Las Vegas II: Sunday eliminations report

SCHUMACHER HAS DOMINATING WEEKEND IN LAS VEGAS SWEEP Scelzi moves into POWERade Series points lead in Funny Car, but Capps closes with victory; Johnson and Ellis also earn victories at ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals LAS VEGAS -- Tony ...


Scelzi moves into POWERade Series points lead in Funny Car, but Capps closes with victory; Johnson and Ellis also earn victories at ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals

LAS VEGAS -- Tony Schumacher completed a dominating weekend at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway by racing to the Top Fuel victory Sunday at the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals.

Ron Capps, Kurt Johnson and Chip Ellis also were winners at the $1.8 million race, the 22nd of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

The newly crowned Top Fuel world champion won more than $200,000 for the weekend, including today's final which paid more than $50,000 including contingency, the $100,000 Budweiser Shootout on Saturday and a $50,000 bonus from NHRA for sweeping both events.

In the process, Schumacher tied NHRA Top Fuel season records for consecutive victories (4) and consecutive final rounds (6). It was Schumacher's eighth victory of the season and the 29th of his career.

Schumacher drove his U.S. Army dragster to a 4.486 second run at 327.19 mph to hold off final round opponent Dave Grubnic, who clocked a 4.587 at 324.28 in his StriVectin-SD dragster. In earlier rounds he beat Clay Millican, Brandon Bernstein and Doug Herbert.

"Getting four wins in a row, winning the Bud Shootout, all the other stuff, it starts to blow you away," said Schumacher, who on Friday secured his third world championship title, worth $400,000. "A season is defined by little moments and we had our struggles early on. But starting at Denver we really turned a corner. It's all credit to Alan (Johnson, crew chief). He's so good and this team is just great. It was an unbelievable weekend for Schumacher Racing."

Capps scored the Funny Car victory in a Schumacher-owned Brut Dodge Stratus by outrunning teammate Gary Scelzi in the final-round. Capps clocked a 4.780 at 325.69 to hold off Scelzi's charging Mopar/Oakley Stratus, which posted a 4.819 at 324.51.

With the runner-up finish, Scelzi moved into the series points lead in what is setting up to be the closest Funny Car points finish in NHRA history. With the victory Capps cut Scelzi's lead to two points with one race remaining. John Force, the defending and 13-time world champion is in third, 28 points back. It was Capps' third victory of the season and the 17th of his career.

"Athletes always talk about peaking at the right time, and that's what we're doing," said Capps, who defeated Tim Wilkerson, Mike Ashley and Tony Bartone in the first three rounds. "I'm still in awe. This has been an enjoyable ride and I feel really good going into Pomona. We've got a really fast hot rod right now and I'm looking forward to the battle. I've got that gut-ache, like Force is always talking about, and that's just the way it is. It is going to be an exciting finish for the fans."

Capps has finished second in the points order two times in his career. Three-time Top Fuel world champion Scelzi is trying to join Kenny Bernstein as the only drivers in NHRA history to win world championship titles in both nitro categories.

"We needed to make a move at this race and we were able to do it, and just about pulled off the perfect weekend," Scelzi said. "Pomona is going to be a lot of fun to watch for the fans, but it's going to be a fight. You can't forget about Force, because he's really steamed right now and you can never count that team out. It's going to be such an exciting finish and all three of us want it really bad."

Johnson powered his ACDelco Chevy Cobalt to the Pro Stock victory over the newly crowned series champion Greg Anderson. Johnson used a holeshot start and posted a 6.839 at 202.27 to defeat Anderson's quicker Summit Racing Equipment Pontiac GTO, which clocked a 6.821 at 202.27. It was Johnson's first win at The Strip in four final round appearances, his fourth of the season and 32nd of his career.

"We've been to the finals a few times here and it always seems to be Greg in the other lane," said Johnson, who earned early round wins over Bob Panella, Jeg Coughlin and Erica Enders. "We always race hard and it seems like (the race) is always decided by a few thousandths (of a second). It just seems like he's always on the good end of that. But this is Vegas and your luck is bound to change and today it did.

"It just feels really good to finally win this race for my sponsor, ACDelco."

Ellis was the automatic Pro Stock Motorcycle winner on his G-Squared/S&S Buell when Angelle Sampey fouled at the start on her U.S. Army Suzuki. In a rematch of the '04 final here, it was Ellis' second consecutive victory at this event and third of his career.

"I don't know what it is about this track," said Ellis, who defeated Matt Guidera, Matt Smith and Tom Bradford to advance to the final. "I've raced a bunch of different bikes here in different series but I think every time I've come here no matter what I'm riding I've either won or was runner-up. This win is very special to me because I am dedicating this win to my four-year-old daughter (McKenzie) who is celebrating a birthday today."

Defending series champ Andrew Hines lost in the first round and will bring a 47-point lead over his Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson teammate GT Tonglet into the final race.

The NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series continues with the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals, Nov. 3-6, at historic Pomona Raceway in Southern California.


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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Jeg Coughlin , Bob Panella , Kurt Johnson , Tony Bartone , Ron Capps , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Gary Scelzi , Greg Anderson , Brandon Bernstein , Mike Ashley , Andrew Hines , Matthew Smith , GT Tonglet , Chip Ellis , Matt Guidera , Tom Bradford , Angelle Sampey