Racing: Schumacher breaks top Fuel record

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 15, 2008

Associated Press
CONCORD ó Tony Schumacher broke a tie with Joe Amato for the Top Fuel career victory record Sunday, taking the inaugural NHRA Carolinas Nationals at zMax Dragway for his 53rd triumph.
Schumacher powered his dragster to a final-round performance of 3.882 seconds at 317.64 mph to hold off Antron Brown (3.923 at 309.42). It was Schumacher’s seventh straight victory, 12th of the year, 28th consecutive elimination-round win and 14th final-round appearance ó all NHRA season Top Fuel records.
“This is something just special,” said Schumacher, who increased his Countdown to 1 points lead to 46 over Brown. “I feel blessed to be the driver of that race car. It’s hard work to get it. You win two or three races and you start setting records and you start to focus on how to keep it going. It seems so impossible. No one has ever done it before and there’s a reason for that. It’s hard to win these races.”
He credited crew chief Alan Johnson and his team.
“A lot of credit goes to Alan, but there are nine guys on that team who are incredible,” Schumacher said. “I think the significance of what we’ve accomplished this year will hit me much later. I am very aware of it. I know how difficult it is to get here. But we’ve still got a championship to win and we need to focus on that.”
Schumacher beat Countdown contenders Dave Grubnic, Larry Dixon and Hillary Will before outrunning Brown in the final. Schumacher said the key was his second-round victory over Dixon.
“That round against Dixon was just a huge moment,” Schumacher said. “That was another down to the wire moment and we’ve been fortunate to have been a part of some of the greatest moments in NHRA history the last few years.
“The key to having success in those moments is to recognize it and just dig down deep, focus hard and not let your mind get overwhelmed with everything. I was worried about that round because Dixon is a great driver and they have been running great all weekend. Fortunately we were able to get that one and go on from there.”
Jack Beckman, Justin Humphreys and Steve Johnson also won their divisions in the first of six races in the NHRA POWERade Series Countdown to 1.
Beckman continued his hot streak in Funny Car and earned his third straight victory in his fourth straight final-round appearance. He drove his Dodge Charger to a 4.130 at 302.82 to hold off new points leader Cruz Pedregon (4.162 at 302.08). Beckman moved from sixth to second in the points order with his victory, the fifth of his career.
Humphreys claimed his first Pro Stock victory in a Pontiac GXP on a solo run after new points leader Kurt Johnson’s Chevy Cobalt wouldn’t start prior to the final round. Johnson’s team pushed off his car and it started. However, NHRA officials quickly informed the team that the car would need to start on its own, which it would not do. Regardless, Johnson moved into the points lead with the runner-up finish.
Johnson raced to his second straight Pro Stock Motorcycle victory and fifth overall to vault from eighth to second in the point standings. He took the win on his Suzuki when final-round opponent Eddie Krawiec fouled at the start.