|Friday, September 7, 2007
Schumacher In The Drivers Seat For Championship
|Buddy Shacklette AHN Motor Sports Reporter
Clermont, IN (AHN) - Defending Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher is well on his way to defending that title after winning his sixth Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in the last eight years Monday afternoon.
Schumacher made a winning pass of 331.94 mph to top Larry Dixon while the other class winners were Funny Car victor Mike Ashley, Pro Stock points leader Dave Connolly and Pro Stock Motorcycle winner Craig Treble.
Schumacher earned his spot atop the points for the first time all season with a 31-point lead over second-place Dixon.
"I guess we're a really good pressure team," Schumacher said. "The guys know they can rely on each other and it all comes together so well. (crew chief) Alan (Johnson) is fantastic. We ran 4.50s all day except for when it was just too hot there in the semis and we had to do what we needed to do to get down the track.
Schumacher recorded his 40th career win, tying him with Dixon for 10th on the all-time wins list and he is second on the all-time Top Fuel wins list behind Joe Amato (52).
In the Funny car final, Ashley made a winning run of 323.74 mph, which was no match for Robert Hight, who encountered trouble out of the gate.
"This is the Super Bowl of drag racing. To win Indy is unreal but then you add to it the recognition we can bring to the Eric Blake Faulkner Foundation and it makes it stratospheric,'' said Ashley. "This is a day I'll always remember and appreciate. I'm so proud of my team and the generosity of Evan Knoll and Jim Jannard and all our other sponsors to step aside for a race and let us banner this car. What a group I have behind me."
Hight retained the points lead, 21 markers ahead of Ashley, who jumped up to second place with his third career win.
In the Pro Stock final, Connolly overcame a slight .023- to .034-second starting line advantage by Anderson to take the biggest win of his career by .0088 seconds.
"I can never remember having a car that has the field covered by four hundredths of a second," Connolly said. "It's a real tribute to (team owner) Victor Cagnazzi and the organization he's put together. To win back-to-back races for the first time it seems like we're peaking at the perfect place in the schedule, especially with the Countdown starting. It's just an awesome feeling right now.''