Concord Concludes in Lone Star State
The conclusion to last weekend’s rained out Pep Boys Carolina Nationals was held during Saturday’s schedule for the AAA Texas Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex…..the event results produced a milestone win for Tony Schumacher as well as a first time Pro Stock winner….
Matt Hagan (Funny Car) Jonathan Gray (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were winners in their respective categories at the opening event in the six-race NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
Schumacher recorded his 75th career victory in Top Fuel when he powered his U.S. Army dragster to victory over Khalid alBalooshi’s Al-Anabi Racing dragster. Schumacher had a winning time of 3.866 seconds at 318.77 mph to take his second Carolina Nationals win and move into the playoff points lead.
“It couldn’t have come at a better time,” Schumacher said. “It is the first race in the Countdown even though we had to move it, it doesn’t really matter. In reality, fantastic timing, we took over the points lead, I don’t know where we are but we are in the lead. If we can maintain and stay ahead of these guys for five more races, and I know we have the car capable of doing it, we’ll be there to force the issue.”
Schumacher entered the Countdown to the Championship as the fourth seed in Top Fuel, but first round losses by Doug Kalitta, Antron Brown and Shawn Langdon propelled him into the points lead.
“Textbook: one, two and three go out and you are sitting there in fourth, the best case scenario would be ‘wow those guys are out, we have to go close the deal,’” Schumacher continued. “We have to make up those points as we can. So often you see the guys up front go out and you make a mistake; but if you want to win a championship, as good as the cars are, you better leave nothing on the table and absolutely dominate.”
In Funny Car, Hagan defeated rival John Force for his second victory of the season and 12th of his career. Force fouled at the start in his Ford Mustang, giving the automatic victory to Hagan, who posted a 4.200 at 297.17 in his Rocky Boots/Mopar Dodge Charger.
“My guys busted their butts today, I’m so proud of them,” Hagan said. “To see my guys sweating and working so hard, it makes me so proud of them. They are a great group. I wouldn’t trade Dickie Venables for any crew chief out here. The guy is smart, he is methodical, and this is only our second year together and we still have a lot of growing to do.”
With the win, Hagan moves from fifth to third in points, only 11 behind Robert Hight who is second in the standings.
“Dickie was able to put a car under me that went down the track every lap,” Hagan said. “We wanted those bonus point, you’d love to see yourself go out there and scoop up all the points that you can but you have to be smart and what Dickie did today was smart. He went out there and raced.”
In Pro Stock, rookie driver Gray recorded his first career win in his third career final. Gray defeated series points leader Jason Line with a performance of 6.589 at 209.10 in his Gray Manufacturing Chevy Camaro.
The Rookie of the Year contender had no trouble grabbing attention when he blasted into the 2014 season of NHRA’s Mello Yello Drag Racing Series at the third race of the year. Out of the gate, Gray proved he could run with the big dogs, and with Gray Motorsports power beneath the hood of his blue and flat black Chevrolet Camaro, he had quite a racecar to back up what fairly immediately seemed to be a natural ability to adapt to one of the most complicated categories in drag racing. This weekend, at the delayed NHRA Carolina Nationals that concluded during qualifying for the FallNationals at Texas Motorplex, Gray earned the trophy in a side-by-side final-round battle with points leader, Jason Line. It was the first win in the third final round of a very young career that spans just 16 national events.
“This is huge,” said Gray, who moved all the way up from No. 9 to No. 4 in the Pro Stock points with the victory. “It’s big for everybody here and back at the shop. All the Gray Motorsports guys, they’re just doing a phenomenal job. The engine shop, the guys on my team, I mean, they’re just awesome. We have a really good group of guys. I have to thank my wife and kids for putting up with this, and of course my mom and dad for being extremely supportive. I just can’t say enough. This is just a really cool deal.”
“It’s huge, it is big for all the guys back at the shop and all the guys at Gray Motorsports,” Gray said. “They are doing a phenomenal job, all the guys in the engine shop. I’ve got a really good group of guys. I’ve got to thank my wife and kids for their support and my mom and dad for being so supportive. I can’t say enough and such a good deal.”
Krawiec rode his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson to his third consecutive Pro Stock Motorcycle victory and moved into the series lead. He earned his 26th career win by posting a performance of 6.888 at 193.49, to hold off Johnson’s Suzuki, which finished in 6.917 at 193.29.
“You want to do well at every race you go to and you want to be prepared,” Krawiec said. “The key for us I think was rolling off the truck with great momentum, and making good runs down the track. That is what I have done with my Harley the last couple of laps and making good clean straight runs . Work on your setup and tweak away at it. I think I’ve got an awesome motorcycle and it has been great to do. I’m excited.”
Event Essentials (NHRA Pep Boys Carolina Nationals):
|Low ET:||KH alBalooshi||3.780|
|Top Speed:||Doug Kalitta||324.36|
|Low ET:||John Force||4.058|
|Top Speed:||John Force||315.49|
|Low ET:||Jason Line||6.533|
|Top Speed:||Jason Line||210.93|
|Pro Stock Motorcycle|
|Low ET:||Eddie Krawiec||6.841|
|Top Speed||Hector Arana Jr.||195.48|
Posted with files from NHRA Communications and Kelly Wade