A number of NHRA POWERade Series world champions were crowned at the official awards ceremony at the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City in California earlier this week. The most notable winner was Tony Schumacher who enjoyed his fifth consecutive trip to the stage to pick up his championship trophy.
Tony Schumacher has certainly become the guy to beat when it comes to the NHRA Top Fuel world championship. In accepting his fifth consecutive Top Fuel championship trophy, he became the first Top Fuel driver in the history of the NHRA to enjoy five consecutive wins. Schumacher has six titles overall and managed to pilot his Alan-Johnson-tuned U.S. Army dragster to 15 victories during the course of the season – another record! His unprecedented skill behind the wheel, good team and great vehicles all combined to ensure that Schumacher dominated the 7,000 horsepower category from beginning to end. Schumacher also picked up a check for $500,000, which was presented by the NHRA and POWERade, when he received his newest trophy.
But Schumacher wasn’t the only person at the ceremony to receive an award – Cruz Pedregon, Eddie Krawiec and Jeg Coughlin were also at the ceremony on Monday, November 17, to pick up their prizes. Cruz Pedregon was there to pick up his second Funny Car series crown. He last received the honor in 1992 and since seemed to have always run out of luck during the course of the season. This year he managed to take his Rahn Tobler-tuned Advance Auto Parts Toyota Solara to the head of the pack in the final three races of the season, which ultimately saw him taking home the winner’s trophy. He also received $500,000 from NHRA and POWERade.
Coughlin was at the ceremony to receive the Pro Stock World Championship title. Coughlin is also not a newcomer to the stage, as this was his second consecutive win and his fourth win overall. His Jegs.com Chevy Cobalt enjoyed a critical win in Las Vegas that went a long way to giving him the title. He received a check of $250,000 from NHRA and POWERade. Krawiec was the NHRA POWERade Series Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion of 2008. It seems that fortune favored Krawiece and his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley Davidson this year as he became the second driver in the history of the NHRA to win a series title without actually winning a race during the season. He was gifted $75,000 from NHRA and POWERade.
Mike Neff was given the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future award, while the U.S. Army Top Fuel team, the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang Funny Car team, the ACDelco Chevy Cobalt Pro Stock team and the Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Prot Stock Motorcycle team all got the NHRA Full Throttle Pit Crew Challenge season award. Chevrolet accepted the NHRA Manufacturers Cup for their seventeenth time while Don Schumacher, Cruz Pedregon and Victor Cagnazzi were given NHRA Pro Owner’s Cups. The late Scott Kalitta was also given a video tribute.
There was a lot of racing action worth taking note of this past long weekend at the U.S. Nationals, but despite that there was only one name on everybody’s lips: Schumacher. The 39-year-old drag racer simply blew fans away with his performance as he swept in and set even more records.
Despite suffering the negative effects of having his U.S. Army-sponsored dragster not functioning up to standard at the start of the weekend, Tony Schumacher managed to pull ahead of the competition yet again in the big race on Monday, September 1. The 54th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals were held at the O’Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis and it was one exciting weekend. By the time the race ended on Monday, Schumacher had not only claimed the winner’s trophy, but he set a new record by winning 24 straight elimination rounds. He drove furiously, mowing down his competitors and pushing his way to the head of the pack. The win also extended his winning streak to six consecutive national event wins – a new Top Fuel record. This was his eleventh win of the, a new class record, and his seventh victory at the U.S. Nationals in nine years. The mean machine is now tied with Joe Amato, with 52 victories for first all-time in Top Fuel. If his luck continues he may pass Amato in two weeks time when he races at the Carolina Nationals in Concord.
When asked about his success on the track this past weekend, Schumacher said: “An awful lot of great things happened today. To do all of that on the same day you win at Indy, it’s hard to figure out what you’re smiling about most.” And he certainly was smiling. And who could blame him? That kind of success is part luck, part hard work and he’s proved that he’s earned every bit of it. In the final race against Doug Kalitta, Schumacher flew down the hot track in 3.916 seconds, leaving Kalitta to choke on his fumes and finish in 4.036 seconds. Schumacher now faces the Countdown to One championship playoff in which he will be trying to take his fifth straight championship. The upcoming weeks will no doubt be exciting for Schumacher and his fans alike.
It would seem that the name Schumacher is synonymous with speed and success. Certainly there is every indication that Tony Schumacher is destined to make it to the top of his field. The American drag racer has dominated the NHRA Top Fuel class for the past four years and it seems this year will be no different.
When Tony Schumacher thrashed his opponents at Infineon Raceway on Sunday, he continued to uphold his already well established reputation as a top NHRA driver. The drag racer is now the sixth driver in the history of the sport of drag racing to manage to take the entire western swing of NHRA races consecutively, winning in Denver, Seattle and Sonoma. His latest win is his eighth NHRA victory this season. It was also his 49th career win, putting him just three wins short of Joe Amato’s all-time best of 52. Other drivers who have managed to â€˜sweep the swing’ include Joe Amato, Cory McClenathan, Larry Dixon, John Force and Greg Anderson. Anderson was the last person to do so and that was back in 2004.
When the green light lit up, Schumacher had the best reaction time allowing him to storm to the other end in 3.886 seconds at an average speed of 307.93 mph. In doing so he blew his chief competitor, Hillary Will, out the way. Will did well but her run lasted 3.988 seconds and her average speed was 306.19 mph. The race was virtually decided right from the start. Hillary Will was the local favorite, having come from Eureka in California. But it seemed that Schumacher was just one step ahead of her. Commenting on his victory, Schumacher said: “It’s been a lot of fun. The last couple of races have just been outstanding.”
When Schumacher took his U.S. Army dragster to the quarterfinals, he not only clinched the No. 1 seed in Top Fuel, but earned himself the 20-point bonus that comes with that achievement. Schumacher was not the only driver to enjoy some success on the weekend. Robert Hight won Funny Car with a run of 4.163 at 296.50, defeating mentor Gary Densham. Dave Connolly managed to claim the Pro Stock trophy with a 6.628 at 207.69 win over Jeg Coughlin. Matt Guidera won his second season race in Pro Stock Motorcycle with a 7.054 at 185.74 over Andrew Hines. Fans of the drivers now look forward their next races with keen anticipation.