Tony Schumacher, an eight-time Top Fuel world champion and the winningest driver in the history of the class, picked up his first victory since 2018 in a thrilling side-by-side final round duel with Steve Torrence at Sunday’s 33rd annual Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals presented by Pennzoil at Houston Raceway Park.
Tommy Johnson Jr. (Funny Car), Aaron Stanfield (Pro Stock) Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle), and Justin Bond (E3 Spark Plugs Pro Mod) also won the Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals presented by Pennzoil, the 10th of 11 races during the 2020 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season.
With Schumacher and Johnson both winning, it gave Don Schumacher Racing its first nitro sweep of 2020 and 66th overall for the organization, which now has 356 wins. Schumacher, the winningest driver in Top Fuel history, and Torrence put on a remarkable show in the final round, with Schumacher’s run of 3.669-seconds at 330.63 mph in his 11,000-horsepower Okuma/Sandvik Coromant Toyota dragster edging past Torrence’s 3.687 at 330.07. It gave Schumacher his 85th career victory and first since winning at Bristol in June of 2018. He defeated Cameron Ferre, Doug Foley and Billy Torrence to reach the final round, saving his best pass of the weekend for the championship round.
“I’m super proud and I’m so happy for my guys,” said Schumacher, who returned to the sport in July after not racing in 2019. “I’ve done this and lived these moments, and been part of some cool stuff, and these guys were able to dig deep. That final round, those are epic battles. I’ve been on both sides of that. I beat Torrence in Indy by .0006 and lost the same way to him. You’ve got two badass teams battling it out and that was the best race we’ve seen all year. It was a team effort and everybody did a great job.”
Torrence, the No. 1 qualifier, stayed on paced as he chases his third straight Top Fuel world championship by advancing to his sixth final round this year and 61st in his career. He picked up round wins against Shawn Langdon and Antron Brown, making six passes in the 3.60s this weekend. Torrence will take a 101-point lead over Doug Kalitta to the 2020 finale in Las Vegas.
Johnson remained in championship contention in Funny Car with a clutch performance in Houston, going 3.929 at 321.04 in his 11,000-horsepower MD Anderson Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat to beat teammate Ron Capps’ 3.952 at 325.14 in the final round. It gave DSR its 13th straight Funny Car win and a victory for Johnson’s sponsor in their hometown. Johnson, who now has three victories this season and 22 in his career, beat Jim Campbell, J.R. Todd and then points leader Matt Hagan in a critical semifinal race to reach the finals. The victory pulled Johnson to within 42 points of Hagan, with Jack Beckman, who was upset in the opening round by Capps, just one point behind Johnson, ensuring a must-see showdown in Las Vegas.
“It was a must-win,” Johnson said. “We get close and then we stumble and we think we’re out of it, and here we come again. We just keep coming back. It’s like a heavyweight battle and when we get knocked down, we get back up and keep swinging. I’m just really proud of these guys. They never quit. I’m just super happy with the fight in these guys and this has got drama written all over it when we go to Vegas. You’ve got to keep digging and you knew the final round was going to be a great race. It’s definitely been different this year, but once you fire the engine it’s no different. These guys have done a really good job under some tough circumstances.”
Capps reached the final round for the 125th time in his career with victories against Beckman, who was the No. 1 qualifier, Cruz Pedregon and Alexis DeJoria.
In Pro Stock, Stanfield earned his first career win in the class thanks to a pass of 6.535 at 211.03 in his Janac Brothers Racing Chevrolet Camaro to beat Jeg Coughlin Jr. in the final round. Stanfield beat Kenny Delco, Troy Coughlin Jr. and Kyle Koretsky to advance to the final round for the second time in his career. Coughlin beat Matt Hartford, points leader Erica Enders and Greg Anderson to reach his 115th career final and stay in championship contention.
After advancing to his first final round in Gainesville, Stanfield finished the job in Houston, capping off an incredible day for the young standout. He won the race in the SAMTech.edu Factory Stock Showdown Drag Racing Series, also clinching the world championship in that class. Add in the Pro Stock victory and Stanfield took home a remarkable three Wallys on Sunday.
“I definitely can’t put this into words,” Stanfield said. “I remember listening to my dad race and I’ve dreamed of the day that I could hold up a Pro Stock Wally ever since I was a little guy watching my dad race. It’s always been at the top of my goals. I tried to stay as calm as I could, but I knew my guys had my best interests in mind. I stayed focused, we did our job and we got it done. To be honest, this whole day has been crazy, just accomplishing huge, huge dreams. I haven’t had time to soak it all in, but what my dad has taught me is to clear your head and focus on what you need to do. That’s what I was able to do today.”
Despite falling in the second round, Enders stretched her points lead as she tries to win back-to-back world titles and her fourth overall. She leads Jason Line and Coughlin by 55 points heading to Las Vegas.
Pro Stock Motorcycle’s Krawiec won for the first time in more than two years on his Harley-Davidson FXDR, going 6.801 at 198.61 in the finals to beat Ryan Oehler. Krawiec’s last victory came at Brainerd in 2018, but he was impressive in Houston on Sunday to pick up his 48th career victory. He had a series of 6.80 runs over the final three rounds, beating Michael Phillips, Jerry Savoie and Hector Arana Jr. to reach the final round. Oehler beat Kelly Clontz, Andrew Hines and points leader Matt Smith to earn his second final-round berth, but Krawiec led from start to finish in a strong championship round performance.
“It just feels good to win again,” Krawiec said. “I feel like I’ve accomplished all that I’ve needed to and I don’t have to prove anything, but it’s nice just to get it done. There’s a lot of great racers in the class and you can’t take anything for granted. You have to appreciate every win, even more so right now with the competition level in the class. We’ve got 4-5 motorcycles all fighting for the championship. It’s great racing and that’s the way it should be. You have to be on your game at all times. It’s a big team effort and that’s what I really attribute this to.”
Matt Smith kept the points lead and is 58 points ahead of Scotty Pollacheck with one race remaining. Defending world champ Hines trails Pollacheck by just eight points as he remains in title contention as well.
Justin Bond won for the first time in his career in the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service, beating first-time finalist Brandon Pesz in the championship round at Houston Raceway Park.
Bond went 5.707-seconds at 249.35 mph in his ProCharger Bahrain 1 Racing Camaro to beat Pesz, claiming his first career NHRA Pro Mod win and also the first ProCharger-powered victory since the power adder was added to the class in 2020.
Bond, who qualified third with a 5.692 at 248.20, knocked off Doug Winters, Jonathan Gray and points leader Brandon Snider to reach his second career final round. He quickly tracked down Pesz and rolled to the win, marking the second straight week for a first-time winner after Snider won in Dallas. Bond also becomes the sixth different winner in six NHRA Pro Mod races in 2020 and the third first-time winner this year, following Snider and Chad Green.
“This car wasn’t here until 9 a.m. Saturday morning,” Bond said. “I decided at 10 p.m. Pacific time on Thursday to be here, and I just can’t thank all my guys enough.”
Pesz reached his first career final round in NHRA Pro Mod action with victories against Green, Alex Laughlin and Rickie Smith.
By advancing to the semifinals, Snider jumped past defending world champ Stevie “Fast” Jackson for the points lead. Heading to the final event of the season in Vegas next weekend, Snider leads Jackson by 26 points. Mike Janis and Khalid alBalooshi are 55 and 56 points behind Snider, respectively.
Sunday’s final results from the 33rd annual Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals presented by Pennzoil at Houston Raceway Park powered by Pennzoil. The race is the 10th of 11 in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series:
Top Fuel — Tony Schumacher, 3.669 seconds, 330.63 mph def. Steve Torrence, 3.687 seconds, 330.07 mph.
Funny Car — Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 3.929, 321.04 def. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.952, 325.14.
Pro Stock — Aaron Stanfield, Chevy Camaro, 6.535, 211.03 def. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.611, 207.53.
Pro Modified — Justin Bond, Chevy Camaro, 5.707, 249.35 def. Brandon Pesz, Camaro, 7.504, 127.58.
Pro Stock Motorcycle — Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.801, 198.61 def. Ryan Oehler, EBR, 6.905, 181.37.
Top Alcohol Dragster — Shawn Cowie, 5.207, 276.13 def. Julie Nataas, 5.259, 274.16.
Top Alcohol Funny Car — Brian Hough, Chevy Camaro, 5.900, 187.16 def. Chris Marshall, Camaro, Foul – Red Light.
Competition Eliminator — Craig Bourgeois, Dragster, 6.816, 181.89 def. Frank Aragona, Bantam, 7.444, 170.36.
Super Stock — Gary Emmons, Chevy Cavalier, 10.113, 101.99 def. Jeff Miller, Chevy Camaro, 12.698, 70.31.
Stock Eliminator — Woody Gary, Dodge Challenger, 10.228, 128.08 def. Wes Neely, Pontiac Firebird, 11.552, 113.51.
Super Comp — Shannon Brinkley, Dragster, 8.905, 177.35 def. Dylan Hough, Dragster, 8.895, 176.74.
Super Gas — Charlie Stewart, Chevy Corvette, 9.914, 169.44 def. Vernon Rowland, Olds Calais, 9.946, 161.42.
Top Sportsman presented by Vortech Superchargers — Mark Buehring, Chevy Cobalt, 7.237, 158.58 def. David Cuadra, Pontiac GTO, Foul – Red Light.
Factory Stock Showdown — Aaron Stanfield, Chevy Camaro, 7.875, 174.05 def. David Barton, Camaro, 7.901, 175.11.