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    Don Schumacher has been on a tear as a team owner lately, winning nitro titles in three of four Top Fuel races and making a clear sweep of the Funny Car division.

    However, his greatest competition this season have come away from the racetrack.

    Schumacher was on the winning team at the Casa De Compo Blue Marlin Classic held March 22 off of the coast of the Dominican Republic. The personal victory came just weeks after successfully completing 31 radiation treatments at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston last month.

    "It was a wonderful experience," said Schumacher, who competes aboard his 52-foot Spencer Yacht. "I've fished a number of Marlin tournaments on my boat ... I believe about seven of them and won three of them."

    For the determined and life-loving Schumacher, no win meant more than victory No. 3.

    "We have a ball, and I am with friends I fish with all of the time," said Schumacher. "I love doing this and it is something that sparks my heart. Doing something this different is really challenging. There's something exciting about doing battle with a blue marlin on the back of your boat for an hour."

    Schumacher's team consists of an Orlando, Fla-based orthopedic surgeon and an associate who owns multiple Shell gas stations and NAPA auto care centers.

    "The three of us go out and work it real hard," admitted Schumacher. "We were just fortunate like I have been in NHRA, to go out and win this darn thing."

    Schumacher is quick to point out he did his share of heavy lifting, an exercise he said he desperately needed after the cancer treatments drastically depleted his physical strength.

    "I've needed to get back moving and get back in shape," said Schumacher, who lamented the cold weather prevented him from walking the pits to the starting line at the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals. "I need the exercise to get my body back going. I'm committed to doing that."

    Schumacher said the competition was his first major physical activity in his quest in returning to a measure of normalcy.

    "I will get a trainer soon, once I can get off of the liquid food, and get on more solids," confirmed Schumacher. "I'm committed to life."





    The act of cutting and pasting articles from this publication to a message board is a clear copyright violation as is pulling photos to post on social media sites. All articles and photography published in CompetitionPlus.com are protected by United States of America and International copyright laws unless mentioned otherwise. The content on this website is intended for the private use of the reader and may not be published or reposted in any form without the prior written consent of CompetitionPlus.com.


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    Popular veteran racer V. Gaines, driver of the Kendall Oil Dodge Dart, has been named the K&N Horsepower Challenge Fan Vote winner and will fill the No. 8 starting spot in the lucrative Pro Stock bonus event.
    The 31st annual K&N Horsepower Challenge will be conducted during the running of the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals on Saturday, April 11 at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The event will be televised by ESPN2.
    This is the third consecutive year Gaines has raced in the event and the fifth time he will race in the K&N Horsepower Challenge. Gaines, who has yet to win the K&N race will face No. 1 qualifier Shane Gray in the opening round of eliminations.
    “We are just tickled to death that so many fans thought we ought to race in that race,” Gaines said. “I would have liked to gotten in the other way but we had a few issues that cost us a little bit but to be able to race in it that is fantastic. Anybody can win this one. We try to treat our fans right and communicate with them. They ask a lot of us and we ask a lot of them and they came through.”
    Gaines racing at the K&N Horsepower Challenge will also benefit an organization near to his heart, the Wounded Warrior Project, a veteran’s service organization that assists wounded veterans.       
    “I’m also excited to be voted into the race because as we told our Facebook fans, all of our winnings from the event will go towards the Wounded Warrior Project,” Gaines added. “It would be something if we could win the event and be able to add to that terrific organization.”  
    The K&N Horsepower Challenge is a race within a race, highlighting the top drivers in NHRA Pro Stock competition, for which the winner receives $50,000. The runner-up will earn $10,000, the two semifinalists will each receive $3,000, and the four first-round finishers will each take home $2,500. As part of the program, a $3,000 bonus is awarded to the No. 1 qualifier at each NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event.
    Gaines joins the field that includes, Shane Gray, Jason Line, Erica-Enders Stevens, Allen Johnson, Vincent Nobile, Chris McGaha, and Jonathan Gray. 
    In addition, eight lucky fans were selected in an online drawing on the K&N website as part of the K&N Horsepower Challenge Sweepstakes. Those eight winners will receive a trip for two to the race for a VIP experience where each fan will be paired with a driver in the K&N Horsepower Challenge. The fan paired with the winning driver will leave the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals in a 2015 K&N Horsepower Challenge special-edition Toyota Tacoma, a unique midsize pickup created by Toyota Racing Development and K&N Filters for this event.
    Tickets for the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals, April 10-12 at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, are available by logging on to www.lvms.com or by calling (800) 644-4444.


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    The K&N Horsepower Challenge field has been set and Shane Gray leads the star-studded field as the No. 1 seed when the lucrative special event takes center stage April 11 during the 16th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
    The winner of the 31st annual K&N Horsepower Challenge will earn $50,000, a custom K&N Horsepower trophy and bragging rights as the best Pro Stock racer in the country. The runner-up will earn $10,000, the two semifinalists $3,000 each, and the four first-round finishers $2,500 apiece. A total purse of $76,000 is up for grabs for the eight drivers competing in the K&N Horsepower Challenge.
    This will be the third entry into the specialty race for Gray, who has yet to win the event. Gray, from Mooresville, N.C., qualified No. 1 at four of the 25 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events where drivers could earn K&N Horsepower Challenge points.
    The $148,000 K&N Horsepower Challenge showcases eight Pro Stock teams in a race-within-a-race bonus event. Seven of the teams qualified during a 25-race span from the 2014 SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas, through the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway in North Carolina. The eighth-place driver – V. Gaines – was selected via a special fan vote on the K&N website.

    Shane Gray

    Besides the $76,000 available in the K&N Horsepower Challenge, bonuses of $72,000 were paid to the top Pro Stock qualifiers throughout the 24-races in the K&N Horsepower Challenge, including $3,000 to the No. 1 qualifier at each race. Erica Enders-Stevens, the defending K&N Horsepower Challenge winner, raced to eight No. 1 qualifying positions during the 24-race span.    
    The competitors in this years event will feature four past winners with a total of four events wins. Allen Johnson has two wins and Vincent Nobile and Enders-Stevens have one win apiece. Five racers are looking for their first win with Chris McGaha and Jonathan Gray racing in the high stakes event for the first time in their career.
    Jason Line, a two-time Pro Stock world champion will compete in the event for the 11th time in his storied career but has yet to take home the top prize. He has raced to three-time runner-up finishes in the event.

    In the opening round, top-seeded S. Gray will face K&N fan-vote winner Gaines. Second-seeded Line will meet J. Gray; third-seeded Enders-Stevens will face McGaha; and Johnson will meet Nobile in the other first-round pairing.
    Past winners of the K&N Horsepower Challenge include Darrell Alderman, Bruce Allen, Bob Glidden and Jeg Coughlin. Greg Anderson and Kurt Johnson are tied for the most event wins with four.
    K&N Horsepower Challenge rounds are scheduled for 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. on April 11.
    1. Shane Gray, Mooresville, N.C., Gray Motorsports Chevy Camaro                       3,730
    2. Jason Line, Mooresville, N.C., Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro           3,725
    3. Erica Enders-Stevens, New Orleans, Elite Motorsports Chevy Cobalt                  3,655
    4. Allen Johnson, Greeneville, Tenn., Magneti Marelli Dodge Dart                           3,625
    5. Vincent Nobile, Dix Hills, N.Y., Mountain View Tire Chevy Camaro                     3,355
    6. Chris McGaha, Odessa, Texas, Harlow Sammons of Odessa Chevy Camaro      3,005
    7. Jonathan Gray, Artesia, N.M.,  Gray Motorsports Chevy Camaro*                       2,965
    8. V. Gaines, Lakewood, Colo., Kendall Oil Dodge Charger                                    FanVote
    *Highest eligible points-earning driver inserted into the field in place of Jeg Coughlin
    (1 p.m.):
    S. Gray vs. V. Gaines
    Line vs. J. Gray
    Enders-Stevens vs. McGaha
    Johnson, vs. Nobile
    SEMIFINALS (3:45 p.m.):
    FINAL (4:45 p.m.)



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    The  International Hot Rod Association held its annual Summit Racing Pro-Am Tour event at Pine Valley Raceway in Lufkin, Texas, over the weekend of March 28-29. Beautiful weather graced eastern Texas’ premier quarter-mile drag strip for two complete events. 

    “Everything went really well. We had good weather, a great car count and hardly any oil-downs,” said track owner Bill Bailey. “The racers were really happy too.” 

    The only dual winner of the event was Fort Worth’s Aaron Jordan, who won the Junior Dragster Advanced class on Saturday and Sunday. The AMSOIL Best Engineered Car Award was won by Roger Massey (2003 Cavalier). Colton Reider (Junior Dragster Beginner) won the AMSOIL Best Appearing Car Award. 

    Saturday winners included: Janie Braswell (Stock), Travis Salter (Hot Rod), Riley Ledbetter (Quick Rod), Arlie Boggs (Good Vibrations Top Sportsman), Shannon Brinkley (Super Rod), Curt Harvey (Good Vibrations Top Dragster), Amy Faulk (Super Stock), Landon Exner (Junior Dragster Beginner), Aaron Jordan (Junior Dragster Advanced) and Gianni Carrola (Junior Dragster Masters). 

    Sunday winners included: Jerry Emmons (Stock), Jay Robinson (Hot Rod), Kevin Bracey (Quick Rod), Chris Gulitti (Good Vibrations Top Sportsman), Tommy Maedgen (Super Rod), Leonard Greathouse (Good Vibrations Top Dragster), Pete Peery (Super Stock), Rylie Trumble (Junior Dragster Beginner), Aaron Jordan (Junior Dragster Advanced), Shallon Broussard (Junior Dragster Masters). 

    Final-round results, indicating driver, hometown, dial-in, reaction time, elapsed time and top speed: 



    Winner: Janie Braswell (Weatherford, Texas) 10.99  .1124  10.981 sec./118.23 mph.

    Runner-up: Jackie Hibbard (Humble, Texas) 12.28  .0436  12.266 sec./97.30 mph.


    Winner: Travis Salter (Baytown, Texas) 10.90  .0189  10.937 sec./143.40 mph.

    Runner-up: Greg Simbeck (Venus, Texas) 10.90  .0129  10.943 sec./137.11 mph.


    Winner: Riley Ledbetter (Argyle, Texas) 8.90  .0210  8.909 sec./176.40 mph.

    Runner-up: Tommy Phillips (Forney, Texas) 8.90  .0181  8.914 sec./178.93 mph.


    Winner: Arlie Boggs (Deer Park, Texas) 7.00  .0209  7.025 sec./194.13 mph.

    Runner-up: Steven Harvey (Rockwell, Texas) 7.18  .0265  7.290 sec./181.97 mph.


    Winner: Shannon Brinkley (Highlands, Texas) 9.90  .0121  9.891 sec./146.25 mph.

    Runner-up: Tommy Phillips (Forney, Texas) 9.90  .0012  9.890 sec./163.46 mph.


    Winner: Curt Harvey (Rowlett, Texas) 7.41  0.100  7.412 sec./180.22 mph.

    Runner-up: Terry Pollard (Montgomery, Texas) 7.29  .0134  7.289 sec./181.16 mph.


    Winner: Amy Faulk (Collierville, Tennessee) 10.19  .0871  10.211 sec./122.52 mph.

    Runner-up: John Clegg (Victoria, Texas) 8.32  .6764  16.1290 sec./75.87 mph.


    Winner: Landon Exner (Baytown, Texas) 11.90  .0642  11.848 sec./54.77 mph.

    Runner-up: Truitt Tietz (Oak Grove, Louisiana) 12.14  -.1580 (foul)  12.287 sec./48.87 mph.


    Winner:   Aaron Jordan (Fort Worth, Texas) 9.02  .0524  9.097 sec./64.54 mph.

    Runner-up: Trey Reider (Houston, Texas) 8.93  .2263  8.993 sec./72.15 mph.


    Winner: Gianni Carrola (Boerne, Texas) 7.93  .0276  7.994 sec./77.43 mph.

    Runner-up: Kenneth Hillin (San Antonio, Texas) 7.90  .1071  7.993 sec./82.69 mph. 




    Winner: Jerry Emmons (Pasadena, Texas) 10.35  .0440  10.3859 sec./121.42 mph.

    Runner-up: Sam Porciau (Walker, Louisiana) 10.28  .1627  10.254 sec./126.58 mph.


    Winner: Jay Robinson (Santa Fe, Texas) 10.90  .0468  10.904 sec./111.88 mph.

    Runner-up: Van Arnold (Houston, Texas) 10.90  .0102  10.890 sec./146.82 mph.


    Winner: Kevin Bracey (Caprock, Texas) 8.90  .0134  8.908 sec./170.13 mph.

    Runner-up: Hunter Patton (Highlands, Texas) 8.90  .0388  8.871 sec./166.17 mph.


    Winner: Chris Gulitti (Spring, Texas) 6.97  .1427  .0000/.00. (accepted green light after opponent broke)

    Runner-up: Arlie Boggs (Deer Park, Texas) 7.02  broke  .0000/.00.


    Winner: Tommy Maedgen (Troy, Texas) 9.90  .0203  9.883 sec./154.64 mph.

    Runner-up: Tommy Phillips (Forney, Texas) 9.90  .0100  9.882 sec./158.95 mph.


    Winner: Leonard Greathouse (Lorena, Texas) 7.53  .0082  7.57s sec./165.02 mph. 

    Runner-up: Ronnie Anderson (Albany, Texas) 7.20  .1350  7.204 sec./187.03 mph.


    Winner: Pete Peery (Bowie, Texas) 9.67  .0216  9.697 sec./133.97 mph.

    Runner-up: Jarrod Granier (Labadieville, Louisiana) 9.49  .0153  9.531 sec./135.62 mph.


    Winner: Rylie Trumble (Pasadena, Texas) 12.10  .0951  12.165 sec./52.87 mph.

    Runner-up: Jordan Morales (Boutte, Louisiana) 12.10  -.0599 (foul)  12.314 sec./50.89 mph.


    Winner:   Aaron Jordan (Fort Worth, Texas) 9.10  .0089  9.192 sec./64.23 mph.

    Runner-up: Cody Hughes (Decatur, Texas) 8.90  .1617  8.948 sec./72.98 mph.


    Winner: Shallon Broussard (Carencro, Louisiana) 7.90  .0411  7.920 sec./81.18 mph.

    Runner-up: Regan Jordan (Fort Worth, Texas) 7.97  .0560  7.980 sec./77.72 sec.



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    Listen in as veteran doorslammer announcer Al Tucci calls the action, and our friends at MotorManiaTV capture the excitement of Jason Michalek's 3.97 during the recently completed Outlaw Reunion in Memphis, Tenn.




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    Abbott & Costello would have been proud of the first round, fourth quad of Funny Car at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals. When Matt Hagan was timed out in staging, the failure confused Tim Wilkerson, who sat on the starting line unsure of what was really going on. 

    Cruz Pedregon thundered down the track to reach the stripe first, only to explode the supercharger in his Snap-on Tools entry. John Hale took the second spot with a 4.21. 

    When Hagan timed out, he believed he was staged. 

    "I wish I knew what happened out there," Hagan said. "I thought I was staged. I watched my first bulb come on to pre-stage and I thought I moved up to turn on the second bulb. I thought I got it in there. Cruz (Pedregon) turned the top bulb off beside me and I guess it caught my attention and I just didn't realize I wasn't staged."

    Drivers have seven seconds to stage their cars by breaking the second and final beam that activates the second staging light on the starting line tree. 

    "It was just very weird up there. I just never thought for a second that I wasn't staged. I just couldn't believe it when I saw the red light come on. It's just one of those deals."

    Hagan isn’t looking for sympathy and owned up to the snafu which cost him the point lead. 

    "There are no excuses," he said. "We had a great race car, we were the first to the finish line. Dickie [Venables, Hagan's crew chief] and the guys did a great job. I was just the weak link this weekend. 

    "I proved to myself I was human. It's not one of those deals where we are going to see this situation again but I have to get myself together to come back out at the next race so I don't any mistakes at the starting line. It's a big lesson learned."

    "I could see that someone wasn't staged, but then all of a sudden I see Hale leave and I'm thinking he red-lit, because I never saw the ambers flash," Wilk said. "At the top end, Cruz told me the same thing. He said he didn't know what was going on but thought he might have red-lit. All I knew was that everyone left me sitting there, and I didn't know why. 

    "The problem is with the red bulbs on the tree,” said Wilkerson. “We have four sets of staging bulbs on each tree so that we can all see each other stage and that works fine, but there's only one red bulb on each side of each tree, like a normal two-wide tree. When Matt timed out, his red light came on but I didn't see that because he was over there in the other set of lanes. We need double red bulbs on these things if we're going to do this. I had no idea what was going on, and none of the other guys did either. That's the craziest loss ever."


    The act of cutting and pasting articles from this publication to a message board is a clear copyright violation as is pulling photos to post on social media sites. All articles and photography published in CompetitionPlus.com are protected by United States of America and International copyright laws unless mentioned otherwise. The content on this website is intended for the private use of the reader and may not be published or reposted in any form without the prior written consent of CompetitionPlus.com.


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    Larry Morgan joked after advancing through his first quartet of competition Sunday at the NHRA's Four-Wide Nationals that sponsor FireAde just might have to spray its flame-killer on his Chevy Camaro Pro Stock car because it was one hot rod, emphasis on hot.

    His hunch was correct.

    The popular veteran ended a 120-race drought at zMAX Dragway at Concord, N.C., and nothing could extinguish his joy as he joined Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car), and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) in the winners circle.

    Figuratively, it was a "get well" weekend for Morgan and his crew. But it was literally, too.

    He experienced trouble breathing during Saturday's racing and consulted NHRA medical officials, as eager to stay and make the most of only two qualifying runs in the rain-shortened program as he was to start feeling healthy again. He received some medicine and pooh-poohed a trip to the hospital.

    The doctor, he said, "started checking my vitals, and he said, 'You need to come over to the helicopter.' The plain-spoken Morgan replied, "Listen, I don’t feel that bad, to pay for a $20,000 ride. I can drive to the hospital.' "

    Morgan stayed at the racetrack. "They just checked the oxygen in my blood, and I was good" he said, downplaying his condition. "I was just lucky enough to be out here and race with these guys today. I just couldn't be any happier."

    He wisecracked, "Have you seen a sicker dog get well? Not till today."  

    The Newark, Ohio, owner-driver was more than ready to ditch his losing streak.

    It showed in the final, where Morgan used his second .006-second reaction time of the day to outrun a trio of opponents who also had been running wickedly strong. He reeled off his career-best elapsed time and speed at 6.464 seconds, 214.52 mph. His E.T. ties Erica Enders-Stevens' third-quickest time in Pro Stock history, which was the national record until Jason Line reset that with the class' quickest-ever pass at 6.455 seconds.

    Morgan claimed his 11th overall Wally trophy by topping Greg Anderson and one of his own power-supplier entrants, Jonathan Gray – both of whom registered stunning all-time top-10 E.T.s Sunday – and Nobile, who also has been overdue since winning last June at Chicago.

    On a day when the top two from each foursome advanced, Morgan left nothing to chance, winning all three of his groupings in an event that produced six of the 10 quickest runs in Pro Stock history during eliminations.

    He dampened Line's national-record celebration in the opening round, relegating him to second place on a holeshot as John Gaydosh, along with Phoenix winner / points leader Rodger Brogdon, were eliminated. Then in the second round, Morgan bested Nobile, 2014 event-winner Jimmy Ålund, and Line.

    As the day wore on, Morgan indicated he saw the increasing need to pull out more stops with the set-up and be more aggressive.

    "The cars you could get after a lot harder. And we weren't doing that. These guys are real conservative, and I'm OK with that. But when it comes to racing on Sunday, you’d better get after it or you won’t be here," he said. "I told them, 'This is what we're going to do, because I can't deal with doing what we've been doing.' We made the changes we did, and it picked up."

    Morgan attributed his success on the Christmas tree Sunday and his better direction overall to the changes he made since last November's Finals at Pomona.

    During the offseason, Morgan struck an engine-leasing deal – one he called "a no-brainer" he said he "couldn’t turn down" – with Gray Motorsports that relieved him from a massive amount of work. He ditched his Ford Mustang and got a brand-new Chevrolet in a 30-day rush job from builder Jerry Haas. Ron Thames, president and CEO of FireAde, came on board with Morgan as a marketing partner before the Winternationals. And Morgan was grateful for the support.

    "A lot of good people helped me get where I'm at right now, and I couldn’t have done it without any of 'em," he said. "That's the big difference [between his performance level before this year and in just four races this season]. There's a lot less stress on me. I've just got to drive the car. Those guys are good at what they do, and they do a fabulous job. It showed today. Just by surrounding myself with good people, that's how you win."

    Like others in the Pro Stock class, Morgan came to zMAX Dragway in good faith that they had fixed the racing-surface miseries last fall that were so severe the NHRA moved the remainder of the event to Dallas. Yet he conceded he was apprehensive this weekend, especially after not getting a look at the track Friday because of relentless rain.

    "Coming here, I was worried to death, because there had been only one test here," Morgan said. "They said the track was good, but the other three lanes had not been run on. And we were all concerned with that. Then the temperatures being under 50 degrees, we were all concerned about that. But the best-case scenario happened for us. It was a cold track without a lot of rubber on it. If it had been 100 degrees, there wouldn’t have been very good racing here. It'll end up being very good from now on. It's a fabulous track. I don’t know how Bruton [track owner Smith] and Christian [general manager Byrd] and all you guys got this done, but it is fabulous. It is unreal."

    He completed his personal sweep at facilities that Smith owns. They include Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where Morgan earned his previous victory, and Sonoma Raceway, where he won in 2002. Of Smith he said, "That guy moved drag racing ahead of its time."

    One thing that distinguishes Morgan is his ability to pull off the surprise victory. Just like when he recorded his first victory – halting Bob Glidden's four-year winning streak at Indianapolis and stopping his winning ways there for good at nine victories – Morgan upstaged the national record-setter, the points leader, the No. 1 qualifier, and everyone else in the 16-car field and each of his four-car groups.

    And that was the best medicine Morgan could have had this weekend.



    The act of cutting and pasting articles from this publication to a message board is a clear copyright violation as is pulling photos to post on social media sites. All articles and photography published in CompetitionPlus.com are protected by United States of America and International copyright laws unless mentioned otherwise. The content on this website is intended for the private use of the reader and may not be published or reposted in any form without the prior written consent of CompetitionPlus.com.


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    Antron Brown recently told National Dragster that he learned from working at his family's septic-tank service company that "I don’t want to be No. 1 in the 'No. 2' business."

    It turns out he's No. 1 in the No. 4 business.

    The Matco Tools / U.S. Army / Toyota Dragster driver cruised to the final foursome victory Sunday over Steve Torrence, Richie Crampton and Clay Millican to earn his second straight NHRA Four-Wide Nationals triumph at zMAX Dragway.

    He's No. 1 in the Top Fuel standings, too. He's 26 points ahead of second-place Tony Schumacher, and previous points leader Shawn Langdon is third as the series shifts back out West to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the April 10-12 SummitRacing.com Nationals.  

    After his winning 3.749-second pass at 319.90 mph on the 1,000-foot course at Concord, N.C., Brown said, "It has been an incredible run for us at this race. The reason we love coming here is because the fans get really, really excited about it and plus this is the only time we come out and have a battle royal with nitro cars. It's pretty incredible, pretty insane, a lot going on. 

    "What made it so challenging is you have to run a four-lane racetrack, and we had two runs [because of rain] to try and get used to four lanes," he said. "It really helps out with our multiple teams at DSR. We can lean on our other two dragsters, who had different lanes than we had, and we lean on our Funny Car guys.

    "You want to dig deep, and you want to win races like this. To sneak out with it this year, it was definitely a long road. We've been fighting some new combinations, some gremlins in our Matco car. To lay the gauntlet down that last run, it felt really good to go out there and bring the win home for all of 1,600-plus [Matco Tools] distributors- and for our boss-man. How about that?"

    This 48th career victory, his 32nd in the Top Fuel class, was Brown's first victory of the 2015 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season. (He has won at least one Top Fuel event in each year since switching from the Pro Stock Motorcycle category in 2008.)

    With Jack Beckman breaking his 54-race Funny Car winless streak, this victory gave Don Schumacher Racing its 247th total, its third consecutive double-nitro triumph in this year's four races, and its 44th race in which the organization has claimed two or more pro trophies at a single event.  

    "Don has put all the right people in all the right places. We are able to lean on each other. Our deal is we have an open door policy. We have grown as a tight knit unit and we've been able to grow together. We work hard together. We learn together," Brown said.

    Slogging through the chaos of the four-wide format reminded Brown once again that perseverance pays off.

    "It wasn't easy, but we kept working to get better and in the end, it was our day," he said. "That final round was remarkable.  I can't say enough about [crew chiefs] Mark Oswald and Brian Corradi and the entire Matco Tools/Army Toyota team. They did an incredible job. There’s no hiding that we've been struggling a little bit early in the season. We’re just working hard and going one race at a time."

    Brown acknowledged the resurfacing project at zMAX since the NHRA's fall visit here that ended in a huge economic hit for track owner Bruton Smith as eliminations for the Countdown opener were carried over to the Dallas race.

    "Our hat's off to Bruton Smith and the whole zMAX crew. To re-do a whole racetrack, that's how much they care about our sport and NHRA," Brown said. "We had green lanes that some people never even ran down and . . . to have the quality of racing we did out there this weekend is pretty remarkable. That's a true testimony to how hard they work. That's why these stands were jam-packed on Saturday and Sunday. I know it was cold . . . and when you see the fans out there, that makes it something special."

    In the opening round of Sunday's eliminations, No. 8 starter Brown was in a foursome with No. 1 qualifier JR Todd, 2012 champion and points leader Shawn Langdon, and class rookie and consensus victory-waiting-to-happen Dave Connolly.

    "That first quad was like an all-star event, and then you go into the next round and it's stacked up again," Brown said. 

    He won the first round with a 3.771-second lap at 313 mph and advanced to the second round along with Connolly. The second quad turned into a pedalfest, as teams were pushing the envelope on an 80-degree racetrack with air temperatures in the 50s.

    "All of us knew what we had to run, and we pushed the racetrack too hard, because none of us made it 60 feet," he said.

    Connolly's engine blew up as he stepped on the throttle, giving Bob Vandergriff Racing its second straight spectacular disaster in as many events.

    "We were trying to run a 3.72 like the Sarge (Tony Schumacher) does. We snuck around that round and came back for the final. Brian and Mark made the right call, and we ran low E.T. of that round and we did what we needed to do to win that race."

    And winning races and being No. 1 at the drag-racing business, he knows, will keep him from being No. 2 at anything.


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    Dave Connolly had his warning sign, or thought it could have been the one of the cars in the other three lanes during the second round of Top Fuel eliminations at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals. 

    “The burnout felt fine but I thought I heard the engine misfire a time or two like it could have been a rocker arm or ignition,” Connolly said. “At this point, we don’t have radios in the car and I started pointing to myself asking if that was us. The crew guys sent me in.

    “When you have four guys, and in the back of my mind, it was race day and I was hoping it was someone else other than me that I heard. Obviously, that wasn’t the case. I should have never hit the gas. Hindsight is 20/20.”

    Connolly in the first round destroyed the clutch in the C&J Energy dragster but pulled out his first career Top Fuel round win. However, in this instance, there was no way Connolly could have known the incident would be a mini-version of Doug Herbert’s catastrophic 1999 NHRA Finals engine failure. 

    “Everything happens so quick … you hear the big bang and your head flies forward. At that point, you can draw the conclusion that something catastrophic has happened. You just get over to the right to minimize the oildown time. It’s unfortunate. I don’t have any answers about what happened.”

    Antron Brown, three lanes over from Connolly, felt Connolly’s engine explosion.

    “I felt the concussion and I believe it moved my car over,” said Brown. “At first I thought it was me. But then I realized it wasn’t. It was as if my car was picked up and moved over. That’s only something you’re going to feel in the Four-Wide. That was a big bang and I’m glad he was all right.”

    Adding insult to injury, Connolly could only look up and see the winning elapsed times of 5.81 and 6.01.

    “It hurts when you look up at the scoreboards and see the ETs which got by that round and know that we had a car that could have made the finals,” said Connolly. “These things are animals when you are pumping that much fuel and ignition into them. They are finicky to any ignition or fuel problem. Today was what you get when the least little thing goes wrong.”

    Top Fuel rookie Connolly, who has already experienced more than his share of misfortunes this season, asked team owner Bob Vandergriff Jr. if these were part of the learning process.

    “Being new to the class I asked Bob if these were common occurrences, and he said, ‘no, not really. All of this stupid stuff seems to be happening to you.'”



    The act of cutting and pasting articles from this publication to a message board is a clear copyright violation as is pulling photos to post on social media sites. All articles and photography published in CompetitionPlus.com are protected by United States of America and International copyright laws unless mentioned otherwise. The content on this website is intended for the private use of the reader and may not be published or reposted in any form without the prior written consent of CompetitionPlus.com.


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    The 54-race drought is over for Jack Beckman.

    The veteran NHRA nitro Funny Car driver and 2012 world champion finally returned to the winner’s circle at a national event since the year he won his world title.

    Beckman clocked a career-best 3.983-second elapsed time at 308.78 mph to win the Four-Wide Nationals March 30 at zMax Dragway in Charlotte, N.C.

    “This all feels surreal,” Beckman said.

    This was Beckman’s 16th career victory and first since he beat Matt Hagan in the finals in St. Louis in 2012.

    “Once you start racking up wins you expect to win and I have had some great crew chiefs the past three years, but we just haven’t got it done,” Beckman said. “You never know when your last win is your last win. You keep thinking this snowball is going to roll on forever and then you go two and a half years and you start to wonder.”

    In 2013, Beckman had a solid season, finishing third in the point standings, highlighted by his victory in the $100,000 Traxxas Nitro Shootout all-star event at Indianapolis.
    This season, championship tuner Jimmy Prock became Beckman’s crew chief and he is joined by stalwart assistants John Medlen and Chris Cunningham, and the team’s hard work finally paid dividends at Charlotte.

    Beckman defeated Del Worsham (4.012), Chad Head (7.455) and Tommy Johnson Jr. (12.177) in the finals.

    "Toward the end of last year we didn't even know if we'd have a team, and I thought I might be going back to working on elevators," said Beckman, who finished 11th in the 2014 point standings. "But then Terry Chandler decided to fund our team to benefit the Infinite Hero Foundation and continue supporting our Make-A-Wish team (with driver Tommy Johnson Jr.).

    "Without Terry supporting this team I might not have had the chance to win this trophy, but I also might have had to get a real job."

    Beckman’s win also gave him a jolt in the points chase, as he rocketed up from 14th to seventh. He is 97 points behind leader Worsham. Beckman’s place in the points is impressive considering he failed to qualify for the season-opening Winternationals.



    The act of cutting and pasting articles from this publication to a message board is a clear copyright violation as is pulling photos to post on social media sites. All articles and photography published in CompetitionPlus.com are protected by United States of America and International copyright laws unless mentioned otherwise. The content on this website is intended for the private use of the reader and may not be published or reposted in any form without the prior written consent of CompetitionPlus.com.


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