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Schumacher Rolls To Southern Pole

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, May 7 2017

Tony Schumacher blasted his way to the pole at the Southern Nationals in Georgia on Saturday. (Photo by Marc Gewertz/NHRA)

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Tony Schumacher earned his 82nd career Top Fuel pole Saturday in search of the one Wally trophy to have eluded the eight-time NHRA world champion as qualifying concluded for the 37th annual NHRA Southern Nationals.

Winner of an NHRA Top Fuel record 83 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series titles, Schumacher has been victorious at every national event track except Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Ga.

“Man, I want to win this race,” said Schumacher, who has runnerup finishes at Atlanta Dragway in 2000, 2008, 2011 and 2012. Schumacher’s best run Saturday in the U.S. Army dragster was booked in the second session, a 1,000-foot pass in 3.736-seconds and 325.45 mph.

“Our U.S. Army car and team are simply bad to the bone,” Schumacher said. “We got down the track on both our runs today and we got No. 1, got four bonus points in the two sessions.”  Schumacher’s points haul moved him to within 24 points of Don Schumacher Racing teammate and points-leader Leah Pritchett.

After losing Friday’s two qualifying sessions to a persistent drizzle and cold track, competitors returned to cool weather, sunny skies and a sold-out crowd before it began to rain in the evening. But by then, qualifying was completed.

Courtney Force (Funny Car), Bo Butner (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also emerged as No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the seventh event of 24 on the 2017 schedule.

“Couldn’t be happier going into racing as No. 1,” Schumacher said. “This is the only race the trophy doesn’t sit on my shelf. I want to win this one. You go in No. 1 and we’ve got every chance in the world to win.

“Look, we’re in second place in the standings and the only way you can get to first place is by taking points away from the person in front of you. So you go up there, take a couple of points away every time we qualify _ qualify in a better spot, run a better race _ and you will move up in the points. People seem to love pointing out that I’ve never won here, but I’ve done alright here. I’ve just never won it. We’ll just go out and do what we know how to do and see where we end up.”

“The Sarge” will open eliminations against Brittany Force of John Force Racing. Steve Torrence, winner of last weekend’s Four-Wide Nationals, took the second qualifying position after racing his dragster to a 3.738-second pass at 322.04 mph. Three-time/reigning world champion Antron Brown, also of DSR, qualified third.

In Funny Car, Courtney Force locked in her fourth consecutive pole and track elapsed time record of the season with a 1,000-foot pass in 3.893-seconds at 322.65 mph in her Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS. It was the 14th pole of her career.

“To have four No. 1 qualifiers in a row is pretty insane,” said Force, of JFR. “Obviously our ultimate goal is to turn this green hat into a yellow one (Sunday as winner). I think my team deserves a win after all of the No. 1 qualifiers they’ve been putting out there. Really hope we can get it done.”

Force will face Jeff Diehl in his Jeff Diehl Racing Toyota Solara in the first round of eliminations. Two-time Funny Car world champion Matt Hagan, of DSR, ran 3.930-seconds at 325.45 mph in his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T to take the second spot, while teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. is third.

In Pro Stock, Butner clinched his first pole position of the season with a quarter-mile run of 6.572-seconds at 210.70 mph in his Jim Butner’s Auto Chevy Camaro.

“Two years ago, I fell and bumped my head and decided to run this class,” Butner joked, recalling his Pro Stock debut here in 2015 with Ken Black Racing. “But seriously, it’s been great and it’s been a fun, fun journey. I’ve been fortunate to have had a good career since I started racing Pro Stock, and I’m with the best people out there.

“We’re lucky to have hit it the first session. It’s tough when you only have two sessions, but we’re very happy. The team has the car handled, now I just have to do my job and win rounds. We’re going to try to hang around near the top of the points, and then try to stick ’em in the side at the end. I just have to go up there, do my job, and try not to overthink.”

Butner will line up against Wally Stroupe in Round 1. Drew Skillman drove his Ray Skillman Camaro to a 6.583-second pass at 209.82 mph to secure the second position. Three-time/reigning world champion Jason Line of KBR qualified third in his Summit Racing Equipment Camaro after a 6.585-second pass at 210.24 mph.

Krawiec raced his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson V-Rod to a quarter-mile pass in 6.849-seconds at 194.21 mph to secure his first PSM pole of the season and 34th of his career.

“This is a big race for us, the motorcycles and all of the NHRA,” said Kraweic, a three-time world champion. “It’s definitely a tough field out there. I think for Pro Stock Motorcycle it’s going to be a nice tight battle.  I’m confident in myself and my abilities. We just need to string it all together.”

Kraweic will face Steve Johnson and his Suzuki in the first round. LE Tonglet, the 2010 world champion, qualified second aboard his Nitro Fish Racing Suzuki with a 6.858-second run at 194.24 mph and will open opposite 2016 Road to the Future Award winner Cory Reed aboard his Victory.

Eliminations begin at 11 a.m. (EDT). Fox Sports 1 (FS1) will air three hours of coverage beginning at 6 p.m. (EDT).

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Sunday’s first-round eliminations pairings for the 37th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway, seventh of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.  Pairings based on results in qualifying, which ended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings:

Top Fuel _ 1. Tony Schumacher, 3.736-seconds, 325.45 mph  vs. 16. Brittany Force, 9.391, 70.88; 2.Steve Torrence, 3.738, 322.04  vs. 15. Smax Smith, 8.526, 62.13; 3. Antron Brown, 3.741, 326.08 vs. 14. Troy Coughlin Jr., 4.083, 199.58; 4. Clay Millican, 3.763, 318.77  vs. 13. Terry Haddock, 4.075, 251.53; 5. Doug Kalitta, 3.764, 324.67  vs. 12. Chris Karamesines, 4.048, 286.50; 6. Terry McMillen, 3.781, 323.43  vs. 11. Leah Pritchett, 3.862, 304.05; 7. Shawn Langdon, 3.784, 321.19 vs. 10. Pat Dakin, 3.839, 318.24; 8. Bob Vandergriff Jr., 3.822, 313.66  vs. 9. Scott Palmer, 3.829, 315.49.

Funny Car _ 1. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.893, 322.65  vs. 16. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Solara, 11.290, 67.99; 2. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.930, 325.45  vs. 15. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 5.709, 120.22; 3. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.937, 319.29  vs. 14. Jack Beckman, Charger, 5.584, 124.27; 4. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.955, 323.97  vs. 13. J.R. Todd, Camry, 5.052, 149.22; 5. John Force, Camaro, 3.969, 307.65  vs. 12. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.599, 225.52; 6. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.974, 314.39  vs. 11. Jonnie Lindberg, Camry, 4.332, 207.27; 7. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.024, 318.77  vs. 10. Dave Richards, Mustang, 4.082, 307.02; 8. Chad Head, Camry, 4.024, 312.57 vs. 9. Robert Hight, Camaro, 4.026, 274.89.

Pro Stock _ 1. Bo Butner, Chevy Camaro, 6.572, 210.70  vs. 16. Wally Stroupe, Camaro, 7.204, 193.07; 2. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.583, 210.37  vs. 15. Mark Hogan, Pontiac GXP, 6.868, 201.43; 3.Jason Line, Camaro, 6.585, 210.24  vs. 14. John Gaydosh Jr., Chevrolet Camaro, 6.773, 205.72; 4. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.590, 210.41  vs. 13. Shane Tucker, Camaro, 6.752, 204.26; 5. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.592, 210.31  vs. 12. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.671, 210.11; 6. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.603, 210.21  vs. 11. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.647, 207.98; 7. Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.605, 210.11  vs. 10. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.628, 209.62; 8. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.613, 209.95  vs. 9.Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.623, 208.78.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 1. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.849, 194.21  vs. 16. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 7.005, 190.59; 2. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.858, 194.24  vs. 15. Cory Reed, Victory, 7.004, 190.06; 3. Chip Ellis, Buell, 6.864, 192.69  vs. 14. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.968, 191.57; 4. Hector Arana Jr., Buell, 6.866, 194.88  vs. 13. Mike Berry, Buell, 6.951, 191.16; 5. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.867, 194.58  vs. 12. Matt Smith, Victory, 6.928, 192.93; 6. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.867,195.34  vs. 11. Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 6.927, 187.57; 7. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.871,193.02  vs. 10. Angie Smith, Buell, 6.906, 193.43; 8. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.893, 193.90  vs. 9. Angelle Sampey, Victory, 6.904, 193.16.

Did Not Qualify _ 17. Melissa Surber, 7.017, 188.49; 18. John Hall, 7.079, 189.07; 19. Joe DeSantis, 7.119, 189.10; 20. Gunner Courtney, 7.176, 184.83; 21. James Surber, 7.377, 181.57; 22. Andie Rawlings, 7.870, 160.79; 23. David Hope, 9.509, 87.62.

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Mike Castellana maintained the qualifying lead and ran the second-quickest elapsed time in NHRA Pro Mod history during eliminations Saturday at the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series portion of the Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway. This weekend’s Pro Mod racing, presented by Pro Line Racing and FuelTech, is the fourth of 12 events this season.

Castellana’s 5.717-second pass at 251.81 mph in his Al Anabi Racing 2017 Chevrolet Camaro during Saturday’s qualifying sessions secured pole. Castellana now owns four of the five quickest runs in Pro Mod racing history. During eliminations, Castellana defeated Kevin Rivenbark with an E.T. of 5.794-seconds at 248.98 mph.

“It’s great. We had that incident in the first qualifying round, but my crew got the car back in top shape and it’s like nothing ever happened,” said Castellana, who drove into the sand trap on Friday. “We made a good first-round win and we’re just looking to go rounds (Sunday).”

Todd Tutterow qualified second and went on to defeat Von Smith in the first round of eliminations. Tutterow ran a 5.801-second lap at 246.44 mph in his Galot Motorsports ’69 Camaro. Harry Hruska, who qualified third, defeated Bob Rahaim while No. 4 qualifier Khalid alBalooshi bested Doug Winters.

J&A Pro Mod Series eliminations continue Sunday at approximately 12:45 p.m.

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First-round Pro Modified results from the 37th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Southern Nationals:

ROUND ONE _ Sidnei Frigo, Chevy Corvette, 6.321, 184.85 def. Danny Rowe, Corvette, 8.757, 108.01; Larry Morgan, Chevy Camaro, 5.860, 250.23 def. Steve Matusek, Camaro, 5.855, 249.49; Steve Jackson, Camaro, 5.808, 245.94 def. Shane Molinari, Pontiac Firebird, 5.808, 256.70; Steven Whiteley, Cadillac CTS-V, 5.838, 248.20 def. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, Foul/Red Light; Khalid alBalooshi, Camaro, 5.850, 248.89 def. Doug Winters, Chevy Chevelle, 8.528, 108.33; Harry Hruska, Camaro, 5.957, 250.23 def. Bob Rahaim, Corvette, 6.143, 190.83; Todd Tutterow, Camaro, 5.801, 246.44 def. Von Smith, Camaro, 13.656, 65.63; Mike Castellana, Camaro, 5.794, 248.98 def. Kevin Rivenbark, Corvette, 5.957, 241.20.

 

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, May 7 2017
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