SCHUMACHER PULLS WITHIN TWO WINS OF AMATO; SMITH OVERCOMES HEALTH ISSUES TO GET WIN IN BRAINERD: With his No. 1 spot already secured for the Countdown to 1 and following his first sweep of the Western Swing, five-time POWERade world champion Tony Schumacher picked up his 50th career win Sunday at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, bringing him to within two of the Top Fuel all-time wins record set by Joe Amato. It was also Schumacher’s fourth straight win, ninth of the season, and seventh in the past nine races.
Even more impressive than Schumacher’s win was that of POWERade Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion Matt Smith. Smith battled with painful kidney stones, 10 in all, all day and captured his third win of the season after runner-up Angelle Sampey’s Buell broke at the line.
As if two defending champions in the Winner’s Circle was not enough, Funny Car defending world champion Tony Pedregon also joined Smith and Schumacher after he drove his Q Horsepower Chevy Impala past runner up Jack Beckman—who had a red light in the final round—to pick up his fourth win of the season and first at the historic track in Brainerd.
In Pro Stock, Kurt Johnson picked up his third win of the season and moved passed Jason Line to take the second-place spot in the point standings. For more results from the 27th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, click here.
FORCE TO BE INDUCTED INTO MOTORSPORTS HALL OF FAME OF AMERICA : Funny Car legend John Force joined the likes of NHRA legends Joe Amato, Don Garlits, Shirley Muldowney, Don Prudhomme, Connie Kalitta and Bill “Grumpy” Jenkins by being inducted into the 2008 Motorsports Hall of Fame on August 13.
Joining Force in the 2008 induction were open-wheel racing champion Michael Andretti, NASCAR great Buddy Baker, sports car champion Richie Ginther, motorcycle hero Wayne Rainey, aerobatic pilot Betty Skelton and Paul Goldsmith. Force was accompanied to the ceremony by John Force Racing teammates Ashley Force and Robert Hight, as well as 2008 Funny Car world champion Tony Pedregon.
For more on this event, click here.
AFTER BRAINERD SCRIMMAGE, NHRA SOFTBALL TEAMS READY TO TAKE THE FIELD: After a scrimmage that saw Antron Brown’s Burn Down Bombers annihilate Gary Scelzi’s Superchargers by a score of 22–2, both teams are feeling prepared for this Thursday as they will take the field for the NHRA Softball Classic at FirstEnergy Stadium in Reading, Pennsylvania. While Scelzi plans to get in a few more super secret practices before the game, Brown feels happy with his team and the picks he made during the draft for the event back in Sonoma, California.
“We played at about half-speed today and beat Scelzi’s team 22–2 in five innings,” said Brown. “The goal is to win by at least 25 runs when we play our real game.” Though the score seemed very lopsided, Scelzi is still confident in the draft picks he chose. “We’ve got looks, personality and brains, but we might be a little light on talent,” said Scelzi.
For more information on the NHRA Softball Classic set for Thursday, August 14, click here.
TOYO TIRES NHRA NATIONALS, MAPLE GROVE RACEWAY, AUGUST 14–17: Returning to the East Coast, drivers in the NHRA POWERade Series have one final chance before Indy to make a run at the Top 10 in the point standings. Defending event winners include Doug Herbert (Top Fuel); Tony Pedregon (Funny Car); Dave Connolly (Pro Stock); and Matt Guidera (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
MAC TOOLS U.S. NATIONALS, O’REILLY RACEWAY PARK, AUGUST 27–SEPTEMBER 1: The final stop for the regular season, drivers in the NHRA POWERade Series will have one last chance at the historic Raceway in Indianapolis to secure a spot in the Top 10 in the point standings and advance to the Countdown to 1. Funny Car and Pro Stock Motorcycle competitors will also have the chance to compete for cash and bragging rights in the U.S. Smokeless Showdown and the Ringers Gloves Pro Bike Battle.
Defending winners of the race include Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel); Mike Ashley (Funny Car); Dave Connolly (Pro Stock); and Craig Treble (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
NHRA CAROLINAS NATIONALS, zMAX DRAGWAY @ CONCORD, SEPTEMBER 11–14: In the first race of the Countdown to 1, the NHRA POWERade Series heads to the newly constructed zMAX Dragway @ Concord and its first visit to the state of North Carolina. All four professional categories (Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle) will compete in this inaugural event.
HE SAID, SHE SAID
RUNNING A RED LIGHT AND STAYING IN THE TOP 10: Though Funny Car driver Jack Beckman’s Sunday at Brainerd didn’t end the way he’d hoped (Beckman had a red light in the final round of competition), his runner-up finish moved him past Mike Neff and into the ninth spot in the point standings—a good place to be with only two events remaining in the regular season.
“We ran great all four rounds,” said Beckman. “It was a great weekend. Points-wise, we couldn’t have asked for much more. It could have been an outstanding weekend if I’d been effective in the final.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
5, 10: Tony Schumacher can tie his own Top Fuel records for most consecutive wins (five) and most wins in a season (10) with a win in Reading this weekend.
DID YOU KNOW…
…Maple Grove Raceway was the scene of a dramatic Top Fuel final round in 2007. Doug Herbert, driver of the SnaponFranchise.com dragster, needed to win the race against Rod Fuller to move on in the inaugural Countdown to the Championship. Herbert accomplished the feat and finished sixth in the 2007 point standings.