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Best of the best win US Nationals at Indy IRP
Racing series NHRA
Date 2005-09-05 (Indianapolis)

By Anne Heckman - Motorsport.com​

Sunny skies and a nice breeze created a pleasant setting for the 51st annual Mac Tools US Nationals finals at Indianapolis Raceway Park. NHRA's biggest race of the year was packed with stunning upsets and exciting side by side drag racing that reached speeds of over 300 MPH in under 5 seconds. Larry Dixon, Del Worsham, Greg Anderson and Matt Smith drove to victory lane late Monday afternoon to hoist the champion trophies into the air.

Funny Car legend John Force was unable to capitalize on his first pole position of the year when he smoked the tires during his first round match-up loss to Phil Burkart Jr. Team Force saw another teammate leave the field when Tony Pedregon sped past Robert Hight in the first round.

Pedregon brother Frank had the best weekend for the family, driving his independently owned car to the Funny Car final round after beating Gary Densham, Eric Medlen and Gary Scelzi. Skoal Showdown Champion Del Worsham went for the "Double-up" bonus in the final against Pedregon. Worsham took out Jim Head, Bob Gilbertson and Whit Bazemore from the round of sixteen.

In a close race down the quarter mile, Worsham took the win light and the $50,000 in bonus money. Still glowing from the victory, Worham beamed "This was just an amazing, amazing weekend." Having a fast car all weekend tuned by his father Worsham acknowledged, "He deserves as much if not more credit than I do for all this."

Defending POWERade Champion Greg Anderson had a dominating weekend from beginning to end setting two new track records along his way to the pole position. Anderson then eliminated Bruce Allen, Dave Connolly and Allen Johnson to reach the finals. Underdog and Louisiana resident Richie Stevens took on Anderson in the finals after taking out Larry Morgan, Kurt Johnson and Mark Pawuk.

Both cars were even off the line, but Anderson's GTO was too powerful for Stevens' Stratus and Anderson won his third US Nationals in a row. Anderson also extended his POWERade points lead as his closest competitors Kurt Johnson, Warren Johnson and Jason Line went out in early rounds.

Erica Enders made Pro Stock history as the first female in 34 years to make the US Nationals field. Enders explained "I really don't think about it like that. I've always said once you put the helmet on everything is equal." However Enders is appreciative of the attention and significance of her team's accomplishments. "It's great that we're setting all kinds of records for women in the sport this year." Her day was cut short though in a first round loss to "Trickie" Rickie Smith on a holeshot.

Smith's son Matt captured the Pro Stock Motorcycle trophy. Smith, riding a Buell motorcycle he's only had a few days, eliminated Chris Rivas, Chip Ellis and Matt Guidera. There was no Ringers Pro Bike Battle "Double-Up" bonus for GT Tonglet who lost to Guidera in the first round. Tonglet's teammate, points leader and number one qualifier Andrew Hines also lost in the first round on a red light foul to Joe DeSantis.

The powerhouse Army team of Angelle Sampey and Antron Brown were also kept out of the finals. Geno Scali eliminated Brown in the first round and Sampey lost in the semi-finals to Steve Johnson.

Although Johnson beat Smith off the start line, Smith powered past him to get the win by a margin of .0013 seconds, his first win ever in Pro Stock Motorcycle. Grinning from ear to ear Smith predicted "I think I'll sleep with a smile tonight."

The championship points battle in Top Fuel is so intense it was hard to tell if Tony Schumacher was more excited about making it to the final round or watching points leader Doug Kalitta get eliminated on a red light foul in the second round. Schumacher beat Jack Beckman, Rod Fuller and David Grubnic to reach the finals. There he met Indianapolis resident Larry Dixon who eliminated Scott Weis, Cory McClenathan and Doug Herbert.

Dixon captured his third US Nationals in the only final round battle that wasn't close. Schumacher smoked the tires early in the run as Dixon blasted to the finish line at 326.7 MPH. Proud of his team's accomplishments, Dixon shared "It's Indy. This race is everything. To be the team in the winner's circle, this is bigger than winning the championship."

Giving credit to the dragster he defeated Dixon said "Alan Johnson is just really strong right now. Tony and Alan have owned this track for so long." In an emotional tribute, Dixon dedicated the victory to his dad who is currently being treated for cancer. "I'm really happy he got to be here for this."

POWERade teams have a weekend off before they travel to Reading, PA for the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals held September 15-18 at Maple Grove Raceway.

Source, http://www.motorsport.com/news/article.asp?ID=199793

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Rumor has it that Pontiac is building a GTO Funny Car mold for Don Prudhomme's team -- which has a long history of Pontiac and GMC support. Right now, they're running Monte Carlos -- which Chevrolet will give to anyone who wants one. Since the factory GTO's aero numbers are so good -- it should work well.

BTW, John Force's aero guy Tim Gibson STILL can't dial in the 2005 Mustang design -- which is why they're still running last year's body style.
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