TODD WINS SECOND RACE; MEDLEN, HINES, AND ELLIS ROUND OUT THE FIELD IN SONOMA SONOMA, Calif. -- Top Fuel rookie J.R. Todd upset three-time NHRA POWERade world champion Tony Schumacher for the second time in three weeks Sunday to earn the trophy...
TODD WINS SECOND RACE; MEDLEN, HINES, AND ELLIS ROUND OUT THE FIELD IN SONOMA
SONOMA, Calif. -- Top Fuel rookie J.R. Todd upset three-time NHRA POWERade world champion Tony Schumacher for the second time in three weeks Sunday to earn the trophy of the $1.3 million Fram-Autolite NHRA Nationals.
Just as he did in Denver 14 days ago, the 24-year-old Todd simply outran Schumacher, earning this win in 4.619 seconds at 309.27 mph to Schumacher's 4.679 at 316.01 mph.
Eric Medlen, Jason Line, and Chip Ellis joined Todd in Infineon Raceway's winner's circle. Medlen took the Funny Car crown against fellow Californian Tony Pedregon, 4.854 to 5.021. Pro Stock points leader Line got a holeshot victory over veteran Vieri Gaines, and Ellis benefited greatly from Pro Stock Motorcycle finalist Antron Brown's red-light start for his second win of the year.
Racing in just his 11th national event, Todd is now 2-0 in final-round appearances with both wins coming against Schumacher. The two men have faced each other in each of the last four national events, with each man winning twice.
"You couldn't write it any better than this," Todd said. "Beating Tony and that team once for your first trophy ever is like a dream. To do it twice in three races is unreal. I can't even believe this is happening. You work so hard just to get to this level and you don't even think what it will be like to actually win."
This was Schumacher's fourth final in a row and he moved up another spot in the championship standings to third place overall. He now trails POWERade leader Doug Kalitta by 106 points. He entered the race 150 points back. After her third first-round loss in a row, former points leader Melanie Troxel is now 82 points behind Kalitta and just 44 ahead of Schumacher.
Breaking a winless streak that dated back to last year's Memphis event, Medlen came through in the Funny Car final. After leaving with a slight advantage at the starting line, his Castrol Syntec Ford Mustang drove away from Pedregon's Q Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo, taking the stripe in 4.854 seconds at 316.30 mph to Pedregon's 5.021 seconds at 271.62 mph.
"People ask me how aggravating it is to go a year without winning but I don't even think like that," Medlen said. "I'm out here having fun and we have a car that could have and should have won several times so you feel like you're right in there any way. Man, it's hard to win these things; that's the deal. It's not for lack of trying."
Ron Capps still leads John Force at the top of the standings, although Force did trim his deficit down to 70 points. Both Force and Capps lost to teammates Sunday, Capps to Whit Bazemore in Round 1, and Force to Medlen in the quarterfinals.
Line came through Sunday with a win over Vieri Gaines in the Pro Stock final. Line's 6.672 seconds at 207.15 mph was enough to beat Gaines' quicker but losing 6.668 seconds at 207.05 mph.
"This is a very, very satisfying win for me," Line said. "Especially doing it on a holeshot. Both of our cars ran great all weekend and between our two cars and V.'s car, I think we probably had the three best cars on the property. To be the one standing here [in the winner's circle] is probably the best feeling I've had as a driver."
Line's victory helped him increase his lead in the POWERade points to 64 over his Summit Racing teammate Greg Anderson.
Ellis remains perfect in final-round appearances after Antron Brown handed him his fifth career win and second of the year with a red-light. Brown will be reliving this one in his head for quite awhile after Ellis broke his motor halfway down the racetrack and had to abort his run. Still, his 8.863 seconds at 88.41 mph was more than enough to give him the victory.
"To go into the sixes is a big honor and it used to just be me and Andrew [Hines]," Ellis said. "Now there are two more in that six-second deal and that just tells you how competitive everyone else has become out here. Man, it's tough to win a round, let alone a race."
The win lifted Ellis past Brown and into third place in the POWERade points. Andrew Hines is still the leader by 33 points over Angelle Sampey. Both Hines and Sampey lost in the quarterfinals.