Top Fuel veteran Terry McMillen piloted his dragster to his first career victory Sunday at the 17th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also earned victories in their respective categories at the fifth of six playoff events during the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship.
McMillen raced to his first winner’s circle with a pass of 3.870-seconds at 253.99 in his AMALIE Motor Oil XTERMIGATOR after Brittany Force red-lit in her Monster Energy dragster. He becomes the 104th different Top Fuel winner after 195 career starts.
“This is the stuff you dream of as a small kid,” McMillen stated. “To have that opportunity to go out there and get that win is truly an amazing feeling. Hats off to my crew. This is the first time in a long time where the turn arounds were really quick, and they turned around that car flawlessly. The car was really quick on the starting line, lights were good and it all just fell into place.”
On his way to victory, McMillen defeated Richie Crampton, Clay Millican and Shawn Langdon. Force took down Shawn Reed, Doug Kalitta and Leah Pritchett before entering the finals. She remains second in points overall heading into the final event of the season, trailing leader Steve Torrence by 20 markers.
Hagan powered his Pennzoil Dodge Charger R/T to his first career victory at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway after a run of 3.942 at 329.42 defeating Courtney Force’s 4.020 at 320.05 in her Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro. This is Hagan’s fourth victory of the season and 26th of his career.
“There’s no replacement for the feeling of winning,” Hagan said. “That’s a fix you can’t get nowhere else. My guys busted tail all day. We had a car that went down the track every run we’ve been here. I was just trying not to mess it up.”
His route to victory included win lights against Gary Densham, Del Worsham and teammate Jack Beckman. Force faced Jeff Arend, Alexis DeJoria and category points leader Robert Hight before entering her third final round in the Countdown.
No. 1 qualifier in Pro Stock Anderson, raced his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro to victory for the fourth time this season with a pass of 6.698 at 204.70 defeating KB Racing teammate Bo Butner. Anderson secured his fifth career victory at this event and 90th of his career.
Category points leader Anderson sits 40 points ahead of teammate and defending world champion Jason Line. Butner rounds out the top three.
“The ultimate scenario for us at KB Racing was to eliminate the Gray team over there,” Anderson said. “Didn’t think it would happen because they are great race car drivers, but somehow we found a way and we outlasted them today. They’re now not a part of the equation when we go to Pomona. Now we’re just going to have to go out there and settle it among ourselves.”
Anderson raced Alan Prusiensky, Chris McGaha and Line on the way to his 11th final around appearance this season. Butner bested Shane Tucker, Alan Johnson and Drew Skillman before losing to Anderson.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, category points leader Krawiec rode his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson to a 6.924 at 193.16 defeating Hector Arana Jr. This is his third career victory at this event, seventh of the season and 43rd of his career.
“My motorcycle has been a pleasure to ride,” Krawiec stated. “I’ve got a great group of guys behind me. That make tune-up calls and make the bike as good as it is. By no means is it just one person. It’s really about the whole crew that those guys do for me and give me the opportunity to have a bike that can win a race is really something special.”
Krawiec’s road to victory was lined with wins over John Hall, Angelle Sampey and Scotty Pollacheck. The win puts him 150 points ahead of LE Tonglet who remains second. Arana Jr. rode past Katie Sullivan, Mike Berry and Tonglet.
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series concludes at the final event of the season at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Nov. 9-12, with the 53rd annual Auto Club NHRA Finals.