Sonoma: Final eliminations report

SCHUMACHER BECOMES SIXTH DRIVER TO WIN WESTERN SWING Hight, Connolly and Sacramento's Guidera round out FRAM-Autolite winners SONOMA, Calif. -- NHRA Top Fuel ace Tony Schumacher continued his season-long domination by winning the...

SCHUMACHER BECOMES SIXTH DRIVER TO WIN WESTERN SWING
Hight, Connolly and Sacramento's Guidera round out FRAM-Autolite winners

SONOMA, Calif. -- NHRA Top Fuel ace Tony Schumacher continued his season-long domination by winning the FRAM-Autolite NHRA Nationals Sunday to sweep of the three-race Western Swing and win for the eighth time in 15 races overall.

He became the fourth Top Fuel driver (Larry Dixon in 2003 and Cory McClenathan in 1997 and Joe Amato in 1991) and the sixth driver overall (PS Greg Anderson in 2003, FC John Force in 1994) to sweep the Western Swing, the grueling stretch of three-races-in-three-weeks through Denver, Seattle and Sonoma.

"It's been a lot of fun, the last couple of races have just been outstanding," said Schumacher, who ran a 3.886 at 307.93 in his U.S. Army dragster to defeat local-favorite Hillary Will (Eureka, Calif.) and her KB Racing team's 3.988 at 306.19 in the final. "Who would not trade places with our car? I love having the bulls-eye on me."

The other winners at the 15th of 18 regular season races (24 total) in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series were Robert Hight (Funny Car), Dave Connolly (Pro Stock) and Matt Guidera (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

Schumacher, who beat the arch-rival Caterpillar team in the quarterfinals, clinched the No. 1 seed in Top Fuel and the 20-point bonus that comes with it when the points reset after the final regular season race, the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals Labor Day weekend in Indianapolis.

"We got a lot of races left to win, people are saying we don't even need to show up, but we want to win," Schumacher said.

In Funny Car, Hight ran a 4.163 at 296.50 in his Auto Club Ford Mustang to defeat one of his mentors when he first started working for John Force Racing, Gary Densham, who ran a 4.222 at 289.14 in his Racebricks Chevy Impala.

"It's unbelievable, this is the third straight year that a JFR Ford has been in the winner's circle," Hight said. "I've been at every national event contested here, came as a spectator before I became a part of the crew, and I dreamed of the day ... that I would just work on a car. To finally get a chance to work on a car and then drive in a car, it's a dream come true."

The win was the third straight for John Force Racing at Infineon Raceway, a streak that began in 2006 with the late Eric Medlen's win and continued in 2007 with John Force finding the winner's circle.

Densham, meanwhile, didn't leave empty-handed as he jumped up from eighth to sixth place, leap-frogging John Force and Ron Capps in the standings.

In Pro Stock, late-starter Dave Connolly powered his Charter Communications Chevy Cobalt to a 6.628 at 207.69 to win the final in a narrow holeshot over Jeg Coughlin's 6.627 at 207.24 in his JEGS.com Chevy Cobalt.

"I definitely had my doubts about this weekend (coming off the disappointing loss at Seattle), but you can only beat this team down so much before we're going to bounce back," said Connolly. "I hadn't drove that well and today I told myself it's time to remove my head from my rear."

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Matt Guidera won for the second time this season aboard the Mohegan Sun Buell, earning a holeshot victory with a 7.054 at 185.74 over Andrew Hines' 7.026 at 187.34 on his Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson.

Guidera's first two wins came at Reading 2007 and this year at the prestigious ACDelco Gatornationals, but he considered this won near his home in Loomis, Calif. the most cherished.

"This is the best win of my career by far," he said. "It's any racer's dream to win in front of the home crowd and that's what we did today. I'm so glad my family could be here today and to have (team owner) Brian (Bozsum and wife) Linda here," Guidera said.

The NHRA POWERade Series resumes in two weekends with the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals Aug. 7-10 in Brainerd, Minn.

-credit: nhra

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Larry Dixon , Ron Capps , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Joe Amato , Greg Anderson , Gary Densham , Andrew Hines , Eric Medlen , Robert Hight , Matt Guidera , Hillary Will , Dave Connolly