Lincoln Electric is a proud partner of Don Schumacher Racing.
Chicago, IL (June 30, 2013) - Tony Schumacher raced to the Top Fuel victory in spectacular fashion Sunday as his U.S. Army dragster’s 8,000-horsepower engine exploded in a huge fireball when he crossed the finish line in the final round at the O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries.
Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Jeg Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock), and Michael Ray (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were winners of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event.
Schumacher’s fiery finish stopped the clocks in 3.930 seconds at 269.29 mph, but it was quick enough to hold off a determined Clay Millican, whose Parts Plus dragster trailed, and the veteran driver remained winless in six career final-round appearances. It was the third win of the season and the 72nd overall for local favorite Schumacher, a longtime Chicagoland area resident.
Schumacher powered past David Grubnic, Khalid alBalooshi, and defending world champ Antron Brown to advance to the final round. In the final, Millican was actually ahead of Schumacher near midtrack, but Schumacher’s machine surged forward, the engine eventually expiring just as he crossed the finish line first.
“It’s always great to have a hometown win here in Chicago,” said Schumacher of his fourth victory at Route 66 Raceway, located just south of Chicago. "It was a great day for Don Schumacher Racing with another double-up [Matt Hagan’s Funny Car win]. This is 37 times that we’ve done that, and it was personally gratifying with all the family and friends I had here this weekend.”
Going into the final with Millican, he was very aware of his record against drivers who are seeking their first wins.
“When you look back in Top Fuel history, whenever anybody gets their first win, it’s against me,” said Schumacher, who regained the series lead with the victory. “Between Shawn Langdon, J.R. Todd, and everybody else, that is what has happened. But I told myself today that this is not going to be an ongoing trait. We’re going to stop it right here and now. I don’t care when or if Clay wins a race but just not today. Not here at my home track where we have a chance to extend our points lead, which is going to be very valuable when we get down to Indy [the last race of the regular season].”
In Funny Car, Hagan extended his series lead with his third win of the season; he edged final-round opponent John Force at the finish line. Hagan’s Magneti Marelli/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger posted a 4.605 at 315.34 while Force’s Castrol GTX Ford Mustang finished just behind in 4.113 at 304.80.
“It’s so hard to get these wins, so I feel great to be here,” said Hagan, who had to knock off championship title contender Johnny Gray, defending world champ Jack Beckman, and Bob Tasca III in earlier rounds.
“I don’t think you could put together a tougher lineup,” Hagan continued. “We’re doing good things right now, and we want to keep it up, but I want to stay humble. This is such a humbling sport. Things can change fast, so we’re just gonna keep doing what we’ve been doing.”
It was Force’s third consecutive final-round appearance, and the 15-time world champ has surged from 10th to third place in the last three races. Hagan said his adrenaline was overflowing for that final round with the NHRA icon.
“John is tough, so we knew we had to run well, and that 4.06 in the final was stout,” said Hagan, who leads second-place Cruz Pedregon by 106 points. “[Crew chief] Dickie [Venebles] and the crew have done a great job with this car. I just had to hang on and get it to the finish line.”
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues July 4-7 with the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk.