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Dodge Hemi Challenge at U.S. Nationals

Daniels Gets Fourth Straight Win

Words by Bill Klingbeil

Photos by Chris Haverly

Jimmy Daniels’ Dart did arguably one of the best wheelstands at this year’s event.


Making history in the NHRA Dodge HEMI® Challenge isn’t something new for Jimmy Daniels, and Friday night, Aug. 30, 2019, the 23-year-old Pennsylvania native continued his undefeated streak at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis by driving his Super Stock 1968 Dodge Dart to a record fourth consecutive event victory.


Daniels, the event’s No. 1 qualifier, defeated Ohio’s Rich Locker in his 1968 Plymouth Barracuda with a run 8.576 seconds at 156.01 mph in the final round of the 19th running of the special event, annually part of the U.S. Nationals. The victory was the sixth time a driver piloted the 1968 Dodge Dart to victory in the event. Daniel’s father, Jimmy Daniels, Sr., won the event in 2010 and David Barton won driving the same car in 2000.


“We had some tough battles to get this fourth win, including that semifinal,” admitted Daniels. “This HEMI Challenge is everything. We work all year for this. It means a lot for us. Special thanks to Dodge for continuing to support these cars and to the NHRA for allowing them to have the HEMI Challenge here in Indy.“

Jimmy Daniels flanked by his father, Jim Sr., and grandfather.


“Ray and Dave Barton provide us with awesome horsepower,” Daniels continued. “If it wasn’t for them, we would not be able to do this. I’m surrounded by my family here this weekend – my father, my mother, my girlfriend and my grandfather. This race is probably the coolest win of the four for me. Earlier this year, I lost my grandmother unexpectedly. We know she was watching over us tonight.”




  1. James Daniels, Yardley PA, '68 Dart                      8.473  156.66  156.66

  2. Steve Comella, Webster NY, '68 Dart                    8.480  156.68  157.04

  3. Gary Wolkwitz, Whitehouse Station NJ, '68 Dart   8.532  155.52  156.17

  4. Wendell Howes, Rothesay NB, '68 Barracuda       8.551  156.34  156.34

  5. Bucky Hess, Bunker Hill WV, '68 Barracuda          8.556  156.66  156.86

  6. Doug Fazzolare, Houma LA, '68 Dart                   8.598  155.17  155.17

  7. Jim Pancake, Cardington OH, '68 Dart                 8.607  156.63  156.63

  8. Rich Locker, North Royalton OH, '68 Barracuda   8.623  154.46  154.56

  9. Stephen Hebert, Westlake LA, '68 Barracuda      8.647  151.78  151.78

 10. Gus Mantas, Toronto ON, '68 Barracuda            8.647  151.60  152.57

 11. Russ Campbell, Springfield MO, '68 Barracuda  8.674  157.19  157.19

 12. Tony DePillo, Dayton OH, '68 Barracuda            8.675  154.90  154.90

 13. Mark Howes, Rothesay NB, '68 Dart                  8.686  152.78  152.78

 14. Steve Kent, Belle Rose LA, '68 Barracuda         8.691  155.44  155.63

 15. Rick Johnson, Wayzata MN, '68 Barracuda       8.738  154.26  154.26

 16. Matt Welker, Clear Spring MD, '68 Barracuda   8.792  152.73  152.73

 17. Skip Loeffler, Las Vegas NV, '68 Dart                8.874  149.22  149.22

 18. Dan Zrust, Maple Grove MN, '68 Barracuda     9.018  145.64  146.23

 19. Joseph Paillot, New Orleans LA, '68 Dart          9.687  135.41  135.41

Father and son, Wendell and Mark Howes, met in the first round with Mark (near lane) turning on the red light to give dad the win. Wendell got the next round win with an 8.548/155.61 over Stephen Hebert’s 8.585/155.87, but then met Daniels in round 3.

Bucky Hess in the famous “Psycho Kuda” got the first-round win over Steve Kent with an 8.551 at 156.01 mph to Kent’s 8.647 at 155.13. Hess got a bye in the second round when Gus Mantas was a no-show.


Daniels’ quest for win number four began with a bye run as a result of his qualifying effort Thursday. [Note: there were an odd number of entries this year and then Skip Loeffler and Joseph Paillot dropped out, making for three bye runs in the first round.]


Daniels’ pass of 8.494 seconds was the best of the opening round and launched him into round two where he delivered another smooth lap of 8.512 to defeat Doug Fazzolare. His 17th consecutive round win at Indy came over 2017 HEMI Challenge runner-up Wendell Howes advancing Daniels to the semifinals where he faced a very game Jim Pancake in an all-Dodge Dart matchup.

Pancake posted an impressive .017-second reaction time, but Daniels was able to power by and turn on the win light with a margin of victory being a mere 0.0027 seconds and approximately 7 inches.


Locker qualified his Barracuda eighth and advanced to round two making a solo run of 8.660 seconds at 153.32 mph before defeating Louisiana’s Stephen Loeffler. He took advantage of a starting-line error by last year’s runner-up Gary Wolkwitz, who turned on the red light, to advance to round three. Locker used a strong light to beat 2001 winner Bucky Hess on a holeshot with a margin of victory of .0242 seconds to advance. Locker had another bye run in the semifinal.

In the final, Daniels grabbed the starting line advantage with a .021 Reaction Time to Locker’s .034, but spun his tires just after the launch allowing Locker to grab the lead. Daniels’ gathered his machine and drove around Locker at about the 500-foot mark to secure the historic victory. Daniels turned in an 8.576/156.01 to Locker’s 8.629/153.67.  

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