While past champions of the NHRA Mello Yellow Drag Racing Series were all the rage at the Springnationals, the summer heat changed everything at the 48th annual NHRA Summernationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.
Despite setting a new track record during Friday’s opening qualifying session with a new track record pass of 3.713-second run at 329.42 MPH in his Matco Tools dragster, NHRA Top Fuel Champion Antron Brown’s performance fell flat during Sunday’s Summernationals finals.
While Brown defeated Blake Alexander and New England Nationals Top Fuel winner Brittany Force before moving on to the finals against Steve Torrence, the Torrence Racing driver would take down Brown for only his second victory in 24 matchups against the world champion driver.
“All day long I was confident because we have historically done well in Englishtown,” said Torrence. “Both Antron Brown and I have cars that can win and we know we just have to do our jobs to win. I know my record against him isn’t the best, but it’s always fun to go up against one of my best friends in the final round.”
Although Torrence picked up his third career win at Englishtown by defeating Brown, he continues to trail the Top Fuel Champion by seven points in the current Top Fuel standings.
Along with Brown, another defending world champion lost his mojo during Sunday’s final round. Reaching his sixth final round of the year, after defeating Del Worsham, Alexis DeJoria and Robert Hight, Ron Capps’ successful weekend passes would end in the final round against Jack Beckman.
Capps’ Don Schumacher Racing teammate, Beckman, would earn his 25th victory and first of the 2017 season with a pass of 4.100-seconds at 312.42 MPH against his teammate’s run of 4.143-seconds at 299.66 MPH.
“There have been quite a few variables for our team already this season, and we needed to get this win today so we knew that we could do this more often,” said Beckman. “Not only is this our team’s first win together, but a win at the Summernationals in Funny Car is about as cool as it gets.”
This win moved Beckman into third in the standings as the fifth different Funny Car winner of the season, but helped Capps maintain his lead atop the Funny Car standings.
While both the Top Fuel and Funny Car winners would have to face former champions during the final round, Summernationals Pro Stock winner Greg Anderson would defeat the current Pro Stock points leader Bo Butner in order to move to the final round against Vincent Nobile. Nobile, who was hoping for a better result at the Summernationals, fell short after Anderson’s 6.163-second pass at 210.44 MPH against Nobile’s 6.665-second pass at 210.21 MPH for the Pro Stock driver’s second victory of the year and eighth win at this track.
“It certainly was a tough weekend but everything worked out for us, but this Wally is going to my son for getting through high school,” said Anderson. “This track has been magical for me; I have a lot of great memories here. To win eight times here makes it a pretty special place.”
With the victory, Anderson now sits second in the points standings behind Bo Butner, whom he defeated in the semifinals. Nobile sits seventh in the Pro Stock standings after his best finish of the year.
The 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season continues with the 17th NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway June 16-18. Stay tuned to RacingJunk.com for all your NHRA coverage!