SEMA eNews Vol. 17, No. 39, September 25, 2014

NHRA: C. Force Regains Championship Form With Dallas Win

Compiled by SEMA Editors

NHRA News

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C. FORCE REGAINS CHAMPIONSHIP FORM WITH DALLAS WIN: Courtney Force recorded the 11th win by a woman this season and she is again a contender for the Funny Car world championship when she raced to her third win of the season in Dallas. Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Dave Connolly (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) took home victories at the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals.

“We definitely needed to make a turn for the better,” Force continued. “We needed to go some rounds today if we still wanted a shot at the championship. After the loss in Charlotte, it felt like the No. 1 spot was drifting further away. It was almost a good thing he [John Force] went out a little bit early here, and he wasn't creating such a huge gap for us to [potentially] reach that No. 1 spot. We've made a huge move up, and we're still in the hunt."

SCHUMACHER RECORDS 75TH AND 76TH WINS DURING ACTION-PACKED WEEKEND IN TEXAS: Tony Schumacher won his 75th career Top Fuel race last Saturday during the delayed eliminations for the Pep Boys NHRA Carolina Nationals held at Texas Motorplex. Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Jonathan Gray (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycycle) also took home wins at the event. Schumacher also won the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals on Sunday and picked up another Wally to add to his collection. Schumacher took advantage of early losses by top championship contenders in the Charlotte finals to begin laying a foundation to secure his eighth world championship.

"It couldn’t have come at a better time," Schumacher said. "It is the first race in the Countdown, even though we had to move it, it doesn’t really matter. In reality, fantastic timing, we took over the points lead; I don’t know where we are, but we are in the lead. If we can maintain and stay ahead of these guys for five more races, and I know we have the car capable of doing it, we’ll be there to force the issue."

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READY FOR REDEMPTION: The start of Brittany Force’s first experience with the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship did not go as planned. But with four more opportunities for playoff redemption, the sophomore Top Fuel driver knows she can still put together a thrilling end to her 2014 season. Force fell in the first round of the first race in the Countdown to the Championship and those struggles continued throughout the weekend at the Texas Motorplex in Dallas when she failed to qualify for playoff stop No. 2. That put an immediate damper on Force’s title hopes in her first Countdown appearance, but a turnaround could come this weekend at the third annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis.

“My team’s focus is to put our best effort into these final four races so we can stand a chance next to all our tough competitors,” said Force, who is 10th in points. “The entire team feels this pressure but we are ready to dive right into it. I will admit there is definitely an added pressure going into the Countdown. I think it's the combination of competing in my first Countdown ever but also knowing that every move you make can cost you. At this point in the game you can’t afford too many mistakes. Every pass we make has to count.”

He Said, She Said

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"We had two options. We could have put a motor in that would have had us up there in time and won the race knowing what we now know, or we could have put in the kick-ass-and-win-the-race motor. We chose the kick-ass-and-win-the-race motor, and we just missed the call. We’ve never hurt so many parts in one race. We were matching parts up with other engines and literally had three teams helping us do it. There was LE Tonglet’s team, White Alligator Racing, and people I didn’t even know. Three-time Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon was holding the bolts that I was grabbing out of his hands. We split [engine] cases and put the transmission from ‘A’ into engine ‘C,’ that kind of stuff. If I would have known that Hines was only going to go 7.50, I could have put in my ‘B’ engine and won the race. I wanted to tear their throats out. I wanted to have the performance we had all weekend long and win."

—Pro Stock Motorcycle racer, Steve Johnson on failing to make it to the final-round matchup against Andrew Hines in eliminations in Dallas. Hines won the event but suffered transmission damage during the pass and left Johnson to wonder about a missed opportunity.

Inside the Numbers

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43: Number of points separating Pro Stock points leader Jason Line and second-place racer Dave Connolly. Line, a two-time world champion, has led the points since winning the Brainerd event. In the first two events in the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, he has raced to one runner-up finish and one quarterfinal appearance. Connolly, who started the Countdown in the sixth position, has one quarterfinal finish and won the most recent event in Dallas. Connolly has finished third in the points three times and is aiming for his first career championship.

"You know, I've been very blessed," said Connolly, now a three-time winner at Texas Motorplex. "I've had a lot of great opportunities, but I've got to say that racing with Gray Motorsports is one of the best opportunities I've had. It's pretty incredible to race with such a great group of guys, and the whole family—the friendship we've created over the course of this year is unbelievable. We're out here having fun, and it couldn't be better."

Did You Know

NHRA DRIVERS TO TAKE PART IN ST. LOUIS FAN FESTIVAL:
NHRA fans in the St. Louis area will have an opportunity to meet their favorite drivers in the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series at the NHRA Fan Festival taking place September 25, from 6:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m. The free event will take place at Ballpark Village located next to Busch Stadium in the heart of downtown St. Louis. The event will feature interactive displays, ticket giveaways and live music. Drivers will be on hand to sign autographs for the fans from 6:30 p.m.–7:30 p.m.

View the complete 2014 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

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