Ameriquest Mortgage NHRA Nationals
By Rob Geiger, NHRA.com
Top Fuel points leader Tony Schumacher enjoyed the perfect weekend with his U.S. Army juggernaut, winning the race and setting a national record while his two closest rivals in the points both lost in the first round. In just one event, the defending series champion more than doubled his lead over Larry Dixon, from 100 to 205 points. That translates to a lead of more than 10 rounds with just 12 rounds left this season. Ron Capps shook off his recent struggles to win his second event of the 2005 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing season, which moved him to within 45 points of the Funny Car lead. History was made in Pro Stock when Jason Line took out Erica Enders. Though she finished as runner-up, the spunky 21-year-old took solace in the fact that she became the first female in class history to reach the final round.
Top Fuel points leader Tony Schumacher enjoyed the perfect weekend with his U.S. Army juggernaut, winning the race and setting a national record while his two closest rivals in the points both lost in the first round. In just one event, the defending series champion more than doubled his lead over Larry Dixon, from 100 to 205 points. That translates to a lead of more than 10 rounds with just 12 rounds left this season.
Ron Capps shook off his recent struggles to win his second event of the 2005 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing season, which moved him to within 45 points of the Funny Car lead. History was made in Pro Stock when Jason Line took out Erica Enders. Though she finished as runner-up, the spunky 21-year-old took solace in the fact that she became the first female in class history to reach the final round.
"I woke up this morning and I knew we had a great car, but I was still so nervous," Schumacher said. "You just never know how things are going to go. There are so many ways to lose and so many ways to win. You can't count on anything.
"I got hundreds of calls this week, and not one of them was to ask how I was. They all wanted tickets. That's what happens when you're at home. It makes it hard to stay focused on racing. At the same time, there's nothing like winning at home and having all your friends and neighbors and family with you to celebrate.
"I clearly remember last year's race against Herbert and looking over for the win light, and it never came on. I was thinking about that when I was sitting down there in the staging lanes. I didn't want to let it happen again. We could have had 11 wins last year, but he beat us. That's a good team, and I wasn't about to take them lightly."
Schumacher beat Bobby Lagana Jr., Morgan Lucas, and Brandon Bernstein to get to his fourth final in a row and ninth of the year. The win over Bernstein must be listed as a minor upset because Bernstein carried lane choice into the semifinal showdown. However, Bernstein lost traction around the 330-foot timer. Schumacher's lifetime record in the final is 27-26.
The Herbert-Wayne Dupuy combination continues to pay dividends as the gregarious Snap-on Tools racer rode his new crew chief's combination past John Smith, Clay Millican, and a red-lighting Scott Kalitta to reach his third final of the season and second with Dupuy at the controls. This was Herbert's 20th NHRA final round. He has eight wins.
"At this point in the game, you have to rounds or you're done," Capps said. "We felt like we had a good chance to make up ground in
" 'Ace' [crew chief Ed McCulloch] has been battling some health issues. He's gonna be okay, but you can see that it's wearing on him. But when he got the car going the way it was in qualifying, I knew he'd found a way to help us win. We all continue to keep the faith.
"Any of these guys in the points chase who say they don't think about it all the time is lying. I think about it when I'm taking the kids to school. I think about it in the shower. I call Don [Schumacher, team owner] every five minutes and ask him if it's time to go racing. Then we have to wait a week when
After consecutive first-round losses at the last two events, Capps knew he needed a strong showing here, and his Brut Dodge Stratus R/T team delivered by taking its man to his sixth money round of the season. Capps beat Hight, low qualifier Cruz Pedregon, and John Force. The wins over fellow championship hopefuls Hight and Force were decided by fractions of a second.
Pedregon is living large after racing to two finals in a row, a first for the fledgling team owner. Overall in his career, the Q Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo driver has 51 trophy-round appearances, but aside from the last two, he gained them all when he drove for Force. Sunday's victims were Tony Bartone and title chasers Eric Medlen and Gary Scelzi.
Despite losing in the semiís, Scelzi increased his lead to 43 points over Force. Capps is next, two points back, followed by Hight, who is 70 out of the lead, and Medlen, who is an even 100 points back.
Obviously, the situation weighed on her as she cut an uncharacteristic -.233 red-light.
"There was no way I was going to win with a single," Line said. "I was going to wait for her no matter what. There was never a doubt about waiting for her, and we all agreed on that while we were up there. She's great and she deserved to race, so we waited.
"I don't know why, but I always run well here. I just like the track, and I feel very comfortable. Plus, my folks came over from
"We're looking to pass Warren [Johnson] and finish third in the points. I think we can pass him. Kurt [Johnson] up there at number two might be out of reach. I know our team would love to be 1-2 again at the end of the year, but I just don't think we can."
Line was a formidable foe as he posted the quickest quarter-mile pass of race day, a 6.719 at 205.88 mph. He showed great sportsmanship by waiting for Enders to arrive.
Rookie of the year Line stayed in the championship picture with his sixth final-round showing of the season. He beat Greg Stanfield, Kurt Johnson, and a red-lighting Dave Connolly with a string of mid-6.7-second passes in his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO.
Enders looked sharp in her Slammers Ultimate Milk Chevrolet Cobalt, beating Ron Krisher, Mike Edwards, and Warren Johnson to become the first female to reach a Pro Stock final. It was a strange trip for the 21-year-old. Both Krisher and Edwards experienced engine trouble and barely made it to the starting line. Veteran Johnson, meanwhile, went red by .006-second.
Greg Anderson remains the class leader. He's followed by Kurt Johnson (182 points back), Warren Johnson (261 behind), and Line (264 back).
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