Hometown Brews Success for DSR Racing
Chicagoland native and dynamic multi-car team owner Don Schumacher enjoyed his finest hour in drag racing this season when two of his team cars prevailed to win during NHRA’s 17th annual O’Reilly Route 66 Nationals at Joliet…..
Schumacher’s DSR team prevailed to win both in Funny Car and in Top Fuel during NHRA’s most recent round of Mello Yello Drag Racing.
He had to beat all three of his Don Schumacher Racing teammates to earn it, but Matt Hagan drove his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T to a much needed Funny Car title win at the 17th annual Route 66 National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Nationals near Chicago on Sunday.
“It’s just good to turn on four win lights again,” said Hagan who’s 11th career win helped extend Mopar’s recent string of victories, in either the Pro Stock or Funny Car class, to six national events. “It’s not been as long as some people but it was long enough. Hopefully we can carry this momentum on but we just have to enjoy the moment right now. It does make you realize how hard these wins are to get and when it does come together you don’t want the day to go away.”
“Congratulations to Matt Hagan for getting back on track with his second final round appearance of the year with this win at Joliet aboard the Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group LLC’s service, parts and customer-care brand. “We look forward to watching Matt and his Don Schumacher Racing teammates contend for more wins this season in celebration of 50 incredible years of 426 Race HEMI.”
Hagan snapped an eleven-race winless streak by driving past teammate Jack Beckman and opponent Bob Bode on his way to a semifinal showdown against his other fellow HEMI-powered teammate, Ron Capps. It was also the first time this season that three DSR Dodge Charger R/T machines have advance to the semi-finals.
It took a hole shot win against Capps for Hagan to advance to his second final round elimination since his runner-up finish in the 2014 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season opener. Hagan rose to the occasion and defeated Tommy Johnson Jr. in an all-Mopar final, to become the first DSR driver to defeat all three teammates en route to an event title.
Bolstered by consecutive title wins at the last two national events by DSR teammates Johnson and Capps, Hagan and his Mopar crew brushed off six first-round losses to score their first victory of the season and the first trip to the winner’s circle since the 2014 season finale in Pomona.
It’s been a humbling year for us,” said Hagan who climbs from 10th to eighth in the Funny Car points standings with his efforts this weekend. “Last year we came out and won five races and you think that you’re going to set the world on fire the following year. We just kind of fell off. These guys have been keeping after it.”
With his runner-up finish, No. 1 qualifier Johnson moved into second place in the standings behind points leader, Robert Hight, and will look to keep the momentum going through the fourth event in as many weeks next weekend in Norwalk, Ohio.
“I wanted to win, but if you look at the weekend as a whole, it was great,” said Johnson who also posted his first run under the four-second barrier in qualifying on Saturday “We got into the 3’s, we were No. 1, and we went to the finals. The Make-A-Wish team is so good that it’s hard not to be disappointed with a runner up, but you take a look back at it and have to think, okay, we did really well.”
In Top Fuel Antron Brown raced his Matco Tools dragster to its fourth win of the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Series season.
Brown, who qualified the Matco rail in the No. 3 spot under the lights at the Route 66 Nationals on Saturday evening, tamed the tricky strip located in the Chicagoland suburbs behind the wheel of his Top Fuel dragster tuned by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald.
“The track got tricky on us,” Brown said after earning his 45th career NHRA event title. “We’ve been trying a new (engine) combination and it dropped a couple (cylinders) this weekend, but we were able to get the round wins. The Matco Tools guys are getting the car where it’s happy again and it was happy in that final round. When you get to the final and you know you’re racing someone like Brittany (Force) you have to put out your A-plus game because everybody we’re racing is bringing their A-plus game. Her (reaction time) lights were good all day.
“That was great to put a 3.81 out there in the final. Mark and Brian said we can run a low .80 and they were right. That’s special when your crew chiefs say that and the car goes out and does it.”
Brown, who began racing professionally in 1998, raced to his category-best fourth win of the season by defeating part-time runner Billy Torrence, Australian rookie Richie Crampton, veteran Clay Millican and popular second generation racer Brittany Force in the final round. The semifinal win over Millican was the 500th round win of Brown’s decorated multi-category career. He now stands at 501 with 279 coming in Top Fuel.
One year ago at Joliet, Brown’s DSR teammates Tony Schumacher and Matt Hagan earned the double-up wins for “The Shoe” at his home track.
Vincent Nobile and the Mountain View Tire & Auto Service NHRA Pro Stock team celebrated their first win of the season after hard-fought battle at the O’Reilly Route 66 Nationals in Joliet, Ill. Nobile won for the ninth time in his career when he drove the team’s Chevy Camaro to a win over KB Racing teammate Jason Line in the final round. For Nobile, the win was a welcome relief since he’d gone without a victory since the Seattle event last August.
“This has been a long-time coming,” Nobile said. “I almost forgot what it felt like. We had a great car here and it was great to be able to race my teammate in the final. As far as I was concerned, we won the race when both of us got to the final. We race as a team and when one of us wins we all win. That being said, I still wanted to beat Jason in the final.”
Touted as one of the best “leavers” in the Pro Stock class, Nobile did not disappoint in the final round. He gained a holeshot advantage against Line’s Summit Camaro with a nearly perfect reaction time and won with a 6.65-second elapsed time, holding off Line’s quicker 6.63-second performance. Nobile also defeated Jonathan Gray, five-time world champion Jeg Coughlin Jr., and Shane Tucker to advance to his 14th career final round.
“We had a great car this weekend but we also had a great car last weekend [in Epping, N.H.] and I choked. I lost a race because I short-shifted the car so when we got here to Joliet I felt like I had to redeem myself. I was very motivated this weekend.”
The victory also helped to reinforce the bold decision made by Mountain View team owners Nick and Irene Mitsos to form a partnership with the championship-winning KB Racing team and make the switch to a Chevy Camaro for the 2014 season. Nobile’s first eight victories came behind the wheel of a Dodge-powered Pro Stock car.
“We haven’t had many breaks this year but today things went our way,” said Nobile. “When we did this deal the whole point was to have two KB cars in the final and that’s what we did here. I joked with Jason before the final that we should just arm wrestle for the win but he wouldn’t go for it. As far as I was concerned, when we both got to the final we’d already done what we set out to do.”
Not only was the win a big confidence-booster for Nobile, it also helped him gain two spots in the NHRA Mello Yello series points standings. With six races remaining before the Countdown to the Championship playoffs, Nobile has moved into fifth place. Nobile will have little time to celebrate his achievement as the team will now move to Norwalk, Ohio for this weekend’s Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, the final event in a grueling stretch of four races in four weeks.
Arana Jr. grabbed his first Pro Stock Motorcycle victory of 2014 with a pass of 6.925 at 193.93 on his Lucas Oil Buell, defeating father and teammate Hector Arana and his Lucas Oil Products Buell. The win was Arana Jr.’s eighth career victory and first since Sonoma last season.
“We won together,” said Arana Jr., who advanced to the final with victories against Gainesville winner Steve Johnson, Charlotte and Englishtown winner Andrew Hines and Shawn Gann. “I would not be here without [Hector Sr.]. To race him in a final is a dream come true. We’ve been trying to do this for four years and it finally happened. Now we just need a brother-brother final with me and Adam [Arana].”
Arana Jr. sits third in the Pro Stock Motorcycle point standings. Arana was looking for his first win since 2009 and is currently seventh in points. Points leader Eddie Krawiec was eliminated in the second round after red lighting against recent Epping winner Angie Smith.
Event Essentials: O’Reilly Route 66 Nationals (June 26-29th, 2014)
|Low ET:||Doug Kalitta||3.767|
|Top Speed:||Doug Kalitta||327.43|
|Runner-Up:||Tommy Johnson Jr.||4.147||308.50|
|Low ET:||Tommy Johnson Jr.||3.999|
|Top Speed:||Courtney Force||322.50|
|Low ET:||Allen Johnson||6.574|
|Top Speed:||V. Gaines||210.31|
|Pro Stock Motorcycle|
|Winner:||Hector Arana Jr.||6.925||193.97||8th|
|Runner-Up:||Hector Arana Sr.||6.946||192.82|
|Low ET:||Eddie Krawiec||6.925|
|Top Speed:||Hector Arana Jr.||195.76|
Lucas Oil Lowdown — Lombardo Double Highlights Sportsman Racing!
In the final results from Route 66 Raceway and the 17th Annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals, Chris Demke, Tujunga, CA, and John Lombardo Jr., Brea, CA, took home the wins in Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car respectively. This event also marked the 30th year where the best racers in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series face off in the Jegs Allstars. Any Allstars representative who wins the Allstars event and goes on to win the national event will have their Allstars prize money doubled, and that is just what Lombardo accomplished this weekend at the NHRA Route 66 Nationals.
Lombardo faced off against Kris Hool, Casper, WY, and posted a winning run of 5.590 seconds, 260.16 mph in his ’14 Mustang. Hool drove to a 5.642 second, 256.80 mph lap for his runner up finish. Lombardo is 2-0 against Hool in prior events and it’s the first time they have faced eachother in a final round. Lombardo had the starting line advantage and pulled away for his quickest run of the event to take the win. Not only did Lombardo take the win at the national event but he also won at the Jegs Allstar event on Saturday and will get bonus money for the double-up. In the Jegs Allstars final, Lombardo faced off against Dan Pomponio, Berlin, NJ. Lombardo posted a winning run of 5.663 seconds, 256.89 mph. Pomponio, who received the runner-up finish posted a run of 5.763 seconds, 253.28 mph.
Demke, worked his way through the field and ran 5.313 seconds at 270.59 mph in his final round victory over Michael Manners, Willis, TX, who clocked in at 5.305 seconds, 267.48 mph. Demke is 3-0 against Manners in previous events and Demke is 1-0 against Manners in prior final rounds. Demke was first off the line and had the power to hold on for the holeshot win. This win made it back to back victories for Demke here in Chicago. This is also his 12th national event win and his second this year.
In the Super Stock final, Larry Hodge, La Place, IL, faced off against Mike Crutchfield, Montgomery, AL. Crutchfield was looking to double-up since he also received the win at the Jegs Allstars event. Crutchfield has won the Jegs Allstars event two years in a row and his third time in his career. Crutchfield went red off the line and Hodge, who was the runner up here last year, took home the win and the Wally. Hodge posted a winning run of 10.518 seconds, 125.71 mph.
Other racers visiting the winner’s circle this weekend were Troy Galbraith, Indianapolis, IN, in Comp Eliminator; Trevor Larson, Starbuck, MN, in Super Comp; Luke Bogacki, Carterville, IL in Super Gas; Justin Lamb, Henderson, NV in Stock Eliminator; and Nick Folk, Durand, IL in Super Street.
The event’s Saturday racing schedule also included the 30th running of the highly prestigious Jegs Sportsman AllStars event — featuring a high profile showdown of nothing but the best Sportsman racers within North America.
Those eliminator titles went to Randy Meyer (TAD), John Lombardo (TAFC), Greg Kamplain (Comp), Mike Crutchfield (Super Stock), Brett Speer (Stock), Ray Miller (Super Comp), Trevor Larson (Super Gas), Randy Sauder (Super Street), Jerry Albert (TS) and Phil Unruh (TD).
Posted with files from: Bruce Biegler, Pat Caporali, Jeff Wolf, Nobile Motorsports, Melissa Coleman & NHRA Communications
Photos by: Bruce Biegler
To view DragRaceCanada’s Route 66 Nationals Photo Gallery click: HERE