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Brown Wins Route 66; Takes Top Fuel Points Lead

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, July 11 2016
Antron Brown is your new Top fuel points leader. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Harold Hinson)

Antron Brown is your new Top fuel points leader. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Harold Hinson)

Top Fuel superstar Antron Brown says he always feels like a gladiator when competing inside the stadium setting at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill.

Brown and his Matco Tools team conquered every rival during the 19th annual Route 66 NHRA Nationals Sunday for his third win of the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season. In addition, Brown’s 57th career win propelled him past Doug Kalitta and into the point lead for the first time in 2016.

“I don’t even think about it (point lead) but it’s good that we got it,” said Brown, aware P1 will have great value when the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoffs begins in September and points are reset. “Those 30 points are crucial. It’s hard to make up 30 points when you only have 24 rounds of racing to win a championship. That’s two rounds. That’s going to be very crucial and we just have to keep working. Hopefully we can get those points that we need to help us for that title defense.”

Jack Beckman (Funny Car) joined Brown in the winner’s circle for Don Schumacher Racing. Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were winners in their respective categories at the event near Chicago.

Brown claimed his third Route 66 win with a final-round 1,000-foot performance of 3.777-seconds at 321.19 mph to hold off J.R. Todd, whose SealMaster machine trailed at 3.798-seconds and 322.11 mph.

“Chicago is incredible,” said Brown, the two-time/reigning world champion. “We love coming here. This is the gladiator stadium. To be able to see all the Don Schumacher Racing cars run great today and to bring home a win for our bossman, Don Schumacher, at his home track is just awesome.”

Sunday’s final round was the fifth of the season for Brown’s team, led by crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald with assistant Brad Mason.

“We are loving it right now,” Brown said. “We’re starting to go in the right direction. Our car is responding to everything that Brian, Mark and all these Matco guys are doing to it. We found new things that are making it better. We’re on to something and we’re just going to keep improving upon that.  Our deal is we try to win every race we go to. We compete at a high level and our main goal is to come into a race and go out there and be efficient and that means getting every drop out of this lemon every time.

“We need to be on that level to be where we were last year. That’s the key right now, getting your team and car ready to go to battle (in the Countdown).”

Only five regular-season races remain before NHRA kicks of its playoff season in September. “We have a boss that is very, very competitive that hates to lose,” Brown said of Schumacher, who resides near Chicago. “He gives you all the necessary pieces and tools so there’s never excuses. He gives you the push you need when you need it.”

Brown used a consistent string of 3.7-second runs to speed past Clay Millican, Terry McMillen and Leah Pritchett en route to the final. He dialed-up another 3.7-second run to get past Todd. The win moved Brown two points (1,056-1,054) ahead of season-long leader Kalitta, who drives the rival Mac Tools dragster.

“Me and Doug are basically tied right now,” Brown said.

In Funny Car, “Fast Jack” Beckman defeated DSR teammate Ron Capps in the final. Beckman posted a winning 1,000-foot time of 3.955-seconds at 324.05 mph in his Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T, while Capps’ NAPA Auto Parts Dodge lost traction near the start. It was Beckman’s first win of the season, 23rd of his career and first at this event.

“The car was darn near flawless today,” said Beckman, the 2012 world champion. “I saw a whole lot of that NAPA front fender out there in the final and just as I thought oh-no, it disappeared. It was a great feeling watching that win light come on today.”

Like Brown’s dragster, Beckman’s DSR Funny Car also had the appearance of a 320-mph bracket racer as he used a string of 3.9-second runs to advance to the final with early round wins over John Hale and John Force Racing teammates Courtney Force and Robert Hight, the 2009 world champion.

Beckman’s car has started to resemble the dominating machine that turned the Funny Car world upside down last summer with a streak of record-setting performances through the Western Swing, Brainerd, Minn., and onto the prestigious Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals near Indianapolis.

“I thought we had so much momentum last year and we haven’t seen a winner’s circle since Reading last year,” Beckman said. “We were struggling. We’ve ran well at times this year, with four No. 1 qualifying positions and setting the national record, but we haven’t been able to put it all together.”

Beckman cautioned that the win simply means the Jimmy Prock-tuned team is back in the game, with sights set on earning a second championship. Beckman moved into second place in the point standings, 126 behind four-time season winner Capps.

“This doesn’t mean we’re going to be dominant come next race,” Beckman said. “But what it does mean is that we will be more confident when we tow into the gates and make more consistent runs and then you can turn up the wick and make quick runs.”

Anderson claimed his sixth victory of the season in Pro Stock, defeating rising star and Ken Black Racing teammate Bo Butner in the final. Anderson scored his 84th career win with a final-round quarter-mile performance of 6.644-seconds at 209.01 mph in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro. Butner trailed with a 6.667-second run at 209.17 mph in his Jim Butner Auto Sales Camaro. It was Anderson’s eighth consecutive final-round appearance.

“Rob Downing and the crew did a great job,” said Anderson, who also trailered Dave River, Allen Johnson and No. 1 qualifier Shane Gray in earlier rounds. “We basically out-raced them today and we just flat found a way to win each round. That’s what it’s all about. Couldn’t be more proud of the guys. It is certainly our hardest-fought win of the season. I’m looking forward to the battle that’s coming. This Western Swing should be a real battle.”

 Anderson and teammate Jason Line now have won 13 consecutive national events, tying the record for most consecutive wins by a race team in NHRA history, as well as the same record in Pro Stock. The mark equals their team winning streak in 2004 as well as the Vance & Hines Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson team streak of 13 straight Pro Stock Motorcycle wins by Eddie Krawiec and Andrew Hines in 2011-12.

“We saw some teams make big progress here this weekend and we’ll have a new landscape coming up for the Countdown,” said Anderson, who now trails series leader Line by 80 points.  “I’m sure of it. We’re going to have to go home and dig and work hard and get ready for the Western Swing.”

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Hines claimed his second victory of the season and 44th of his career, tying him for most victories in the history of the two-wheel class with the late Dave Schultz. Hines outran Angelle Sampey in the final round, clocking a quarter-mile pass of 6.858-seconds at 194.91 mph aboard his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson. Sampey, a two-time world champion, ran 6.893-seconds at 193.40 mph aboard her Precision Service Equipment/Star Racing Buell.

The five-time/reigning world champion, Hines advanced to the final with round wins over Chip Ellis, Michael Ray and Steve Johnson.

“We had a good motorcycle all weekend and it was just a matter of making the straight, consistent runs that we needed to,” Hines said after his third Route 66 win. “That’s what allows you to go out there and turn on four win lights. I’ve always loved this track and I always seem to excel at the hot racetracks. You have to be on top of your tune-up these days and you can’t cut anyone any slack.”

The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues July 22-24 with the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway near Denver.

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Final finishing order (1-16) at the 19th annual K&N Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill. The race is the 13th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:

Top Fuel _ 1.  Antron Brown; 2.  J.R. Todd; 3.  Leah Pritchett; 4.  Tony Schumacher; 5.  Steve Torrence; 6. Doug Kalitta; 7.  Terry McMillen; 8.  Brittany Force; 9.  Clay Millican; 10.  Kyle Wurtzel; 11. T.J. Zizzo; 12.  Luigi Novelli; 13.  Chris Karamesines; 14.  Richie Crampton; 15.  Pat Dakin; 16. Shawn Langdon.

Funny Car _ 1.  Jack Beckman; 2.  Ron Capps; 3.  Robert Hight; 4.  Matt Hagan; 5.  Alexis DeJoria; 6.  Tommy Johnson Jr.; 7.  Bob Tasca III; 8.  Courtney Force; 9.  John Force; 10.  Brian Stewart; 11.  Bob Bode; 12.  Del Worsham; 13.  Chad Head; 14.  John Hale; 15.  Cruz Pedregon; 16.  Tim Wilkerson.

Pro Stock _ 1.  Greg Anderson; 2.  Bo Butner; 3.  Jason Line; 4.  Shane Gray; 5.  Allen Johnson; 6.  Vincent Nobile; 7.  Jeg Coughlin Jr.; 8.  Chris McGaha; 9.  Drew Skillman; 10.  Alex Laughlin; 11.  Kenny Delco; 12.  Erica Enders; 13.  Alan Prusiensky; 14.  Dave River; 15.  Kevin Lawrence; 16.  Mark Hogan.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 1.  Andrew Hines; 2.  Angelle Sampey; 3.  Eddie Krawiec; 4.  Steve Johnson; 5.  Cory Reed; 6. Michael Ray; 7.  Karen Stoffer; 8.  Hector Arana; 9.  Jerry Savoie; 10.  LE Tonglet; 11.  Hector Arana Jr.; 12.  Chip Ellis; 13.  Melissa Surber; 14.  Jim Underdahl; 15.  Matt Smith; 16.  Michael Phillips.

Sunday’s final results from the 19th annual K&N Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway:

Top Fuel _ Antron Brown, 3.777-seconds, 321.19 mph  def. J.R. Todd, 3.798 seconds, 322.11 mph.

Funny Car _ Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 3.955, 324.05 def. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.522, 194.74.

Pro Stock _ Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.644, 209.01 def. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.667, 209.17.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.858, 194.91 def. Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.893, 193.40.

Top Alcohol Dragster _ Joey Severance, 5.268, 274.16  def. Megan Meyer, 5.397, 272.34.

Top Alcohol Funny Car _ Shane Westerfield, Chevy Camaro, 5.528, 269.19 def. Andy Bohl, Camaro, 10.473, 85.82.

Competition Eliminator _ Brian Hyerstay, Dragster, 9.294, 139.89 def. Todd Patterson, Chevy Cobalt, 7.966, 166.25.

Super Stock _ Dan Fletcher, Chevy Camaro, 10.360, 116.44 def. Bryan Worner, Camaro, 10.053, 128.73.

Stock Eliminator _ Slate Cummings, Chevy Corvette, 10.323, 127.76 def. Ryan Herem, Chevy Camaro, 8.696, 156.52.

Super Comp _ Austin Williams, Dragster, 27.034, 42.51 was unopposed.

Super Gas _ Mia Tedesco, Chevy Cavalier, 9.926, 166.07 def. Gabriel Torres, Chevy Corvette, 9.883, 165.19.

Super Street _ Phil Unruh, Chevy Cobalt, 10.899, 149.56 def. Scott Mackie, Chevy II, 10.887, 137.15.

Top Dragster presented by RacingRVs.com _ Matt Driskell, Dragster, 6.414, 209.62 def. Les Feist, Dragster, Foul/Red Light.

Top Sportsman presented by RacingRVs.com _ Chad Pekrul, Chevy Camaro, 7.098, 185.38 def. Sandy Wilkins, Camaro, 6.616, 204.26.

Final round-by-round results from the 19th annual K&N Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway:

TOP FUEL

ROUND ONE _ Leah Pritchett, 3.774, 323.35 def. Richie Crampton, 9.389, 78.96; Tony Schumacher, 4.241, 263.62 def. Pat Dakin, 10.239, 71.62; Terry McMillen, 4.695, 168.98 def. Shawn Langdon, Broke; Brittany Force, 3.780, 327.59 def. Chris Karamesines, 4.188, 282.30; Steve Torrence, 3.785, 324.75 def. Luigi Novelli, 4.120, 251.20; Doug Kalitta, 3.805, 325.37 def. Kyle Wurtzel, 3.865, 307.30; Antron Brown, 3.753, 325.06 def. Clay Millican, 3.779, 313.80; J.R. Todd, 3.789, 323.66 def. T.J. Zizzo, 3.865, 317.12;

QUARTERFINALS _ Schumacher, 3.781, 322.73 def. Kalitta, 3.806, 320.05; Todd, 3.771, 324.28 def. Torrence, 3.785, 313.58; Pritchett, 3.872, 311.63 def. Force, 4.327, 187.31; Brown, 3.785, 324.44 def. McMillen, 3.984, 304.53;

SEMIFINALS _ Brown, 3.762, 324.05 def. Pritchett, 3.814, 319.22; Todd, 3.781, 323.35 def. Schumacher, 3.815, 315.49;

FINAL _ Brown, 3.777, 321.19 def. Todd, 3.798, 322.11.

FUNNY CAR

 

ROUND ONE _Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 3.927, 323.12 def. John Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.007, 319.82; Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.928, 327.59 def. John Hale, Charger, 6.127, 108.70; Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.914, 326.24 def. Bob Bode, Toyota Solara, 4.132, 306.12; Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, 3.955, 320.51 def. Brian Stewart, Ford Mustang, 4.054, 304.53; Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.990, 316.23 def. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 11.327, 75.19; Robert Hight, Camaro, 4.016, 317.34 def. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, Foul/Red Light; Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.955, 317.87 def. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.566, 184.85; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.974, 322.96 def. Chad Head, Camry, 5.340, 198.15;

QUARTERFINALS _ Capps, 3.940, 321.27 def. Tasca III, 4.437, 201.97; Beckman, 3.939, 325.92 def. C. Force, 6.319, 102.93; Hagan, 3.952, 325.53 def. Johnson Jr., 3.977, 320.05; Hight, 3.917, 328.06 def. DeJoria, 3.967, 319.07;

SEMIFINALS _ Capps, 4.003, 314.02 def. Hagan, 10.888, 77.35; Beckman, 3.923, 325.06 def. Hight, 3.970, 323.12;

FINAL _ Beckman, 3.955, 324.05 def. Capps, 4.522, 194.74.

PRO STOCK

 ROUND ONE _ Vincent Nobile, Chevy Camaro, 6.643, 208.55 def. Erica Enders, Dodge Dart, 6.686, 208.36; Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.626, 208.78 def. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.654, 208.71; Jeg Coughlin Jr., Dart, 6.641, 208.23 def. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.644, 208.52; Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.649, 208.91 def. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.670, 207.82; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.601, 210.01 def. Mark Hogan, Pontiac GXP, Broke; Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.600, 209.82 def. Alan Prusiensky, Dart, Foul/Red Light; Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.605, 209.88 def. Kevin Lawrence, Chevy Cobalt, 6.811, 202.24; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.596, 210.24 def. Dave River, Cobalt, 6.797, 204.01;

QUARTERFINALS _ Butner, 6.649, 209.17 def. McGaha, 6.689, 208.65; Line, 6.615, 209.62 def. Coughlin, 6.663, 207.85; Gray, 6.622, 209.72 def. Nobile, 6.658, 208.30; Anderson, 6.615, 208.78 def. Johnson, 6.647, 208.97;

SEMIFINALS _ Anderson, 6.631, 209.14 def. Gray, 21.336, 36.96; Butner, 6.631, 209.23 def. Line, 6.616, 209.56;

FINAL _ Anderson, 6.644, 209.01 def. Butner, 6.667, 209.17.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE

ROUND ONE _ Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.895, 194.77 def. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.851, 195.65; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.833, 195.28 def. Chip Ellis, Buell, Foul/Red Light; Hector Arana, Buell, 6.882, 194.97 def. Hector Arana Jr., Buell, 6.886, 193.82; Cory Reed, Buell, 6.887, 192.44 def. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.867, 195.39; Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.868, 192.63 def. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, Foul/Red Light; Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.882, 193.68 def. Melissa Surber, Buell, 6.954, 191.08; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.875, 194.74 def. Michael Phillips, Suzuki, 8.917, 98.86; Michael Ray, Buell, 6.902, 193.38 def. Matt Smith, 7.089, 190.78;

QUARTERFINALS _ Johnson, 6.905, 192.93 def. Stoffer, 7.173, 161.48; Krawiec, 6.885, 193.74 def. Arana, Foul/Red Light; Sampey, 6.869, 193.88 def. Reed, 6.889, 192.88; Hines, 6.884, 194.35 def. Ray, 7.027, 189.73;

SEMIFINALS _ Hines, 6.877, 194.35 def. Johnson, 8.320, 108.61; Sampey, 7.022, 191.05 def. Krawiec, Foul/Red Light;

 FINAL _ Hines, 6.858, 194.91 def. Sampey, 6.893, 193.40.

Point standings (top-10) following the 19th annual K&N Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway:

Top Fuel _ 1.  Antron Brown, 1,056; 2.  Doug Kalitta, 1,054; 3.  Steve Torrence, 912; 4.  Brittany Force, 896; 5.  Tony Schumacher, 803; 6.  Shawn Langdon, 746; 7.  J.R. Todd, 725; 8.  (tie) Richie Crampton, 603; Clay Millican, 603; 10.  Leah Pritchett, 521.

Funny Car _ 1.  Ron Capps, 1,068; 2.  Jack Beckman, 942; 3.  Courtney Force, 892; 4.  Matt Hagan, 828; 5. Tommy Johnson Jr., 803; 6.  Robert Hight, 799; 7.  Del Worsham, 796; 8.  Tim Wilkerson, 760; 9. John Force, 699; 10.  Alexis DeJoria, 697.

Pro Stock _1.  Jason Line, 1,472; 2.  Greg Anderson, 1,392; 3.  Bo Butner, 898; 4.  Allen Johnson, 773; 5. Drew Skillman, 717; 6.  Vincent Nobile, 666; 7.  Shane Gray, 619; 8.  Chris McGaha, 610; 9.  Jeg Coughlin Jr., 580; 10.  Alex Laughlin, 530.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 1.  Eddie Krawiec, 639; 2.  Andrew Hines, 505; 3.  Angelle Sampey, 471; 4.  Jerry Savoie, 428; 5. Hector Arana, 344; 6.  Chip Ellis, 333; 7.  LE Tonglet, 289; 8.  Steve Johnson, 258; 9.  Matt Smith, 235; 10.  Michael Ray, 228.

 

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, July 11 2016
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