SCHUMACHER, CAPPS AND COUGHLIN WIN SUMMITRACING.COM NHRA NATIONALS LAS VEGAS -- Tony Schumacher raced to his second consecutive victory of the season Sunday at the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals. Schumacher's teammate Ron Capps and Jeg...
SCHUMACHER, CAPPS AND COUGHLIN WIN SUMMITRACING.COM NHRA NATIONALS
LAS VEGAS -- Tony Schumacher raced to his second consecutive victory of the season Sunday at the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals.
Schumacher's teammate Ron Capps and Jeg Coughlin also were winners in their categories at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Five-time defending world champion Schumacher moved into the Top Fuel points lead for the first time this season when he powered his U.S. Army dragster to a 3.874 second run at 311.77 mph to defeat Brandon Bernstein's Budweiser/Lucas Oil dragster, which finished in 4.003 at 295.66.
Schumacher's dragster was consistently quick in earlier round wins over Terry Haddock, Cory McClenathan and top qualifier Shawn Langdon.
"The team won today," said Schumacher of his 58th career victory. "I didn't do it with a great driving job like I did in Houston. What a great tune-up we had. They carried me today. It went right down the track every time. That's what a team is all about. It's fantastic. That was a big (final) round. (Brandon) is an outstanding driver and they have a great team. You aren't just running an average guy. You've got to go up there and do your job. There are certain rounds that are just huge, and that was one of them."
Capps extended his series points lead in Funny Car with his third victory this season and 28th of his career, outrunning teammate Matt Hagan in the final. Capps finished in 4.182 at 297.81 in his NAPA Dodge Charger, while rookie Hagan's Shelor.com Charger lost traction near the finish line and trailed with a 4.335 at 248.89.
Capps, who ended a two-race mini-slump with his third victory at this track, defeated Brian Thiel, Mike Neff and Robert Hight to advance to the final.
"I was asked several times by the media what was wrong the last two races, and I just never worried," said Capps, who posted back-to-back first round losses at Gainesville and Houston. "Ace [crew chief Ed McCulloch] needed to get in his comfort zone. You'll find a lot of teams seem like they may be struggling here the last couple of races, but with four test days for the whole year, there are a lot of teams, including us, testing stuff that you have to try in qualifying once you get in the show and even race day, believe it or not. So it's tough to gage how people are really doing. 'Ace' was trying things.
"We have found that just trying to approach the season like a NASCAR team and saying, 'OK, as long as we're in the Countdown and in the top 10,' and try to focus and peak at the right time doesn't work. So we stepped it up, and 'Ace' is trying to rip their throats out every single run. You can't run these cars anymore and be halfway safe and just look to go down the track. You can't do it. You have to step all over these things with the tune-up, and the driver has to be on their game. It is days like this where it's fun. It sounds cliche, but we're just focusing on one round at a time, one race at a time."
It is the 21st time that Don Schumacher Racing teams have won two separate categories at the same NHRA event.
In Pro Stock, Coughlin claimed his second victory of the season in his JEGS.com Chevy Cobalt and 43rd of his career when final round opponent Greg Stanfield fouled at the start in his Attitude Apparel Pontiac GXP.
"We'd love nothing more than to come out of Indy in first place in the Countdown with the extra bonus points that come with being No. 1, but there's a lot of races between here and there," Coughlin said. "We had a tough day. This is the most consistent our car has been, and that was our goal coming into here. We changed a lot of stuff in the suspension and with the car to try and get a more consistent race car. That's what's been plaguing us since the end of last year. The name of the game is to continue to better yourself and not make mistakes, and that's what we were doing -- shooting ourselves in the foot -- and that's what was hurting us."
Coughlin's day got off to an odd start when a piece of rubber jammed in the staging beams and inadvertently timed out first round opponent Kurt Johnson, forcing a rerun. When the pair returned about 25 minutes later, Johnson fouled at the start, and Coughlin took the win. In fact, three of Coughlin's opponents -- Johnson, Mike Edwards and Stanfield -- turned on the red light today.
"I'm used to going multiple rounds each day with bracket racing, but the team isn't," said Coughlin of the added run today. "We just kind of had a hurry-up offense all day. Really, we weren't able to catch our breath until right before the final. NHRA did a great job of working with the situation and getting us delayed in the program enough to let us get prepared properly."
The NHRA Full Throttle Series continues with the Summit Racing NHRA Southern Nationals, April 16-19 at Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Ga.