2021 NHRA U.S. NATIONALS - PRO STOCK NOTEBOOK
PRO STOCK NOTEBOOK
REIGNING PRO STOCK WORLD CHAMP ERICA ENDERS WINS U.S. NATIONALS FOR SECOND YEAR IN A ROW - Erica Enders has established greatness in NHRA’s Pro Stock class, winning four world championships in 2014-15 and 2019-20.
Now, she’s becoming a legend on the sport’s biggest stage – the U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway Park in Indianapolis.
Enders won the Big Go for the third time in her career Sunday on a holeshot over Kyle Koretsky.
Enders clocked a 6.626-second elapsed time at 206.01 mph, while Koretsky had a quicker 6.613-second elapsed time at 206.35 mph.
The difference was at the starting line as Enders has a .024 reaction time, while Koretsky was .040 on the tree.
“This is a dream come true,” Enders said. “As a kid, I raced here in 1994 as a 9-year-old at the inaugural Junior Drag Racing League Nationals. We were runner-up as I went red in the finals. This track means so much to everybody. This is Indy. Everybody talks about it, and it is hard to explain to people what it means to us. I give the good Lord all the glory.
“My team, man, I talk about them all the time, but Mark Ingersoll (Enders’ crew chief), he has all the confidence in the world in his voice and he told me that right lane don’t mean nothin’, we’re going to get right down through there and kick them right in the a** and we did that. My Elite Motorsports and Melling Performance team, they are bad to the bone, and I could not be prouder.”
This was Enders’ 32nd career Pro Stock national event win and her third at the U.S. Nationals and second in a row as she beat Matt Hartford in the 2020 finals. Her first came in 2015 when she beat Drew Skillman in the finals.
Enders is the first woman to win the U.S. Nationals – in a Pro class – three times. Only five females have won the NHRA U.S. Nationals: Shirley Muldowney in Top Fuel (1982); Angelle Sampey in Pro Stock Motorcycle (2001-2002); Ashley Force Hood (2009-2010), Alexis DeJoria (2014) in Funny Car, and Enders in Pro Stock (2015 and 2020-21).
Everything Enders accomplishes in NHRA Pro Stock sets another record for women in the class – but that’s not why she competes.
“I don’t care,” said Enders when asked if it bothered her that more women haven’t followed her lead into Pro Stock. “I don’t think about it. It is not something I dwell on. It is definitely something to talk about because I am the only one and I have been the only one, the first one to win a championship, the first won to win a round when I beat Rickie Smith back in Reading (Pa.) in 2005. You get all these records because I’m a female, but my goal is to be the best Pro Stock driver, period. There were a lot of greats before me and we definitely have a long way to go, but I don’t think about that (women following in her footsteps).
“It is a tremendously hard car to drive, and it is extremely humbling and frustrating and there are days I pull my hair out and I want to say I’m retiring. It is a tough car to drive and not for the faint at heart or the weak. You have to manhandle it. You have to be strong. It is hard to shift, it is hard to push the clutch in. I’m a bigger girl and I guess that’s why these little girls don’t do it. I don’t really know why they don’t do it.”
Enders has a 3-2 record in U.S. Nationals final rounds as she fell in the finals in 2012 to Dave Connolly and 2019 to Alex Laughlin, when after she had a huge lead, suffered a mechanical issue.
“I was double 0 (on the tree) and had a transmission failure and getting beat by somebody who took a nap and was 120 something on the starting line,” she said. “That was probably the most gut-wrenching, made me physically ill, hardest loss of my career. The only justification at the point was he was my teammate and at least Elite Performance was in the winner’s circle. That was a tough pill to swallow. Those are the moments that make you better.
The four-time world champ Enders drives a Camaro for Richard Freeman’s Elite Motorsports team.
“I step back and look at it,” said Enders about her accomplishments. “But the hunger in me just wants more. My dad reminds me a lot that these are the good ol’ days and don’t forget what you’re accomplishing by looking too far into the future and enjoy the moment. I’m really blessed that Richard (Freeman) has my sister (Courtney) out here with me at every event. This team, I have raced my entire life, but I didn’t have a lot of success until I came to Elite, and this is my eighth season with them. We won our first U.S. Nationals together in 2015.
“It’s really humbling to take a step back and realize what we have accomplished in such a short period of time. I’ve been driving Pro Stock for 17 years, but I’ve really only had a great car and a great team for eight.”
With the points reset heading in the six-race Countdown to the Championship, Enders is second in the points standings just 20 behind Greg Anderson. This was Enders’ third Wally this season as she also won in Las Vegas and Norwalk, Ohio.
On Sunday, Enders beat Bruno Massel, Matt Hartford, Anderson and Koretsky.
“I had a really great car all day,” Enders said. “Mark (Ingersoll) continues to get better with it. We had an outstanding run first round and second round we were a little behind a couple of hundredths at 6.60 and from that point we just steadily worked on the race car to get it to perform. We lost lane choice going into the finals which we felt was pretty crucial today, not exactly on the starting line, but about 80 feet out. It ended up getting better after they scraped it.
“Mark had a lot of confidence and that in turn helped me because I didn’t drive spectacular today. I would probably get a C-minus. My lights were not stellar, but we were able to turn on the win light and that’s what matters. It is just about being there and taking advantage of the situation and keeping lane choice when it was crucial, especially against Greg Anderson in the semifinals, that was the big round win of the day. This is a great way to kick off the Countdown and get in a dogfight to try and win our fifth world championship.”
PRO STOCK NOTEBOOK - SATURDAY
MORGAN’S BACK IN PRO STOCK SADDLE – As reported by CompetitionPlus.com on Sept. 1, veteran Pro Stock driver Larry Morgan is filling in for Richie Stevens at the U.S. Nationals this weekend in Indianapolis and driving the Camaro for Beaver Motorsports owned by Mark Beaver.
Stevens, a six-time NHRA national event Pro Stock winner, has competed in a limited schedule for Beaver Motorsports this season, but is unable to drive in Indy because he’s dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Ida in his hometown of New Orleans.
Stevens’ family business, Stevens Used Auto Parts, is located there.
Morgan made his first pass in Q1 Friday night in the Beaver Motorsports Camaro. He clocked a 6.791-second elapsed time at 203.77 mph, which left him No. 16 in the 16-car field.
That was Morgan’s first lap in a Pro Stock car at an NHRA national event since October of 2017 in Las Vegas.
“I didn’t have clutch in low gear,” Morgan said about the pass. “I tried to hang it and get more clutch in it. We will have a lot of clutch in it (Saturday), it will feel all right. It was a different getting back in there and driving. I was 32 on the tree so I was comfortable with it.”
Morgan like all the competitors was playing the waiting game Saturday because of the rain delay.
The primary sponsors on the Camaro will be VitaCshot.com, Racersdirect.com, Strutmaters.com with Chip Lofton and Beaver Bonding.
Stevens has competed in five NHRA national events for Beaver Motorsports this season and they were running Frank Iaconio Racing Engines, but that will change in Indy. Beaver said Morgan may also run his team’s Camaro in Reading, Pa., (Sept. 9-12).
In addition to driving the Beaver Motorsports Pro Stock entry, Morgan also was driving a Comp Eliminator Dodge Neon at Lucas Oil Raceway. Morgan’s also working with Frank Manzo and Mike Castellano on the Pro Mod car.
The Comp car Morgan’s driving is owned by Eugene Kelly and has an engine built by Danny Jessel.
“That’s an incredible engine,” Morgan said. “That’s like something you will never see. A guy takes a clean sheet of paper and builds an engine. That’s what he did.”
BROGDON UPBEAT AFTER HIS Q1 LAP – Rodger Brogdon competes on a limited basis in the Pro Stock ranks, driving a Camaro for KB Racing.
During his Q1 effort Friday, he clocked a 6.631-second elapsed time at 205.88 mph.
“We made a real soft run and ended up No. 9 (on the qualifying ladder),” Brogdon said. “There’s a lot of room for improvement for sure.”
Although it might be different for some drivers during a rain delay, Mother Nature doesn’t change the mindset of Brogdon.
“I don’t do anything different, not with my situation over here,” Brogdon said. “I little bit wonder what’s going on, but the KB boys handle everything and they just tell me what to do and when to do it. When they get through making changes, they always tell me what they did. After that run (Friday), there was 2.5 hundredths, making three hundredths in that run. I could have probably gone 59 or 60. I was second out, and you just have to go up there soft, especially when it looked like it might rain out (Saturday). We need to make sure we got down the track.”
This is only Brogdon’s third Pro Stock race this season, his first two coming in Houston and Topeka, Kan.
“There are a lot of guys in this class (right now) who have a lot more laps than me and for to get in there and do a decent job at driving and they give me a good car. I hope to qualify in the top eight.”
Following Indy, Brogdon said he will close out his Pro Stock schedule by running in St. Louis (Sept. 24-26) and Dallas (Oct. 7-10).
“I will probably run eight or 10 races next year in Pro Stock with KB,” Brogdon said.
Besides his Pro Stock duties, Brogdon also is piloting his Comp car – a Jerry Haas-built unique 1966 Chevy II wagon powered by a 500-inch Pro Stock engine built by Chris McGaha.
“I found out (Saturday morning) that the wagon won best engineered car at the U.S. Nationals,” Brogdon said. “That’s great and this is where you want to win this award. There were probably 800 to 900 race cars here. Jerry Haas does a heck of job, and this car deserves best engineered and anything else they can award. This is one-of-a-kind and an incredible hot rod. It drives like a dream. With an automatic, you just turn the button loose and point it straight and hold on.”
Brogdon was scheduled to make his first laps in his wagon in Houston Aug. 10 and debut it in race competition in Topeka (Aug. 13-15), but that was delayed until Indy.
“I was going to take it to Topeka, but it caught on fire the week before,” Brogdon said. “So, I debuted it in Indy. In testing in Houston, it caught on fire. We got very lucky that it didn’t do more damage. We were sitting in the pit area with the front end off and the hood scoop off. It blew the top off the intake manifold and carburetor and everything and gas went everywhere, and it caught on fire, but it is all good now.”
Brogdon said he will compete in the Chevy wagon after Indy in St. Louis, Noble, Okla., and then Dallas,
BENZA OUTSIDE LOOKING IN – Some drivers weren’t worried about Saturday’s rainfall based on how they qualified in Q1 Friday.
Bob Benza wasn’t one of those drivers. Benza, who drives a Camaro for Elite Motorsports, qualified No. 17 in the 16-car field, after slowing to 13.494 seconds.
“We definitely needed to get another run in,” Benza said. “There’s not pressure, more just sadness just being on the outside wanting to get in. We know that the car we have and the combination we have is easily a middle-of-the pack car and we have to be able to get some runs in.”
Benza acknowledged he relishes getting to compete in Indy.
“I love Indy, it is deep in history for myself,” Benza said. “I started racing here in the 1980s and in 1987 we were runner-up in Comp here. I had a red-light in the finals and we had the fastest car on the grounds. We qualified No. 3 out of 126 cars. I always want to be a winner at the Big Go, we came up one round short back then, and hopefully one day I will get back there. I’m not going to give up trying.”
Benza said he will drive an Elite Motorsports Camaro at Maple Grove in Reading, Pa., (Sept. 9-12) and possibly Charlotte, N.C., (Sept. 17-19).
“I’m a Pro Stock racer deep at heart,” Benza said. “That’s what I love doing. As long as the good Lord allows me the ability to keep doing it, I’m going to keep doing it as much as I can, 5, 6, 7 races a year and see where it takes us.”
HARTFORD IN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP CONVERSATION – There was a time when Matt Hartford was an afterthought in NHRA’s Pro Stock class.
No one saw him as a championship contender.
Those days are long gone.
The last two seasons Hartford has finished fifth in the points standings, while collecting three national event victories.
“I think it is just a matter of everybody coming together and having a team that is very well seasoned,” Hartford said. “We have a car we worked on for a long time and got it working really well and just have good reliable horsepower.
“Somedays, the way I look at it, you just have to say I know I can’t compete by doing my own engine program. I don’t have the financing and funding or all the years of experience of it. You just need to lease from an engine supplier who has good power.”
Hartford gets his engines from KB Racing.
“They (KB Racing) are great to deal with,” Hartford said. “The thing that you know every single time you go over and get another engine whether it is in between rounds or it is five races later, whatever engine they give you and what they tell what it is for power, that’s exactly what it is. That’s all you can ever ask for. They may say this engine is two better or three worse, but whatever you get, you know exactly what it is, so you are not second-guessing yourself.”
Hartford entered the U.S. Nationals in Indy fifth in the points standings and is sporting a 13-9 elimination-round record.
In Q1 Friday, Hartford qualified sixth with a 6.606-second elapsed time at 207.50 mph. He faces Aaron Stanfield in the first round.
“We will be lucky to have another qualifying session so we will probably be going into first round with only one qualifying session,” Hartford said. “During rain delays like (Saturday) we sit and overanalyze everything and we probably eat too much snack food.”
In the 10-race abbreviated 2020 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series, Hartford qualified fourth at the U.S. Nationals and advanced to the finals before losing to Erica Enders.
Enders clocked a 6.606-second elapsed time to edge Hartford’s 6.610-second lap.
“I would like to,” said Hartford when asked about finishing the job in Indy. “To get back to the finals this year that’s our goal and to win it is our ultimate goal.”
As good as Hartford’s been the last two-plus seasons, he didn’t commit to competing in the class in 2022.
“We don’t know yet,” Hartford said about his 2022 plans. “We are really waiting to see what NHRA does with the prize money and what the schedule will be. NHRA has to make some changes in the structure for what they are doing. The teams and the race car driver and the cars are why the fans come out here and if we don’t get change in what the purse structure is, they are going to start losing cars.”
PRO STOCK NOTEBOOK - FRIDAY
KORETSKY GOES TO THE TOP IN Q1 – Following a solid first season in NHRA’s Pro Stock class in 2020, Kyle Koretsky keeps getting better behind the wheel.
Through 10 races, Koretsky arrived at the U.S. Nationals sixth in the points standings. He was coming off a season-best runner-up finish in Topeka, Kan., Aug. 15.
On Friday he zoomed to the top of the Pro Stock qualifying ladder. He clocked a 6.572-second elapsed time at 208.07. Troy Coughlin Jr. was second on the ladder at 6.584 seconds at 206.57 mph.
If the time holds it would be Koretsky’s first No. 1 qualifying position in his Pro Stock career.
“This is the Big Go,” Koretsky said. “This is what everybody looks forward to. My dad (Kenny) runner-upped here 10 times. We started out Friday closing the night out on top. It gave myself confidence and my family confidence and KB Racing supplies me with the baddest power out here as a rental customer. I’m just out here doing what I love to do. This is not a day of work. It is what I love. To be No. 1 at the U.S. Nationals is good history for me.”
Koretsky is driving a 2019 Chevy Camaro, the one Jason Line drove last year. Line retired from driving following the 2020 season.
Koretsky, whose primary sponsors are Nitro Fish and KPK Development. KPK Development Corporation and recycling company based out Fairless Hills, Pa., is run by run by Kenny Koretsky Sr., Kenny Jr., and Kyle.
“I think every run we make, we have the advantage,” Kyle said. “I feel KB Racing is the best team. The guys were thrashing all day and it is a long day for us to have one qualifying run. We put together a great effort to make sure all our cars went down the track. That’s the least of my worries when I go up and stage a car if my performance is going to be there.”
Koretsky did take a moment to talk about his run.
“I definitely think there’s a lot left in the Lucas Oil Chevy Camaro for sure,” Koretsky said. “I think it was a nice conservative run, but a good run if that makes sense. That’s kind above my pay grade. I just kind of get in the car and make sure I hit my shift points. I think every one of our cars will perform better if we get a chance to run (Saturday).”
Koretsky’s teammates at KB – Dallas Glenn (6.592) and Greg Anderson (6.607 seconds) qualified No. 4 and No. 7, respectively.
Kenny Koretsky Sr., Kyle’s father, was a longtime Pro Stock racer.
“My dad was kind of hanging off the fence over there like I just won the race,” Korestky said. “This is the first time he was back (at a race) since I don’t know when. It feels like forever, He’s back and it is great to have his support. He supports me every weekend, but to have him here is great. He loves racing just as much as I do. Without him, I wouldn’t be here.
“I have to tell my dad every single run (to tone it down). He’s telling me what to do on every single run. He’s my hero. He’s been around this sport and I’m just trying to get him this win.”
Kyle, in his first year in Pro Stock, competed in all eight of the NHRA national events last season in a season abbreviated because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He posted a 7-8 elimination round record and made it to the finals at the season-ending event in Las Vegas, losing to 2020 world champion Erica Enders on a red light.
The race before Vegas – Houston – Koretsky advanced to the semifinals before falling to Aaron Stanfield. Koretsky finished 11th in the points standings.
BUTNER HEADED BACK TO PRO STOCK IN 2021 – Bo Butner, who retired from NHRA Pro Stock racing after the 2021 season, is returning to the class in 2022.
Butner is coming back with a new sponsor in Jason Johnson and Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage. Butner made the announcement at Lucas Oil Raceway Friday.
“Well, first of all, I have retired twice now, so glad to be back when we were stuck sick with racing period,” said Butner, the 2017 Pro Stock world champion. “A lot of people thought I was at war with NHRA and that's not true. We've had a great relationship, everybody from the top to bottom. We're very happy we're coming back, so that helps a lot when you're welcomed. And I like the direction NHRA is going, which is I think very, very smart for all of us. But we need to start, so Jason and I have this friend named Curtis and we both go to weekend auctions, Barrett Jackson. We're both into collector cars, he just buys a little different car than I do. But we met a guy that actually rebuilds these candy machines, vintage candy machines and I bought one. I invited him to a race and he came to Redding and we hooked up. We're buddies. He's like, you have to meet my friend, Jason Johnson. He loves drag racing. He loves cars. I'm like, cool.”
The relationship between Butner and Johnson expanded quickly.
“Well then, lo and behold, he was also a Trump supporter as I was, and he made that deal happen last season, which you are what you are, you like what you like, so I have no problem with that,” Butner said. “After that, he came to the race. I think he also came to Houston, and he came and hung out and he just, him and his group, were like us. We had a good time. We enjoy each other, but we're car guys. And when he come to me, or we talked about this, first of all, I was against it because - I was retired twice and I have a grandkid now. I've expanded my business, really busy.”
Butner, however, wasn’t going to close the door on a possible deal with Johnson.
“I told him if we could go and have a good time and enjoy life, because we both are very fortunate, our families worked hard and developed great businesses for us to drop in our hands and that's happened to both of us,” Butner said. “So we get to come now, have a good time, but we're also here to be competitive. I wanted good stuff. I'm sure you have a lot of questions on who and what it's about, or who I'm with, but Jason's a great guy. We're car guys. And we're going to blow this JHG Group brand up. I'm sure none of you all have heard of it, but he has probably one of the nicest car collections that you could possibly see. He buys them every day.”
Butner said he then began to understand what Johnson’s plans were.
“He sends me pictures and videos, but I'm trying, he's building a museum in Columbia, Tennessee,” Butner said. “It will be Johnson's Horsepowered Garage, also, a dealership. So that falls right into my lines. If you want awesome dream car, you'll be able to see JHG and have any car you want. So it's going to be cool and I hope we can bring some of these high-end cars to some of the races, allow the fans to see them, because these are cars that we see and dream of, but this guy actually takes them and drives them every day. So I don't know, he's got over one hundred. I think he drives all of them every month, so it was pretty cool.”
Since Johnson was new to NHRA media, he took a moment to explain his steps to get to this point.
“Bo and I met through a mutual family friend, Curt Kaufman, and we hit it off immediately,” Johnson said. “Like he said, we got the same group of people around us and I've been around my father, his company, he had sponsored earlier with the Bernsteins, but I grew up going to the Wednesday drags, the teenage drags in Sacramento, Calif. And so, these are the big boys. I've never seen it like this at all, except for TV. So, well, and we just hit it off and our same likes for the president definitely. And the Johnson Horespowered Garage, basically is, I have hobbies of building cars. I build maybe two cars a year in house. Nothing fancy, but I just love the hobby. I love being around the cars and I love being around drag racing and, I'm retired, so I want to do something that's car. I'm better at car stuff than I am at anything else.
“I'm planning on building the first underground, if the city accepts it, the first underground museum for Mr. Norms cars. And then I'm putting an upstairs on the street level, it's going to be basically, black and white, you can't find anywhere, create engines that you can't find. Just the other day, I bought 11 Viper engines. So it's stuff that you can't get, but you can actually come and actually just pick it up directly. And so that's what my plan is with Horsepowered Garage. And then I wanted him to help be marketed and he's probably one of the best drivers there is. I want (Bo) back because he's just a great racer. Pro Stock, the reason why I like Pro Stock, is because there's a lot more competition in it. There's a lot more racers.”
In Butner’s first foray into Pro Stock he was a member of the KB Racing stable, but that will not be the case when he returns.
“Well, first of all, it started off by again, thanking Ken and Judy Black,” Butner said. “They got me in the pro deal. I love those guys. They're like family. Greg (Anderson) and Jason (Line) are like brothers still. I actually spoke to them about this before and no hard feelings. I don't want to burn bridges with anybody, because at the end of the day, we race against each other, but we're still going to dinner. We love each other. So I am going to be receiving my equipment from Elite Racing. We are at JHG going to be a standalone team, which will be put next to them, but we'll be using their equipment. The JHG brand will be pretty much JHG, so I'm not saying we're going to be our own team. They do still have some of the same stuff, but we are a brand in JHG.”
Butner’s return to Pro Stock isn’t something he expected when he walked away in 2020.
“I actually thought I would be finished with the pro level,” he said. “I went and did some bracket racing at the end of the year and had some success, having fun with (Randi,his fiancée) doing what we want to do when we want to do. Plus, like I said, I had a grandkid and I missed a lot of my kids growing up, so I didn't want to do that. I had a lot of talks with my family, my mother, my kids, to let them know that, ‘Hey, I'm going to be back on the road. Is everybody OK with this?’ And they're all happy for us, because they miss it too. And as long as we're with a good team and competitive, I come home happy, having a good time. So I think that happened.”
DALLAS GLENN ENJOYING HIS PRO STOCK RIDE – Dallas Glenn’s first year in NHRA’s Pro Stock ranks has been quite memorable so far.
Glenn arrived at the U.S. Nationals fourth in the points standings, thanks to wins at Charlotte, N.C., and Topeka, Kan., and one runner-up finish in Sonoma. Calif. He has a 14-8 elimination-round record.
“There's almost no words to describe how amazing it is to work with such a great team,” Glenn said. “They've been super supportive. They've given me the best equipment that they absolutely can. Anytime I go up there, I know the car is going to go from A to B and I know it's going to be competitive, and I've never thought that I didn't have a chance to win a race when I came to the track. And as far as a car and a team to be with, there's no better.”
Although Glenn is new to Pro Stock, his success hasn’t caught him off guard.
“Not necessarily,” said Glenn when asked about his success. “I mean, I'm a competitive person. So, before I ever got in one of these, I knew in my ability. I figured there'd be a few things I'd struggle with, but I knew I would be able to get it down. I've always just kind of known kind I guess my abilities, and I knew I'd be able to come out here and do the best that I can. As long as the equipment was good and I had a little bit of luck, I knew that success would come.”
Now, Glenn is racing in Indy and is thrilled to be doing so.
“It's kind of been surreal,” Glenn said. “It's different. Walking through the pits and then this is the first time ever I get people congratulating me and people that know who I am and everything. And it's kind of a different feeling. I've obviously, I've been here a bunch. I know how big this race is. At KB Racing, we've never won the U.S. National since I've worked here. So to be able to compete and try to bring the first win since I've been here would be a phenomenal feat.”
Glenn’s stint in Pro Stock will extend into 2022 he confirmed to CompetitionPlus.com.
“After the race in Topeka, I gave the guys at Rad Torque a call,” Glenn said. “They were so excited that they told me that they wanted to race all next year. Said it doesn't matter, all that they cared about was that they wanted to be the primary sponsor and we'd work out details later. He said no matter what, they're behind me. To have a sponsor that's that supportive and to tell me that that early in the season takes a lot of pressure off going into the countdown.
Glenn qualified fourth in Q1 Friday with a 6.592-second elapsed time at 208.49 mph.
AARON STANFIELD KEEPING BUSY IN INDY – Aaron Stanfield is known as a versatile racer. He competes in Pro Stock, the Factory Stock Showdown and in Competition Eliminator.
This weekend at the U.S. Nationals, Stanfield is competing in Pro Stock for Elite Motorsports and driving in the Factory Stock Showdown class.
Stanfield is having a banner year in Pro Stock. He’s second in the points standings. Stanfield has three races wins in Epping, N.H., Sonoma, Calif., and Pomona, Calif. He also has a runner-up finish in Las Vegas.
“It would be huge if I could win (Indy) in Pro Stock,” said Stanfield, who is the defending Factory Stock Showdown champion at the U.S. Nationals. “That’s the Super Bowl of drag racing and no doubt it is a dream of mine to win Pro Stock there. We did it in Showdown last year and it would nice if we could match that in Pro Stock this year. We want to win the Factory Stock Showdown again here in Indy. We have some goals for Indy, and we are going to see if we can reach them.
“I enjoy the busy schedule for sure, and it doesn’t give me much time to think about anything. I just need to get in the car and do my job. That’s not always a bad thing when you’re a driver.”
Back in 2014, Stanfield, 19, made his Pro Stock debut at the U.S. Nationals on a limited basis following in the footsteps of his father Greg. Greg Stanfield had been competing in the Pro Stock class since 2002, winning three national events and finishing a career-best second in the point standings in 2010. The Stanfields reside in Shreveport, La.
“That seems like a long time ago,” Stanfield said. “I used to joke around I thought I was the youngest retired Pro Stock driver,” Aaron said. “Luckily we got some good opportunities. It does seem like a long time ago, It does seem like a long time ago, but in the grand scheme of things it wasn’t that long ago.”
Stanfield qualified No. 11 in Q1 on Friday. He clocked a 6.635-second lap at 205.72 mph.
This is only Stanfield’s 32nd career race in Pro Stock, but he has become a legitimate world championship contender – something he’s trying to digest.
“We still have a lot of races to do,” Stanfield said. “Obviously, the goal is win the world championship, but we are just going to keep focusing on me driving well and see how the cards shake out.”
TROY COUGHLIN JR. IN INDY COMFORT ZONE – When Troy Coughlin Jr. qualified No. 2 Friday, it didn’t come as a huge surprise. Coughlin Jr. has found plenty of success in Indy.
“Indy is where the magic happens," said Troy Jr., a two-time U.S. Nationals winner, having won Super Comp in 2010 and Super Gas in 2014. "It's such a historic place and the list of past winners includes all the bigs. Plus, you know all the best drivers are there every year so it's incredibly hard to win. If you're a drag racer, you have to earn a Wally from the U.S. Nationals. It's a must.”
Troy Jr., who drives the JEGS.com Camaro for Elite Motorsports, is seventh in the Pro Stock standings, thanks to two runner-up performances in Gainesville, Fla., and Charlotte, N.C.
"This is the final race before the playoffs so we're looking to continue the momentum we've gained and make a great run at the championship," Troy Jr. said. "If I can get off the pedal when I'm supposed to then I know we can contend because Mark Ingersoll (crew chief), Kelly Murphy, Steven Hurley, Eric Luzinski, and Kyle Bates always give me a great racecar. They are so efficient and professional, it's exciting to be around them."
TWO OUTSIDE LOOKING IN – After Q1 Friday, there were two drivers out of the 16-car mix. Bob Benza (13.494) and Fernando Cuadra (16.943) were in the No. 17 and No. 18 spot.