May 25-27, 2006
Chicago's Carquest Nationals
JOILET, Ill. --
Drag racing legend John Force won his record 120th Funny Car race Sunday at Route 66 Raceway to close to within 48 points of the championship lead. Doug Kalitta, Kurt Johnson, and Ryan Schnitz joined the 13-time series titlist in the winner's circle of the ninth annual CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, the 10th of 23 races in the $50 million POWERade Drag Racing Series.
Force's beat teammate Robert Hight in the money round with an off-pace 4.930-second pass at 233.60 mph in his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang after both men encountered engine trouble. Hight posted a 4.890 at 244.56 mph but left the starting line .057 seconds behind Force. Coming into this race, the 13-time champion had tried unsuccessfully on four different occasions to get his 120th victory.
"You get older and you start to wonder what it's going to take," Force said. "I've had to monitor how I sleep the night and what I eat. I used to coffee-up."
Mac Tools ace Kalitta chipped away at Melanie Troxel's lead in Top Fuel by dismissing her in the final round with a 4.503 at 330 mph. With a career-best four wins in his last five races, Kalitta is unquestionably the hottest driver on tour. He may have only gained one round on Troxel at this event but his recent run has trimmed her once daunting lead from 174 to 71 points.
"Rahn [Tobler, crew chief] has a very aggressive tune-up but it's also very safe," Kalitta said. "We were able to stay in the same lane all day and the car was perfect. [Team owner Connie Kalitta] has pulled back a little and let Rahn run the car the way he wants to run it. It's great to see him develop that confidence in what he's doing."
Johnson and Anderson had another great Pro Stock final with Johnson scoring his 34th victory and second of the year by .03 seconds. The Chevrolet Cobalt driver used a great .012- to .050-second reaction time advantage to steal this one away as Anderson's quicker 6.641 at 208.10 mph lost to Johnson's 6.646 at 207.46 mph.
"It was fun to race Greg in the final," Johnson said of his former teammate. "It's all-star boxing when the helmets are on but we're friends again at the other end. Everyone has an opponent that brings out the very best in you. For me that person is Greg."
Schnitz collected his first win of the season and the fourth of his brief 34-race career at the starting line when first-time finalist Matt Guidera got a little too excited and jumped the Christmas Tree by -.004 seconds. It might have been a moot point as Schnitz zoomed to a 7.064 at 182.03 mph to Guidera's 7.105 at 185.08 mph.
"It was Matt's first final and that probably played in my favor," Schnitz said. "He ended up pushing the Tree just a little too hard. I'm sure his pulse was up. He's a good rider and he has a great bike. He'll win one real soon. I just hope it's not against me."
Sunday's final results from the Ninth annual CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway. The $1.9 million race is the tenth of 23 in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
Top Fuel -- Doug Kalitta, 4.503 seconds, 330.23 mph def. Melanie Troxel, broke.
Funny Car -- John Force, Ford Mustang, 4.930, 233.60 def. Robert Hight, Mustang, 4.890, 244.56.
Pro Stock -- Kurt Johnson, Chevy Cobalt, 6.646, 207.46 def. Greg Anderson, Pontiac GTO, 6.641, 208.10.
Pro Stock Motorcycle -- Ryan Schnitz, Buell, 7.064, 182.03 def. Matt Guidera, Buell, foul.
Top Alcohol Dragster -- Todd Datweiler, 11.505, 73.11 def. Sean O'Bannon, broke.
Top Alcohol Funny Car -- Bob Newberry, Chevy Monte Carlo, 5.573, 257.53 def. Steve Harker, Dodge Avenger, 5.648, 258.12.
Competition Eliminator -- Tony Stephenson, Pontiac GTO, 7.837, 167.97 def. Jeff Taylor, Pontiac Grand Am, 8.963, 149.27.
Super Stock -- Michael Mans, Pontiac Firebird, 9.532, 139.67 def. Gary Stinnett, Chevy Camaro, 9.385, 140.75.
Stock Eliminator -- Dan Fletcher, Chevy Camaro, 10.713, 116.29 def. David Rampy, Camaro, 11.175, 110.68.
Super Comp -- Ron Erks, Dragster, 8.898, 166.44 def. Jason Kenny, Dragster, 8.894, 166.76.
Super Gas -- Jeff Cheney, Chevy Camaro, 9.906, 154.35 def. Ray Connolly, Chevy Corvette, 9.880, 161.32.
Super Street -- Joe Urbino, Chevy Malibu, 10.931, 126.34 def. Steve Domingues, Chevy Camaro, 10.898, 145.20.
Weekend pit notes
Doug Kalitta continued his hot streak with his fourth event win in five races. He drove his Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster to a 4.503-second finish at 330.23 mph over Melanie Troxel, whose Skull Shine/Torco Race Fuels dragster broke near the starting line. Troxel coasted to the top end at 10.273 at 82.18.
Kalitta is now just 71 points behind Troxel, the POWERade points leader.
After qualifying No. 1, defending category world champion Tony Schumacher's Sunday eliminations jinx continued with a first-round loss to No. 16-seed Alan Bradshaw. Schumacher's U.S. Army dragster struggled at the top end of the track - but Bradshaw's advantage started at the starting line, where he got a quicker jump at the Christmas tree.
Schumacher has qualified No. 1 at six events this year, but has yet to win an event in 2006. He advanced to the semifinals in Phoenix and Bristol.
Alan Bradshaw earned his second career round win in the first round of eliminations - against No. 1 qualifier and defending world champion Tony Schumacher. Bradshaw's only other round win was also against Schumacher, Chicago's hometown hero.
Schumacher earned the Budweiser Shootout award, while his U.S. Army crew's top performance earned the Full Throttle Pit Crew Championship award for this event.
John Force earned his 120th career win - but it wasn't a smooth ride. Force and teammate Robert Hight, Force's son-in-law, were neck-and-neck when both Mustangs experienced mechanical issues and slowed to cross the finish line. Force clocked a 4.930 at 233.60 in his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang, while Hight drove his Auto Club Ford Mustang to a 4.890 at 244.56.
Tommy Johnson Jr., who earned his first No. 1 qualifier since Pomona 2001 when he drove his Skoal Chevrolet Monte Carlo to a 4.672 at 328.70, exited in the second round to defending category POWERade world champion Gary Scelzi. POWERade points leader Ron Capps, who made the cut for the event in the final qualifying round, advanced to the second round, where he was defeated by Hight.
Johnson earned the Skoal Showdown award.
Eric Medlen earned the Motel 6 "Who Got the Light" award when he defeated Del Worsham by a .0007-second margin of victory in the first round of Top Fuel eliminations.
Medlen's crew earned the Full Throttle Pit Crew Championship award for this event.
Kurt Johnson drove his AC Delco Chevy Cobalt to his second win of the season on a holeshot in 6.646 at 207.46. Defending category POWERade world champion Greg Anderson narrowly missed his chance to double-up on award money when he finished second in his Summit Racing Equipment Pontiac GTO (6.641, 208.10).
Anderson captured the King Demon Crown title in his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO, earning $50,000 in the race-within-a-race bonus event for the category's top drivers, when he defeated his teammate Jason Line, who earned $10,000 for the runner-up finish.
No. 1 qualifier Richie Stevens Jr. reached the semifinals, where he was defeated by the eventual runner-up.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE
Ryan Schnitz drove his Trim-Tex Drywall Products Buell V-Twin to the fourth win of his young career when he defeated surprise finalist Matt Guidera with a 7.064 pass at 182.03. It was Guidera's first career appearance in the final round.
Chip Ellis became only the second rider in NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle history when he rode his Drag Specialties Buell to a 6.988-second run at 189.26 mph during the third round of qualifying. Defending category world champion Andrew Hines was first to join the elite Mickey Thompson 6-second Pro Stock Bike Club when he powered his Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson to a 6.991 in Ganesville of 2005. Ellis earned $3,000 for the pass.
Ellis advanced to the semifinals, where Guidera beat him on a holeshot.
POWERADE FAN NATIONALS
Matt Sackman, 13, of Channahon, Ill., defeated hundreds of fan participants to become the local POWERade Fan Nationals Event Champion for the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals. Sackman, a driver in the O'Reilly Auto Parts Jr. Dragster League, will travel to Auto Club Raceway at Pomona to compete for the ultimate 2006 POWERade Fan Nationals title in November.
Jeg's Allstar Results
The team from Division 1, which won two of the first five Jegs Allstars team championships and a third in 1995, broke a long winless drought in the special Sportsman-only competition with a dominating performance in the 22nd annual classic, contested Saturday at the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals.
Led by defending Allstars Alcohol Funny Car champion Frank Manzo, Bob Langs Northeast Division troops piled it on to win their fourth team title and the $10,000 team bonus by gathering additional wins by Don Pires Jr. in Stock and Lynn Hoosigan in Super Street.
After finishing the first round in a tie with Division 2, Division 1 forged ahead by 100 points in the second round before finishing strong in the money rounds to tally a total of 1,300 points. Division 3 finished second with 1,000 markers, followed by Division 2 at 900. Division 5 finished with 700, followed by Division 4 (600), and Divisions 6 and 7 (200 each).
The outing was particularly disappointing for perennial powerhouses Division 2 and Division 4, both five-time team champions whose racers have collected 34 and 39 wins, respectively, to lead the way in Allstars history. It was only the third time that Division 4 had been shut out and fourth time that Division 2 had been skunked in the events 22-year run.
Pires Jr. drove his B/SA entry to a final-round 10.64 on a 10.63 dial to neat Division 2s Mickey Whaley, who broke out with an 11.97 on a 12.00 target but it was Hoosigans triumph over Division 2s Michael Ruff that sealed the team title. She drove her Lynns Kitchen 66 Chevelle to an easy win when Ruff went barely red with a -.001 reaction time.
Division 3 made it close with a trio of its own wins, starting with Marty Thackers 5.37 rout of defending Alcohol Dragster world champ Steve Torrence, representing Division 4, and continuing with wins by Division 2 transplant Jeff Taylor, the reigning Comp world champ, who defeated Division 2s Glen Treadwell with a devastating (-.74) 8.92 against Treadwells CIC-comprised (-.59) 8.03. The win was the fourth for Taylor in Allstars competition, having previously won for divisions 1 and 2. Rock Haas notched Division 3s final tally in Super Gas, where Division 2s George smith broke out with a 9.88 against Haas safe 9.96.
Shawn Langdon, like Manzo, also successfully defending his 2005 Allstars crown in Super Comp, but as a non-earning points blocker couldnt help the Pacific Divisions cause. In the final, Langdon scored on a holeshot, netting a ,009 to .045 edge at the green against Division 5s Gary Stinnett and hanging on for an 8.94 to 8.91 victory. Langdons Division 7 teammate in Super Stock, Kevin Smith, made it to the final but was turned away by a red-light against Division 5s Don Duke
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