|Arana, Line, Wilkerson and Brown|
Tim Wilkerson scored his first Funny Car victory since 2011 with a win over point leader Ron Capps in Sunday’s 35th annual NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway.
Hector Arana returned to the Winner Circle for the first time in six years in Pro Stock Motorcycle, while Top Fuel driver Antron Brown and Pro Stock ace Jason Line captured their second wins of the season.
Wilkerson, who hadn’t made it to a final round in nearly a year, put on a dominating performance on Sunday – posting the quickest elapsed time in each of the first three rounds with victories over Del Worsham, “Fast" Jack Beckman and John Force.
Facing Capps in the finals for the fifth time in his career, Wilkerson was out of the gate first in the money round and led the entire distance as Capps began to haze the tires and started to pedal it, posting a 4.318 at 260.31 mph over Capps 5.781, 125.90 for his 18th NHRA victory.
The victory was the first ever for Wilkerson at Atlanta and his first national event win since August of 2011 at Seattle.
“That 4.03 in the first round was pretty impressive," said Wilkerson. “I was happy with that. As the track got hotter, I did a good job until the finals. I’m really unhappy about what it did in the final. I was trying to go about a .14, and the thing broke the tires loose."
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Hector Arana bested defending race winner Eddie Krawiec to win his first national event since 2009.
Arana picked up round wins over Andrew Hines, Jim Underdahl and his son Hector Arana, Jr. to reach his first final round of the season and his first since last July at Norwalk.
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]Running in his third-straight final round of the season, Krawiec hit a .060 light to jump to an early lead but started to get out of shape at the 60-foot mark and Arana powered past him to scored his seventh-career victory, running a 7.236 at 162.47 mph.
It was the first-career Atlanta victory for Arana and his first since September of 2009 at Dallas, where he also bested Krawiec.
"I knew I could keep winning, but I had to believe in myself," Arana said. "In the final, the bike jumped like a bronco," Arana said. "It pulled to the right, but I was not giving up unless he was way in front of me. As long as I had control of the bike, I was staying with it."
Antron Brown completed an impressive weekend sweep after leading all four rounds of qualifying to earn his first top qualifier of the season, besting Shawn Langdon, Doug Kalitta and Terry McMillen to advance to the final round against Lead Pritchett.
Pritchett – who was running in her first-career final round – never had a chance against the five-time Atlanta winner after losing traction and shutting it off, handing an easy victory to Brown who ran a 3.887 at 310.48 mph for his second win of the season and 49th of his career.
“It wasn’t just a good day, but a good weekend," Brown said. “We’ve been aiming to start off with a good qualifying run. The first run out of the box on Sunday set the tone for the whole weekend. We started getting data in hot, cool, and middle track temperatures when we tested in Indy. You have to make some swings with the combination we run now. (Crew chiefs) Brian Corradi, Mark Oswald, and all the Matco boys have been putting the work in together. It definitely showed this weekend."
Two-time Pro Stock World Champion Jason Line picked up his second win of the season with a victory over Greg Anderson in the final round.
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]Line, who had defeated Alan Prusiensky, Larry Morgan and Rodger Brogdon in earlier rounds, lined up against Anderson for their second final-round showdown of the season and their fourth Atlanta.
In the final, Anderson was off the line first but quickly started to lose traction and clicked it off as the car began to drift off center, allowing Line to reach the finish line with a solid run of 6.606 at 211.33mph for his 37th-career NHRA victory.
"This is the way that you normally dream about it, but it usually doesn't work out that way. Today, it did," said Line. “I really thought the final was going to go the other way. I got a bit of luck. I wasn't fast today. I was maybe mediocre. Greg had the car to beat. He was driving better than everyone else, and he should have won it. He wants to win more than anyone I've ever met, and that's what makes him the best."