Compiled by SEMA Editors
SCHUMACHER COLLECTS RECORD 10TH INDY WIN; HAGAN, MCGAHA, HINES ALSO SCORE AT BIG GO: Tony Schumacher sprinted to victory on Labor Day at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Chris McGaha (Pro Stock), and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were winners in their respective categories at the 18th event of 24 on the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule. The Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals was the final race of the regular season. Schumacher claimed his 82nd career win when he powered his U.S. Army dragster to a 3.806-second pass at 317.64 mph to beat Steve Torrence’s 3.803 at 325.06 in his Capco Contractors/Torrence Racing dragster during the final round on Monday. The winningest Top Fuel driver in NHRA history also became the winningest driver in Lucas Oil Raceway history by tallying his 10th career victory at the venerable track. Schumacher outran Tripp Tatum, reigning world champ Antron Brown, and Sonoma, California, event winner J.R. Todd in the earlier rounds before facing Torrence.
“I didn’t see [Steve Torrence] for one second, but I heard him,” said Schumacher. “It was a great final round, live on FOX, and I had my chance to win my 10th at Indy. The fans got a close race. It’s been such a great career, and it’s been so much fun. I’ve had great teams, one after another, and it’s a blessing to be a part of this and have a chance. I love my job, and I love drag-racing cars."
COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP POSITIONS SET: The Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals marks the end of the 18-race NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series regular season, and the defining line to set the competitors for the six-race Countdown to the Championship. The fields are set in all the categories and Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are the No. 1 seeds in their respective categories.
STRONG START AT THE NHRA CAROLINA NATIONALS IMPORTANT FOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP ASPIRATIONS: A great start to the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship is imperative if a driver hopes to win a world championship, and the epitome of that took place a year ago at state-of-the-art zMAX Dragway. All four winners of the NHRA Carolina Nationals ended their year with world titles, perfectly displaying the type of urgency a driver must have to start the NHRA’s six-race playoffs. Top Fuel standout Doug Kalitta watched his Funny Car teammate Del Worsham win the race and get hot at the perfect time, something he would love to replicate in his 10,000-hp Mac Tools dragster at the ninth annual NHRA Carolina Nationals, September 16–18. The world-class facility has hosted the first of six Countdown to the Championships every year since 2007, and Kalitta knows how crucial a good start is.
“It is only a six-race stretch, so every race is important,” said Kalitta, who is currently second in Top Fuel points. “Del got the win in Charlotte last season and then continued the string to the top spot and the title. I would like to do the same thing with this Mac Tools Toyota team. We started strong and then have been doing some learning. I have the utmost confidence in [crew chief] Jim [Oberhofer], [assistant crew chief] Troy [Fasching] and the entire Mac Tools team. I know we have what it takes to compete for a title."
He Said, She Said
“I can’t even believe it. Pro Stock has been around for 40-plus years, and to be one of the very few like that, it’s unbelievable. With all my years of bracket racing, I did look at the scoreboard—even though I shouldn’t in a Pro Stock car—and saw my win light on. I was like, ‘Is my win light on or is that just the sun on it?’ but it was lit up. I’m surrounded by a lot of great people who have helped us; people like A&J Furniture Manufacturing, Muffler, the Fab Shop, Federal Way Muffler, Fardig Development and Dave Barcelon’s Truck Town.”
—Pro Stock racer Aaron Strong on winning the postponed Seattle Pro Stock final held at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals. He faced Vincent Nobile in the delayed final and won his first career event when Nobile red-lighted at the start of the race.
Inside the Numbers
$100,000: Number of dollars that Courtney Force and Tony Schumacher took home after winning their respective portions of the NHRA Traxxas Nitro Shootouts held during the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals. Force sprinted to a $100,000 payday in her Traxxas Chevy Camaro SS by posting a 4.018-second pass at 266.04 mph to defeat teammate Robert Hight’s 4.596 at 180.09 at the controls of his Auto Club of Southern California Chevy Camaro SS during the final round of the specialty event.
“I went out today with the mindset of calm and relaxed,” said Force, daughter of 16-time Funny Car world champ John Force. “We got that run in last night [Saturday] and that was huge. It qualified us for fourth, so my guys got me into today not thinking about a qualifying run, which is huge for a race like this. To win an event like this in front of all these fans in Indiana is huge for our team.”
Schumacher won the Top Fuel portion when he powered his U.S. Army dragster to a 3.717-second pass at 328.86 mph to beat Leah Pritchett’s 3.738 at 317.05 in her Papa John’s dragster. Schumacher earned his second career NHRA Traxxas Nitro Shootout victory with the win. "It takes the points and what we work on all year long and gets rid of that," said Schumacher. "It is just ‘Here is a pile of money and just go be a machine.’ It makes it a lot on you. To come to the biggest race of the year, the Big Go, and have this thrown in the middle of it is fantastic."
Did You Know
MOPAR HEMI CHALLENGE TITLE GOES TO DANIELS: Second-generation racer James Daniels, 20, earned a victory in the Mopar Hemi Challenge held Friday during the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals. Daniels, of Bristol, Pennsylvania, won the final round with an 8.44-second elapsed time after opponent Stephen Hebert red-lighted. Daniels was driving the same Hemi-powered ’68 Dodge Dart that his father Jim drove to the Mopar Hemi Challenge title in 2010.
“This is absolutely unbelievable,” said Daniels. “I've only had about three passes in the car before this. We struggled at the beginning of the year, going back to an automatic [transmission]; it just turned around this weekend. We did some work on it before the race, and everything just went together. It's an unreal experience. I can’t thank my father enough for giving me the opportunity to drive his car. He’s won many shootouts and set many records, and it’s awesome to be able to drive his race cars.”