By Lee Elder
TOPEKA, Kan. (May 21, 2018) – Deric Kramer earned his first career NHRA Pro Stock victory when he won the Heartland Nationals presented by Minties at Heartland Motorsports Park. The event suffered through an eight-hour rain delay Sunday and the last few rounds of professional racing had to be completed a day late.
Kramer beat two-time Pro Stock champ Erica Enders in the final round.
The other Mello Yello Drag Racing Series winners were Clay Millican, who won in Top Fuel, and Courtney Force, who took the win in Funny Car.
“I’ve been working a long time for this,” Kramer said. “The first win leaves me a little speechless but I’m already looking for the next one. Always great as a driver to do your part and I’ve certainly been doing that all weekend.”
Enders is among the best starting line leavers in the business but Kramer’s .009 reaction time beat Enders’ .023 before Enders’ car slowed about mid track. Kramer never trailed in the race, clocking 6.615 seconds and 209.36 mph. A round earlier, Kramer beat three-time Pro Stock champ Jason Line.
Millican’s victory was only the second of his NHRA Top Fuel career and he beat Terry McMillen in the final round. Millican’s car generated tremendous performance, clocking a 3.727-second elapsed time and a speed of 332.59 mph. Millican, who topped the Top Fuel qualifying charts for the weekend, won for the first time this season. He beat Doug Kalitta and Tony Schumacher on the way to the final round.
“The car has been really good,” Millican said. “Pretty much didn’t matter what I did because that car was going to win today. It’s just awesome with all of the work (crew chief) David Grubnic has put in. He found some consistency which is what I’ve been saying all along.”
Force had not beaten final round opponent Robert Hight in their two previous final round meetings but her 3.928-second pass at 329.83 mph gave her the win this time. Hight left the starting line first but Hight started spinning his tires about midtrack and could not catch Force.
“We were able to get it done even with a lucky first-round win having to pedal it down there. We lost lane choice in the second round but still were able to turn the win light on and make it a little bit longer weekend. Having to run on a Monday makes for a long weekend, but it feels good to be in the winner’s circle with my team,” Force said.
Top Alcohol Dragster driver Steve Collier crashed heavily after his rail performed a classic blow over maneuver during eliminations Monday. Collier emerged from the wreckage under his own power and was being evaluated.
The front end of Collier’s car lifted off the racing surface less than halfway down the quarter-mile track and appeared to have a failed wheelie bar as the front end aimed itself toward the sky. The rear wheels lifted off the ground, the car twisted and then landed briefly right side up before rolling over on its side. The car came to a rest without hitting a wall.