Hemi heaven at the U.S. Nationals

One of North America’s most unique automotive competitions is the race-within-a-race that takes place annually during the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals, itself esteemed as drag racing’s most prestigious and historic event. Known as the Dodge Hemi Challenge, it’s an elimination for cars at the very pinnacle of NHRA Super Stock racing, the Hemi-powered 1968 Dodge Darts and Plymouth Barracudas, going at it in heads-up, no-handicap action at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park. For people who love muscle Mopars, this event is the Holy Grail, contested by some of the most exalted race cars in Hemi world. The Labor Day weekend shootout this featured a repeat champion.

In the razor-close final round, which you see here, the win went to the guy in the near lane, No. 1 qualifier Steve Comella, whose Barracuda bested the 1968 Hemi Dart of Eldon Baum Jr. to capture the $15,000 top money. It was Comella’s second shootout win in three consecutive final round appearances. When we say razor-thin, we mean it, as Baum actually red-lighted away the win while Comella laid down an 8.407-second winning pass, providing that with an easy 900 horsepower on tap, these old crocks can still get down the strip in spectacular fashion.

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