TOP FUEL TONY SCHUMACHER, U.S. Army dragster 2005 Highlights: Schumacher finished on a record-setting run to claim his second straight and third overall POWERade Series world championship. He clinched the championship at the ACDelco ...
TONY SCHUMACHER, U.S. Army dragster
Schumacher finished on a record-setting run to claim his second straight and third overall POWERade Series world championship. He clinched the championship at the ACDelco Nationals and then at the season-ending Auto Club NHRA Finals he proceeded to set NHRA Top Fuel records for most No. 1 qualifiers in a season (11), most consecutive wins (5), most consecutive final rounds (7), most consecutive round wins (20) and largest margin of victory (415 points).
Also during the year, he reset his own national record for elapsed time (4.437 seconds at Chicago 2) and speed (336.15 mph at Columbus).
"Very few people in Top Fuel have won three championships (Gary Scelzi, Shirley Muldowney, Don Garlits and Joe Amato) or won back-to-back championships (Larry Dixon, Scelzi, Amato, Garlits and Scott Kalitta). It is starting to change what the goal is because the list is so much smaller. It's outstanding."
"It was really big for this team to win five in a row and get that record. It just became a goal they set for themselves and they wanted it. I had the pressure of not letting them down because they gave me a great car every round."
"With the momentum we have right now I really don't want to stop racing."
GARY SCELZI, Mopar/Oakley Dodge Stratus R/T
Scelzi held off NHRA legend John Force and teammate Ron Capps to win the closest Funny Car world championship chase in NHRA history. He finished eight points ahead of Capps and 32 ahead of Force. His season was highlighted by three wins (Bristol, Chicago 1 and Sonoma) and six No. 1 qualifiers. He also led the class with six low e.t.'s. With his first career Funny Car championship, Scelzi joined Kenny Bernstein as the only two drivers in NHRA history to have won titles in both Top Fuel (Scelzi won TF championships in 1997, 1998 and 2000) and Funny Car.
"I'm still numb right now. This is different than the other three (Top Fuel world championships). I've never had so much pressure where everything meant so much."
"It's our goal to become a champion, not to just win races. Winning races is good, but to win a Funny Car championship racing the guys that we've had to race this year is just incredible."
DON SCHUMACHER, Team owner, Don Schumacher Racing
"What a great day for these guys (Scelzi and crew chief Mike Neff). They've done just a wonderful, wonderful job out here. Mike (Neff) has been the foundation of my operation along with Alan Johnson (crew chief for Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher). Those two work so well together and it's just unbelievable, and the job they have done working together is incredible. Gary stepped up to the plate and the whole team has."
"They've had some hiccups, had some tough times (most notably a foul in the first round in Dallas that nearly cost them the championship), but they've come back swinging to take away a championship from the best racer out here (John Force)."
"Gary is now back in the record books, winning both Top Fuel and Funny Car, Mike Neff wins his first championship in any of the classes. He's done a great, great job, so I take my hat off to these two guys."
JOHN FORCE, Castrol GTX Start Up Ford Mustang
Force led the Funny Car standings for more than a third of the season (eight of 23 events) and most recently with two events remaining, but a loss by .001 seconds to Del Worsham in the first round at Las Vegas 2 and a holeshot loss by a net .017 seconds to Tony Pedregon in the second round at Pomona 2 ended his season two rounds short of a 14th POWERade Series championship.
"They (Ron Capps and Gary Scelzi, by being eliminated before Force) tried to give (the championship) to us but, bottom line, we couldn't take advantage. We had a shot but the driver just didn't get the job done. My guys are all trying to make me feel better, but it is what it is. We just got whupped. That's all."
"I'll live with it over the winter -- losing my championship. It'll be a long off season, but I definitely want it back. The biggest thing I can take out of here, since we didn't win the championship, is that my Next Generation drivers, Eric (Medlen), Robert (Hight), Ashley, my youngest girls, Brittany and Courtney, they all made me proud this season."
"Other than that, all I can say is that tomorrow we'll go to work getting ready for next year. Our race cars are good. The stuff we've learned in the last two weeks since Vegas, I'm really excited about. We've got a new Mustang coming. My sponsors have been rallying around me. We'll be back."
RON CAPPS, Brut Dodge Stratus R/T
Capps stalked the leaders all season, but never led the POWERade Series standings. He was two points down to Scelzi entering the season-ending Auto Club NHRA Finals and finished the year eight points behind his DSR teammate in the closest finish in Funny Car history. Capps won three events and advanced to a class-best seven final rounds.
"There's a big sort of relief that's come over us (when we lost and it was over). It's been wearing, just wearing. I never thought it would be as big a deal as it turned out to be. I knew it would be a big deal, but I had no idea how big."
"My heart sunk all right (when I lost). And I didn't see him (Cruz Pedregon) for a fraction of a second and I was in the mode of OK, let's win this round, and then he came flying by. My first reaction was like, Oh my gosh. It scared the heck out of me.
"When he crossed the finish line, I was coasting down there, and the emotions were just hard to take. I didn't want to shut the car off. I just wanted to keep it running and just drive it back here to the pit area."
TONY PEDREGON, Q Racing Chevy Monte Carlo
Pedregon, who drove for John Force and won a championship for Team Force in 2003 before forming his own team, defeated Force in the second round to end Force's hopes of winning second straight and 14th overall championship.
"I felt some big emotion when I beat John. I knew what it meant for him and we all know he gave me my start. I spent a lot of time with him, a lot of my life, and it was bittersweet knocking him out of the title, but if I didn't give him 100-percent he would have been mad at me. That's the way he is."
GREG ANDERSON, Summit Racing Pontiac GTO
After a slow start that had him in fourth place and trailing by 171 points through six events, Anderson then raced to eight victories in 11 final rounds and posted seven No. 1 qualifying positions en route to his third straight POWERade Series championship. His season was highlighted by a national record run (6.633 seconds) at Gainesville, Fla., as well as a three-race winning streak (Atlanta, Columbus, Topeka) and a four-race winning streak (Memphis, Indianapolis and Reading and Dallas).
"The first part of the season was poor by our standards. But just when everyone started thinking this wasn't going to be our year and that the chase was wide open, our guys dug down deep and found another level. The fact we've won this trophy tells you all you need to know about this group (including crew chiefs Rob Downing and Jeff Perley)."
"All along through this incredible run we've been asking if we do belong among the best of the best. But when you have a team that is as well-rounded and adaptable to change as this group, and you see their ability to stay at the top for so long, you realize how special this time is for all of us. We do belong, and we don't plan on giving in any time soon."
NOTE: With the three straight Pro Stock world championships, Anderson joins select list of Pro Stock drivers with three or more consecutive titles that includes only Bob Glidden (five, 1985-89) and the late Lee Shepherd (four, 1981-1984).
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE
ANDREW HINES, Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson
Hines raced to two victories in five final rounds and posted 10 No. 1 qualifying positions en route to his second straight POWERade Series championship. His season was highlighted by becoming the first rider to post a six-second run (6.991 seconds) at Gainesville, Fla., and followed that up with a national record performance of 6.968 seconds at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. in July.
"You always want to win a second championship to prove the first one wasn't luck. My dad (Byron) and brother (Matt) and the Vance & Hines crew worked hard all year and gave me an awesome bike and we got it done."
"Winning this year is definitely better than last year. It was certainly a lot tougher to win this year because there were about 10 bikes that could win races. I'm just happy to be able to do this for Harley-Davidson and the Vance & Hines team."