Yesterday, we told you about the 19th annual NHRA Dodge HEMI Challenge this weekend at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis, Indiana during the U.S. Nationals. Thursday qualifying showed that reigning champion and winner of the last three consecutive Dodge HEMI Challenges, 23-year-old Jimmy Daniels isn’t ready to give up his crown just yet. Daniels put his 1968 Dodge Dart Super Stocker on top with an 8.473-second pass to clinch the No. 1 qualifier position, which is the first of his career.
Daniels made some adjustments to his car after running fifth in the first qualifying session on Wednesday. On Thursday afternoon, he was able to beat out provisional pole holder Steve Comella, who’s run of 8.480 seconds in his 1968 Plymouth Barracuda held up for the No. 2 spot. Comella’s 156.68 mph from Wednesday’s qualifying run topped the field.
Last year’s runner-up Gary Wolkwitz, put his 1968 Dodge Dart into the No. 3 qualifier position, while Canadian Wendell Howes took the No. 4 spot. Inaugural 2001 HEMI Challenge winner Bucky Hess completed the top-five in his 1968 Plymouth Barracuda.
“I didn’t really think getting that No. 1 position was really possible with the warmer weather today,” said the Yardley, Penn. native, who will vie for his record-setting fourth straight triumph Friday. “We really worked on it coming into today. For us to come back tomorrow and win another Dodge HEMI Challenge, it’s going to take a lot of consistency, a lot of fine-tuning by Ray and Dave Barton and I have to do a good job on the tree.”
While being showcased that the biggest NHRA event of the season (the U.S. Nationals), drivers with their 1968 Dodge Dart and Plymouth Barracuda Super Stockers are competing for a winner’s purse of $15,000 as well as the iconic 42.6-pound trophy.
Now in its 19th year, the HEMI Challenge contested during the NHRA U.S. Nationals continues to showcase Mopar-powered 1968 Dodge Dart and Plymouth Barracuda Super Stock cars. Drivers compete for the iconic 42.6-pound NHRA Dodge HEMI Challenge trophy and $15,000 winner’s purse awarded after Friday’s elimination rounds.
Fans will be able to see the HEMI Challenge cars as part of a parade this afternoon, prior to the first-round eliminations, with the championship final round slated for Friday evening, just before NHRA Nitro qualifying.