Vandergriff Earns First Top Fuel Win
ENNIS, Texas – Cruz Pedregon raced to his first win of the season and moved into the third spot in the Funny Car point standings as racing came to an end Sunday at the AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals at Texas Motorplex.
Bob Vandergriff, Jason Line and Michael Phillips were also winners in their respective categories at the second of six races in the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship, the six-race playoffs to determine the world championships.
Pedregon held off an impressive line-up of cars to reach the final round, driving his Toyota Camry past Todd Simpson, Bob Tasca and Melanie Troxel on his way to a final round matchup with Ron Capps. In the final Pedregon drove to an impressive 4.200 seconds at 302.48 mph past Capps to secure his first win of the season and 29th of his career. The win also propelled Pedregon from fourth to third in the point standings, just seven points behind leader Mike Neff with four races left in the season.
“I think this is probably the best race car I’ve ever had,” said Pedregon. “I felt a little more pressure on myself that here we had such a great car that if we don’t come out of here with a win, boy, we’re really going to be hurting. But it was great to win finally.”
Funny Car points leader Neff lost in the first round to second-place driver in the standings Matt Hagan. Hagan was unable to get around Melanie Troxel in the second round though and only four points separate first-place Neff from Hagan.
In Top Fuel, Vandergriff raced to his first win in his 14th final round appearance, ending the longest streak of final round appearances before a win in NHRA history. Vandergriff powered his dragster to a 4.243 at 238.44 to hold of hometown favorite Spencer Massey in the final round.
Massey’s final round appearance moved him to the top of the Top Fuel standings, just seven points ahead of second-place driver Antron Brown, who fell to Massey in the semifinal round of eliminations. Massey is the 41st different driver in NHRA history to lead the points in Top Fuel.
In a repeat matchup from the Pro Stock final round in Charlotte just one week previous Jason Line and Kurt Johnson met again in the finals, but this time it was Line who powered his Pontiac GXP to a 6.633 at 208.46 to get his fifth win of the season and 26th of his career. The win also helped strengthen Line’s lead to 112 points over second-place driver and KB Racing teammate Greg Anderson, who lost in the first round.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Phillips held off rookie rider and Mac Tools U.S. Nationals winner Hector Arana Jr. when he rode his Suzuki to a run of 6.979 at 194.96 to secure his first win in over a year and move up to the seventh spot in the point standings. Arana Jr. moved to the third spot in the standings with his runner-up finish to Phillips.
NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing will return to action next week at the Auto-Plus® NHRA Nationals, Sept. 29-Oct. 2 at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa.