NHRA Series Teams Head For Joliet Event

Route 66 Raceway

Local Favorite Tony Schumacher Looking For Elusive First Top Fuel Victory Of Season At O’Reilly Route 66 Nationals

Seven-time NHRA Top Fuel world champion Tony Schumacher owns 67 Wally trophies, the most of any driver in that category in NHRA history. However, at the moment, none of them are pewter.

Tony Schumacher doing his burnout aboard his US Army Top Fuel Dragster
Tony Schumacher doing his burnout aboard his US Army Top Fuel Dragster

Photo by: Ted Rossino

As part of NHRA’s 60th anniversary celebration, special limited edition Wally trophies are being presented to all Full Throttle Series winners at each of the 22 races during the 2011 season. These trophies feature a pewter finish and provide drivers with just a bit of extra incentive to try to add one to the trophy case.

So far, Schumacher and his U.S. Army dragster team hasn’t had any luck acquiring one for their vast collection. He will try once again as a fan-favorite at the O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals, July 7-10 at Route 66 Raceway, near Chicago. Larry Dixon (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and LE Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are defending winners of the NHRA Full Throttle Series event which will be televised on ESPN2 HD.

“Those pewter Wallys are looking cool on everyone else’s shelf,” Schumacher said. “But I've got a shelf, too, and I need to fill it again.”

With runner-up finishes at Gainesville and Atlanta and a trio of semifinal finishes and No. 1 qualifying performances highlighting his 2011 scorecard, Schumacher feels confident that his U.S. Army team is on the verge of making it to the winner’s circle.

“Once we start putting up the kind of numbers we want, we’re going to start piling up the final rounds and wins,” Schumacher said. “We’re just about there. I feel we’re very close to knocking the door down. Mike Green (crew chief) is working extremely hard to get the Army car running in perfect form. And I have the utmost confidence it will happen.”

A resident of Lake Forest, Ill., Schumacher is a three-time winner at Route 66 Raceway, his last win coming there in 2008. He says he always feeds off the good vibes produced by a strong contingent of local supporters, including family and friends.

“It’s going to be a home game for me,” Schumacher said. “That would be a great time to get our first victory of the year. My U.S. Army team will rebound just fine. Like Brigadier General William Rapp said, it’s about teamwork; it’s about perseverance; and it’s about dedication. That is what we are all about.”

In order to grab that first victory, Schumacher will need to consistently outrun a host of talented drivers, including Funny Car driver turned dragster pilot Del Worsham, who leads the point standings with four victories aboard his Al-Anabi Racing dragster, defending world champ and race winner Dixon, Antron Brown, red-hot Spencer Massey, Doug Kalitta, Brandon Bernstein and Morgan Lucas.

“The competition is very tight at the moment,” he said. “It only takes one good race and you can suddenly be at or near the top of the pack. I suspect we are going to see this kind of action right up to and through the Countdown (playoffs).”

In Funny Car, series points leader Mike Neff has won three races while serving as both driver and crew chief for the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang. His teammate, Robert Hight, is a four-time winner this season in the Auto Club Mustang, while former drag racing instructor Jack Beckman has scored two victories in his Aaron’s/Valvoline Dodge Charger. Veteran drivers Cruz Pedregon and Ron Capps have been to final rounds this season but are still looking for their first wins. Others to watch include defending event winner Hagan in his DieHard Dodge Charger, Houston winner Jeff Arend and Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Shelby Mustang driver Bob Tasca.

Jason Line is atop the series standings in Pro Stock with three victories in his Summit Racing Pontiac GXP. Defending event winner Edwards is always a threat at Route 66 in his Penhall/Interstate Batteries GXP. Erica Enders, who posted a runner-up finish here in 2005, has been knocking on the door to winner’s circle in her ZaZa Energy Chevy Cobalt in her quest to become the first female Pro Stock winner in NHRA history. National record holder Rodger Brogdon, talented rookie Vincent Nobile, who won at Norwalk, Ohio two weeks ago, four-time world champ Greg Anderson, who has never won at Chicago, and Team Mopar’s Allen Johnson, are all among the leaders in the 200-mph factory hot rod category.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Eddie Krawiec’s two victories aboard his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson lead the two-wheel category. A host of talented riders are among the pre-race favorites, including defending race winner Tonglet, Karen Stoffer, Andrew Hines, Matt Smith, Hector Arana Sr., Jerry Savoie, Michael Phillips, Jim Underdahl, Hector Arana Jr. and Steve Johnson.

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Defending O’Reilly Route 66 Nationals Funny Car Champ Matt Hagan Ready To Return To Full Throttle Winner’s Circle

As 2010’s breakthrough Funny Car driver of the year takes inventory of his 2011 season, he’s been spending a bit of time looking at an empty column on the left side of his stats sheet.

Matt Hagan, driver of the national record-holding DieHard Dodge Charger R/T and the runner-up in last season’s dramatic down-to-the-wire points chase with John Force, is puzzled by the zero he sees there and is determined to start adding a few digits to the empty win column.

The way Hagan sees it, there isn’t a better place to start a winning streak than at the O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals, July 7-10 at ultra-fast Route 66 Raceway, located just south of Chicago. Hagan is the defending Funny Car winner there and last season logged one of the best performances of the season at the Illinois facility. Larry Dixon (Top Fuel), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and LE Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also are defending winners of the NHRA Full Throttle Series event which will be televised on ESPN2 HD.

With only six races remaining in the 16-race regular season, NHRA teams don’t have much time left before the top 10 drivers will be locked into the Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s six-race playoffs.

Hagan, who got off to a fast start with a runner-up finish at the season-opening Winternationals in Pomona and followed that with a No. 1 qualifying performance and semifinal effort at the Gatornationals in Florida, has been in a mini-slump for the last eight races, advancing past the quarterfinals only once.

“We want to win some races and get on a roll going into the Countdown,” Hagan said. “We did that last year, winning in Chicago, and then made a good run for the championship. We want to put the DieHard car back into that position as this season moves into its later stages.”

He is currently sitting in fifth place in the standings, but knows that his team, which is led by crew chief Tommy DeLago, is hungry to unleash the beast and get back to the winner’s circle as quickly as possible.

“It’s great to see the guys continue to work hard, with their chins up, but we are all ready to begin winning,” Hagan said. “We’ve got to get our ‘mojo’ working for Chicago, where we had a great win last season. That win is coming soon, and Joliet sounds like the right place for it to happen.”

Others to watch in the highly competitive Funny Car category include series points leader Mike Neff, who has won three races while serving as both driver and crew chief for the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang. His teammate, Robert Hight, is a four-time winner this season in the Auto Club Mustang, while former drag racing instructor Jack Beckman has scored two victories in his Aaron’s/Valvoline Dodge Charger. Veteran drivers Cruz Pedregon and Ron Capps have been to final rounds this season but are still looking for their first wins.

In Top Fuel, veteran Funny Car driver turned dragster pilot Del Worsham leads the point standings with four victories aboard his Al-Anabi Racing dragster. Worsham is a three-time Funny Car winner at Route 66 and if he wins this weekend in Top Fuel he would join Gary Scelzi as the only winners at this track in both nitro categories. Several talented drivers will be trying to keep that from happening, including Worsham’s teammate, defending world champ and race winner Dixon, hometown favorite Tony Schumacher, who has won here three times in his U.S. Army dragster, along with Antron Brown, red-hot Spencer Massey, Doug Kalitta, Brandon Bernstein and Morgan Lucas.

Jason Line is atop the series standings in Pro Stock with three victories in his Summit Racing Pontiac GXP. Defending event winner Edwards is always a threat at Route 66 in his Penhall/Interstate Batteries GXP. Erica Enders, who posted a runner-up finish here in 2005, has been knocking on the door to winner’s circle in her ZaZa Energy Chevy Cobalt in her quest to become the first female Pro Stock winner in NHRA history. National record holder Rodger Brogdon, talented rookie Vincent Nobile, who won at Norwalk, Ohio two weeks ago, four-time world champ Greg Anderson, who has never won at Chicago, and Team Mopar’s Allen Johnson, are all among the leaders in the 200-mph factory hot rod category.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Eddie Krawiec’s two victories aboard his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson lead the two-wheel category. A host of talented riders are among the pre-race favorites, including defending race winner Tonglet, Karen Stoffer, Andrew Hines, Matt Smith, Hector Arana Sr., Jerry Savoie, Michael Phillips, Jim Underdahl, Hector Arana Jr. and Steve Johnson.

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O’REILLY AUTO PARTS ROUTE 66 NHRA NATIONALS FACT SHEET

WHAT: 14th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals, the 11th of 22 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. Drivers in four categories - Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle - earn points leading to 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series world championships. NHRA is celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2011 and will pay tribute to the evolution of the hot rod and honor its legendary racers as well as the sport’s current stars.

WHERE: Route 66 Raceway, Joliet, Ill. The track is located 30 miles southwest of Chicago on Route 53 (historic Route 66), approximately three miles south of the I-80 in Joliet. Take I-80 to exit #132A (Route 53 south) to the track.

WHEN: Thursday through Sunday, July 7-10.

SCHEDULE:
THURSDAY, July 7 - LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying at 9 a.m.

FRIDAY, July 8 - LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations begin at 9 a.m.
FULL THROTTLE SERIES qualifying at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.

SATURDAY, July 9 – LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations continue at 9 a.m.
FULL THROTTLE SERIES qualifying at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.
JEGS ALLSTARS ELIMINATION ROUNDS at 1 p.m., 3:15 p.m., and 6:30 p.m.

SUNDAY, July 10 - Pre-race ceremonies, 10:45 a.m.
FULL THROTTLE SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.

TELEVISION:
Saturday, July 9, ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise two hours of qualifying coverage at 9:30 p.m. (ET).

Sunday, July 10, ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise three hours of eliminations coverage starting at 9 p.m. (ET).

2010 EVENT WINNERS: Larry Dixon, Top Fuel; Matt Hagan, Funny Car; Mike Edwards, Pro Stock; LE Tonglet, Pro Stock Motorcycle.

MOST VICTORIES: Kenny Bernstein, 4, TF; Tony Pedregon, 4, FC; Jeg Coughlin, 4, PS.

TRACK RECORDS:
Top Fuel – 3.773 seconds by Larry Dixon, June ’10; 323.12 mph by Tony Schumacher, June ’10.

Funny Car – 4.022 seconds by Matt Hagan, June ’10; 314.61 mph by Jack Beckman, June ’10.

Pro Stock – 6.587 seconds by Mike Edwards, June ’10; 210.08 mph by Edwards, June ’10.

PS Motorcycle – 6.894 seconds by Hector Arana, June ’10; 195.68 mph by Michael Phillips, June ’10.

NATIONAL RECORDS:
Top Fuel - 3.770 sec. by Larry Dixon, Feb. ’11, Pomona, Calif.; 327.03 mph by Tony Schumacher, Feb. ’11, Pomona, Calif.

Funny Car - 4.011 sec. by Matt Hagan, Oct. ’10, Reading, Pa.; 316.45 mph by Robert Hight, June ‘11, Bristol, Tenn.

Pro Stock - 6.495 sec. by Rodger Brogdon, March ’11, Gainesville, Fla.; 213.57 mph by Erica Enders, March ’11, Gainesville, Fla.

PS Motorcycle – 6.777 sec. by Hector Arana, March ’11, Gainesville, Fla.; 199.26 mph by Eddie Krawiec, March ’11, Gainesville, Fla.

TICKETS: For tickets, call (815) 727-RACE (7223). Tickets also available at route66raceway.com.

GENERAL ADMISSION (includes pit pass) – Thursday: Adult, $13; Junior (12 years and under), free. Friday: Adult, $41; Junior (12 years and under), $11. Saturday: Adult, $50; Junior (12 years and under), $11. Sunday: Adult, $56; Junior (12 years and under), $11

RESERVED SEATS (includes pit pass) – Friday: Adult, $51; Junior (12 years and under), $16. Saturday: Adult, $60; Junior (12 years and under), $16. Sunday: Adult, $66; Junior (12 years and under), $16.

By: nhra

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Antron Brown , Jeg Coughlin , Larry Dixon , Kenny Bernstein , Tony Pedregon , Del Worsham , Ron Capps , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Gary Scelzi , Doug Kalitta , Greg Anderson , Cruz Pedregon , Jack Beckman , Karen Stoffer , Brandon Bernstein , Allen Johnson , Morgan Lucas , Jason Line , Andrew Hines , Rodger Brogdon , Michael Phillips , Jeff Arend , Steve Johnson , Robert Hight , Matt Hagan , Hector Arana Jr. , Matt Smith , Eddie Krawiec , Mike Edwards , LE Tonglet , Vincent Nobile , Jim Underdahl , Mike Neff , Spencer Massey , Hector Arana Sr. , Jerry Savoie
Tags chicago, joliet, nhra, route 66 raceway