Tony Schumacher raced to a milestone 80th career victory in Top Fuel Sunday at the Lucas Oil Route 66 NHRA Nationals presented by General Tire at Route 66 Raceway.
Tommy Johnson Jr. (Funny Car), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock), and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were victorious in their respective categories at the 13th of 24 events in the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.
Schumacher pushed his U.S Army dragster to the winner’s circle with a 3.844-second pass at 320.20 mph, beating Larry Dixon’s 3.932 at 298.93 in the final round. The win was Schumacher’s third victory of the season and a category-high fifth in Chicago. Schumacher, the eight-time and defending world champ, now sits five victories from tying Pro Stock’s Bob Glidden for third on the all-time wins list in any NHRA Professional category.
“That was a fun race,” said Schumacher, who moves into the Top Fuel points lead with the win. “Our crews are so good and win so many races. There are no easy races. Just proud to be in the position we’re in. When we’ve had to win and it positively had to be done, we’ve been great at that. You have to be great every day and you have to be better than that some days.”
Schumacher has faced Dixon 82 times with 20 of those meetings occurring in a final round, where Schumacher holds a 14-6 advantage. Dixon, a three-time world champ, was appearing in his fourth final of the season in the C&J Energy Services dragster and is closing in on his first win since Phoenix 2011. The result moves Dixon to third in points.
Tommy Johnson Jr. raced his Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger R/T to his first win since Bristol last season with a 4.259 at 245.27 victory over two-time and defending world champ Matt Hagan, who lost traction at the starting line. The finish marks Johnson’s 11th career victory (9th in Funny Car), first of the season and first in Chicago. With the result, Johnson rises to sixth in points.
“The days you win, you get up and you feel it,” said Johnson, who drove past Brian Stewart, Jack Beckman, and No. 1 qualifier Cruz Pedregon to reach the final. “I woke up this morning feeling like we were the car to beat. We’ve had a really good car, a really good performance, but we couldn’t get it to go our way, and we kind of beat ourselves a couple of times with mistakes. I’ve got to hand it to our guys. They kept working. The last two races in qualifying the car has been flawless.”
Hagan, who was attempting to win this event for the third consecutive year, had a consistent Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T all day from the No. 11 position, racing past Ron Capps, Tony Pedregon, and Tim Wilkerson before his final-round loss to Johnson. Despite the loss, Hagan extends his points lead to 178 points over second-place Capps.
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series next embarks on the three-race NHRA Western Swing, beginning in Denver with the 36th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals, July 24-26.
Lincoln Electric is a proud partner of Don Schumacher Racing.