Schumacher, Worsham and Connolly Earn Victories at O'Reilly NHRA Fall Nationals Anderson clinches NHRA POWERade world championship in Pro Stock ENNIS, Texas -- Tony Schumacher moved closer to his second NHRA POWERade Series Top Fuel world ...
Schumacher, Worsham and Connolly Earn Victories at O'Reilly NHRA Fall Nationals
Anderson clinches NHRA POWERade world championship in Pro Stock
ENNIS, Texas -- Tony Schumacher moved closer to his second NHRA POWERade Series Top Fuel world championship title with a victory Sunday at the O'Reilly Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec while Pro Stock dominator Greg Anderson clinched his second consecutive series crown.
Del Worsham and Dave Connolly also were winners at the Texas Motorplex in their categories at the $1.7 million race, the 19th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
Schumacher took his second win at this track and 19th of his career by powering his U.S. Army dragster to a 4.575-second pass at 325.85 mph in the final to beat Australian Dave Grubnic, who remained winless in his career by clocking a 4.623 at 323.97 in the Red Line Oil dragster.
"This was a big day for us," said Schumacher of his eighth win of the season. "I feel good because I have a great team. Even if we started (the points chase) over again right now I'd still feel confident about our chances because if you look at the four races we've got left, I'd stack my guys up against any other team. We've won at all four places in the past so I feel like we can win any of them again."
With the victory, Schumacher extended his series lead to 217 over Doug Kalitta.
"I won my first race ever at this race track in 1999 and we went on to win the championship that year so maybe we can do that again this year," Schumacher said. "There are 16 rounds left and we have almost an 11-round cushion over Kalitta so it looks good. We're also looking at our win total. We have eight wins now and the record is nine (Gary Scelzi 2000 and Larry Dixon 2003) so maybe we can go after that too."
Anderson claimed his $200,000 world championship title for Pro Stock earlier than any driver in NHRA history when his closest points challenger, Jason Line, lost in the first round and became mathematically eliminated from contention. Line's result made Anderson's first round meeting with rival Kurt Johnson a moot point.
John Force previously held the mark for clinching a championship in the shortest amount of time as he won the '96 Funny Car title in the semifinals at Indianapolis with four races remaining.
"It feels really good to clinch the championship again here in Dallas, although this year was two races earlier on the schedule," said Anderson, a Duluth, Minn. native who now calls Charlotte, N.C. home. "These are some serious records and anytime you can be mentioned alongside John Force you know you must be doing something right."
Anderson's amazing 2004 season has included 13 victories in 15 final round appearances, 13 No. 1 qualifying awards and an elimination round record of 62-6. His points lead over Line is 638. All that, and he still has four races remaining on the schedule. Several other key records are within his reach, including most victories in a season, most No. 1 qualifying awards, most final rounds and most elimination round wins.
"What we've been able to do this year is just incredible," Anderson said. "We have accomplished a lot, but winning this POWERade championship was our main goal. I have a great team with some talented guys and we have great sponsors in Summit Racing Equipment and Mac Tools. We are going to continue to work hard and see if we can win a few more races at the last four events. This season is really beyond our dreams. It's that big."
Worsham claimed his fourth victory of the season in as many final round appearances by outrunning veteran Cruz Pedregon in the final. Worsham posted a winning effort of 4.934 at 315.56 in his Checker Schuck's Kragen Chevy Monte Carlo, while Pedregon trailed with a 4.948 at 307.02 in his Advance Auto Parts Monte Carlo.
"It's cool being 4-0 in finals this year but we haven't always been unbeatable in final rounds," said a smiling Worsham, who has 18 career victories, and also won at the Motorplex in '02. "Go look at my record in the '90s. We do love running at this track though. This place is awesome for Funny Cars."
Force, eyeing a 13th POWERade title, increased his series points lead to 228 over Gary Scelzi with a semifinal effort.
Connolly earned his second career Pro Stock victory by defeating local favorite Bruce Allen from nearby Arlington. Connolly drove his Bullet Motorsports Chevy Cavalier to a winning time of 6.810 at 203.74 to hold off Allen's charging Reher-Morrison Pontiac Grand Am, which clocked a 6.891 at 202.79.
"I looked over in the final and saw all those people behind (Allen's) car and one of them yelled over, 'Hey, let him win, he's from Texas,'" Connolly said with a grin. "I thought that was cool, but I wasn't going to give it up that easy."
Connolly, making his fifth final round appearance in the last six races, moved to within two rounds of second place in the points standings with his victory.
"We're running real well right now but the scary part of this class is we could go into the off-season and everyone could catch us and pass us and make us look stupid by the spring," he said. "You have to ride it when you can and that's what we're doing. Hopefully we can finish in second place. That would be pretty good for our first full year out here."
The NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series continues with the fourth annual CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, Sept. 30-Oct. 3 at Route 66 Raceway near Chicago.