SCHUMACHER TIES ‘BIG DADDY’ GARLITS WITH WINS AT INDY: Top Fuel pilot Tony Schumacher became just the second driver in his class to pick up eight wins at O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis when he drove his U.S. Army dragster straight into the winner’s circle at the prestigious 55th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil.
Schumacher tied NHRA legend Don Garlits for the most wins in his class at the historic track and second most wins of the event, with both sitting just one win behind Pro Stock legend Bob Glidden. For Schumacher, it was more than just matching the legends record; it was a win on the biggest stage in drag racing against his former crew chief, Alan Johnson.
“It’s cool because you know at the beginning of the year it was ‘Schumacher’s not going to win again. He can’t win without Alan.’ To beat Alan at Indy under all the pressure, that’s good news; that’s what it’s all about. It doesn’t happen every time, but it shows that a great group of people with determination and some serious drive can go out and do anything. We’ve got the right people.”
In Funny Car, Ashley Force Hood became just the third female in NHRA history to win the prestigious labor day-weekend event, when she was able to hold off teammate and runner-up Robert Hight in the final round. Though Hight lost the race, he was able to clinch the final remaining spot in the Countdown to 1 playoffs in Funny Car.
In Pro Stock, Jeg Coughlin showed why he’s the man to beat this season, driving by long-time rival Greg Anderson in the first round, then mowing over the competition to grab his third U.S. Nationals win, beating Greg Stanfield in the final round. Pro Stock Motorcycle’s Hector Arana continued his streak of success, as he earned his first U.S. Nationals win and third Wally of the season.
To see how all the NHRA Full Throttle Series drivers faired at the historic Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil, visit www.NHRA.com.
COUNTDOWN TO 1 FIELDS SET HEADING TO CHARLOTTE: In dramatic fashion, the final spots to the Countdown to 1 playoffs came down to the final day of the prestigious Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil, as Funny Car driver Robert Hight moved past Matt Hagan and Cruz Pedregon with his final-round appearance and moved into the final 10th-place spot in the Funny Car point standings.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Karen Stoffer was able to hold off competitors Steve Johnson and Junior Pippin for the final spot in that category after Stoffer moved into the second round of eliminations on Monday. Pro Stock’s Johnny Gray took the final spot from NHRA legend Warren Johnson after Johnson was unable to qualify for the field. Top Fuel’s Clay Millican also clinched his spot during qualifying when Joe Hartley failed to qualify for the event. Antron Brown, Tony Pedregon, Jeg Coughlin, and Eddie Krawiec enter the Countdown to 1 playoffs in the top spot in their categories, securing their 20-point bonuses heading to Charlotte.
For more on the Countdown to 1 playoffs, visit www.NHRA.com.
HINES WINS FOURTH RINGERS GLOVES PRO BIKE BATTLE: Andrew Hines claimed his fourth win in six seasons along with the $25,000 paycheck during the Ringers Gloves Pro Bike Battle special event on Saturday during qualifying for the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil. The three-time NHRA world champion rode his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson to a 6.970-second run at more than 192 mph in the final round after opponent Hector Arana fouled at the starting line. The Vance & Hines team has now won the specialty event 10 times since the inaugural race in 1991, including the last six events.
“I can’t tell you what this means to me,” said Hines. “It was tough to see Hector go red, but as soon as I saw my win light on, I thought to myself, ‘I just won 25 grand.’ With the economy being what it is, this really does a lot for our team.”
Hines was the No. 2 seed entering the event, with Arana qualifying No. 1 for the special bonus race. Other Pro Stock Motorcycle riders competing in the event included defending world champion and Hines’ teammate, Eddie Krawiec, Matt Guidera, Matt Smith, Karen Stoffer, Steve Johnson and Craig Treble. For more on this event, including all of the results, visit www.NHRA.com.
BERNSTEIN ANNOUNCES COPART AS NEW PRIMARY TOP FUEL SPONSOR FOR 2010: Six-time NHRA champion and Hall of Famer Kenny Bernstein has named Copart, Inc., an online vehicle remarketing company that sells more than 1 million cars per year, as the primary sponsor of his legendary Top Fuel team beginning in 2010. Copart sells vehicles using an online auction format at Copart.com, making it easy for people to search for and bid on vehicles from the comfort of their home or office.
“We are thrilled to be announcing this new relationship with Copart,” said Bernstein. “We visited Copart headquarters in July and were amazed by the technology that allows buyers from all over the world to bid on an extensive inventory of more than 50,000 vehicles each day.”
For more information on this story, including a link for Copart, visit www.NHRA.com.
NHRA ANNOUNCES NEW POINT SYSTEM TO COINCIDE WITH THE START OF THE FULL THROTTLE COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP: NHRA announced that with the start of the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship at the NHRA Carolinas Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Concord, North Carolina, it will recognize national records in Top Fuel and Funny Car and create a new bonus point system for pro qualifying sessions. Both programs will instantly make the battle for the NHRA Full Throttle world championship just a little more interesting for professional competitors on the eve of the start of the Countdown to 1, NHRA’s six-race championship playoffs.
NHRA will recognize official national elapsed time and speed records to 1,000 feet for both Top Fuel and Funny Car. Teams that set a national record for elapsed time (E.T.) will be awarded 20 points. Speed records are not eligible for bonus points. The starting point for the national record will be established using the quickest time and fastest speeds to 1,000-feet that were backed up by another performance within 1 percent during the course of a single event weekend, occurring since 1,000-foot racing started at the midway point of 2008. Those drivers who currently hold the national record in each category will not retroactively receive the 20 point bonus.
In order for performances to be certified as NHRA national records, the eligible performance must be backed up by another performance within 1 percent during the course of a single event weekend. Only one 20 point bonus will be awarded in each category per event.
In addition, NHRA announced a new bonus points structure that will offer teams opportunities to score critical points during qualifying sessions in all four professional categories. The team in each category with the quickest elapsed time during each qualifying session will receive three bonus points. In all, a team records the lowest E.T. in all four sessions could receive a total of 12 bonus points during qualifying. Teams with the second and third quickest elapsed times during each qualifying session will receive 2 and 1 bonus points, respectively.
NHRA CAROLINAS NATIONALS, zMAX DRAGWAY, SEPTEMBER 17–20: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series heads down to the Charlotte area for the second annual event and first race of the Countdown to 1 playoffs. Defending event winners include Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel); Jack Beckman (Funny Car); Justin Humphreys (Pro Stock); and Steve Johnson (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
O’REILLY SUPER START BATTERIES NHRA FALL NATIONALS, TEXAS MOTORPLEX, SEPTEMBER 24–27: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes its second stop of the season in the Lone Star State for the second race of the Countdown to 1 playoffs. Defending event winners include J.R. Todd (Top Fuel); Tim Wilkerson (Funny Car); Greg Stanfield (Pro Stock); and Chris Rivas (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
O’REILLY NHRA MID-SOUTH NATIONALS, MEMPHIS MOTORSPORTS PARK, OCTOBER 2–4: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series heads down to the land of the Delta Blues for its third stop in the NHRA Countdown to 1 playoffs. Defending event winners include Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel); Tim Wilkerson (Funny Car); Mike Edwards (Pro Stock); and Craig Treble (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
HE SAID, SHE SAID
THAT FIRST AND SECOND WIN AT INDY: Ashley Force Hood on earning her first U.S. Nationals win in Funny Car but second win at the historic O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis: “When I won in ’04 (in Top Alcohol dragster), it was my first national event win, and I happened to win at the 50th annual U.S. Nationals, and you couldn’t pick a better time to win your first event. I don’t think I really realized what was going on that day. Now, I can look back and appreciate it.
"It’s funny because before that final round, I was thinking, ‘OK, Robert seems to have magic here. When that team comes here, they do really well.’ I’ve spent a lot of winner’s circles here with his team, so I thought maybe this was going to be his day. Then Jerry Darien walked by, and I just had to laugh because I thought, ‘Well, it’s been our day here before, too, with Darien and Meadows – we won here, too.’”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
2: Even though it’s only in its second season of following the prestigious Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, two is the number of drivers who have gone back-to-back, winning the prestigious U.S. Nationals and following it up with a win at the first event of the Countdown to 1 playoffs, the NHRA Carolinas Nationals at zMAX Dragway @ Concord. Tony Schumacher and Steve Johnson swept both events last season to become the first drivers to do so. Schumacher, Force Hood, Coughlin and Arana will try to repeat in two weeks as the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series heads to North Carolina.
DID YOU KNOW…
…that since the Countdown to the Championship began in 2007, only three times in the four professional categories has the No. 1 ranked driver entering the Countdown playoffs gone on to win the world championship. Tony Schumacher did it two straight years, while Matt Smith accomplished the task on his way to his 2007 world championship.