2014 NHRA: Schumacher, Army Win $100,000 Traxxas Top Fuel Shootout, Pole; Capps Wins Rain-Delayed Brainerd Title, Beckman Holds Indy Pole
Tony Schumacher continued his Top Fuel dominance at Lucas Oil Raceway near Indianapolis, and Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps finally found the way to a winner's circle at the track.
Schumacher, who has won a record nine Top Fuel titles in the NHRA U.S. Nationals, added a new category at the track when he won Friday night's Traxxas Nitro Shootout with a time of 3.748 seconds at 328.54 mph that also earned the U.S. Army driver the provisional pole.
It marked the third straight year in the special Traxxas event when a DSR driver won the impressive trophy and $100,000 check. Jack Beckman won the Funny Car Shootout a year ago, and in 2012 Spencer Massey won the Top Fuel Shootout, which will be contested Sunday.
The eight-car Shootout fields include the season's first event winners and an eighth driver selected by a lottery.
"These are the best cars," said Schumacher, the seven-time world champion who will look for his 75th Mello Yello Series title on Monday. "They are cars that have gone out and won races and continuously find themselves in the final round so this is very satisfying. I don't know how else to say it. This is my 10th win at Indy but not my 10th Indy win. Ten times I've had my win light come on and get a trophy here. We have a huge, monumental day on Monday. We have the right car do it. I said coming into this that we tend to be the right-place, right-time car and this is the right time and the right place. We are getting stronger and better each run."
It was the perfect end to a great day for U.S. Army crew chief Mike Green, whose 17-year-old daughter Lexi started it off by superbly singing the National Anthem.
For Capps, he won his first NHRA Wally trophy on the Indy track but it still is seeking the one he and his NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T team covets most. Capps won his 43rd event title when he defeated John Force Friday night in the championship round of the rain-delayed event held two weeks ago at Brainerd, Minn.
"That's great, I'm glad for Tobler," said Capps, who set a track speed record at 320.36 mph at 4.026 seconds to beat Force's 4.126. "I put it in a little bit (deep at the starting line) so that could've easily been a 4.01 or a 4-flat. Everybody here, nothing against the fans here, but this is for the Brainerd fans. I know there's a lot of Brainerd fans here."
It's the fourth time Capps has won at Indy, including three special event titles but not an NHRA points-paying national event.
Adding to DSR's accomplishments on the second day of the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event was Jack Beckman, who set a track record to earn the provisional Funny Car pole with a time of 4.004 seconds (312.13) for the Valvoline SynPower Dodge team led by crew chief Todd Okuhara.
"It wasn't just that run. We've made three good runs," said Beckman, the 2012 Funny Car world champion fighting to get into the top-10 to qualify for the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoff that begins two weeks after Indy.
"We're at the top of the qualifying sheets but the car did what it's supposed to and what we predicted it was going to do every single time and when you do that you get a fast car. We wouldn't trade our car for anybody's right now."
The four DSR Funny Cars are qualified in the top-eight heading to Saturday's last two qualifying sessions before Monday's championship finals.
TRAXXAS NITRO SHOOTOUT FOR TOP FUEL
FIRST ROUND: TONY SCHUMACHER (3.801 sec., 318.84 mph) def. SPENCER MASSEY (3.967, 281.13); Shawn Langdon (3.798, 321.81) def. Khalid alBalooshi (3.814, 318.02); Richie Crampton (3.772, 324.20); Doug Kalitta (3.794, 324.05) def. Brittany Force (3.832, 319.60)
SEMIFINALS: SCHUMACHER (3.767, 322.34) def. Kalitta (3.776, 322.34); Crampton (3.797, 321.12) def. Langdon (4.306, 212.36)
FINAL: SCHUMACHER (3.748, 328.54) def. Crampton (3.798, 318.24)
Provisional No. 1 Qualifier: Tony Schumacher (Don Schumacher Racing), 3.748 sec., 328.54 mph
TONY SCHUMACHER, U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
Provisional Qualifying Position: No. 1
FRIDAY: 3.777 sec., 322.65 mph, Session 1
SATURDAY: 3.801, 318.84, Session 2; 3.748, 328.54, Session 3
SPENCER MASSEY, Battery Extender Powered by Schumacher Top Fuel Dragster
Provisional Qualifying Position: No. 11
FRIDAY: 10.990 sec., 74.97 mph, Session 1
SATURDAY: 3.967, 281.13, Session 2; 3.799, 324.12, Session 3
ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster
Provisional Qualifying Position: No. 15
FRIDAY: 4.056 sec., 281.36 mph, Session 1
SATURDAY: 3.854, 314.46, Session 2; 3.833, 320.20, Session 3
Provisional No. 1 Qualifier: Jack Beckman (Don Schumacher Racing) 4.004 sec., 312.13 mph
JACK BECKMAN, Valvoline SynPower Dodge Charger R/T
Provisional Qualifying Position: No. 1
FRIDAY: 4.071 sec., 314.90 mph, Session 1
SATURDAY: 4.032, 319.07, Session 2; 4.004, 312.13, Session 3
MATT HAGAN, 426 Race HEMI 50th Anniversary Tribute Mopar Dodge Charger R/T
Provisional Qualifying Position: No. 3
FRIDAY: 4.067 sec., 318.47 mph, Session 1
SATURDAY: 4.021, 318.99, Session 2; 4.713, 175.87, Session 3
RON CAPPS, NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T
Provisional Qualifying Position: No. 4
FRIDAY: 4.052 sec., 316.01 mph, Session 1
SATURDAY: 4.426, 201.25, Session 2; 4.026, 320.36 mph*, Session 3
* Session 3 was part of qualifying and concurrently was the championship round from the rain-delayed event two weeks ago at Brainerd, Minn.
TOMMY JOHNSON JR., #RileyDreamRacer Dodge Charger R/T
Provisional Qualifying Position: No. 8
FRIDAY: 9.187 sec., 78.73, Session 1
SATURDAY: 5.200, 143.92, Session 2; 4.053, 316.67, Session 3