Drag racing’s ultimate annual sandbox—NHRA’s Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals—played out for the 64th time over the past Labor Day weekend in Indianapolis.
The 2018 version collected close to 850 entries as drag racing fans witnessed the chase for what is arguably the single-most sought after and prestigious event win available anywhere in the sport.
The Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals included a myriad of Bowtie brand highlights, with numerous Chevy cars prevailing. That began within the class runoffs for both Super Stock and Stock Eliminator, which was an intricate part of the event’s earlier Sportsman racing schedule.
Then when Monday’s final event ledger was complete, Chevy-powered and Chevy-bodied machines were front and center.
That spotlight included major wins in Pro Stock and in Pro Modified with Tanner Gray and Steve “Fast” Jackson prevailing in their respective Chevy Camaro racers.
Tanner Gray’s victory in Pro Stock was the 10th of his young, dynamic racing career. In the final round he nailed the tree with a brilliant 0.003 reaction time and that proved to be the difference as his 6.641 at 208.42 mph prevailed over Jeg Coughlin’s quicker run of 6.639 at 206.80 mph.
Gray’s victory also secured his standing at the top of NHRA’s World Championship points chase and as the Number One seed heading into the NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs, which begins at the next race. His Indy victory was also a wire-to-wire one because he had qualified Number One and set low e.t. and top speed of the race during qualifying at 6.603 and 208.97 mph.
“I guess the main thing is that I want to strive to be the best driver that I can be,” Gray stated. “I continue to work and don’t really settle for what I am right now. I think every driver’s dream is to win Indy at least once and it’s pretty cool for me to be able to do that.”
Steve “Fast” Jackson’s win in the E3 Spark Plugs Pro Mod class was his first Indy win and fourth of his NHRA career for the talented former Outlaw Street/small-tire circuit crossover racer. Driving the supercharged Bahrain 1 Racing Chevy Camaro, his NHRA win breakthrough came when he defeated the turbocharged C7 Corvette raced by Jose Gonzalez in the championship round.
Jackson’s victory came over a highly spirited and super-fast Pro Mod class field, which featured a brutal bump spot of 5.852. He won despite qualifying in the bottom half of that field, in the 13th position.
“I want to thank all the people that have stood by us,” said Jackson. “We were coming off a couple of DNQ events, but all my sponsors and especially Bahrain 1 have had my back this whole time, so to come out and win the U.S. Nationals for them is really special.”
The event also featured all-Chevy car final rounds in the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Super Gas and Top Alcohol Funny Car class categories.
In the 9.90 index Super Gas class, home state racer Devin Isenhower made the best of his first-ever NHRA final round opportunity when he prevailed with his topless 1969 Camaro over the topless 1963 Corvette raced by Steve Hoyt.
The TAFC final featured two West Coast racers, with Sean Bellemeur (Placentia, California) prevailing over Oregon’s Chris Marshall in a marquee battle of Chevy Camaro-bodied cars. Bellemeur scored his third win of the 2018 season racing the machine owned by the Bartone Brothers.
We hope you enjoy our extensive Chevy photo gallery from the 64th NHRA Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals below. CHP
Photos by Bruce Biegler