SCHUMACHER, BAZEMORE AND JOHNSON EARN VICTORIES AT SCHUCK'S AUTO SUPPLY NHRA NATIONALS KENT, Wash. -- Reigning NHRA POWERade Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher raced to his second victory in his last three starts Sunday at Pacific Raceways to ...
SCHUMACHER, BAZEMORE AND JOHNSON EARN VICTORIES AT SCHUCK'S AUTO SUPPLY NHRA NATIONALS
KENT, Wash. -- Reigning NHRA POWERade Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher raced to his second victory in his last three starts Sunday at Pacific Raceways to continue his rapid climb up the points standings. The three-time champ has gone from eighth place to fourth in the last four races -- including three straight final round appearances -- and has closed to within 150 points of Doug Kalitta's series lead with his win at the $1.4 million Schuck's Auto Supply NHRA Nationals presented by Lucas Oil.
Whit Bazemore and Allen Johnson joined Schumacher in the winner's circle as each ended long winless streaks with victories here. Bazemore had gone 31 races without a win until beating points leader and teammate Ron Capps in the Seattle finale, while Johnson ended a 34-race dry spell by downing surprise finalist Tom Martino, who was racing for just the second time this year.
Schumacher had little trouble beating Dave Grubnic in the Top Fuel final with a 4.690 at 321.96 mph in his U.S. Army dragster to Grubnic's 4.761 at 316.75 in his StriVectin-SD dragster. It was Schumacher's 32nd career victory and second at this track.
"We're only 150 points back with nine races to go," said Schumacher, who defeated Bob Vandergriff, Alan Bradshaw, and J.R. Todd to advance to the final round. "This is very doable. Now that we have a good handle on the racecar I feel a lot of confidence. I'd rather be on my team in the position we're in right now than anywhere else. I wouldn't change places with anyone."
Bazemore drove his Matco Tools Dodge Charger to the Funny Car win over teammate and series points leader Ron Capps. Bazemore posted a 5.036 at 309.42 to edge Capps' Brut Charger, which posted a 5.108 at 293.15. With his runner-up finish, Capps extended his series lead to 88 over John Force, who lost in the first round.
"Just to get back in the winner's circle feels so good," said Bazemore of his 20th career victory, "especially for the team. To suffer like we have, to be less than perfect and have to rebuild ourselves over the last three months, to finally get the result is very gratifying."
Bazemore outran Phil Burkart, Tony Bartone and Tony Pedregon to advance to his fifth Pacific Raceways final.
"We have all the things you need to win -- a great sponsor in Matco, all the resources of Don Schumacher Racing, the technology of Dodge -- sooner or later the pressure builds up, especially when you have a streak like we've had. You have to find a way to persevere and focus. You just need to suck it up and stay positive. Today, each member of my team did that. They all executed their jobs perfectly, that's what it takes to win."
Johnson finished in 6.767 at 204.63 in his J&J Racing/Team Mopar Dodge Stratus to earn his fourth career Pro Stock victory, while Martino lost traction near mid-track in his Skull Gear Pontiac GTO.
"We've had the best car for the last four races so this isn't a big surprise to me," said Johnson, who defeated Mike Edwards, Greg Stanfield and Warren Johnson in earlier rounds. "We've struggled a little with our race day tune-up and we especially stubbed our toe in Denver in the first round but that mistake really taught us what we needed to know to get down these hot, gummy racetracks. If we hadn't done that there we probably wouldn't have learned enough to do well here."
Top qualifier Jason Line increased his series points lead by three over Greg Anderson, who now trails by 25.
The NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series continues with the 19th annual FRAM-Autolite NHRA Nationals, July 28-30 at Infineon Raceway, Sonoma, Calif.