MADISON, Ill – The cream didn’t necessarily rise to the top in the Mello Yello NHRA Drag Racing Series final eliminations at the World Wide Technology Raceway near St. Louis on Sunday. With this being the second of the six race Countdown for the Championship races, it’s surprising how the early rounds played out.
Four of the top five drivers in the Top Fuel standings were all bounced by time we got to the semifinals in front of a capacity crowd on Sunday afternoon. In Funny Car competition, five of the top six in their points standings were all ousted in either the first or second rounds as well.
For Top Fuel, points leader Doug Kalitta only made it to the second round after being defeated by Billy Torrence. Kalitta, beat his teammate Richie Crampton in Round 1 in a rematch of the Reading finals. The veteran had made it to the final round in each of the last two races, but for the sixth time in the last nine races, he does fail to make it to at least the semifinals.
Second in the points Brittany Force had an issue on her opening round pass and was upset by Pat Dakin. The was Force’s first, first round defeat since Epping (7 races) but the fifth time in the last six races that she failed to at least make the semifinals herself. She was 6-2 vs. Dakin heading into that matchup.
Antron Brown lost in the first round for the fourth time in the last five races and eight of the last 10 that he failed to get to the semifinals.
Austin Prock lost in the second round to Leah Pritchett for the first time since Sonoma that he didn’t make the semis.
It was an interesting opening couple of rounds to say the least.
In Funny Car, points leader Jack Beckman won the last race in Reading but was a first round exit Sunday in St. Louis. He was defeated by JR Todd. This was Beckman’s first time that he lost in the opening round since Epping (7 races) after reaching the finals in each of the last two races prior.
Todd, also knocked off second in the points John Force in the second round as Force came to this weekend with three final round appearance in the last four races and four times he’s made the semifinals in the last five overall.
Ron Capps was also defeated in the second round for the second time in the last five races that he failed to get to the semis. Tommy Johnson Jr. and Matt Hagan were both eliminated in the first round themselves.
Johnson, has lost in the first round in three straight races now and four in the last five. Hagan, was upset by No. 15 Jim Campbell for Campbell’s first win of the season. That was a big upset there.