Schumacher Collects A Record Fifth Victory In Gainesville

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, March 20 2017

Tony Schumacher launches his Top Fuel car to a victory Sunday in the Gatornationals.

Tony Schumacher name-dropped his way into the Gainesville Raceway record book Sunday as winningest NHRA Top Fuel driver in the history of the famed Florida facility.

Schumacher’s victory over Don Schumacher Racing teammate Antron Brown in the final of the 48th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals was the fifth for “The Sarge,” an eight-time world champion and driver of the U.S. Army dragster.

Schumacher posted a 1,000-foot pass in 3.703-seconds at 329.26 mph for the 83rd victory of his career and first of the season at the expense of three-time/reigning world champion Brown, who ran 3.764-seconds at 322.65 mph. With the win, Schumacher broke out of a four-way tie for Top Fuel wins at Gainesville with world champions Joe Amato, Larry Dixon and “Big Daddy” Don Garlits.

“Everything went right today,” said Schumacher, son of team-founder and NHRA Funny Car pioneer Don Schumacher. “That final round with Antron was an absolute battle. He’s had my number here for a while. I know he’s won more than I have and that pushes me to be better. Going against him makes me step-up. Going against their team makes my U.S. Army guys step-up.

“And to go out and win the Gatornationals for the fifth time is special. Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to be put on a list with “Big Daddy” Don Garlits and Joe Amato. Those guys are legends. And throw in Larry Dixon, who is just a tough competitor that I battled with for so long and had a true rivalry with for a long time. To do something that no one else has done is a huge accomplishment.

“We’re in the fight every race. And it’s going to be a fun year, man. We’re already in the Traxxas Shootout, so you can take that pressure away… let’s go out and win some races. “

John Force (Funny Car), Shane Gray (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were winners in their respective categories at the third of 24 events on the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

Schumacher defeated Smax Smith, Clay Millican and Steve Torrence en route to the victory. Brown was able to trailer Chris “The Greek” Karamasines, rookie Troy Coughlin Jr. and Doug Kalitta before falling to Schumacher in the final.

“We have great, great people working together. I’m loving driving the car,” Schumacher said. “I’m comfortable driving the car. It’s running right down the middle. It’s running extremely fast. It doesn’t have any part on the racetrack where I feel that I’m in danger. It’s doing everything that a driver dreams about sitting in a Top Fuel car.”

Schumacher defeated Brown and his Matco Tools dragster from the left lane after a reaction time of 0.066-seconds. Brown turned in an 0.034-second reaction time to keep the race in doubt until Schumacher turned on the win light. Schumacher started from the No. 1 position after setting a track-record elapsed time of 3.682-seconds at 328.22 mph during qualifying on Friday.

Our U.S. Army teammate, Tony with crew chief Mike Green and that whole crew, did a phenomenal job all weekend winning from the No. 1 spot,” Brown said after advancing to the 109th final round of his career. “This Matco Tools team is hungry. We’re ready to eat and go to work. We’re going into (Las) Vegas poised, with our heads down ready to do it again.”

The series returns to action in two weeks with the first of two visits to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, March 31-April 2. 

Force, a sixteen-time Funny Car world champion and winningest driver in NHRA history, posted a 1,000-foot pass in 3.928-seconds at 328.14 mph in his PEAK Coolant & Motor Oil Chevrolet Camaro SS. It was the 148th victory of Force’s iconic career, eighth at Gainesville and first of the season. He defeated rookie Jonnie Lindberg’s 3.971-second pass at 314.83 mph in his Head Racing Toyota Camry.

“I made a lot of (crew) changes coming here. Don’t know if I’m smart or just lucky,” said Force, who orchestrated a swap of crew chiefs and crews with teammate and son-in-law Robert Hight one week before this national event. “I surround myself with great people. They’re the ones who make it happen, then the sponsors and then the cheer of the crowd.

“They made one mistake out here. They let me find the music. I found myself. A lot of things are about heart and about luck. You always feel somebody up there likes ya. I believe hard work, dedication and what we went though; it’s been a draining day. I’m not accepting that I’m done. I’ve been real lucky.”

Recapping the JFR swaps: crew chief Jimmy Prock moved to Hight’s Auto Club of Southern California car, with crew chief Mike Neff switching to Force’s. Moving with Prock were co-crew chief Chris Cunningham and crew members who started the season with Force’s team, while co-crew chiefs Jon Schaffer and Jason McCulloch and Hight’s former team members moved to the PEAK Chevy.

Additionally, “Brute” Force’s victory marked the 2,500th Funny Car round-win for John Force Racing. JFR has won more than 20 percent of all Funny Car rounds _ more than 12,100 _ ever contested. Force raced past 2015 world champion Del Worsham, 2012 world champ Jack Beckman and Tommy Johnson Jr. on his way to the finals. Lindberg defeated Dave Richards in the first round and upset Hight, the 2009 world champion, and two-time world champ Matt Hagan to reach the final.

I don’t go to a race without believing I can win,” said Force, the day after recording his 155th pole. “The day I don’t believe I can win, then it’s time for me to quit. It’s like a rollercoaster ride and I’m still a kid driving that ’54 Chevy listening to the Beach Boys, and I found the music. They are going to be sorry I found the music, trust me.”

Force, 67, posted his first Gators win since 2001. “I’ve got a lot of experience that, believe it or not, things that I bring to a racetrack. I read things, I listen, I study the other drivers. I’m nothing special. I’m just a guy that’s devoted my life to it.”

The outcome also was a fitting tribute to Eric Medlen, a young, John Force Racing driver who died as a result of head injuries suffered during a crash while testing at Gainesville 10 years ago to-the-date.

“Eric was like my kid, and we’re all a big family even though we fight sometimes,” Force said. “You look at these people (fellow competitors) and know how much you care for them, and I know Eric would want his dad (John Medlen) to win and I know if his dad can’t win he’d like to see John Force do it one more time. He was in my heart all day. He could win or lose, but he was happy driving that race car. I showed you all that this old man can cut it. Age is not a limit.”

In Pro Stock, Gray picked up the sixth victory of his career and first at Gainesville Raceway when he ran the quarter-mile in 6.535-seconds at 212.96 mph in his Gray Motorsports Chevy Camaro . Gray defeated four-time world champion Greg Anderson and his red Summit Racing Equipment Camaro’s lap of 6.560-seconds at 213.43 mph.

“I wasn’t supposed to win,” Gray said. “When you’re testing parts you’re just not supposed to win, which is basically what we’re doing with my car. We had a lucky day today. There were some round wins when the car pulled me out of the hole and there were a couple rounds where I pulled the car out of the hole. It was a complete team effort today.”

Gray turned on win lights against 2012 world champion Allen Johnson, two-time world champ Erica Enders and Chris McGaha. Anderson won against Matt Hartford, five-time world champion Jeg Coughlin Jr., and teammate and three-time/reigning world champion Jason Line to advance to the 141st final of his career.

“I wasn’t driving that well today, and we were still struggling to find the happy spot with my car, but I had some luck,” said Anderson, who retained his point lead over Line. “I guess the bottom line is that we overachieved, and just to get to the final round today was a miracle for me. I scraped and clawed, and once I got there, I had a good car. I should have won, but I really feel like I blew it as a driver.”

Three-time Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion Eddie Krawiec kicked-off the two-wheel portion of the schedule by defeating teammate/five-time world champ Andrew Hines for his 37th career victory, second consecutive and fifth total at Gainesville Raceway. Krawiec rode his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson to a quarter-mile pass in 6.763-seconds at 199.76 mph to better Hines’ 6.802-second pass at 197.10 mph aboard his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines H-D V-Rod.

“This helps set the pace for the year,” Krawiec said. “Get that first win off your back, keep that momentum rolling, get the points. You know once you win one or two races you kind of solidify your spot. With the extra competitive class we have this year it definitely helps. There’s a lot of great motorcycles (on tour). My Harley-Davidson this weekend has been really fast, we just haven’t been able to harness that power and get it sorted-out. I think as the year goes on we’re going to get better.”

Krawiec rode past Mike Berry, two-time world champ Matt Smith and Joey Gladstone before racing Hines in the finals. Hines defeated three-time world champ Angelle Sampey, Scotty Pollacheck and Steve Johnson before falling in the final.


Final finishing order (1-16) at the 48th annual AMALIE Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway.  The race is the third of 24 events in the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:

Top Fuel _ 1.  Tony Schumacher; 2.  Antron Brown; 3.  Doug Kalitta; 4.  Steve Torrence; 5.  Leah Pritchett; 6.  Clay Millican; 7.  Brittany Force; 8.  Troy Coughlin Jr.; 9.  Ike Maier; 10.  Chris Karamesines; 11.  Terry McMillen; 12.  Shawn Reed; 13.  Smax Smith; 14.  Pat Dakin; 15.  Scott Palmer; 16.  Larry Dixon.

Funny Car _ 1.  John Force; 2.  Jonnie Lindberg; 3.  Matt Hagan; 4.  Tommy Johnson Jr.; 5.  Robert Hight; 6.  Jack Beckman; 7.  Jim Campbell; 8.  Ron Capps; 9.  Tim Wilkerson; 10.  Alexis DeJoria; 11.  Bob Tasca III; 12.  Dave Richards; 13.  Courtney Force; 14.  J.R. Todd; 15.  Del Worsham; 16.  Cruz Pedregon.

Pro Stock _ 1.  Shane Gray; 2.  Greg Anderson; 3.  Jason Line; 4.  Chris McGaha; 5.  Bo Butner; 6.  Jeg Coughlin Jr.; 7.  Erica Enders; 8.  Tanner Gray; 9.  Vincent Nobile; 10.  Drew Skillman; 11.  Matt Hartford; 12.  Allen Johnson; 13.  Alan Prusiensky; 14.  Kenny Delco; 15.  John Gaydosh Jr.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 1.  Eddie Krawiec; 2.  Andrew Hines; 3.  Joey Gladstone; 4.  Steve Johnson; 5.  Jerry Savoie; 6.  LE Tonglet; 7.  Scotty Pollacheck; 8.  Matt Smith; 9.  Hector Arana; 10.  Cory Reed; 11.  Angie Smith; 12.  Melissa Surber; 13.  Mike Berry; 14.  Angelle Sampey; 15.  Karen Stoffer; 16.  Hector Arana Jr.


Sunday’s final results :

Top Fuel _Tony Schumacher, 3.703-seconds, 329.26 mph  def. Antron Brown, 3.764 seconds, 322.65 mph.

Funny Car _ John Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.928, 328.14  def. Jonnie Lindberg, Toyota Camry, 3.971, 314.83.

Pro Stock _ Shane Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.535, 212.96  def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.560, 213.43.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.763, 199.76 def. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.802, 197.10.

Pro Modified _ Steven Whiteley, Cadillac CTS-V, 5.791, 253.52  def. Mike Castellana, Chevy Camaro, 10.192, 87.94.

Top Alcohol Dragster _ Justin Ashley, 5.232, 275.96  def. Rich McPhillips, 5.258, 277.20.

Top Alcohol Funny Car _ Annie Whiteley, Chevy Camaro, 5.412, 273.22  def. Dan Pomponio, Chevy Monte Carlo, Broke/No Show.

Competition Eliminator _David Rampy, Bantam Roadster, 8.099, 118.68  def. Wes Leopold, Dodge, Foul/Red Light.

Top Sportsman presented by RacingRVs.com _ Jeffrey Barker, Chevy Cobalt, 6.554, 211.59  def. Casey Spradlin, Chevy, 6.789, 206.86.

Factory Stock Showdown _ David Barton, Chevy Camaro, 8.131, 168.47  def. Chuck Watson, Ford Mustang, 8.227, 167.76.

Super Stock _ Fred Allen, Chevy S-10, 9.295, 112.21  def. Michael Volkman, Plymouth Sebring, Foul /Red Light.

Stock Eliminator _ Terry Nagel, Chevy Camaro, 11.067, 113.72  def. Richard Mace, Pontiac, 11.989, 110.40.

Super Comp _ Jacob Elrod, Dragster, 8.917, 179.42  def. Troy Williams Jr., Dragster, 8.931, 174.23.

Super Gas _ Sherman Adcock, Pontiac Trans Am, 9.908, 155.24  def. David Tatum, Chevy, 9.900, 166.42.


Final round-by-round results:


ROUND ONE _ Clay Millican, 3.741, 315.42 def. Terry McMillen, 5.345, 135.21; Leah Pritchett, 3.716, 323.12 def. Scott Palmer, Broke; Brittany Force, 3.716, 328.54 def. Larry Dixon, Broke; Tony Schumacher, 3.724, 321.27 def. Smax Smith, Foul/Red Light; Doug Kalitta, 3.706, 328.70 def. Ike Maier, 3.929, 289.69; Antron Brown, 3.711, 327.98 def. Chris Karamesines, 4.157, 231.00; Steve Torrence, 3.740, 325.22 def. Shawn Reed, 5.467, 120.80; Troy Coughlin Jr., 3.724, 322.42 def. Pat Dakin, Foul/Red Light;

QUARTERFINALS _ Schumacher, 3.751, 326.24 def. Millican, 3.776, 322.42; Torrence, 3.759, 325.77 def. Force, 6.507, 90.02; Brown, 3.787, 321.42 def. Coughlin Jr., Foul/Outer Boundary; Kalitta, 3.754, 325.14 def. Pritchett, 3.738, 323.97;

SEMIFINALS _ Brown, 3.719, 326.24 def. Kalitta, 3.738, 327.03; Schumacher, 3.715, 326.40 def. Torrence, 4.069, 266.64;

FINAL _ Schumacher, 3.703, 329.26 def. Brown, 3.764, 322.65.


ROUND ONE _Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 3.863, 328.46 def. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 12.342, 71.13; Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.828, 334.82 def. Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 3.967, 321.04; John Force, Camaro, 3.881, 331.45 def. Del Worsham, Camry, 10.453, 77.20; Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.898, 331.94 def. Dave Richards, Mustang, 4.054, 287.05; Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.370, 209.26 def. Courtney Force, Camaro, 6.531, 104.87; Ron Capps, Charger, 3.895, 330.96 def. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 3.925, 328.46; Jonnie Lindberg, Camry, 4.735, 187.05 def. J.R. Todd, Camry, 10.000, 74.70; Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.899, 329.83 def. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.906, 327.66;

QUARTERFINALS _ Johnson Jr., 6.019, 177.37 def. Campbell, 8.841, 109.74; Lindberg, 3.980, 322.19 def. Hight, 7.776, 89.83; J. Force, 3.916, 328.14 def. Beckman, 8.835, 82.48; Hagan,  def. Capps, Foul/Centerline;

SEMIFINALS _ Lindberg, 3.948, 324.98 def. Hagan, 4.300, 244.69; J. Force, 3.955, 324.05 def. Johnson Jr., 5.544, 134.32;

FINAL _ J. Force, 3.928, 328.14 def. Lindberg, 3.971, 314.83.


ROUND ONE _ Tanner Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.558, 213.06 def. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.539, 212.93; Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.529, 212.46 def. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.523, 212.79; Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.526, 211.73 def. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.557, 211.93; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.502, 213.91 def. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.551, 211.96; Jeg Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.521, 213.33 def. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.584, 208.84; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.481, 213.84 was unopposed; Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.495, 214.18 def. John Gaydosh Jr., Chevrolet Camaro, Foul /Red Light; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.493, 213.87 def. Alan Prusiensky, Dart, 6.566, 211.13;

QUARTERFINALS _ Anderson, 6.565, 212.90 def. Coughlin, 11.527, 77.14; McGaha, 6.540, 212.73 def. Butner, 6.578, 213.54; S. Gray, 6.518, 213.13 def. Enders, 12.220, 71.88; Line, 6.513, 213.64 def. T. Gray, Broke;

SEMIFINALS _ S. Gray, 7.116, 207.18 def. McGaha, 17.189, 46.84; Anderson, 6.543, 212.90 def. Line, 6.542, 213.37;

FINAL _ S. Gray, 6.535, 212.96 def. Anderson, 6.560, 213.43.


ROUND ONE _ Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.790, 197.22 def. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, Broke; Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 6.876, 194.41 def. Hector Arana, Buell, Foul/Red Light; LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.805, 197.19 def. Cory Reed, Polaris, 6.952, 190.16; Matt Smith, Polaris, 6.826, 195.99 def. Hector Arana Jr., Buell, Broke; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.764, 198.52 def. Angelle Sampey, Polaris, 10.641, 69.49; Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.881, 195.65 def. Melissa Surber, Buell, 6.965, 186.30; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.888, 194.32 def. Mike Berry, Buell, 6.977, 191.78; Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.876, 195.31 def. Angie Smith, Buell, 6.956, 192.08;

QUARTERFINALS _ Johnson, 6.863, 195.08 def. Savoie, 6.803, 197.39; Gladstone, 6.839, 195.96 def. Tonglet, 6.839, 196.04; Krawiec, 6.793, 197.65 def. M. Smith, 6.901, 192.63; Hines, 6.827, 196.27 def. Pollacheck, 6.870, 194.41;

SEMIFINALS – Hines, 6.793, 197.36 def. Johnson, 9.767, 77.55; Krawiec, 6.766, 198.70 def. Gladstone, 6.886, 195.85;

FINAL_ Krawiec, 6.763, 199.76 def. Hines, 6.802, 197.10.


Point standings (top-10) following the Gatornationals:

Top Fuel _1.  Leah Pritchett, 300; 2.  Tony Schumacher, 279; 3.  Antron Brown, 243; 4.  Doug Kalitta, 220; 5.  Brittany Force, 202; 6.  Steve Torrence, 185; 7.  Troy Coughlin Jr., 143; 8.  Shawn Reed, 136; 9.  Clay Millican, 133; 10.  Scott Palmer, 116.

Funny Car _1.  Matt Hagan, 308; 2.  John Force, 238; 3.  Ron Capps, 235; 4.  Tommy Johnson Jr., 209; 5.  Courtney Force, 177; 6.  Robert Hight, 150; 7.  Jim Campbell, 148; 8.  Jack Beckman, 144; 9.  J.R. Todd, 138; 10.  Tim Wilkerson, 117.

Pro Stock _1.  Greg Anderson, 319; 2.  Jason Line, 281; 3.  Shane Gray, 226; 4.  Bo Butner, 198; 5.  Jeg Coughlin Jr., 187; 6.  Tanner Gray, 181; 7.  Erica Enders, 167; 8.  Drew Skillman, 157; 9.  Vincent Nobile, 149; 10.  Chris McGaha, 139.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _1.  Eddie Krawiec, 120; 2.  Andrew Hines, 97; 3.  Joey Gladstone, 81; 4.  Steve Johnson, 74; 5.  Jerry Savoie, 63; 6.  LE Tonglet, 58; 7.  (tie) Scotty Pollacheck, 52; Matt Smith, 52; 9.  Hector Arana, 36; 10.  Hector Arana Jr., 35.


| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, March 20 2017
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