Brown, Beckman, Enders, Krawiec win at the inaugural AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park.
Antron Brown and Spencer Massey were literally tied for the season championship as they faced off in the Top Fuel final. In a great side-by-side race to the finish, Antron Brown edged out Massey by a half a car length for the victory and moved in the points lead. This is Brown’s second Top Fuel win at Gateway Motorsport Park.
Brown had a great weekend at Gateway, setting a track record Friday night, winning top qualifier on Saturday and winning the race on Sunday. And now he is the points leader and appears to be on a real roll going into the last three races.
“We hit a grand slam,” said Brown in the shadows of Cardinals stadium. “It was a great week. The competition is very very competitive [in Top Fuel] but we had enough to sneak away the win.”
Brown and Massey race cars are owned by Don Schumacher Racing.
“Both guys in the final makes it pressure free,” said Don Schumacher.
Once again, it was an all Team Schumacher final in Funny car and it was won by Jack Beckman over Matt Hagen in a bizzare final.
“Wow,” said Jack Beckman describing the Funny Car final. “Not what I was expecting.”
Matt Hagen “red-lighted,” started way early, slipped down the track as his car briefly started on fire. Meanwhile, Beckman was able to pass Hagen and avoid all the action to the win. For Beckman he is now one 30 points behind Ron Capps for the overall Season championship in Funny Car.
This was Beckham’s third win in three final appearances in 2012. It was his 15 career victory.
The Pro Stock finals pitted Allan Johnson, the season points leader against Erika Enders and it was photo finish at the end with Enders winning by 4 thousands of second with a 6.540 E.T. and 211.79 mph. Enders who won holeshot 6.538 to 6.540 which helped to her 4th win of the season and she now moves into third place in the season points championship.
This year, Enders became the first female to win a NHRA Pro Stock National Event. She is from Texas and earlier this year she lost to Allen Johnson in her “home” race at Dallas.
“I told him it was our turn this week,” said Enders.
This is Enders first Countdown playoff victory and her first vicotry at Gateway Motorsports Park.
Pro Stock Motorcycle
The all Harley Pro Stock Motorcycle final was won by Andrew Krawiec after his teammate Adrew Hines “red-lighted” at the start of the race.
The weekend was dominated by the Arana father and son duo who were the top qualifiers. But both lost in the semi-final races on Sunday. The win for Krawiec was especially challenging because his team had the change the engine twice trying to fix a transmission problem.
“Today was not easy,” said Krawiec.
The team got it right for his last pass and he maintained his season point lead over Andrew Hines by 33 points.
Gateway Motorsports Park New Owner, Curtis Francois, Pleased With Turnout
The racing, the crowds and the weather were all nearly perfect for the rebirth of NHRA racing in St. Louis.
“Most of all it was a great event for the fans,” said Francois. “The fans all showed back up”
The Saturday qualifying event was nearly sold out according to Francois and for the Sunday finals the grandstands were packed despite stiff competition from Cardinals and Rams who were both home just a few miles away from Gateway.
The drag strip was repaved and the facilities across the board have been improved since Francois took over Gateway.
“The track improvements made for great racing,” said Francois.
Friday night, all the major track records were broken. Many of the drivers commented all throughout the weekend on how racing conditions and track surfaced really improved the race competition.
It was less than 12 months ago when Francois began his talks with NHRA officials about coming back to Gateway. Francois was given a choice of three dates.
“Being from St. Louis, I knew fall is the best time of year,” said Francois.
The NHRA will once again return next year at Gateway on September 27-29, 2013.
“We are here to stay,” said a jubilent Francois
Story by: Kevin Proot
Photos by: Larry Vancil
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