June 7-10, 2007
JOLIET, Ill. --
(David Smith and Guy Van Syckle photos)
Pro Winners included Jeggie, Larry Dixon, Matt Hines and Gary Scelzi
Jeg's Allstar gallery (1) is here.
Gallery 2 is here
Gallery 3 is here
Top Fuel final
It had been 37 races since Dixon last won a Wally, dating back to September of 2005 in Indianapolis, so his unbridled joy was tempered with a strong dose of relief. Scelzi also seemed relieved to win once again as he made a little history of his own by becoming just the fourth racer in history to ring up double-digit wins in both nitro categories.
Dixon's win in his SkyTel dragster was the first for crew chief Donnie Bender, who took over tuning duties at the start of 2006. Fuller got a great jump in the final, leaving Dixon with a .029-second reaction time to Dixon's .063-second launch, but that was the last thing to go right for Fuller as his Fabick Cat dragster lost traction almost immediately, allowing Dixon to streak away for the win. Fuller's runner-up finish did move him back into the POWERade points lead.
"This was Donnie's first win and I'm really glad to be a part of it," said Dixon, who's still 13 wins shy of category leader Joe Amato's 52 career wins. "We didn't have the greatest car when Dick-o (former tuner Dick LaHaie) left and Donnie got that promotion from offensive coordinator to head coach. I think we all expected it to take a little time for him to find a groove. I'm glad Snake [team owner Don Prudhomme] stayed with us and kept the faith."
Bob Vandergriff's UPS team made the biggest move in the Top Fuel standings, moving from 10th to 7th, replacing non-qualifier Whit Bazemore in the Countdown Top 8.
Funny Car final
This was Scelzi's 35th career win -- tying him with Don Garlits for 13th on the all-time NHRA POWERade wins list (all categories) -- and 10th in Funny Car, which placed him next to Prudhomme, Kenny Bernstein, and Mike Dunn as the only drivers with double-digit wins in both nitro categories.
"We hulked up on that one and just got after it," Scelzi said. "Zippy [crew chief Mike Neff] told me he was going for it and I said, 'Don't throw it away,' but as usual he knew exactly what to do and the car went right down the middle. It really accelerated from halftrack on and I knew we needed that because you can always count on Capps to have a great light. He's awesome."
Helped by second-place points earner Robert Hight's first career DNQ (in 55 races), Capps extended his lead in the POWERade points to 140 points, a nice rebound from his DNQ last weekend in Topeka, Kan.
Jack Beckman's semifinal finish improved his standing from 11th to ninth, within 15 points of eighth-place Del Worsham for the final spot in the Funny Car Top 8.
Pro Stock final
Was the crew excited?
"How about that," Coughlin shouted as he climbed from his JEGS.com Chevrolet Cobalt. "This is the ultimate feeling. I took almost a year off and raced sportsman stuff and was lucky enough to win some big races but nothing compares to winning a Pro Stock race. I'm proud of my team and Victor Cagnazzi [team owner]. He finally has the team he's dreamed of and I'm happy to be a part of it."
This was Coughlin's 48th NHRA national event win and his 35th in Pro Stock. His win moved him around his Victor Cagnazzi Racing teammate Dave Connolly into second place in the POWERade standings and now finds himself 179 behind leader Greg Anderson, who was upset in the first round by former NBA player Tom Hammonds.
Pro Stock Motorcycle final
"My team pulled together 100 percent over the past month, did a bunch of testing, and totally turned this year around for us," Hines said. "This was a huge win to let us know that all the hard work we've done has paid off. Plus, Jim McCaslin, the president of Harley-Davidson, and a bunch of other people were down from Milwaukee so it was cool to give them a big win."
Smith, who has now been in four finals in five races, extended his lead in the POWERade points to 80 over Angelle Sampey, who is now in second place. Hines jumped from a tie for ninth to fourth place with his ninth career win.
JOLIET, Ill. -- Sunday's final results from the 10th annual Torco Racing Fuels Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway. The race is the ninth of 23 in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series:
Top Fuel -- Larry Dixon, 4.579 seconds, 322.11 mph def. Rod Fuller, 9.155 seconds, 80.76 mph.
Funny Car -- Gary Scelzi, Dodge Charger, 4.838, 321.42 def. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.850, 318.39.
Pro Stock -- Jeg Coughlin, Chevy Cobalt, 6.658, 207.37 def. Jason Line, Pontiac GTO, 6.656, 208.07.
Pro Stock Motorcycle -- Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.959, 192.11 def. Matt Smith, Buell, 7.014, 187.18.
Top Alcohol Dragster -- Bill Reichert, 5.203, 273.16 def. Kate Harker, 14.257, 75.07.
Top Alcohol Funny Car -- Mickey Ferro, Chevy Camaro, 5.625, 256.65 def. Cy Chesterman, Ford Mustang, 16.039, 66.34.
Competition Eliminator -- Chad Voges, Bantam Roadster, 7.989, 152.23 def. Mike Farrell, Bantam, 7.414, 176.47.
Super Stock -- Brandon Wilkinson, Chevy Corvette, 8.943, 144.92 def. Peter Biondo, Chevy Cobalt, 9.547, 132.18.
Stock Eliminator -- Randy Wilkes, Pontiac Firebird, 10.433, 119.58 def. Jim Marshall, Chevy Corvette, 11.264, 113.93.
Super Comp -- Ray Connolly, Dragster, 8.898, 173.23 def. Kurt Damron Jr, Dragster, 8.893, 173.29.
Super Gas -- Brian Forrester, Chevy Corvette, 9.927, 163.87 def. Ray Connolly, Corvette, 9.945, 162.98.
Super Street -- Lynn Hoosigian, Chevy Chevelle, 11.667, 113.07 def. Bob Schmidt, Chevy II, 12.623, 129.42.
The Harker triplets (actually mom is in the middle)
Dixon and Jeggie get jiggy with the champagne
Riechert and team celebrate
Micky Ferro and team
Jeg's Allstar wrap up
June 9, 2007
Heading into the final rounds, the Division 1 team held a slim 100-point (one round) lead over the Division 4 squad with the Division 2 and Division 6 teams still mathematically in the running. Division 4 racer Craig Abbott tied the score with his win in Super Street, but the Northeast Division squad slammed the door with consecutive wins by Linke, Iacono, Biondo, and Manzo. Iacono's Super Stock win officially clinched the title and the $20,000 bonus that accompanies it.
Manzo won a record setting sixth Jeg's Allstars title when he drove his Kendall entry to a 5.51 to 5.60 final round win over Division 2's Jay Payne. Biondo, a former Comp national champion, used a starting line holeshot to beat Division 2's Larry Pritchett while Iacono and Linke posted final-round wins over Sean Cour and Mark Faul, respectively. Abbott, of Division 4, finished ahead of Division 7s Dwight Downing in Super Street.
Other champions from the Jegs Allstars race included Spencer Massey, who beat defending champ Marty Thacker in the Top Alcohol Dragster final, reigning NHRA champ Ron Erks, who beat Division 6 racer Jim Gross to win Super Comp, and Ed Olpin, who scored the lone win for the Division 7 team when he beat Rock Haas in Super Gas.
Final points standings
Division 1 1300
Saturday final qualifying
Upset-filled final qualifying day sets stage for big changes in eliminations
Bernstein entered the ninth race of the NHRA season in the POWERade Top Fuel points lead but will most likely lose that spot during Sunday's eliminations. Robert Hight has arguably had the best Funny Car in the class this year but will leave Chicago with his first DNQ. Grubnic, Bazemore, and Funny Car's most recent winner Ashley, will join their beleaguered buddies on the sidelines.
"Today is another perfect example of what it's going to take to win the championship this year," Schumacher said. It's not going to be the guy or girl that's running the best every week, it's going to be the one that screws up less than the others. We've finally reached a point where there are more good cars than there are spots in the field so almost every race we're seeing great teams missing the field.
"Our team is coming around. I know the time is going to come when we start winning races again and I hope that time starts tomorrow. Either way, I'm still having a blast, even with all the stress. I love my job and I would drag race every day if they'd let me."
Former Funny Car driver Scotty Cannon, he of the Mohawk haircut, made a successful return to NHRA racing by qualifying 13th with a 4.557 in his Torco dragster. He'll begin his quest for his first NHRA victory against No. 4 qualifier Bob Vandergriff Jr., who recorded his first 4.4-second pass (4.499) in Round 2.
"It's not a very comfortable feeling when you only go down the track one time in qualifying," Scelzi said. "We had a vibration in the car today and we're not sure what's causing that. Hopefully we can find it before tomorrow because I know we have a car that's capable of running in the heat.
"This weekend was kind of a do-or-die deal with Friday night being the one session where you either get in or start praying. It's a very tough deal and it's stunning when you see some of the guys that aren't qualifying for these deals."
Capps' 4.755 at 326.87 mph in his Brut Test Drive Dodge Charger placed him second, while Monster Dodge racer Kenny Bernstein qualified third with a 4.759, his best qualifying effort since his return to the Funny Car class.
Scelzi will open against Bob Gilbertson (16th place qualifier at 4.861) in Round 1, while Capps squares off with Tim Wilkerson (15th, 4.833).
"That 57 times at No. 1 is a neat, neat stat," said Anderson. "I never thought I would be anywhere near there and every time you do it, it's really neat. It's a good thing I did it yesterday because I wouldn't have done it today. We didn't perform up to par today. We got beat in the King Demon Crown, and that was kind of a bummer, but we have to forget about that deal and get ready to race tomorrow.
"We have to a good package, we have a good hot rod, we just made a couple of mistakes today and I screwed up driving. The positive is that we're No. 1 qualifier in a tough, tough field. That's great, but that won't get you anything tomorrow. We have to perform No. 1 tomorrow and that's the goal right now."
Allen Johnson, who has averaged a very respectable fourth-place qualifying slot this year, curved his mean positioning up slightly here with a second-place 6.626 at 207.56 mph in his Dodge Stratus R/T. Third in the points, Jeg Coughlin Jr. is third on the ladder in his Jegs.com Cobalt with a 6.632.
Former crewman Craig Hankinson qualified for his first professional race as a driver, earning the 11th spot in his Boscoe HVAC GTO with a 6.651 at 207.15 mph.
"I'm completely impressed with that pass," Hines said of his final run. "The bike's responding to everything we're doing to it and our 60-foot times were strong again today. It's amazing how much those first 60 feet make or break your run.
"This Screamin' Eagle team is clicking at the right time. There are a lot of people from Harley-Davidson here today so it was cool to go even quicker than we did yesterday. We saw bike after bike in front of us running quick and I knew we had a chance to improve. The bike went nice and straight that run and if made a difference."
Hines will open against Michael Phillips, who held onto the final spot with a 7.075 at 191.08 mph on his Sharp Contracting Suzuki.
Current points leader Matt Smith moved up to second place with a 6.951 at 191.16 mph on his Torco Buell. Karen Stoffer followed Smith on the grid with a 6.951 at 191.13 mph. The Geico Motorcycle Suzuki rider has been the POWERade points leader after two of the first four Pro Stock Motorcycle races. Angelle Sampey also moved up in Round 4 with a 6.953 on her U.S. Army Suzuki.
1. Tony Schumacher U.S. Army Dragster 4.462 327.66
1. Gary Scelzi Hemi Oakley Charger 4.736 330.96
1. Greg Anderson Summit Racing Equipment GTO 6.617@
Pro Stock Bike
1. Andrew Hines Screamin' Eagle/Vance & Hines
1. Kate Harker TORCO Skull Shine A/FD 5.228 269.51
1. Frank Manzo Lucas Oil Monte Carlo 5.516 264.23
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