April 13, 2014 — official release — NHRA photo — CONCORD, N.C. — Swedish driver Jimmy Alund made a little bit of NHRA history at Sunday’s 5th annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals.
Alund became the first European winner and only the fourth non-American winner in the history of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series on Sunday.
Robert Hight (Funny Car), Antron Brown (Top Fuel), and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also took home victories during the fifth event on the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.
Appearing in his first career Pro Stock final, Alund took advantage and drove to victory in his second NHRA Four-Wide Nationals appearance. The Swede is substituting for four-time Pro Stock world champ Greg Anderson and ran a 6.562 pass at 211.59 in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro.
Alund took out runner-up Shane Gray, Vincent Nobile, and recent Las Vegas winner Erica Enders-Stevens in the final.
“Since I got here the very first time, I didn’t feel pressure,” Alund said of his run in Pro Stock and the assignment of replacing Anderson. “I knew if I did my best that I could do much more. They’re [KB Racing] professionals, and they gave me a great race car. I think we work well together.”
Hight became the first two-time Funny Car winner at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals after his win at zMAX Dragway on Sunday.
Hight took the 2012 Four-Wide Nationals and returned in style to Charlotte once again. The 2009 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Funny Car world champ was the winner of the fall Charlotte race last season and won his second consecutive event with his 4.074-second pass at 311.34 mph in the Auto Club Ford Mustang.
“This has been a great weekend,” Hight said. “We love coming to zMAX Dragway. What a better place to bring potential sponsors than this facility. John [Force] and I getting to the final made it that much more special. It’s my fourth final in a row, and we’ve only missed two rounds in Pomona to start the season.”
Coming into the final, the JFR driver was 0-4 against Alexis DeJoria, one of the other three final-round drivers, including losses to the Patron XO Cafe Funny Car in the finals of Phoenix and Las Vegas this season.
“You would think three Ford Funny Cars in the final would be pretty good odds,” Hight said. With the way she’s been running and winning races, it’s no gimme. That was a big one.”
Force finished as runner-up in his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang while DeJoria and Tim Wilkerson were credited with semifinal finishes.
It was Hight’s second win of the season in four final-round appearances with both wins coming over Force. With the win, Hight increases his points lead over Force to 53 points.
Brown secured his first career victory at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, piloting his Matco Tools dragster to a 3.800 pass at 317.42 mph. The 2012 Top Fuel world champ took out runner-up and No. 1 qualifier Shawn Langdon, J.R. Todd, and Doug Kalitta to secure his second win of the season.
“My guys gave me an incredible race car,” Brown said. “Everybody’s competing on such a high level right now, and you just want to be on time because I know for sure that us as drivers all we can do is screw it up once we get up to the starting line. You just want to be on point. You want to be on time, and you just want to give it all you have.”
Brown, a member of the Don Schumacher Racing stable, went up in the final against two Kalitta Motorsports entries and an Al-Anabi Racing entry, a juggernaut team final in Top Fuel.
“When you go into a final and there’s two Kalitta cars and an Al-Anabi car, it’s pretty much stacked against you because the Kalitta team and [Alan Johnson’s] team work together,” Brown said. “It’s like running three teammates car against one, so they definitely had the advantage, but you go out there and do what you do. We just keep our head down and keep it to the grind, and we put our best foot forward today, and we were able to edge out and become the victors.”
The Don Schumacher Racing driver leaves Charlotte second in points, 25 behind Kalitta.
Hines, a three-time Pro Stock Motorcycle world champ, won his second straight race in Charlotte with a 6.859 run at 196.10. The three-time Charlotte winner secured his first win of the season and 33rd of his career with the win over Eddie Krawiec, John Hall, and Scotty Pollacheck on a Harley-Davidson.
“This does a lot for my confidence because I’ve never had a round-win here [at the Four-Wide],” Hines said. “In fact, Charlotte was bad to me. It took four races before I broke through for a win at the two-wide race in the fall. At this race, there is so much going on that you never know what’s going to happen. Some guys take a long time to stage, and some guys want to get up there as quickly as they can. You have to be prepared for anything.”
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series heads to Houston for the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals at Royal Purple Raceway, April 25-27.