by Allen Lessels, New Hampshire Union Leader
Lincoln Electric is a proud partner of Don Schumacher Racing.
EPPING, NH (June 22, 2014) — National Hot Rod Association drivers Alexis DeJoria and Ron Capps messed up the Force family Funny Car reunion at the Auto-Plus New England Nationals at New England Dragway on Sunday.
There were plenty of story angles to go around — including another family one or two — for an afternoon of thunderous engines and tight races under glorious skies for the second NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing series visit to the drag strip.
The races — the Funny Car title went to Capps, and Tony Schumacher took top honors in the Top Fuel Division — played to grandstands packed with more than 20,000 fans and a live audience on ESPN.
“It’s been Chamber of Commerce weather all weekend,” said New England Dragway general manager Joe Lombardo. “You can’t beat it. And the fans have been phenomenal.”
Schumacher, a seven-time champion, knocked off Top Fuel points lead Doug Kalitta to earn his second Wally Trophy of the season.
Schumacher, who qualified eighth, got up to 323.27 miles per hour down the quarter-mile drag strip.
Winners get a coveted Wally — a trophy in the likeness of and named for NHRA founder Wally Parks — for their efforts.
“I haven’t seen one of these in a while,” said Capps with his Wally.
“It will be with me on Delta Airlines tomorrow. It will be a fun trip home.”
Capps, who hit 315.19 mph and beat DeJoria in the finals, won his last Funny Car title in August last year at Brainerd (Minn.) International Raceway.
Capps and Schumacher both drive for Don Schumacher Racing, the team owned by Tony’s drag racing legend of a dad.
“It’s been a long time since both of us have had to stay late for pictures,” Schumacher said.
They liked the feeling.
Tony was delighted to add his Wally to the hardware his family collected this week: His 10-year-old son Michael got a trophy for a youth baseball championship.
Schumacher and Capps said they loved the track and commented on the quality and level of competition.
“It’s scary stout,” Capps said. “I can’t wait to watch (the day’s races) on TV. Talk about side-by-side racing.”
Last year, Courtney Force beat her father in the Funny Car finals here.
They looked to be on a fast-track to a rematch. Then came the semifinals.
John Force had struggled coming into the New England Nationals. He lost in the first round of eliminations each of the past five events.
He got past that hurdle with wins over Matt Hagan in the first round and Robert Hight — the Funny Car season points leader and his son-in-law — the next round Then DeJoria knocked him out in the semifinals and in the process jumped past him in points and took over his No. 2 slot.
Capps knocked Courtney Force out in the semis.