The NHRA MelloYellow Drag Racing Series crisscrosses the U.S., making 24 stops in 21 cities over the course of 10 months.
The infamous Billy Meyers Motorplex, located halfway between Ennis and Waxahachie, is one of the 24 stops and was the second in the Countdown Series of races that eventually determines the championship in all the pro categories.
The Metroplex is a part of the sectioned tracts that are located in Division Four, which is made up of Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. When there is a national event held at the Metorplex, not only do the Professional Classes, Pro Stock, Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock Bike participate, but all the Sportsman categories from the three-state region attend vying for points that lead to the final championship.
Itis a big thing that happens just nine miles from our front door. The gates opened Thursday and the Sportsman classes started registration and qualifying. Friday the rains came and washed out the first two rounds of qualifying for the Pro Classes.
NHRA Safety Safari worked continually to get the track in race condition and to no one’s surprise, did just that. The sun came out on Saturday and the weekend weather was perfect for racing.
In the first round of Top Fuel, Antron Brown rebounded from his DNQ last week and put Brandon Bernstein on the trailer with a 3.857 ET. Spencer Massey sent Brown home in the next round only to see Doug Kalitta in the semifinals. Kalitta won the tight match to go to the finals.
On the other side of the bracket Shawn Langdon was on a tear. He took care of T.J. Zizzo, Bob Vandergriff and Morgan Lucas, in that order. Langdon had a 3.767 ET and a top speed of 325.53 mph in just 1,000 feet.
But in the finals Kalitta won with a 3.842 ET.
Funny Car had a crazy final. Robert Hight had a low 4.052 ET and a top speed of 313.37 in the first round. However, after winning the second round, he found himself facing his boss, John Force. The legendary Force went on to get the victory.
Hagan and Beckman fell early and Cruz Pedregon made his way to the final round from the other side of the bracket. Force and Pedregon both have good reaction times, but Force got on a groove and lit up the tires on the top end.
Cruz has a solid run and keeps the candles lit to take the Wally.
Pro Stock had its moments with Erica Enders-Steven’s new camaro and sponsor Husky Lines. She qualified fourth and faced V. Gaines in round two. Enders-Steven had a .008 reaction time and Gaines a .010, but Gaines still won 6.596 to 6.604. That’s about four inches at the finish line.
Gaines then lost to Jason Line in the semifinals. This is the 65th final round appearance of Line’s career, third of the 2013 season, and second at the Motorplex. Shane Gray made his way to the finals as well. It was a good race and Line won 6.590 ET to 6.595. Line left Ennis with the points lead.
Now everyone packs up and heads to St Louis. There are three more races before the final meeting at Pomona.
Coughlin inches closer
Pro Stock driver Jeg Coughlin Jr. had a simple game plan for the AAA Texas NHRA Nationals on Sunday at Texas Motorplex: Qualify well and run deep into Sunday’s eliminations.
That game plan didn’t exactly go as imagined, but Coughlin nearly left Texas Motorplex with the Pro Stock points lead after a semifinal finish.
“Coming into the second race of the Countdown, our goal was to come in with a strong game plan and see if we could execute it,” Coughlin said. “We were looking for a good qualifying position and a great effort on Sunday.”
After two qualifying sessions were rained out Friday, Coughlin snared the No. 10 position for eliminations. That was no obstacle for the four-time champion, as he’s the only professional driver in NHRA history to win from all 16 qualifying spots.
Then after Mike Edwards fell to Larry Morgan in the first round, a door opened for Coughlin to take the points lead. He did by winning in the second round, but after Coughlin lost in the semifinals, Jason Line’s race victory propelled him to the lead.
“Being 10 points behind the points leader coming into the race, when Mike Edwards went out first round, that gave us an opportunity to make up some ground,” Coughlin said. “To bow out in the semis was untimely. We felt like we had a great car, and I felt great behind the wheel.”
Coughlin had a .028-second reaction time against Greg Anderson in the first round and a .013 light in the second round against Rickie Jones.
But against Shane Gray in the semifinals, Coughlin was .066 on the Christmas Tree, compared to Gray’s .029. Gray then made the slower pass of 6.620 seconds at 210.01 mph but held off Coughlin’s 6.601-second run at 210.47 mph.
“I just didn’t give it enough respect, quite honestly, and I guess that’s a wake-up call,” said Coughlin, who has a class-record 89 holeshot wins in his brilliant career. “Sometimes you get away with them, and sometimes you don’t. Today, we didn’t.”
Still, Coughlin is second in the points standings, only eight behind Line as the series heads to the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals next weekend at Gateway Motorsports Park.
“There’s a lot of racing left,” Coughlin said, “and we’re looking forward to each and every one of them.”
Coughlin’s day started with a matchup of four-time Pro Stock champions, and after both had identical reaction times, the race was determined by elapsed time. Coughlin’s was better, 6.566 seconds at 210.60 mph to Anderson’s 6.585 at 210.60 mph.
“We had a monster, monster matchup with Greg Anderson,” Coughlin said. “We needed to get by him. He’s in this Countdown hunt, as is his teammate and seven others. It was a huge, huge matchup. I knew based on our qualifying effort, we could run with him or even outrun him.”