Fallen Patriots NHRA Route 66 Nationals presented by K&N at Route 66 Raceway, Joliet, Illinois USA, June 23-25, 2017
Another Tonglet Win in Chicago
photos by Tim Hailey story from team reports and the NHRA
Points leader LE Tonglet secured his fourth Pro Stock Motorcycle victory in six events at the 20th annual Fallen Patriots NHRA Route 66 Nationals presented by K&N Filters at Route 66 Raceway. Tonglet ran a 6.835 at 195.99 on his Nitro Fish Racing Suzuki to defeat Hector Arana Jr. who ran a 6.878 at 193.29 on his Lucas Oil Buell in the finals. This is Tonglet’s first victory at Route 66 Raceway since he went back-to-back in 2010-11. He has now earned victories in all four of his final round appearances this season. “We knew we had a good bike at the start of the season, but it was just a matter of getting tuned up as we learn more about the bike each week,” Tonglet said. “On Sunday our goal is to get win lights, so I’ve improved on being calm and staying focused to try and get the job done.”
Tonglet earned the No. 1 qualifier and defeated Cory Reed, Scotty Pollacheck and Karen Stoffer on his way to victory. Arana Jr. notched the second spot in qualifying, defeating Angelle Sampey, Angie Smith and Eddie Krawiec before earning his second runner-up finish of the season.
Eddie Krawiec remains in second following the semifinal appearance. Arana Jr. moves up to third with the runner-up, surpassing Pollacheck who fell to fourth.
Top Fuel points leader Steve Torrence secured the win with a run of 3.779-seconds at 326.08 mph in his Capco Contractors dragster to take down Antron Brown after he ran a 3.786 at 326.71 in his Matco Tools dragster in the final round. Torrence notched his 13th career victory and his third in the past four events. “I knew Antron [Brown] was going to bring his best, because when we race each other we are both at our best,” Torrence said. “When I go up to the line I only think about racing my car and trying to beat everybody, and with the car that I have right now I feel like we can beat anybody at any time.”
Torrence qualified fourth and defeated Scott Palmer, Blake Alexander and T.J. Zizzo on the way to victory. Brown qualified seventh and defeated Doug Kalitta, Leah Pritchett and Clay Millican before reaching his sixth final round of the season.
Pritchett narrowly remains in second after a quarterfinal appearance and teammate Brown trails by just two points for the second spot in the standings.
Points leader Ron Capps locked down his sixth victory of the season after a 4.026 at 319.67 in his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T to defeat teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. who ran a 4.047 at 319.90 in his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T in the final round. Capps has now reached three final rounds in the past four races, earning two victories in that span.“This has been a season that I could not even dream about, coming off a championship and having that four-win winning streak over in the season, it’s been incredible,” Capps said. “This is not an easy place to drive since it demands a lot out of you, but my team did a great job of making adjustments.”
Capps qualified ninth and defeated Jonnie Lindberg, Jim Campbell and Matt Hagan before reaching his eighth final round of the season. Johnson Jr. qualified sixth and took down John Force, J.R. Todd and Tim Wilkerson before appearing in his second final round of 2017.
Capps holds a 200-point lead over second-place Matt Hagan, who fell in the semifinals. Jack Beckman sits in third place after making a quarterfinal appearance.
In Pro Stock, Drew Skillman notched his first victory of the season after driving to a 6.627 at 209.23 in his Ray Skillman Chevy Camaro to defeat Erica Enders who ran a 6.655 at 207.37 in her Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro in the final. Skillman became the ninth different winner in Pro Stock in 13 events, earning his fourth career victory. “We’ve struggled all year, but we finally put everything together and took things round-by-round,” Skillman said. “The Pro Stock division is so close now, but I definitely feel like we have finally gotten where we deserve to be with this win.”
Skillman qualified third and defeated Shane Tucker, Tanner Gray and points leader Bo Butner en route to his second final round appearance of 2017. Enders reached her third final round of the season after qualifying ninth and defeating Chris McGaha, Greg Anderson and Jason Line.
Bo Butner remains in the top spot of the Pro Stock standings after the semifinal appearance, while Anderson and T. Gray round out the top three. Skillman’s victory put him in eighth in the standings, while Enders now sits at sixth after her second runner-up of the season.
EARLIER: Smith a Mile Ahead in Chicago
Matt Smith's Polaris/Victory Magnum bagger
Matt Smith finished atop the Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying order with an elapsed time track record 6.829 at 195.19 in his second pass of the day at the 20th annual Fallen Patriots NHRA Route 66 Nationals presented by K&N Filters at Route 66 Raceway. He is aiming for his 26th career No. 1 qualifier and his second consecutive this season. “The last two races have been awesome for us, especially getting the No. 1 qualifier in Norwalk the last time out,” Smith said. “It’s good to come here and be No. 1 and prove that we could do it again, but I think we are here to stay this year and we will make a run at the championship.”
Scotty Pollacheck is in the No. 2 slot after a 6.883 at 193.65 on his Extended Protection Suzuki during his second pass of the day, while Hector Arana Jr. sits at third with a 6.884 at 194.97 on his Lucas Oil Buell.
Robert Hight set both ends of the track record after a 3.851-second pass at 334.73 mph in his Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS during the second qualifying session. He is aiming for his second No. 1 qualifier of the season and is currently chasing his first win of 2017. “We had a pretty good idea that track records were going to fall this weekend, and the advancement of Funny Cars over the years allows us to put these exciting runs together for the fans,” Hight said. “If we are able to lock things down as well as we know we can, then in the night session tomorrow there is no reason we can’t improve these numbers.”
Jack Beckman landed second in Funny Car qualifying with a 3.856 at 330.23 in his Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T. Courtney Force rounded out the top three in preliminary qualifying, notching a 3.880 at 331.36 in her Advance Auto Parts Chevy Camaro.
Brittany Force leads the Top Fuel category with a run of 3.711 at 323.04 in her Monster Energy dragster during her second pass of the day. She is searching for her first No. 1 qualifier on the year and seventh of her career. “Our second run was pretty awesome, since it was a clean run and the conditions were perfect,” Force said. “Every run feels different, but I could tell from this second run that we would be shooting up the standings, and we have a time that we are going to try and improve upon tomorrow.”
Tony Schumacher sits second in the preliminary qualifying after a 3.758 at 325.37 in his U.S. Army dragster, while Shawn Langdon is third with a 3.759 at 319.37 in his Global Electronics dragster.
In Pro Stock, Tanner Gray currently holds the top spot after driving to a 6.591 at 208.84 in his Gray Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro during the second session. He is looking for the second No. 1 qualifier of his rookie season. “My team did a great job of working on my car and I feel like I had a better handle on my car than in Norwalk,” Gray said. “I know we have great horsepower and the guys at the shop put a great car out each week, and I know that if I drive well there is no reason that I can’t have success like this at each event.”
Greg Anderson is second in preliminary qualifying after a 6.600 at 209.20 in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro. Drew Skillman is in the third spot with a 6.605 at 208.04 in his Ray Skillman Chevrolet Camaro during his second qualifying pass.
Pro Stock Motorcycle -- 1. Matt Smith, Victory, 6.829, 195.19; 2. Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 6.883, 193.74; 3. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.884, 194.97; 4. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.889, 193.68; 5. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.905, 193.02; 6. Chip Ellis, EBR, 6.934, 190.81; 7. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.936, 192.03; 8. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.938, 191.19; 9. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.945, 192.80; 10. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.951, 192.85; 11. Melissa Surber, Buell, 6.960, 190.00; 12. Angie Smith, Buell, 6.963, 190.89; 13. Cory Reed, Victory, 6.964, 189.95; 14. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.981, 192.00; 15. Mike Berry, Buell, 6.986, 190.73; 16. Angelle Sampey, Victory, 6.999, 189.76. Not Qualified: 17. Ryan Oehler, 7.072, 187.52; 18. Kelly Clontz, 7.112, 189.07; 19. David Hope, 7.129, 185.54; 20. Lance Bonham, 7.212, 184.25; 21. Andie Rawlings, 7.788, 162.31.
Top Fuel -- 1. Brittany Force, 3.711 seconds, 323.04 mph; 2. Tony Schumacher, 3.758, 325.37; 3. Shawn Langdon, 3.759, 319.37; 4. Leah Pritchett, 3.763, 326.48; 5. Antron Brown, 3.766, 328.54; 6. Steve Torrence, 3.778, 319.82; 7. Pat Dakin, 3.835, 321.42; 8. T.J. Zizzo, 3.839, 275.90; 9. Terry McMillen, 3.853, 312.21; 10. Blake Alexander, 3.882, 303.43; 11. Scott Palmer, 3.893, 314.17; 12. Troy Coughlin Jr., 3.932, 262.08; 13. Luigi Novelli, 3.972, 298.67; 14. Kyle Wurtzel, 4.276, 195.96; 15. Doug Kalitta, 4.371, 182.90; 16. Chris Karamesines, 4.690, 165.42. Not Qualified: 17. Clay Millican, 5.011, 142.28.
Funny Car -- 1. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.851, 334.73; 2. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 3.856, 330.23; 3. Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.880, 331.36; 4. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.895, 332.10; 5. Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, 3.913, 327.98; 6. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.913, 326.00; 7. Brian Stewart, Ford Mustang, 3.929, 325.53; 8. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.942, 321.27; 9. John Force, Camaro, 3.943, 321.58; 10. Jonnie Lindberg, Camry, 3.962, 321.81; 11. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 3.967, 320.13; 12. Del Worsham, Camry, 3.975, 324.51; 13. J.R. Todd, Camry, 4.062, 313.15; 14. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.171, 304.74; 15. Bob Bode, Charger, 4.497, 218.37; 16. Justin Schriefer, Charger, 4.924, 166.85. Not Qualified: 17. Tim Wilkerson, 4.936, 154.69.
Pro Stock -- 1. Tanner Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.591, 208.84; 2. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.600, 209.20; 3. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.605, 208.07; 4. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.614, 209.36; 5. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.620, 209.20; 6. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.620, 208.36; 7. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.631, 208.62; 8. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.638, 207.37; 9. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.647, 208.20; 10. Alan Prusiensky, Dart, 6.657, 207.34; 11. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.701, 207.15; 12. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.708, 208.04; 13. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.713, 206.04; 14. Shane Tucker, Camaro, 6.752, 205.51; 15. Mark Hogan, Pontiac GXP, 6.798, 201.73; 16. Val Smeland, Camaro, 6.928, 199.94. Not Qualified: 17. Dave River, 14.077, 60.12.
Pre-Race: Chicago is Johnson's 400th
It's lonely in the 400 NHRA Events Club for PSM's Steve Johnson
Steve Johnson will reach an impressive accomplishment at this weekend’s 20th annual Fallen Patriots NHRA Route 66 Nationals presented by K&N at Route 66 Raceway, as the Pro Stock Motorcycle veteran will compete at his 400th NHRA event. Johnson would like nothing better to commemorate that achievement in his NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series career than with his seventh career win on his Slick 50 Suzuki. But Johnson is also aware of the type of mindset it takes to reach the point where he can celebrate 400 races. “When you accomplish something like 400 races, that’s representing a brand and that brand is a never give up attitude,” said Johnson, who is currently ninth in Pro Stock Motorcycle points. “I always wanted to be part of the fraternity and it’s been pretty awesome. I look at the first 400 and I didn’t win a championship and think maybe the next 400 will be easier.”
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1, including live final eliminations coverage starting at 3 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, July 9—Tim Hailey's birthday. It is the sixth of 16 races during the 2017 Pro Stock Motorcycle season and marks another solid campaign for Johnson, who has been thriving in the class since the late 1980s.
400 events is a long time of dieting for the tall, slender Johnson
He’s persevered through struggles and frustrations, breaking through for his first victory in 2004, 17 years after he first started in the class. Johnson has won twice at the prestigious Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals (2005 and 2008) and most recently won in Gainesville in 2014. But through it all he has been extremely satisfied watching the Pro Stock Motorcycle continue to grow, remaining proud of a class that has prospered year after year. “Seeing new people come into our class, that’s really cool,” Johnson said. “I love seeing the new people and I love our sanctioning body. When you love everything about it – the fans, the people, the racers – you definitely have a family. Being in 400 races doesn’t come easy, but if you love something enough you can succeed at it.”
Johnson and Jesse James in the Gainesville winners circle
Johnson’s passion for success and race wins hasn’t waned a bit, either. He heads to Chicago with confidence that he can grab a victory against a number of talented riders, building what Johnson hopes is strong momentum heading to the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship. Johnson has tried a number of new things this year and is ready for it all to come together against the likes of points leader LE Tonglet, who has three wins this season, defending race winner Hines, reigning world champion Jerry Savoie, Eddie Krawiec, who won the first race of the season, Joey Gladstone, Matt Smith, Hector Arana Jr. and Scotty Pollacheck. “I’ve been experimenting with different things and I feel like it’s going to pay off,” Johnson said. “I still want to win. I think I want to win as much as I ever did and maybe more. When I see all the data and everything add up, I know I can win. I’ve got a good engine and a good team, and we have the equipment, so we’re confident we can. I’m definitely still experimenting but I need to win some rounds. I feel if we can get to the semis, we have a chance of winning. In Chicago, you can definitely throw the kitchen sink at (the track).”
Defending Top Fuel winner Brown will look for his third win of 2017, as the back-to-back world champ will aim to track down points leader Steve Torrence, who has four victories this season. Beckman will seek a third win in 2017 in Funny Car, but he’s chasing red-hot teammate and reigning world champion Ron Capps, who has a class-best five wins this season. Anderson is one of three Pro Stock drivers with at least two wins this season, sitting behind points leader Bo Butner and ahead of rookie Tanner Gray. Eight different drivers have wins in 2017.
The Route 66 NHRA Nationals also features competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, including the popular and highly-competitive JEGS Allstars bonus event. After Nitro qualifying, fans can watch the Douthit Motorsports eye lighting Black Pearl Jet Funny Car vs. Pro Jet Motorsports Al Z's Hot Blade Jet Dragster. Jet cars are thrust driven propelled by jet engines with pre-run flame shows.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 5:15 and 7:45 p.m. on Friday, July 7 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, July 8, at 3:15 and 6 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 12 p.m. on Sunday, July 9—Tim Hailey's birthday.
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