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Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), and Jeg Coughlin (Pro Stock) were the big winners at the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas. The win is Schumacher’s second straight, Capps’ third this year, and Coughlin’s second of 2009.
The three now lead the points in their respective categories. Schumacher took over the Top Fuel points lead with his final-round victory against Brandon Bernstein and now fronts former pack leader Antron Brown, 412 to 394. Capps has led the points all year, and he just added to his lead when he defeated teammate and new second-place driver Matt Hagan; Capps has a 106-point advantage, the biggest lead in any class. Like Schumacher, Coughlin took over the points lead when he won the final round. Coughlin trailed then-leader Jason Line by two points entering his final-round bout with Greg Stanfield and now leads Line by 18.
The Top Fuel final was a high-stakes, winner-takes-all match befitting of Las Vegas. Schumacher and Bernstein both entered the final five points or fewer behind Brown in the standings, meaning the winner would not only take the event title but the points lead as well. In addition, both had been running strong and steady all day, recording the two quickest times of eliminations, a 3.871 by Bernstein in round one and the 3.874 that Schumacher put on the boards to win the final round. The win is the 58th of Schumacher’s career and his fifth at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (his second at the spring event).
“Most of the guys on this team have not won two races in a row, so that was great for them, and they did it today because I didn’t drive flawlessly,” said Schumacher, who was appearing in his 90th final. “I did a good job of keeping it straight and all that stuff, but I didn’t drive as well as I did last week, period. Last week, I had a pretty special week, and this week, it was the team. They did a heck of a job. The car ran right down the track every time.
“It was a perfect, perfect run in the final. The final was a big round. He’s gone a whole year without winning a race, and he’s looking for a sponsor, so you know he’s going to dig deep. We weren’t out there just running an average guy. He’s an outstanding driver, and they’re a great race team, so you’ve got to go up there and do your job.”
Schumacher lived in the three-second zone, the only driver to record threes in all rounds of competition. He began with a 3.887 that ended Terry Haddock’s day, then followed with a pair of 3.93s in wins against teammate Cory McClenathan and top qualifier Shawn Langdon.
After recording the 3.871 that stood as low e.t. of the weekend to best Spencer Massey, Bernstein ran low e.t. of the second round, 3.927, to defeat Larry Dixon. Bernstein had a hiccup in the semi’s when his engine blew at the top end, but he was still able to beat Brown to set up the monster final, his 28th, with Schumacher.
Capps made a nice rebound after back-to-back first-round losses in Gainesville and Houston. Appearing in his third final this year, Capps kept his season final-round record perfect when he ran a 4.182 to defeat teammate Hagan. Capps now has 28 Pro wins, 27 in Funny Car. This is his first win at the spring Las Vegas event, though he has won the fall event twice.
“I was asked several times by the media what was wrong the last two races, and I just never worried,” said Capps. “ ‘Ace’ [crew chief Ed McCulloch] needed to get in his comfort zone. You’ll find a lot of teams seem like they may be struggling here the last couple of races, but with four test days for the whole year, there are a lot of teams, including us, testing stuff that you have to try in qualifying once you get in the show and even race day, believe it or not. So it’s tough to gauge how people are really doing. ‘Ace’ was trying things.
“We have found that just trying to approach the season like a NASCAR team and saying, ‘Okay as long as we’re in the Countdown and in the top 10’ and trying to focus and peak at the right time doesn’t work. So we stepped it up, and ‘Ace’ is trying to rip their throats out every single run. You can’t run these cars anymore and be halfway safe and just look to go down the track. You can’t do it. You have to step all over these things with the tune-up, and the driver has to be on their game. It’s days like this where it’s fun. It sounds cliché, but we’re just focusing on one round at a time, one race at a time.”
Capps’ march to the final began with a win against Brian Thiel. He then defeated a pair of John Force Racing drivers, Mike Neff and Robert Hight, to advance to the 57th final of his career.
In his ninth NHRA start, rookie of the year candidate Hagan advanced to his first final. Hagan was solid in the first three rounds. He ran a 4.144 to defeat Bob Bode in round one, then posted a 4.215 to oust teammate Jack Beckman. In the semi’s, Hagan powered to a 4.200 to trailer defending world champ Cruz Pedregon. The run gave him lane choice for the final by .001-second over Capps.
The Pro Stock final was a repeat of the final at the fall event here last year: Coughlin took on Stanfield, and the end result was the same with Coughlin coming out on top when Stanfield fouled out. Stanfield turned on the red by .021-second, handing the win to Coughlin. Coughlin likely would have been tough to beat, though, running a 6.715. Coughlin now has 43 Pro Stock wins, five of which have been in Las Vegas (three at this event).
“We’d love nothing more than to come out of Indy in first place in the Countdown with the extra bonus points that come with being No. 1, but there are a lot of races between here and there,” said Coughlin. “We had a tough day. This is the most consistent our car has been, and that was our goal coming into here. We changed a lot of stuff in the suspension and with the car to try and get a more consistent race car. That’s what’s been plaguing us since the end of last year. The name of the game is continue to better yourself and not make mistakes, and that’s what we were doing — shooting ourselves in the foot — and that’s what was hurting us.”
Coughlin’s day got off to an odd start when rubber lodged in the timing system on opponent Kurt Johnson’s side inadvertently timed out Johnson, forcing a rerun. When the duo returned about 25 minutes later, Johnson went red, and Coughlin sailed through for the win.
“I’m used to going multiple rounds each day with bracket racing, but the team isn’t,” said Coughlin of the added run today. “We just kind of had a hurry-up offense all day. Really, we weren’t able to catch our breath until right before the final. NHRA did a great job of working with the situation and getting us delayed in the program enough to let us get prepared properly.”
Though a little rushed from that point, the rest of the day pretty much went normally for Coughlin. The reigning world champion got the nod in round two when top qualifier Mike Edwards red-lighted, and he advanced to his 71st Pro Stock final when he defeated Line in the semi’s.
Stanfield has now appeared in three straight finals at The Strip; he lost to Line at this event last year and Coughlin in the fall. He defeated Dave Beckley in the opening frame, then drove around Warren Johnson and Greg Anderson to advance to his 18th Pro final round.
In Lucas Oil Sportsman action, Jody Lang completed the rare double, winning Super Stock and Stock. Joining Lang in the Sportsman winner’s circle were Justin Davis (Top Alcohol Dragster), Tony Bartone (Top Alcohol Funny Car), Dan Fletcher (Comp), Michael Miller (Super Comp), Ted Seipel (Super Gas), and Tim Landis (Super Street).
Saturday: Langdon grabs first pole; T. Pedregon, Edwards also on top
Friday: Bode, Anderson lead provisional fields on shortened opening day in Las Vegas
RESULTS: Wahle, Harker win South Central Division Lucas Oil Series Season Opener
ENNIS, Texas (April 5, 2009) – The racing went into the wee hours on Saturday and the final rounds were completed sometime after midnight, but the first NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event on the South
Central division’s schedule is complete. The race was not originally slated to finish until today but with high winds forecasted in the area of the Texas Motorplex, NHRA and track officials opted to get it done early. In
the end, Malcolm Wahle of Claremore, Okla., got the win in Top Alcohol Dragster and defending division Top Alcohol Funny Car champ Steve Harker picked up this year where he left off 2008 – with a win. The Gainesville,
Ga., resident is also the defending event champion.
Wahle was the No. 2 qualifier with a 5.347-second pass and was in the 5.3-second neighborhood all weekend. His best run of the day came in the semis when he faced off against Shayne Lawson, Broken Arrow, Okla. Wahle ran 5.330 seconds to Lawson’s 5.420-second effort. In the final Wahle squared off against Dan Kracht, Gretna, Neb., and Wahle’s 5.358-second, 259.21 mph pass was more than enough to cover Kracht’s 5.568-second, 266.27 mph lap.
Harker was the Top Alcohol Funny Car’s top qualifier. However, he saved his best run for last, unloading a 5.589-second, 256.75 mph pass in the final. No. 2 qualifier Kebin Kinsley of Kennedale, Texas, was in the other lane for Harker’s blast, and his 5.768-second, 250.64 mph run was not enough.
Shane Gray, Artesia, N.M., outlasted the field in Comp Eliminator, beating Chase Williams, Carthage, Texas, in the final. New Orleans racer Mike Bryant drove his ’91 Calais to the Super Stock win over Gary Emmons of Friendswood, Texas, in his ’05 Cavalier. Sam Lusco Jr., Houma, La., ousted Jody Simoneaux, Napoleonville, La., for the Stock Eliminator win and David Warren, Jacksonville, Texas, outlasted Scooter Choate, Hubbard, Texas, to take the win in Super Comp. Super Gas racer Rick Prudhomme, George West, Texas, beat Jimmy Lewis of Forney, Texas, in the final while Jay Johnson, Benbrook, Texas, earned the Super Street win over Charlie Owens, White Oak, Texas, and Top Sportsman winner Chris Gulitti, Spring, Texas, beat out Vasil John, Folsom, La., in the final round. In Top Dragster, Collinsville, Okla., resident Jerry Holt scooped up the win over Larry Eidson of Mineral Wells, Texas, and in Sportsman Motorcycle presented by Harley Davidson, Benji Gibson, Euless, Texas, beat out Conroe, Texas’s Jerry Pomilla.
NHRA South Central division racers head to Memphis (Tenn.) Motorsports Park for the next NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event, April 24-26.
The following are the final results from the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event at Texas Motorplex:
TOP ALCOHOL DRAGSTER
9) Karl Brounkowski, Magnolia, Texas, 5.790, 235.80 def. 1) Kimmelyn Buff Pesz, The Woodlands, Texas, foul
2) Malcolm Wahle, Claremore, Okla., 5.399, 260.76 def. 7) Brandon Lewis, Broken Arrow, Okla., 5.542, 263.41
3) Shayne Lawson, Broken Arrow, Okla., 5.391, 260.36 def. 6) Darryl Hitchman, Greenville, Texas, broke
4) Dan Kracht, Gretna, Neb., 5.516, 261.12 def. 5) Chase Copeland, Ft. Worth, Texas, 5.521, 264.29
Wahle, 5.330, 263.87 def. Lawson, 5.420, 266.27
Kracht, 11.874, 65.68 def. K. Brounkowski, foul
Wahle, 5.358, 259.21 def. Kracht, 5.568, 250.00
TOP ALCOHOL FUNNY CAR
1) Steve Harker, Gainesville, Ga., ’06 Monte Carlo, 5.636, 244.96 def. 8) Ro Yale, Houston, Texas, ’98 Daytona, 7.069, 187.42
4) Burl Brown, Gainesville, Texas, ’00 Avenger, 5.798, 247.07 def. 5) Steve Burck, Corpus Christi, Texas, ’02 Camaro, 5.884, 244.56
2) Kebin Kinsley, Kennedale, Texas, ’02 Camaro, 5.845, 252.28 def. 7) Jeff Wilson, Winfield, Mo., ’06 Monte Carlo, 7.236, 132.78
6) Paul Anderson, Firestone, Colo., ’02 Camaro, 5.876, 247.88 def. 3) Lee Callaway, Baytown, Texas, ’09 Mustang, 6.063, 238.38
Kinsley, 5.719, 251.95 def. Anderson, 5.895, 246.98
Harker, 5.635, 255.77 def. Brown, 5.715, 252.14
Harker, 5.589, 256.75 def. Kinsley, 5.768, 250.64
Shane Gray, Artesia, N.M., ’06 Stratus, B/A, 7.051, 195.11 def. Chase Williams, Carthage, Texas, ’01 S-10, 7.524, 178.87
Mike Bryant, New Orleans, ’91 Calais, GT/FA, 10.188, 127.44 def. Gary Emmons, Friendswood, Texas, ’05 Cavalier, GT/BA, 9.824, 132.22
Sam Lusco Jr., Houma, La., ’96 Dakota, H/SA, 11.602, 111.44 def. Jody Simoneaux, Napoleonville, La., ’67 Nova, F/SA, 11.526, 92.68
David Warren, Jacksonville, Texas, dragster, 8.887, 166.48 def. Scooter Choate, Hubbard, Texas, dragster, broke
Rick Prudhomme, George West, Texas, ’57 Corvette, 9.916, 162.45 def. Jimmy Lewis, Forney, Texas, ’58 Corvette, 9.902, 164.75
Jazzy Jay Johnson, Benbrook, Texas, ’67 Chevy II, 13.636, 79.10 def. Charlie Owens, White Oak, Texas, ’67 Camaro, 10.830, 138.88
Chris Gulitti, Spring, Texas, ’98 Firebird, 7.173, 191.43 def. Vasil John, Folsom, La., ’07 GTO, 19.465, 53.42
Jerry Holt, Collinsville, Okla., dragster, 6.851, 190.06 def. Larry Eidson, Mineral Wells, Texas, dragster, 6.922, 193.18
Benji Gibson, Euless, Texas, ’05 Hayabusa, 8.227, 153.68 def. Jerry Pomilla, Conroe, Texas, ’85 Suzuki, 8.590, 154.37
Due to the weather predictions for Sunday April 5, 2009. The Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event schedule has changed. Racers will be given ONE qualifying run this morning and we will immediately begin eliminations after qualifying on Saturday afternoon. The race will be complete Saturday night.
You can also see Live Timing of this event at www.1320go.com/texasmotorplex/livetiming.php
NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series April 3-5, 2009 at the Texas Motorplex, in Ennis, Texas.
More than 500 of the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series’ best racers are expected to compete at the Lucas Oil NHRA South Central Division race. The Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series will feature the 260 mph Top Alcohol Dragsters and Funny Cars, along with seven other categories.
Racers arriving overnight Wednesday until Thursday morning before gates open please line up in the Main Spectator Parking Lot. We will start the line for entry in the spectator lot and anyone arriving around gate opening needs to go directly to the spectator lot and go to the end of line.
Spectator parking on Saturday and Sunday will be $5.00 per car in the Main Spectator Parking Lot and we will also be charging $10.00 for pit parking for spectators in the Red Key/Gold Key lot next to the Pit Gate.
Top Alcohol Racers (Dragster or Funny Car) please contact the Texas Motorplex at 972-878-2641 or by e-mail (Include your Name, Class, Comp #, Phone Number, & Address & the names of your Crew that will be coming with you(Up to 6)) to preregister for the event.
March 29, 2009 -
Thank you to everyone who came out to the 24th Annual SW Championship Big In on Sunday March 29. Congratulations go out to David Crow winner in Pro Stock Eliminator, Bubba Clifton in ET Bracket Eliminator and Zack Harris winner of the Street Trophy Class. You can view the complete race results by clicking here.
Here are the photos of some of the car show winners.
Norris McPherson 67 red VW ,Best engine
Anthony Cialdella Green 55 VW best paint, and interior.
Eliot Vancil 55 VW Best of Show