Sept. 14-16, 2007

Final elimination's


Pro Stock racer Dave Connolly won his third NHRA national event in a row Sunday at Memphis Motorsports Park to take command of the Countdown to the Championship.

Melanie Troxel (Top Fuel), Gary Scelzi (Funny Car) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also posted wins in their respective categories.

Connolly once again outran former points leader Greg Anderson in the final of the 20th annual O'Reilly Mid-South NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil for his sixth victory of the year. Just as he did two weeks ago in Indianapolis, Connolly got the better of the three-time POWERade champion in an exciting final that was decided by just .0187 seconds, 6.648 at 207.59 mph to Anderson's 6.658 at 208.65 mph.

"You couldn't ask for a better time to get hot," Connolly said. "It's just remarkable. I start to look back three or four years when I was first getting started and every time I got to the final there was Greg and he was beating me. Here we are a few years later and I've beaten him in two finals in a row. Everything is just clicking right now and hopefully we don't use up all our luck before we're done."

The Torco Chevrolet Cobalt driver improves to 15-12 in final rounds and now leads Anderson in the standings by 33 points.

In one of the closest races of the event, Funny Car driver Gary Scelzi narrowly beat teammate Jack Beckman by .0013 seconds at the 20th annual O'Reilly NHRA Mid-South Nationals at Memphis Motorsports Park.

Scelzi and teammate "Fast Jack" Beckman's Funny Car capper was even closer than the Pro Stock finale as the two title contenders were separated by a mere .0013 seconds at the other end. The two left within five-thousandths of a second of one another before virtually staying glued together all the way down the strip. In the end, Scelzi's Mopar/Oakley Dodge Charger had barely inched ahead of Beckman's Mail Terminal Services Dodge Charger R/T to take the closest race of eliminations, 4886 at 314.61 mph to Beckman's 4.892 at 310.55 mph.

"We came into this race thinking we'd better go to the final or win if we want to stay alive in the Countdown," Scelzi said. "The first step was to get into the top four. Now we need to build on that. We're in fourth but it's very bunched up. This is exactly what NHRA wanted and right now it's pretty damn exciting."

It was a day both men needed as Scelzi went from seventh to fourth in the Countdown to Four standings. Beckman's runner-up finish lifted him from fifth to second place, just 53 off the lead held by Robert Hight.

Top Fuel pilot Melanie Troxel had the hardest road to the trophy stand as she had to take out three of the men in the Countdown to Four Top Fuel field, including Bob Vandergriff Jr., Brandon Bernstein, and Doug Herbert in the final. She ran 4.728 at 313.22 mph in her Vietnam Veterans/POW-MIA dragster against Herbert's 4.901 at 290.57 mph in the Snap-on Tools rail.

"I'm becoming more and more disappointed with not making the Countdown and it's been tough but I stand by my decision to not ask my teammate to take a dive for me," Troxel said. "You have to earn your way in and at the time we weren't running well. We just didn't quite get it turned around in time to make the field. All we can do is make the best of the situation and try to win as many races as we can down the stretch."

Top Fuel points leader Tony Schumacher was upset in Round 1 but avoided big damage in the standings when Rod Fuller and Larry Dixon both bowed out in Round 2.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Andrew Hines collected his third Memphis Motorsports Park win in a row and surged into the POWERade lead by 24 points after posting the quickest quarter-mile pass of eliminations in a final-round trouncing of Steve Johnson, who broke just off the starting line. Hines would have been tough to catch anyway, even with Johnson's huge .042-second starting line advantage, as his Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson V-Rod crossed the stripe in 6.917 at 192.91 mph.

"To win here three years in a row doesn't get much better," Hines said. "I guess the Countdown deal is working in our favor now but if I had it my way I'd leave it the way it was, even though I probably wouldn't have the points lead right now. We're pretty secure in the Countdown to One now so hopefully we can roll this win over to Dallas and just keep rolling."

This is the first time this season that Hines has been atop the points. With one Pro Stock Motorcycle race to go in the Countdown to Four, Hines will clinch a spot in the final four-bike field of the Countdown to One by simply qualifying for next weekend's Dallas event.

MILLINGTON, Tenn. -- Sunday's final results from the 20th annual O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals presented by Pennzoil at Memphis Motorsports Park. The race is the 19th of 23 in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series:

Top Fuel -- Melanie Troxel, 4.728 seconds, 313.22 mph def. Doug Herbert, 4.901 seconds, 290.57 mph.

Funny Car -- Gary Scelzi, Dodge Charger, 4.886, 314.61 def. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.892, 310.55.

Pro Stock -- Dave Connolly, Chevy Cobalt, 6.648, 207.59 def. Greg Anderson, Pontiac GTO, 6.658, 208.65.

Pro Stock Motorcycle -- Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.917, 192.91 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, broke.

Super Stock -- Nick Morris, Ford Mustang, 11.013, 118.79 def. Tony Rhodes Jr, Chevy II, 10.797, 120.37.

Stock Eliminator -- Jimmy Hidalgo Jr, Pontiac Firebird, 10.560, 121.05 def. Edmond Richardson, Chevy Camaro, 10.569, 124.29.

Super Comp -- Terry Edwards, Dragster, 8.922, 172.23 def. Jeff Cheney, Dragster, 8.934, 170.43.

Super Gas -- Caffey Broadus, Dodge Dart, 9.892, 146.77 def. Ron Erks, Chevy Corvette, 9.888, 165.70.

Final qualifying


1 1 Tony Schumacher, Long Grove IL, Hadman-TFX 4.564 313.73 325.45
2 3 Brandon Bernstein, Fairview TX, McKinney-TFX 4.566 326.71 327.35
3 91 Larry Dixon, Indianapolis IN, McKinney-TFX 4.568 318.77 318.77
4 73 Whit Bazemore, Eugene OR, Hadman-TFX 4.568 297.61 320.13
5 11 Doug Herbert, Lincolnton NC, McKinney-BAE 4.569 313.44 320.20
6 4 Melanie Troxel, Avon IN, Hadman-TFX 4.575 321.96 323.89
7 743 Morgan Lucas, Brownsburg IN, Hadman-TFX 4.582 320.28 323.66
8 5 Rod Fuller, Las Vegas NV, Hadman-TFX 4.583 321.81 321.81
9 9 Cory McClenathan, Lake Havasu City AZ, Hadman- 4.585 321.42 321.42
10 8 J.R. Todd, Avon IN, Hadman-TFX 4.587 316.52 316.52
11 12 Bob Vandergriff, Alpharetta GA, McKinney-BAE 4.589 317.12 317.12
12 2 Doug Kalitta, Ypsilanti MI, Attac-TFX 4.608 322.42 322.42
13 255 Clay Millican, Drummonds TN, Hadman-BAE 4.612 326.16 326.16
14 6 David Grubnic, Ypsilanti MI, Attac-TFX 4.624 318.17 318.17
15 10 Hillary Will, Ypsilanti MI, Attac-TFX 4.648 307.58 318.24
16 1301 Doug Foley, Sewell NJ, Attac-TFX 4.925 213.16 213.16

------------ Not Qualified ------------

17 394 Luigi Novelli, Crete IL, McKinney-TFX 6.078 157.21 157.21


1 2 Robert Hight, Yorba Linda CA, '06 Mustang 4.762 320.36 320.36
2 7321 Ashley Force, Yorba Linda CA, '06 Mustang 4.810 316.38 316.38
3 33 Tommy Johnson Jr., Avon IN, '07 Impala 4.812 314.39 314.39
4 1 John Force, Yorba Linda CA, '05 Mustang 4.818 317.05 317.05
5 711 Jack Beckman, North Hills CA, '07 Charger 4.832 313.07 313.73
6 5 Tony Pedregon, Brownsburg IN, '07 Impala 4.840 316.38 316.38
7 782 Gary Densham, Bellflower CA, '07 Impala 4.849 287.72 309.06
8 319 Scott Kalitta, Ypsilanti MI, '07 Solara 4.852 311.85 311.85
9 427 Tony Bartone, Long Island City NY, '05 Monte C 4.855 315.12 315.12
10 7 Gary Scelzi, Fresno CA, '07 Charger 4.867 315.34 315.34
11 28 Ron Capps, Carlsbad CA, '07 Charger 4.869 311.70 315.34
12 729 Jerry Toliver, Temecula CA, '07 Solara 4.887 304.80 304.80
13 10 Cruz Pedregon, Camarillo CA, '05 Impala 4.890 305.98 305.98
14 404 Kenny Bernstein, Fairview TX, '07 Charger 4.897 309.98 309.98
15 750 Del Worsham, Chino Hills CA, '07 Impala 4.915 314.46 314.46
16 170 Jeff Arend, San Dimas CA, '07 Impala 4.915 309.84 309.84

------------ Not Qualified ------------

17 388 Jim Head, Galena OH, '07 Solara 4.916 315.19 319.37
18 180 Mike Ashley, Melville NY, '07 Charger 4.916 311.13 311.13
19 347 Tim Wilkerson, Springfield IL, '07 Impala 4.930 311.49 311.49


1 103 Max Naylor, New Buffalo PA, '07 Stratus 6.594@ 207.37 207.37
2 1 Jason Line, Mooresville NC, '06 GTO 6.596 208.68 208.68
3 2 Greg Anderson, Mooresville NC, '06 GTO 6.598 209.17& 209.17
4 3 Dave Connolly, Elyria OH, '07 Cobalt 6.601 208.23 208.23
5 9 Richie Stevens, New Orleans LA, '07 Stratus 6.605 207.91 207.91
6 6 Allen Johnson, Greeneville TN, '07 Stratus 6.607 207.85 208.07
7 25 Jeg Coughlin, Mooresville NC, '07 Cobalt 6.619 207.98 207.98
8 5 Kurt Johnson, Sugar Hill GA, '07 Cobalt 6.625 208.04 208.04
9 7 Jim Yates, Occoquan VA, '06 GTO 6.626 206.99 207.56
10 4 Mike Edwards, Coweta OK, '06 GTO 6.632 207.88 207.88
11 357 Larry Morgan, Newark OH, '07 Stratus 6.637 207.66 207.66
12 10 V. Gaines, Lakewood CO, '07 Stratus 6.640 207.69 207.98
13 334 Craig Hankinson, Newark OH, '06 GTO 6.646 207.46 207.46
14 351 Ron Krisher, Warren OH, '07 Cobalt 6.646 207.43 207.62
15 208 Warren Johnson, Sugar Hill GA, '06 GTO 6.654 207.30 207.91
16 8 Greg Stanfield, Bossier City LA, '06 GTO 6.655 207.50 207.69

------------ Not Qualified ------------

17 1186 Dave Northrop, Perkasie PA, '06 GTO 6.678 207.30 207.30
18 30 Steve Schmidt, Indianapolis IN, '07 Cobalt 6.691 206.04 206.04
19 701 Ben Watson, Concord CA, '06 GTO 6.699 204.88 204.88
20 324 Bill Glidden, Whiteland IN, '06 GTO 6.704 205.54 205.54
21 20 Tom Hammonds, Crestview FL, '07 Cobalt 6.719 205.29 205.29
22 107 Kenny Koretsky, Richboro PA, '07 Cobalt 6.726 206.07 206.07
23 1568 Justin Humphreys, Monrovia MD, '06 GTO 6.762 203.92 203.92
24 6157 Todd Hoerner, Deer Park WA, '06 GTO 6.895 202.15 202.15


1 4 Chip Ellis, Plains GA, Buell 6.892 193.21 193.21
2 1 Andrew Hines, Brownsburg IN, Harley V-Rod 6.915 192.99 192.99
3 499 Peggy Llewellyn, San Antonio TX, Buell 6.955 191.35 191.35
4 748 Chris Rivas, Fresno CA, Buell 6.956 190.70 190.70
5 3 Angelle Sampey, Brownsburg IN, Suzuki GSXR 6.958 191.76 191.76
6 5 Matt Smith, King NC, Buell 6.961 191.40 191.40
7 2 Antron Brown, Brownsburg IN, Suzuki GSXR 6.965 191.57 191.57
8 10 Craig Treble, Hensley AR, Suzuki GSXR 6.989 192.49 192.49
9 9 Geno Scali, Lake in the Hills IL, Suzuki 6.996 192.49 192.49
10 88 Eddie Krawiec, Brownsburg IN, Harley V-Rod 6.996 189.90 189.90
11 25 Matt Guidera, Rocklin CA, Buell 7.002 189.39 189.39
12 235 Hector Arana, Milltown IN, Buell 7.015 190.11 190.11
13 751 Steve Johnson, Irondale AL, Suzuki 7.029 190.27 191.00
14 6 Karen Stoffer, Smith NV, Suzuki 7.043 190.08 190.08
15 573 Mike Berry, Littleton CO, Suzuki 7.065 188.20 188.20
16 302 Barry Henson, Nicholasville KY, Suzuki 7.115 187.86 187.86

------------ Not Qualified ------------

17 412 Michael Phillips, Baton Rouge LA, Suzuki GSXR 7.133 187.63 187.63
18 205 Shawn Gann, Stoneville NC, Suzuki 7.160 187.60 187.60
19 310 Joe DeSantis, Rootstown OH, Suzuki 7.180 187.76 187.76
20 408 Jim Randolph, Theriot LA, Suzuki 7.192 188.94 188.94
21 413 Michael Ray, New Braunfels TX, Buell 7.302 177.95 177.95

Friday qualifying


At a track known for it's domination by John Force, it's was his daughter, rookie sensation Ashley Force, who was is in prime position to add a No.1 qualifier to her fathers stellar seven No.1 qualifiers, five win career at Memphis Motorsports Park at the 20th annual O'Reilly Mid-South NHRA Nationals with a steady 4.810 at 316.38 mph.
Force shares her 4.810 second at 316.38 mph provisional low qualifier podium with points leaders Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel) and Dave Connolly (Pro Stock) as well as red-hot Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Chip Ellis.

Force's run completed a sweep of the top three qualifying positions by John Force Racing Funny Cars. It's been a banner week for the 24-year-old daughter of drag racing legend John Force as she was voted the "Hottest Athlete" in the country by AOL readers, which prompted a guest appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Monday evening. Now she's set to complete the best qualifying session of her rookie campaign.

"The most exciting thing of today is getting down the track both times," said Force, who opened with a 4.905 in her Castrol GTX Ford Mustang. "When you get down the track it allows the guys to push it harder in the next run because you know you're in and you can afford to try things. To have all three of our cars at the top really has everyone pumped up and excited, especially dad [John Force] and his crew because they've been really down after not qualifying in Indy.

Tony Schumacher
"Being No. 1 is really cool but I would trade it for a win in a second. I keep having people come up and congratulate me on winning the AOL deal. That was a neat contest but the win I want is on the racetrack. I told the guys we have to win one so the AOL thing isn't our only win of the year."

Ashley's teammates Robert Hight and John Force, her famous father, follow in second and third place, respectively, making it a sweep for John Force Racing. Hight is just one thousandth of a second back with a 4.811 in his Auto Club of Southern California Ford, while Force posted a 4.821 in his Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang.

Top Fuel leader Schumacher used the last pairing of the day to grab the No. 1 position away from early frontrunner Brandon Bernstein. Schumacher's 4.565 at 325.45 mph in the U.S. Army dragster was just enough to put him out front once again. Should the time hold it will mark Schumacher's ninth pole of the season. Bernstein's hot rod wound up fourth with a best of 4.573 at 327.35 mph.

"It won't hold up if it's in the 70s tomorrow like they're saying," Schumacher said. "But if the track can hold more we should be able to get more. We were soft just now in the middle so we have room to improve. I'm sure there are other teams saying the same thing."

Dave Connolly
Winner of the last two national events, Pro Stock top qualifier Connolly remains the hottest driver in the class after a track record 6.673 at 205.26 mph in his Torco Chevrolet Cobalt.

"Indy was a big race for us and a big win, especially with the Countdown to Four starting and there only being four races until the next cutoff," Connolly said. "So to come in here and pick it up where we were leaving Indy is exciting."

Chip Ellis
Pro Stock Motorcycle leader Ellis knocked half a tenth off the former MMP elapsed time record with his 6.997 at 187.44 mph on his Drag Specialties S&S Buell V-Twin. And he did it without the help of crew chief George Smith, who was grounded in route from Wisconsin when his airplane flew through a flock of birds.

"It's been a crazy day but I like how it ended," Ellis said. "George called and we talked about what to do and he said, 'Handle it.' So that's what we did. I tuned the thing and George Bryce came over and did the clutch and it all worked out."


2006 National events

Winterational's coverage is here (Pomona)
CSK National's coverage is here (Phoenix)
Gatornational's coverage is here (Gainesville)
O'Reilly National's coverage is here (Houston)
Summit National's coverage is here (Las Vegas)
Thunder Valley National's coverage is here (Bristol)
Southern National's coverage is here (Atlanta)
Pontiac Performance National's coverage is here (Columbus)
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CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals coverage is here (Chicago)
K&N Filters SuperNationals coverage is here (Englishtown)
O'Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals coverage is here (St.Louis)
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Schuck's Auto Supply NHRA Nationals coverage is here (Seattle)
Fram Autolite NHRA Nationals coverage is here (Sonoma)
Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals coverage is here (Brainerd)
O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals coverage is here (Memphis)
Mac Tools U.S. Nationals coverage is here (Indy)
O'Reilly NHRA Fall Nationals coverage is here (Dallas)
Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals coverage is here (Reading)
Torco Racing Fuels NHRA Nationals coverage is here (Virginia)
ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals coverage is here (Las Vegas)
Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals coverage is here (Pomona)


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