Tuesday May 24th, 2016 12:00PM

Four score first time US Nationals wins at Indianapolis

By Pete McCole
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BROWNSBURG, IN - Alexis DeJoria made history on Monday as the fourth woman driver ever to win US Nationals, as the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series wrapped up their regular season with the 60th running of drag racing's most prestigious event at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis, IN.<br /> <br /> DeJoria was one of four first-time winners were crowned on Monday as Richie Crampton (Top Fuel), Shane Gray (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also celebrated their first-career US Nationals victories.<br /> <br /> In the final regular season event before the Countdown to the Championship begins, the final few precious spots in the 10-driver playoff series were up for grabs in all four division, with the race for one of the last slots coming down to the finals.<br /> <br /> DeJoria took home her third-career Wally in her first-ever finals appearance in the US Nationals, but to get the win she had to take down 16-time Funny Car champion and four-time US Nationals winner John Force.<br /> <br /> DeJoria advanced past Cruz Pedregon and Blake Alexander before barely edging John Force's daughter Courtney in the semi-finals to move on to John Force, who was making his sixth-straight final round of the season.<br /> <br /> In the final round, DeJoria took the early lead with a .037 light and had a full car-length advantage over Force as the 330-foot mark. Force began to close the gap, but ended up a half car-length short at the finish line with DeJoria going 4.038, 310.34 mph over Force's 4.039, 319.67 mph.<br /> <br /> "It's huge (to win the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals)," said DeJoria. "I was just happy to make it to another semifinal - that was four in a row. To make it past the semifinals, that was huge, but to win this race just builds our confidence even more and in me especially."<br /> <br /> Although Force lost out on another US Nationals title, he leaves Indy as the points leader, starting the Countdown with a 30-point lead over teammate and son-in-law Robert Hight.<br /> <br /> Jack Beckman, who came into Monday's eliminations was the second qualifier, was upset in the opening round by Alexander and missed out a chance to make the Countdown, as Tim Wilkerson advanced to the second round to claim the 10th and final spot in the points battle.<br /> <br /> In Top Fuel, Adelaide, Australia native Richie Crampton collected his second win of his career with a victory over Steve Torrence in their first-ever career final round meeting.<br /> <br /> Crampton, an NHRA rookie who spent the previous seven years working at the shop for Morgan Lucas Racing, was the fourth qualifier coming into Monday's eliminations and finished runner-up in the $100,000 Traxxas Nitro Shootout on Saturday.<br /> <br /> Making just his second-career final round start, Crampton was first off the line and steadily pulled away out to a four car-length advantage at the finish, running 3.766 at 327.98 mph over Torrence, who went 3.799, 327.872 mph to finish runner-up in the US National for the second straight year.<br /> <br /> "Steve-O (Torrence) is one of my great friends out here and he beat me at the Brainerd race," said Crampton, who defeated Billy Torrence, Shawn Langdon and top qualifier Tony Schumacher to reach the finals. "We said to each other before the run that we were going to go out there and have some fun. It's pretty awesome that he and I got to share a final round here at the 60th Indy. If I would have been runner-up, I probably would have been almost as happy, because it's been a fantastic weekend for our team."<br /> <br /> Doug Kalitta, who came into the event as the Top Fuel points leader, will start next weeks race seeded No. 1 in the Countdown field by 30 points over Antron Brown. J.R. Todd, who only competed in 15 of the first 17 events this season, clinched the final playoff spot over Bob Vandergriff.<br /> <br /> Shane Gray picked up his first US Nationals win and his first victory of the season in the Pro Stock final, taking down three-time Indy winner and Gray Motorsports teammate Dave Connolly.<br /> <br /> Gray, who hadn't been to victory lane since winning at Las Vegas last October, won out over Shane Tucker, Allen Johnson and his brother Jonathan Gray to make just his second final round of the season.<br /> <br /> At the start of final, Connolly was first off the line with a .013 light but his Charter Camaro lost power just past the starting line, giving Gray a clean run to the finish, running 6.641, 208.42 mph for his fourth-career win.<br /> <br /> "I really can't describe this in words," said Gray. "If I've learned anything this year, I've learned that it's a lot different to go out and qualify (well) than it is to race on Sunday."<br /> <br /> Top qualifier Jason Line, who swept every round of qualifying and lost out to Connolly in the semis, will start the Countdown as the No. 1 seed in Pro Stock.<br /> <br /> The final round in Pro Stock Motorcycle final came down to two first-time finalist as three-time World Champion Eddie Krawiec defeated Jerry Savoie for his first third win of the season and 25th of his career.<br /> <br /> Starting as the No. 1 qualifier, Krawiec picked up round wins over Shawn Gann, Andrew Hines, and Hector Arana, Jr. to move onto his second-straight final round matchup versus Savoie, who was looking for a victory to secure a spot in the Countdown.<br /> <br /> In the final, Savoie got off to a slow start with a .143 reaction time giving Krawiec a huge starting line advantage that added up to a four bike-length cushion at the finish line. Krawiec went 6.941 at 192.63 mph while Savoie clocked in at 6.987, 192.58 mph.<br /> <br /> "I've been fortunate to win three championships and 25 races now and I've finally got an Indy win," said Krawiec. "I was joking that I could just step off the bike now, announce my retirement, and not run the Countdown (to the Championship). I think I'll stick around, though."<br /> <br /> Krawiec clinched the second seed in the Countdown behind teammate Andrew Hines, while Savoie's loss clinched the final playoff spot for Steve Johnson.<br /> <br /> <strong>NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series</strong><br /> <strong> Lucas Oil Raceway Park at Indianapolis
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