CLERMONT, Ind — The 66th edition of the Denso US Nationals are now behind us. When the dust settled on Sunday evening after three great days of on track activity from Lucas Oil Raceway, we had four very deserving champions in their respective classes in the pro category.
The first part of this weekend was racing just the stop watch to position yourself into the ladders. The final portion was racing your opponent.
Sunday saw a 2 hour rain delay which occurred just past the first round of the four pro categories. Luckily, it didn’t keep us down long. We were treated to high speeds, close racing and hole shots as a beautiful Indiana day ensued after.
In the end, two No. 1 qualifiers hoisted Wallys, two females reached the finals and an 18 year old stole the show in Pro Stocks.
Shawn Langdon, Jack Beckman, Erica Enders and Scott Pollacheck each earned Wally’s for their victories in their respective divisions in the Big Go.
Shawn Langdon laid down the fast time on Friday night and never went off P1 on the leaderboard all weekend. The DHL Dragster marched through his ladder to earn his second US Nationals triumph in Top Fuel and 17th NHRA win of his career.
Langdon, was bounced in the first round of the previous two races here at Lucas Oil Raceway and had not advanced past the second round all season.
He beat No. 16 Hass in Round 1, No. 9 Cory McClenathan in the second round, No. 13 Justin Ashley in the semis and then Leah Pruett in the finals.
To make it to the Finals, he had to peddle it in the semis with Ashley as the two crept down the strip to the top end. Langdon, peddled it just enough to get to his 34th career final round appearance.
For Pruett, she was the story of the weekend. She wasn’t quick enough through the first two rounds of qualifying and had one last run on Saturday evening to get into the Big Go. Not only did she, she went from 18th to 6th on the ladder.
On Sunday, she marched through Terry McMillen, Tony Schumacher and Steve Torrence to her 16th career final round. She’s made it to at least he semis in three of the previous five races run this season but this was her first final round appearance of 2020.
She nearly pulled it off.
Don Schumacher Racing is still a perfect 6-for-6 this season and have won nine straight events if you go back to last season. Jack Beckman made a bold move at the start line during the final round and it was enough to beat JR Todd at the top end en route to his second win of the season and 32nd of his career.
Beckman, went through Cruz Pedregon, Ron Capps and Tim Wilkerson on his path to his 66th career NHRA final round.
Todd, marched through Blake Alexander in the first round, Creasy Jr. who upset top qualifier Tommy Johnson Jr. in the first round in Round 2 and Matt Hagan, who was in his third semifinal in the last four races, in the semis to advance to his second straight final.
Last month, he lost to Beckman’s teammate Ron Capps in the finals here. A month later, he loses to Beckman.
The big story here is Capps. He was quick on Friday and had his best shot for his first career Big Go. He won here in August but has never won a US Nationals before. He beat Jim Campbell in Round 1 but was defeated by Beckman in Round 2. Capps hasn’t made it past the second round in three of his last four Funny Car starts.
This was a wild round. 18 year old Mason McGaha beat his dad and second qualifier Chris McGaha in Round 1. He then beat Kyle Kortesky in the second round to advance to the semifinals. Kortesky defeated points leader Jeg Coughlin Jr. in Round 1 too.
But, Erica Enders had other thoughts in mind. Three of the four drivers in the Pro Stock semis had never won here. We had 11 straight years with a different winner. Enders, won this event in 2015 and was sickened to a loss in the final round a year ago to Alex Laughlin.
This year, Enders marched through Kenny Delco, Deric Kramer then McGaha en route to her second finals of the season. She beat Bot Butner in Phoenix in the other. She matched up against Matt Hartford in the final round and knocked him off for here 27th career NHRA victory.
Hartford, ended the day for Jason Line in his semi matchup as Line had been to at least the semifinals in every race run this season.
Hartford, made it to his first semi finals round of the year and advanced to just his seventh final round appearance of his career.
Pro Stock Motorcycles
For the bikes Scott Pollacheck was P1 on Friday night, eclipsed 200 mph on Saturday to end up with the green hat this weekend. He went over 200 mph again on his final round en route to his first career NHRA win in his 132nd career start. He lost in the second round of In 1, wasn’t here for Indy 2, lost in the semis in Indy 3 and here he was in just his seventh career final and he ends up victorious.