SCHUMACHER, CAPPS, CONNOLLY AND SMITH WIN IN EPPING: Ron Capps raced to his first victory of the season in Funny Car Sunday at the Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals. Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Dave Connolly (Pro Stock) and Angie Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were winners at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event at New England Dragway. Capps drove his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger to the win over Alexis DeJoria with a 4.095-second run at 315.19 mph to claim the 41st victory of his career.
"It was big because we haven’t been in the winner’s circle since Brainerd," said Capps, who defeated Tim Wilkerson, Cruz Pedregon and Courtney Force to advance to the final round. "It was bigger because there was one spot left in the Traxxas Shootout. Nobody wanted to talk about it in our pit area, but that was it."
READY FOR KICKS AT ROUTE 66: The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series heads to Route 66 Raceway for the 12th stop of the 2014 season at the 17th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries, June 26–29. The best in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will all compete for the Wally trophy at the state-of-the-art motorsports facility located just south of Chicago. Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Jeg Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock) and Michael Ray (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised nationally on ESPN2.
JOHN FORCE NOMINATED FOR DRIVER OF THE YEAR ESPY AWARD: Sixteen-time Funny Car champion John Force has been nominated for the 2014 ESPY award for Best Driver. This comes after his 16th championship in 2013 when he won four races and raced to five runner-up finishes. NHRA fans can vote for Force to beat out fellow nominees Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Scott Dixon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Cast your vote now.
He Said, She Said
"The class is tighter than I’ve ever seen it and it’s awesome. You go up and down in racing and right now we’re up. It’s outstanding. It was intense. We’ve been working hard. We haven’t given (the fans) the Army car we’re used to seeing. We haven’t performed, but as a team we know what we’re going through. We know the goal, and if we push through these hard times it’s going to be amazing. We’ve got a great car and we’re right there. We have to drive better because we’re getting older. These young guys are doing great and it makes us have to be better than we ever were. We all have to be great every day to win a race."
—Tony Schumacher on his 74th career Top Fuel win, and second of the season, at the most recent event in Epping. Schumacher enters his home track of Route 66 Raceway where he has four career wins. He is tied for the most career wins at the facility with legendary racer Kenny Bernstein.
Inside the Numbers
7: Number of wins by female racers in 2014, including the most recent victory by Angie Smith, her career first, in Epping. Erica Enders-Stevens in Pro Stock has three wins, Alexis DeJoria has two wins and fellow Funny Car racer Courtney Force has one victory this season. The seven wins ties the most wins in a season by female drivers, which Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Angelle Sampey raced to in 2001. Also in NHRA history, there hasn't been a female winner in all four classes in a single season. Brittany Force and Leah Pritchett could help make history this weekend in Chicago if they add their names to the winners list in Top Fuel.
Did You Know
CAPPS TAKES FINAL PRE-QUALIFIED POSITION FOR TRAXXAS NITRO SHOOTOUT: Ron Capps became the seventh different Funny Car racer to take home a win in Epping, and in doing so picked up the final at-large bid for the Funny Car category for the NHRA Traxxas Nitro Shootout held at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals. The eighth and final spot will be determined by a fan vote and lottery-style drawing following the Brainerd event. The Top Fuel positions have also been filled as Shawn Langdon raced to the final position in Bristol.
View the complete 2014 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.