Seven-time Top Fuel world champ Tony Schumacher ended a 32-race winless streak with his win at the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals presented by Tri-Cities Area Ford Dealers Sunday at Bristol Dragway.
His DSR teammate Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) also claimed victories at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event.
Schumacher’s U.S. Army dragster ran like a bracket car all during Sunday’s eliminations, with his slowest pass coming in the final round against long-time on track rival, Doug Kalitta. Schumacher did his job on the starting line, as his reaction time was four-hundredths better than Kalitta’s, leading to Schumacher’s slower, but winning E.T., 3.819-second pass at 324.28 mph.
“That’s one of those finals that you dream about,” Schumacher said. “Nobody wants that single in the final, as much as I’ve been joking about it. You want to go out and run Doug, and you want to go out and run your team [car] and win on those very close ones. It makes the whole weekend worth it.”
Schumacher earned his first win in almost two seasons the hard way, taking out Dom Lagana in round one, DSR teammate Spencer Massey in round two and local-favorite Clay Millican in the semifinal round to earn his fifth final round appearance of the season. Schumacher’s win is his 68th career win and fifth at Bristol Dragway and it secures him the sixth spot in the Traxxas Shootout, the Top Fuel bonus race at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals.
I said it all along, ‘Have faith. We’re going to go out and win these things.
In Funny Car, Capps earned his second win of the season in his sixth final round appearance in a row since adding veteran turner Rahn Tobler to the team by outrunning rookie driver Alexis DeJoria in the first final round appearance of her career. Capps’ 4.076 at 312.35 mph in his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger was just too much for DeJoria, whose Tequila Patron Toyota Camry lost traction at half-track.
“There was a lot of pressure coming in because of the media and fans kept asking for six finals and, ‘Are you going to get in a sixth final?’ Every race that we’ve gone to, it’s just getting stronger and stronger, the bond that I have with Rahn Tobler and this team,” Capps said. “Don Schumacher does everything to give us everything that we need, and it’s impressive that Rahn Tobler is able to do what he does with a car. He’s such a perfectionist.”
Capps had to beat two women during Sunday’s eliminations, as he beat both top rookie contenders DeJoria and Courtney Force. Capps also took out Tony Pedregon and his DSR teammate Johnny Gray en route to his win at Bristol Dragway. With the win, Capps tied “Big Daddy” Don Garlits on the all-time wins list with 35 victories.
Every race that we’ve gone to, it’s just getting stronger and stronger, the bond that I have with Rahn Tobler and this team.
“I don’t even know how you can describe something like [the final] in words,” Edwards said. “Four zeros for the margin of victory. I just can’t believe it. Sometimes we struggle just a little bit, and then we come to this place [Bristol] and we do well. Sixteen straight round wins is unbelievable. I tell you, I wish we raced them all here. My guys did an awesome job this weekend. We weren’t the fastest car, just the second fastest car, but we got the job done.”
“Hats off to Allen Johnson,” Edwards said. “They did an awesome job too, especially in front of their home crowd. It had to be hard for him to lose a race like that I can’t explain it, but we just run exceptionally good here. I wanted to win this race four in a row so bad that I came here right after Englishtown and tested for two days, and I’ve never done that at a track where we have our next race. I wanted it bad, real bad.”
Edwards raced to his second win of the season by beating Larry Morgan, four-time world champ Jeg Coughlin Jr. and the most successful female in Pro Stock, Erica Enders, before reaching his second final round of the season.
Veteran Rickie Smith earned a very emotional and gratifying NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx victory Sunday at the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals presented by Tri-Cities Area Ford Dealers at Bristol Dragway.
Last season at Bristol Dragway Smith suffered a spectacular crash that caused him to take a hiatus from the sport due to a knee injury but the veteran driver came back to Bristol with on a mission, claiming the No.1 qualifying position and earning his second win of the season. Smith and his IDG Camaro’s 6.055 second pass at 241.24 mph beat Donald Walsh’s 7.393 second pass at 171.99 mph in the final round of eliminations.
Smith also beat veteran driver Jay Payne in the semifinals, Mike Knowles in the quarterfinals and Doug Winters in the opening round of eliminations.
With Smith’s win, it moves him into second place in the championship point standings.
Qualifying And Pro Mod Eliminations Recap
Friday’s qualifying leaders, Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Bob Tasca (Funny Car) and Tennessee native Allen Johnson (Pro Stock), secured the No. 1 qualifying spots Saturday at the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals presented by Tri-Cities Area Ford Dealers at Bristol Dragway.
Brown set both ends of the Top Fuel track record in his Aaron’s dragster with a 3.814 second pass at 323.12 mph during his second qualifying attempt Friday night under the lights at Bristol Dragway. Brown posted one of the quickest runs of the day – a 3.843 second pass in Saturday’s hot conditions — but no one was able to beat his Friday night run and he remained No. 1 for the second of the season and 31st of his career.
“That last session, the way the track temp was, that’s what we’re going to see a lot of tomorrow, so we felt real good to run well,” Brown said. “We were trying to run like an.86 first lap today. That didn’t work out, but we got it back together and got that Aaron’s Lucky Dog car down there. I was very, very pleased with the run. It gives you a lot of confidence for tomorrow. The car responded well. It lifted the front end up, hiked it up. It feels good when you go into tomorrow, race day, with the same conditions that you had in that last session, and it was a great run.”
It feels good when you go into tomorrow, race day, with the same conditions that you had in that last session, and it was a great run.
The surprise of the day was when Morgan Lucas’ GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster failed to make the 16-car field during Saturday’s hot conditions. Lucas has been one of the hottest drivers this season thanks to two wins and four No. 1 qualifying positions, which has placed him fourth in the championship point standings. Lucas’ Morgan Lucas Racing teammate Brandon Bernstein, who has two wins at the track and who was the runner-up at the most recent Full Throttle event in Englishtown, also failed to qualify for Sunday’s eliminations.
“A lot of people don’t understand how tough this class is, how tough Top Fuel is right now,” Brown said. “This class is as tough as the class has ever been. You have to hit it right in the right spot to make these cars perform on this racetrack.”
Tasca’s Motorcraft/Quick Lane Shelby Ford Mustang Friday night run of 4.063 seconds at 310.48 mph earned the provisional No. 1 spot heading into Saturday and no one was able to better Tasca’s effort during Saturday’s hot conditions. This is Tasca’s second consecutive No. 1 at Bristol, and third of his career.
“I’m an all-Ford kid, driving an all-Ford hot rod, qualified No. 1 at the all-Ford race, so that’s a cool deal, and hopefully we can win this thing for Ford,” Tasca said. “First round is going to be real good, then it’s going to warm up, and you’re going to have to learn how to pull the car back. We really wanted to go down that last run, but the data we have is good data. We know what we have to do to make it go A to B in the heat.”
I’m an all-Ford kid, driving an all-Ford hot rod, qualified No. 1 at the all-Ford race, so that’s a cool deal, and hopefully we can win this thing for Ford.
The story was the same in Pro Stock as local favorite Allen Johnson’s track record 6.623 second pass at 207.75 mph from Friday night remained atop the qualifying order at the end of Saturday’s two qualifying sessions. This is Johnson’s third consecutive No. 1 at this event, fourth of the season and 22nd of his career.
“We feel like we’ve won the battle [by qualifying No. 1] and now we’ve got to win the war during Sunday’s eliminations,” Johnson said. “We’ve got a very, very consistent race car now with very good people making very good decisions. Now the driver just has to do his job tomorrow.”
Veteran Rickie Smith powered his IDG ’12 Camaro to No. 1 qualifying position and advanced past the No. 16 qualifier in the first round of eliminations in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx portion of the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals presented by Tri-Cities Area Ford Dealers Saturday at Bristol Dragway.
Smith ran two mid 5.9-second range qualifying passes, but his 5.900 second pass at 240.85 mph Friday night earned him the qualifying lead heading into Saturday afternoon’s eliminations. Smith’s 5.966 second pass at 239.82 mph pass was too much for the No. 16 qualifier Doug Winters’ Chevy Bel Air’s 6.709 second pass at 163.24 mph. in the opening round of eliminations Saturday. Smith will face Mike Knowles in the second round Sunday afternoon and Smith will have lane choice.
The most recent Pro Mod winner and No. 2 qualifier Troy Coughlin, in his JEGS.com Chevy Camaro, outran Kenny Lang in a close opening round match-up, 6.079 seconds at 247.75 to Lang’s 6.164 seconds at 223.32 mph. The No. 3 qualifier Donald Martin and No. 5 qualifier and 2012 race winner Danny Rowe both were upset in the first round of eliminations Saturday.