Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals
September 2-7, 2015
Team Litton Racing showed up to the 61st running of “The Big Go”, as the Indy Nationals have been famously dubbed, with a trifecta… two of the biggest names in drag racing, and a new state of the art injected nitro race car. Randy Meyer, legendary driver, team owner, and crew chief, with multiple world championships in drag racing, and Jerry Darien, legendary Crew Chief for prominent drivers including Ashley, Brittany, and Courtney Force, united with Litton Racing to compete with the top 23 cars in the world.
The first round of qualifications brought miserable weather conditions with temperatures in the mid to upper 90’s, combined with high water grains and high track temps. Although the Midwest’s seasonal weather wasn’t ideal, Team Litton ran a conservative 5.501 at 264.75, good enough to land the team in the #6 spot going into the second round of qualifying. Per Crew Chief Jerry Darien, “5.50 is fairly respectable for the first pop out of the box in these conditions.”
Chief Darien, Casey, Howard and Jeff came back for round two of qualifying and added some timing and a little clutch to the tune-up hoping for a more aggressive run. Q2 was another clean run of 5.607 at 255.92. Chief Darien commented on the run, “We thought we were going to hop her up but the thing slowed down to a 5.60. The reason it did is because it put a cylinder out at 2.5 seconds. The air got worse and drove through the clutch and slowed us down.” Team Litton finished the day on Friday with two full pulls down the track in the #14 spot.
The team made some changes to the car for Saturday’s Q3 run in efforts to find more horsepower in the difficult conditions, and found more than expected which resulted in smoking the tires right at the hit. Team Litton got bumped out of the show and would have one more qualifying round to prove itself worthy to enter into elimination rounds with the best of the best.
The pressure was intense going into Q4 on Sunday as Team Litton was not qualified for elimination rounds. In a neck and neck round Driver Bill Litton squeezed ahead with a 5.403 at 264.86. This run would earn the team a spot in the top 16 cars in the world. Bill and team were not the only ones with something to celebrate in Q4. Teammate Randy Meyer ran a stunning 5.183, the fastest ET for the class in the past 8 years!
Fate would have it that teammates Bill Litton and Randy Meyer would face off in Elimination #1. When Chief Darien was asked how he felt about racing their teammate, in round #1, he said, “There are other people we would rather beat… but he [Randy] is on our list!” Both cars ran hard with full pulls but Team Litton couldn’t quite knock off the number one qualifier this time. Per driver Litton, “If Randy had bobbled we were there to take him but he is “The Man” and I knew he would be hard to beat unless he went over center and smoked the tires.”
Chief Darien summarized the weekend, “All in all, I’m fairly happy when you can come to Indy and qualify and be one of the 16 out of 23 cars here. That’s an accomplishment.” Litton Racing is pleased with its success and grateful for the hard efforts of all of the team.