SCHUMACHER CONTINUES DREAM-TEAM SEASON AS BARTONE,LINE ALSO WIN IN SEATTLE KENT, Wash. - After a shaky first half of the season that included six DNQs, Tony Bartone raced to his first NHRA POWERade Series victory Sunday at the 21st annual ...
SCHUMACHER CONTINUES DREAM-TEAM SEASON AS BARTONE,LINE ALSO WIN IN SEATTLE
KENT, Wash. - After a shaky first half of the season that included six DNQs, Tony Bartone raced to his first NHRA POWERade Series victory Sunday at the 21st annual Schuck's Auto Supply NHRA Nationals after more than six years of professional racing.
Bartone defeated veteran driver Ron Capps, also looking to break out of a winless streak that dates back to Richmond 2007, in the final round. Bartone powered his Canidae Pet Foods Chevy Monte Carlo to a 4.454-second pass at 238.17 mph to get the long-awaited win, while Capps posted a 4.708 at 227.46 in his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T.
Tony Schumacher and Jason Line also were winners at scenic Pacific Raceways, the 14th of 24 events in the NHRA POWERade Series.
Before beating Capps in the final, Bartone outran Gary Scelzi, Mike Neff and Tony Pedregon in earlier rounds.
"Looking back at last weekend in Denver, we had an extreme amount of trouble getting down the track," Bartone said. "We blew up and were on fire many times, and we were able to turn our program around and put together a pretty good racecar to race with today and we went the four rounds and brought home the bacon. We made the qualifying passes on Friday and we chose to sit out yesterday in the heat, and we were lucky enough to come up with a good race-day tune-up today. It wasn't perfect, but it went rounds."
A standout in the Lucas Oil Series, the developmental league for NHRA pros, Bartone won 25 events and one world championship title in Top Alcohol Funny Car in the 1990s. However, he said his win today for legendary team owner Jim Dunn tops his list.
"This is what you dream about - this is what you wait your whole career to do, is win in the pro ranks," Bartone said. "It's the old adage - you never say die, you never give up, you keep plugging and things like this happen."
Despite losing in the first round to No. 1 qualifier Robert Hight, Tim Wilkerson maintained his points lead and earned his spot in the Countdown to the Championship.
There was no less drama in Top Fuel, where Brandon Bernstein looked to unseat Schumacher as a regular resident in Seattle's winner circle. On Sunday Schumacher won his third consecutive event at Pacific Raceways, and his fourth out of the last five at the track. He had already qualified No. 1 with a solid performance on Friday and handily won in the final round, driving his U.S. Army dragster to a 3.902 at 309.98 to Bernstein's 4.056 at 291.19. Schumacher became the first driver to clinch his position in the Countdown to the Championship in Denver last week.
"It's a blast," said Schumacher, who defeated Steve Chrisman, Dave Grubnic and rival Rod Fuller in the opening rounds. "We've been a pressure team for years. Under pressure we step up; we do good. Right now, for whatever reason, we're just having a great time and the car is running good. When you get on a roll like this, watch out. You see those football teams, when they start smiling and start playing together really as a team, like we do, we're hard to beat. It's been outstanding."
Schumacher, who also won last weekend in Denver, could become the sixth driver in NHRA history to sweep the Western Swing with a victory at the FRAM-Autolite NHRA Nationals next weekend at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. Only Joe Amato, John Force, Cory McClenathan, Larry Dixon and Greg Anderson have accomplished the feat previously.
"We're setting records that nobody thought possible," Schumacher said. "We're doing amazing things together. It's hard to believe, but it's great to be part of."
In Pro Stock, Line earned his first victory in Seattle and his second win of the season and the 15th of his career, charting a 6.659-second run at 208.10 mph in his Summit Racing Pontiac GXP to better Allen Johnson's 6.664 at 207.78 mph in his Team Mopar/J&J Racing Dodge Stratus.
"It feels great to win, especially here in Seattle," said Line, who beat Warren Johnson, Kurt Johnson and Greg Stanfield in the first three rounds. "I've been out there before I don't know how many times. I've even been out here in my Stocker (Lucas Oil Series) and just never had any success whatsoever, so it feels really good to win here and feels even better to drive good. It's a good day for all of us. We did not have the greatest car. We had a lot of issues. We tested some parts along the way which was kind of cool, but you don't want to be testing parts at a national event. But it all worked out good."
On Saturday, Line's teammate Greg Anderson punched his playoff card by qualifying higher than 12 - and although Line is comfortably in the Top 10 at third place, he's anxious to seal his own invitation to the Countdown to 1.