SCHUMACHER, FORCE, LINE AND HINES CROWNED NHRA POWERADE SERIES WORLD CHAMPIONS RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. - Tony Schumacher, still numb following an unbelievable championship triumph Sunday at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, headlined four ...
SCHUMACHER, FORCE, LINE AND HINES CROWNED NHRA POWERADE SERIES WORLD CHAMPIONS
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. - Tony Schumacher, still numb following an unbelievable championship triumph Sunday at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, headlined four world-championship winning drivers crowned Monday evening during the 2006 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series awards ceremony at the scenic Westin Mission Hills Resort near Palm Springs.
Three other NHRA POWERade Series world champions - John Force, Jason Line and Andrew Hines -- also were presented checks and trophies for their achievements during a memorable 2006 season.
In one of the most emotional moments of the evening, Barbara Parks was remembered with a moving video tribute. The late first lady of NHRA, wife of founder Wally Parks, played an integral role in the world's largest motorsports organization from its beginning until her death in January.
Schumacher, who made the greatest championship comeback in NHRA history with a national record-setting performance on the final quarter-mile run of the season, received a check for $400,000 from NHRA and POWERade. It was Schumacher's third consecutive title, which ties a record set by legend Joe Amato from 1990-'92, and his fourth overall. By the season's midpoint, Schumacher trailed in the standings by 336 points and seemed headed for his worst series finish this decade. However, a strong rally by his U.S. Army team led by crew chief Alan Johnson produced four victories in seven final round appearances down the stretch. His dramatic showing at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona stole the title at the last instant from a devastated Doug Kalitta, who finished second, 14 points behind.
John Force finished 112 points in front of teammate Robert Hight to claim a record 14th POWERade world championship title. Ron Capps, who led the series for most of the season, finished third, 133 points back. Force, who claimed three victories during the season in his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang to seal this championship, including the season-finale at his home track in Pomona, Calif., earned $400,000 from NHRA and POWERade.
Line, a former engine specialist for Joe Gibbs Racing on the NASCAR circuit, was presented a check for $200,000 for earning his first NHRA POWERade Pro Stock title in his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO. Hines, rider of the Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson, earned a $50,000 check from NHRA and POWERade for claiming his third consecutive Pro Stock Motorcycle world championship. Hines joins brother Matt and Angelle Sampey as the only riders in NHRA history to win three straight crowns.
J.R. Todd, who became the first African-American to ever win a Top Fuel race with his victory over Schumacher at Denver in July, received a standing ovation from the awards ceremony crowd when he was announced as the winner of the $20,000 Auto Club Road to the Future Award. A distinguished panel of auto racing journalists selected Todd for the annual award that recognizes the NHRA's top performing rookie. Todd earned two more victories to finish the season in eighth place in the POWERade Top Fuel point standings behind the wheel of his Skull Shine dragster. Other nominees were Hillary Will and Alan Bradshaw in Top Fuel and Max Naylor in Pro Stock.
NHRA Full Throttle Pit Crew Challenge season awards, recognizing the most consistently quick teams during qualifying throughout the year, were presented to Kalitta's Mac Tools Top Fuel team ($25,000) led by crew chief Rahn Tobler; Force's Castrol GTX Funny Car team ($25,000) led by Austin Coil; Greg Anderson's Summit Racing Pro Stock team ($15,000) led by Rob Downing and Jeff Perley; and Chip Ellis' Drag Specialties S&S Buell Pro Stock Motorcycle team ($5,000) led by Ken Johnson and George Bryce.
Pontiac earned the NHRA Manufacturer's Cup for the 10th time. NHRA Pro Owner's Cups were presented to Don Schumacher (Top Fuel); John Force (Funny Car); and Ken Black (Pro Stock).
The future stars of the sport, drivers in seven categories in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, also were recognized as 2006 world champions: Bill Reichert (Top Alcohol Dragster); Frank Manzo (Top Alcohol Funny Car); Bo Butner (Competition Eliminator); Peter Biondo (Super Stock); Randy Wilkes (Stock Eliminator); Ron Erks (Super Comp) and Iggie Boicesco (Super Gas).