney are preparing to battle each other in the next round after they both advanced.

(Above) Aussie Shane Tucker continued to have success at the expense of Chris McGaha. Tucker, who scored his first career round-win in Phoenix this year on a big holeshot against McGaha, took a single this time after McGaha was shutoff with a gear oil leak after the burnout. (Below) Shane Gray spun the tires but advanced to the next round anyway on account of V. Gaines' red-light start.

The first round of Pro Stock Motorcycle action went mostly according to plan with six of eight top-half qualifiers advancing and Eddie Krawiec, who was the quickest rider in every qualifying round, setting low e.t. of the event at 6.85 seconds.

(Left) Shawn Gann brought cheers to his hometown of Stoneville, N.C., and, presumedly, Gotham City when he used a holeshot start on the PiranaZ Apparel Suzuki to defeat Jerry Savoie in the opening round.

Swedish Top Alcohol Funny Car driver Jonnie Lindberg makes some last-minute adjustments on his 260-mph machine before his second-round matchup with Kris Hool.

J.R. Todd upset teammate and Top Fuel points leader Doug Kalitta. Todd went low e.t. of the round at 3.86 seconds in the Connie Kalitta-tuned Optima Batteries dragster while Kalitta smoked the hides.

Other than Antron Brown, who has won three times in 2014, the remaining drivers in the field are Todd, whose last win was in Dallas in 2008, and Brittany Force and Clay Millican, who have yet to score their first NHRA wins.

Ron Capps is heading to the Funny Car semifinal round for the fifth time in the last seven events in the NAPA Dodge Charger. His 4.17 in the second round was enough to notch the victory against points leader Robert Hight, who smoked the tires.

Dave Connolly emerged from an odd Pro Stock second round that featured holeshot losses by Erica Enders-Stevens and Allen Johnson and a red-light start by Jeg Coughlin Jr. Connolly was on the receiving end of Coughlin's gift, and he goes to the semifinal round for the third time in the last four events.

Epping Pro Stock Motorcycle winner Angie Smith kept her momentum going with an upset over Eddie Krawiec in the second round. Krawiec gave it up at the start with a red-light, and they both recorded 6.95s. Smith has lane choice over Hector Arana Sr. in the semifinals while Hector Arana Jr. takes on Shawn Gann.

Trevor Larson won the JEGS Allstars event in Super Gas representing team champion Division 5 yesterday and was in contention to earn the double-up bonus for winning that and the O'Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals until he lost in the semifinals. His day isn't done, though; he will be in the Super Comp final with his dragster.

For the second straight event, the final round in Pro Stock Motorcycle will make class history.

One week after the historic husband vs. wife final between Matt and Angie Smith, Hector Arana Sr. (pictured) and Hector Arana Jr. will race each other in a father-son battle.

In the Professional ranks, the Aranas join such families as the Kalittas, Forces, and Johnsons to wage final-round battles between parent and child.

Hector Sr. is trying to end a losing streak that dates back to his championship season in 2009, where he most recently won in Dallas. Hector Jr. last won at the Sonoma event last summer.

Vincent Nobile is heading to the Pro Stock final round for the first time this season after running a 6.63 to end Shane Tucker's advance. He'll take on teammate Jason Line.

Matt Hagan is climbing out of the bottom of the top 10 with a semifinal holeshot win over teammate Ron Capps. Hagan will race in the Funny Car final round for the first time since the season opener.

Brittany Force will race in the Top Fuel final for the second time in her career. The second-year driver came out on top of a great 3.88 to 3.90 semifinal race against J.R. Todd that was decided by inches at the finish line. She will face Antron Brown, like she did during the Phoenix final earlier this year.

John Lombardo Jr. earned the double-up money for winning yesterday's JEGS Allstars special event and today's final eliminations in Top Alcohol Funny Car. The second-generation driver drove Rick Jackson's NAPA Legend Batteries/Lucas Oil Ford Mustang to a win over Kris Hool in the final round.

Hector Arana Jr., near lane, defeated Hector Arana Sr. in the first father-son final in NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle history. The elder Arana got a .029 to .036 starting-line advantage in hopes of scoring his first win since 2009, but Hector Jr. won with a 6.925, 193.93 to a 6.946, 192.82.

Vincent Nobile, near lane, scored his first win since the 2013 Western Swing, and the starting-line ace used a holeshot. His psychic .004 light in the Pro Stock final made the difference in beating KB Racing teammate Jason Line, 6.655 to 6.637.

Matt Hagan, near lane, defeated his third Don Schumacher Racing teammate of the day when he toppled No. 1 qualifier Tommy Johnson Jr. in the Funny Car final, 4.098 to 4.147. It is Hagan's first win since the season-ending race of 2013.

Antron Brown, near lane, scored his fourth win of the season and denied Brittany Force in the Top Fuel final for the second time. Force had a small holeshot, but Brown pulled away for the 3.814 to 3.850 victory.

The Mello Yello winners at the O'Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals rejoiced after scoring at the 12th event on the 24-race NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series tour. The tour resumes next week at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk.