And on the eighth day of the POWERade Drag Racing Series, David slew Goliath.
Funny Car driver Del Worsham, resplendent in the colors of the race's title sponsor -- Checker-Schuck's-Kragen -- knocked off drag racing's all-time wins leader, John Force, in a thrilling Funny Car final that denied the 11-time champion a landmark 100th career win.
The "huge upset" theme also carried over to the Top Fuel finale where 1999 champ Tony Schumacher bagged his first win since the 2000 U.S. Nationals by knocking off low qualifier and current points leader Larry Dixon, 4.94 to 5.04, and Bruce Allen climbed a mountain of his own, beating reigning series champ Warren Johnson in dominating fashion in the Pro Stock final.
Schumacher battled like a soldier to beat Dixon. Both drivers had to pedal their dragsters several time to keep their cars' momentum going until Schumacher gained a marginal .09-second edge at the finish line. The numbers aren't pretty -- 4.946 at 299.40 mph beating a 5.044 at 296.89 mph -- but the end result handed Schumacher his sixth career victory and moved him into second place in the points, 63 behind Dixon.
"We made eight runs down the track this weekend," said Schumacher, who won this race in 2000 and was the first over 330 mph at this event in 1999. "Dixon made six. Let me tell you, that was a tough race, a tough round, and we both did everything we could to win. That's a good team over there.
"The car had a hole (cylinder) out from the hit. Personally, I thought I was dead late because I could see his whole car but when he disappeared I started feeling pretty good because I knew we had some speed up by that point. Some tracks are good for some people and this is one of my favorites, for sure.
"This crew deserves the championship right now in my opinion. They've worked so hard, I mean we made 120 test laps last year, twice as many as anyone else, and had nothing to show for it. But this group stuck together and now things are starting to fall into place for us. It's very satisfying to see them enjoying themselves."
The pride of the U.S. Army got his chance for glory by riding the fastest car in attendance this weekend to impressive wins over Paul Romine, Japanese newcomer Yuichi Oyama, and back-to-back semifinalist Clay Millican.
Even though he began from the No. 1 qualifying position, Dixon needed a little luck just to get his Arizona Diamondbacks-themed Miller Lite dragster to the finals. After tattooing John Smith with a 4.56 in the opening session, he received a timely free pass in the quarterfinals when opponent Rhonda Hartman-Smith couldn't back up after her burnout and had to idle down the track. Dixon still attempted a pass but went up in tire smoke at the hit of the throttle and could only post a beatable 9.70. In the semi's, it was Doug Kalitta losing traction to hand Dixon another easy win. Top Fuel results
After seemingly giving one away to Force at the season-opener in Pomona, Worsham and Co. made sure they would at least get down the race track Sunday and force the champ into beating them. This time it didn't happen as Worsham exacted his revenge by powering to a 4.940 at 312.86 mph, while Force watched from the smoke-filled cockpit of his own hot rod.
Force not only has to shelve the "100 Victories" champagne for at least three more weeks but he has to deal with the pain of squandering the day's best reaction time in the finals, a .467, that was lost when his tire-spinning lap produced just a 7.749 at 114.25 mph.
"I didn't want to be the guy who gave John Force his 100th win," Worsham said. "I like it a lot better that he's the guy who gave me my eighth. I searched my soul this off-season to try and figure out why John Force is so good. It's because he always rises to the occasion. I think we did that today. No disrespect to John, he's been great to us over the years and we love him, but today was our day.
"We had problems in qualifying but my crew chief [Rob Flynn] was like, 'No one wants to race us [Sunday.'] He was right. We said no matter what we were gonna go down the track in the finals. We made a lane switch right at the last second, which I wasn't crazy about, but my dad made the call and he said that John hadn't been down that lane all day so we we're gonna put him over there and let him figure it out.
"This is a home race of sorts because Checker-Schuck's-Kragen have their offices here. It's awesome to win this race for them. There is a huge, huge crowd of CSK people here and they are partying right now. I was so happy to see that win light but it didn't seem that bright. I looked at it three or four times to make sure it was on."
Remarkably, Worsham almost missed the cut in qualifying -- not earning a spot in the field until the final session -- but he and his Checker-Schuck's-Kragen teammates certainly came to life today with a string of stout passes in wins against Gary Scelzi, Gary Densham, and Scotty Cannon. The victory against Cannon came courtesy of a fractional holeshot that translated to a .003-second, nose-length win at the other end of the track. Still, the biggest win of the day was the obvious one over Force.
The 52-year-old Force had a Maalox-gulping trip to the finals in his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang. He eked out a .012-second holeshot win over Whit Bazemore in Round 1, slipped by Ron Capps by a 4.85 to 4.89 margin in the quarterfinals, and came back from the dead to beat Tommy Johnson Jr. in the semi's. The lap against Johnson looked over for Force early on when the Castrol car lost traction. But Force pedaled his way back into contention and then stole the win with by a 5.446 to 5.623-second advantage when T.J.'s engine detonated at 700 feet. Funny Car results
Allen's 15th career win kept a Reher-Morrison-powered car at the top of the POWERade championship points standings as the 51-year-old supplants George Marnell, his engine customer and Pomona winner, in the top slot.
This race was never in doubt as Allen crushed "the Professor" at the Christmas Tree with a cosmic .410-second reaction time to Johnson's sluggish .475-second launch. By half-track Allen was so far ahead that Johnson simply clicked his car off and coasted to a runner-up finish. The final numbers had Allen winning with a 6.904 at 199.09 mph ahead of Johnson's resigned 7.470 at 148.70 mph.
"This UPS guy came up to me late last year and asked how I was doing. I said I had lost the race with a bad light," Allen said. "He said, 'Hey, sometimes you're just Clark Kent.' That's my new saying; you can't be Superman every day. In racing some times you just have good lights. You get in a zone and it becomes automatic. Other days you can't cut a light to save your life.
"Qualifying and racing are two different things. If you can get in the field you have a chance to win. Ron [Krisher] is making a bunch of horsepower and that has us concerned because there's more than one car running his engines. Overall, the fastest cars usually end up at the top of the points. But our customers, Marnell, Mike Edwards, and Don Smith are holding their own so far as well and that's a real nice thing for all the guys putting in the work at our engine shop. We're proud of that."
The Grand Ams of both Allen and Johnson were as consistent as bracket cars Sunday, running high 6.8- and low 6.9-second passes throughout the day. Allen's Speedco Truck Lube entry out-paced Greg Anderson, Marnell, Mike Edwards, and Johnson to carry him to the winner's circle. On the other side of the ladder, W.J. bettered J.R. Carr, Tom Hammonds, and his own son, Kurt Johnson, to get his bright yellow GM Performance Parts machine to the finals. Pro Stock results
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