SCHUMACHER PASSES GARLITS ON ALL-TIME TOP FUEL WINS LIST WITH ACDELCO NHRA GATORNATIONALS VICTORY Capps, Anderson and Stoffer also score victories at historic Gainesville Raceway GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Teammates Tony Schumacher and Ron Capps...
SCHUMACHER PASSES GARLITS ON ALL-TIME TOP FUEL WINS LIST WITH ACDELCO
NHRA GATORNATIONALS VICTORY
Capps, Anderson and Stoffer also score victories at historic Gainesville Raceway
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Teammates Tony Schumacher and Ron Capps pulled off a double victory for team owner Don Schumacher by sweeping the Top Fuel and Funny Car categories Sunday at the ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals at historic Gainesville Raceway.
The veterans were joined in the winner's circle by Greg Anderson and Karen Stoffer in their respective categories at the third of 23 events in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship.
Schumacher's victory over Larry Dixon moved him ahead of "Big Daddy" Don Garlits on the all-time Top Fuel wins list and into second place in the series standings. The engine on Schumacher's U.S. Army dragster was in pieces when he reached the other end of the track but it held together just long enough for him to get the win over Dixon's SkyTel dragster, which ran a competitive 4.582 at 321.65 mph against Schumacher's 4.542 at 325.14 mph.
"It's unbelievable to hear anything that you've done compared to Don Garlits but the reality is he raced in a different era with a lot less races so it doesn't even compare," said Schumacher of his 36th career victory and second at this track. "Maybe the number of wins I have is more but I don't think I'm better than him by any stretch. Like I said, he raced in a different point in time and he was 'the Man' back then."
Schumacher's victory cut Rod Fuller's series lead to 39 points.
More than three decades after crew chief Ed "the Ace" McCulloch won this historic race for the first time, Capps came back and successfully defended his Gatornationals title by ruining the fairytale finish part-timer Phil Burkart Jr. was hoping for. Capps' Brut Revolution Dodge Charger R/T was just too much for Burkart, cranking out a 4.773 at 323.27 mph to take the trophy. Burkart came through in 4.876 at 316.75 mph in his Kia FX Caprara Chevy Monte Carlo.
"That red light from Phoenix has been in my head for three weeks and I've probably been miserable to be around," said Capps, who moved into second place, six points behind leader Robert Hight with his 23rd career victory. "I told Ace this morning I wasn't my normal self and he basically said that even if I went up there and did it again in Round 1 he'd still be behind me 100 percent. I realized I have such an incredible support system."
After setting a national record of 6.536 seconds in Round 1, Anderson simply demoralized his competition on the day with a string of 6.5-second runs. By the time finalist Larry Morgan was 300 feet into his last run he could see all of Anderson's Summit Racing Pontiac GTO while his Lucas Oil Dodge Stratus swayed back and forth, so he pushed in the clutch and watched Anderson claim his 45th career trophy with a 6.577 at 211.06 mph.
"The numbers don't tell the story of what a struggle this race was to win," Anderson said. "This racetrack was very hard to tune to this weekend but Rob [Downing, crew chief] is the best and he got it figured out somehow and he owned it. Of course we had great horsepower too, and it all came together."
Pro Stock Motorcycle winner Stoffer barely made the elimination ladder, qualifying in the 16th and final spot. But she proved anyone in the field can win the race by downing top qualifier Angelle Sampey, Shawn Gann, Steve Johnson, and Matt Smith. Three of her four round wins came via her quicker reaction time on her Geico Suzuki. By defeating Smith's Torco Racing Fuels Buell in the final, Stoffer earned her fourth career victory and moved into the series lead for the first time in her career.
"We're in our final year with the current Geico Motorcycle contract and to start off with a win and get them in the points lead is huge," Stoffer said. "To celebrate, me and the Gecko are going out drinking tonight -- POWERade of course."
The NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series continues with the 20th annual O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals presented by Pennzoil, March 30-April 1 at Houston Raceway Park, Baytown, Texas.