Doug Kalitta and Tommy Johnson Jr. winners at Midwest Nationals, Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock postponed

Amid an eventful day at the Midwest Nationals in St. Louis, Missouri, Doug Kalitta was back on top in Top Fuel, while Don Schumacher’s Tommy Johnson Jr. won in the Funny Car division.

After losing the points lead last week to Steve Torrence, Doug Kalitta scored his second victory of the 2020 season Sunday afternoon, ironically ousting Torrence in the final round, and now only trails Torrence by two points in the Top Fuel standings. Kalitta won with a speed of 322.58 mph and 3.960 seconds to Torrence’s 82.58 mph and 9.111 seconds. The victory was Kalitta’s first since the season opener at Pomona and the fourth victory at St. Louis.

“We needed to get some momentum going and this is going to do a lot for us,” Kalitta said. “The conditions were real good and my guys had the car running well today. I’m real proud of these Mac Tools guys. It’s just a big team effort, really. We’re all counting points and figuring out what we can do to get ahead, but the only place you can do it is on the starting line. The championship is the number one prize and we’re hoping to get a couple more wins, for sure. We had a great effort behind us (Sunday) and we’re really looking forward to these next three races. I love running in St. Louis and it’s a good racing town.”


American Muscle

Torrence’s car was already smoking the tires once the Capco driver got off the starting line, causing him to lose traction and eventually to lose in the final round.

“Hoagie knew what we had wasn’t going to work and he had something he’d been wanting to try,” Torrence said. “If it had worked, we’d be geniuses, but it didn’t so we’ll just pack it up and head home. We feel real confident running the next two races in Texas. There’ll be a lot of ‘Capco Boys’ out to support us. “Doug (Kalitta) and that team, they’re really tough,” he continued. “They showed what they’re made of, going out in the first round last week and then coming back to win this week. They’re a good team, but we ain’t bad, either.”

In the Funny Car category, Tommy Johnson Jr. won by beating his teammate Matt Hagan in the finals for an emotional victory. Johnson Jr. went 326.08 mph and 3.884 seconds to claim his second win of the season and the 21st of his NHRA career. The drag race was as close as you could get in NHRA, with his teammate nearly losing out by 3.886 seconds. Johnson Jr. had to go through the likes of Jack Beckman in Round 3, No. 1 qualifier Paul Lee in Round 2 and Terry Haddock in the first round in order to get the victory. The St. Louis victory was Johnson Jr.’s first victory since Phoenix earlier in the season.

“This win means a lot, my dad won this race back in 1976,” Johnson Jr. said. “That was his only national event when he ever won. And I was in the winner circle with him, so I’ve always wanted to win this race. I grew up like four hours from here, so we raced here a lot and it just means a lot to win this race. And it means a lot to stay in the points chase! You know, [I] had to win and stay in this hunt. I can’t thank everybody enough, man. It’s been a weird year, but it’s been a great year for our team and the Mopar Express Lane Midwest Nationals. I drove the Mopar Express Lube Top Fuel dragster years ago. So it’s a great association with Pennzoil, Hangsterfer’s metalworking lubricants, and everybody that helps our team.”

As for Hagan, he will have to wait until next Sunday to try again at the AAA Texas FallNationals in hopes of a victory, as the Christianburg, Virginia native walks away from the Midwest Nationals with his first runner-up of the year and the 63rd final round of his NHRA career.

“As tough as it is to lose a close final like that, we gained ground and took the points lead,” Hagan said about the runner-up finish. “We had a good weekend and it’s hard to complain when you make a final round. That was the bad side of a really good drag race for our Mopar team. It’s a Mopar-sponsored event and we wanted to win for Mopar and Express Lane, but at least another DSR Dodge Hellcat won again with Tommy (Johnson). I just can’t say enough about my guy working so hard with no mistakes. (Crew chief) Dickie Venables is really tuning a mean race car. We’ve had such a fast car all season long. We’re making ground and that’s what matters. We’re used to this thing being tight and most of these championships are won on the final day of the season by one or two points. I’m extremely proud of my guys. It was a good day and weekend at St. Louis.”

Meanwhile, there were some other notable incidents that took place on Sunday afternoon in St. Louis. In Top Fuel, Leah Pruett had a scary accident when racing against her teammate Tony Schumacher. The two cars were dead set with each other at the 330 mark before Pruett’s car snapped in half and fell apart as she crossed the finish line. Thankfully for Pruett, the Redlands, California native was able to walk away unscathed without any injuries. The Don Schumacher driver would go on to finish eighth in the running order.

“That was the most intense round of competition I’ve ever had and the wildest ride I’ve ever had, that’s for sure,” Pruett said. “We’re still taking time to process and look at the parts and put a plan together for how to move forward. For me, my body is fine. My mind is fine. The DSR chassis and Impact safety equipment did everything it was supposed to. As a drag racer, this is what we do. There’s a risk. I think the quicker you can get back on the track, the better. Let’s not ever do that again. I thank the Lord, my team, the chassis shop, Don Schumacher, and everybody that helped. Not a great start to October and that was an early Halloween surprise. That’s for sure.”
Leah Pruett’s Scary Accident at the Midwest Nationals in Round 2

While Pruett went for a wild ride in her Top Fuel machine, so did Alexis DeJoria who had made it all the way to Round 3 to face Matt Hagan. But before her eventual Round 3 matchup, DeJoria faced J.R. Todd in Round 2 and the body flew off her ROKiT Mobile Toyota Camry, destroying the car, leaving the vehicle shattered in pieces. Like Pruett, DeJoria was able to walk away without any injuries but was able to finish fourth in the final finishing results.

“It was definitely a crazy day,” said the five-time pro tour winner (Alexis DeJoria) of an afternoon during which Top Fuel driver Leah Pruett and Ron Capps also had to deal with major failures. “Leah, Ron Capps, myself. It banged me up a little, but I think I’m all right. It was incredibly important (to get back in the car after the incident). I want to thank everyone who helped us (put the car back together). I think we had four teams that jumped in to help. We really are family out here. The car was running really good and consistent (until the explosion),” DeJoria said, “(and) getting past the second round felt so good. At least we’re good to race another day.”

While the Top Fuel and Funny Car classes were able to run, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycles were postponed due to cold temperatures. Just a few matchups were left to be decided before the race was postponed. Greg Anderson had won against Jeg Coughlin Jr. and Matt Hartford defeated Gatornationals winner Alex Laughlin in Round 2. Other matchups unable to run in Pro Stock included Erica Enders vs Chris McGaha and Aaron Stanfield vs Jason Line. Once the event resumes, Anderson is scheduled to face the winner of Enders vs McGaha, and Hartford will compete against the winner of Stanfield vs Line.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Matt Smith had a bye run in the second round while Steve Johnson defeated Kelly Clontz with Andrew Hines besting Chris Bostick to advance to Round 3. Smith will face Steve Johnson in the semi-finals and Scotty Pollacheck will run against Andrew Hines for their respective semi-final.

Official Results following the Midwest Nationals at St. Louis:

Funny Car

  1. Tommy Johnson Jr
  2. Matt Hagan
  3. Jack Beckman
  4. Alexis DeJoria
  5. Paul Lee
  6. Daniel Wilkerson
  7. Ron Capps
  8. J.R. Todd
  9. Bob Bode
  10. Terry Haddock
  11. Jim Campbell
  12. Dale Creasy Jr
  13. Blake Alexander
  14. Bob Tasca III
  15. Tim Wilkerson
  16. Cruz Pedregon

Top Fuel

  1. Doug Kalitta
  2. Steve Torrence
  3. Billy Torrence
  4. Tony Schumacher
  5. Terry McMillen
  6. Antron Brown
  7. T.J. Zizzo
  8. Leah Pruett
  9. Kyle Wurtzel
  10. Justin Ashley
  11. Luigi Novelli
  12. Chris Karamesines
  13. Kebin Kinsley
  14. Shawn Langdon
  15. Pat Dakin
  16. Todd Paton

Official Funny Car Points

  1. Matt Hagan, 659 points
  2. Jack Beckman, -16
  3. Tommy Johnson Jr, -34
  4. Ron Capps, -132
  5. Tim Wilkerson, -179
  6. J.R. Todd, -186
  7. Bob Tasca III, -194
  8. Alexis DeJoria, -284
  9. Paul Lee, -340
  10. Cruz Pedregon, -356

Official Top Fuel Points

  1. Steve Torrence, 642 points
  2. Doug Kalitta, -2
  3. Leah Pruett, -80
  4. Billy Torrence, -136
  5. Terry McMillen, -206
  6. Justin Ashley, -209
  7. Antron Brown, -217
  8. Shawn Langdon, -227
  9. Clay Millican, -295
  10. Tony Schumacher, -408

Up Next: The NHRA will now head south to Texas for the AAA Texas Fall Nationals, which is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday October 17-18 on Fox Sports 1.


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