Antron Brown raced to his sixth Top Fuel victory of the season Sunday at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park and in the process increased his championship points lead.
Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were winners of the event, the first race for NHRA in the St. Louis area in more than two years.
Brown defeated championship rival Spencer Massey in the final round and moved 21 points ahead of the Texas driver as only three races remain in the Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
Brown, who battled side-by-side with Massey all weekend, took the victory with a final round performance of 3.766 seconds at 325.22 mph in his Matco Tools/Aaron's dragster, while Massey trailed with a 3.812 at 324.05 in his FRAM/Prestone dragster.
Brown beat Bruce Litton, Steve Torrence and Brandon Bernstein in early rounds before unleashing his quickest run of the day in the final against Massey.
Beckman moved to within 30 points of Funny Car points leader Ron Capps by racing to his third victory of the season. He took the final round win in his Valvoline NextGen Dodge Charger over Matt Hagan, who fouled at the start in his DieHard Dodge Charger.
Points leader Capps lost in the second round to Hagan, a non-Countdown performer and the defending world champ who has now advanced to back-to-back final rounds in the playoffs. Beckman was surprised when he saw Hagan blast away from the line so early in the final.
In Pro Stock, Enders earned her fourth victory of the season and first ever in the playoffs by using a reaction time advantage to defeat series points leader Allen Johnson in the final round. She powered her GK Motorsports Chevy Cobalt to a 6.540 at 211.79 to finish just inches in front of Johnson's Team Mopar Dodge Avenger, who posted a quicker, but losing run of 6.538 at 212.13.
Enders outran Shane Gray, teammate Dave Connolly and event top qualifier Jason Line to advance to her second straight Countdown final round appearance.
With the runner-up finish and third straight final round appearance in the Countdown playoffs, Johnson increased his series lead to 109 over Line, while Enders moved to third in the standings, 126 back of Johnson.
Krawiec claimed his seventh Pro Stock Motorcycle victory of the season and increased his points lead to 33 over his final round opponent and teammate, Andrew Hines. Krawiec took his 18th career victory when Hines fouled on his identically-prepared Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson.
Krawiec took three of his round wins via red-light starts by his opponents, including his first round win over Steve Johnson and second round win over Chip Ellis. Krawiec used a strong performance on his Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson to outrun Hector Arana Sr.'s Lucas Oil Buell in the semifinals.