Tony Schumacher raced his way to the Top Fuel victory Sunday at the 48th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway.
John Force in Funny Car, Shane Gray in Pro Stock, and Eddie Krawiec in Pro Stock Motorcycle were also winners in their respective categories at the third of 24 events on the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.
Schumacher Wins Top Fuel
Schumacher, an eight-time Top Fuel world champion, piloted his U.S. Army dragster to a 3.703-second pass at 329.26 miles per hour for the 83rd victory of his career and first of the season. He defeated reigning world champion Antron Brown who ran a 3.764 at 322.65 mph in his dragster. With the win, Schumacher becomes the winningest Top Fuel driver at the facility with five after previously being in a four-way tie.
“We have great, great people working together. I’m loving driving the car,” Schumacher said. “We’re in the fight every day, every race. It’s going to be a fun year, man. I’m comfortable driving the car. It’s running right down the middle. It’s running extremely fast. It doesn’t have any part on the race track where I feel that I’m in danger. It’s doing everything that a driver dreams about sitting in a Top Fuel car.”
Schumacher defeated Smax Smith, Clay Millican and Steve Torrence en route to the victory. Brown was able to get past Chris Karamasines, rookie Troy Coughlin Jr. and Doug Kalitta before falling to Schumacher in the finals.
Force Earns 148th Funny Car Victory
Force, a sixteen-time world champion and the winningest driver in NHRA history, ran a 3.928 at 328.14 in his Chevy Camaro Funny Car for the 148th victory of his career, eighth at Gainesville, and first of the season. He defeated rookie Jonnie Lindberg’s 3.971 at 314.83 in his Toyota Camry.
“I made a lot of changes coming here. Don’t know if I’m smart or just lucky,” Force said. “I surround myself with great people. They’re the ones who make it happen, then the sponsors and then the cheer of the crowd. They made one mistake out here. They let me find the music. I found myself. A lot of things area about heart, and about luck. You always feel somebody up there likes you. I believe hard work, dedication and what we went though, it’s been a draining day. I’m not accepting that I’m done. I’ve been real lucky.”
The victory marks the 2,500th Funny Car round-win for John Force Racing. Force raced past Del Worsham, Jack Beckman and Tommy Johnson Jr. on his way to the finals. Lindberg defeated Dave Richards in the first round, and upset Robert Hight and Matt Hagan to get to the final.
Gray Wins Pro Stock
In Pro Stock, Gray picked up his sixth career win and first at Gainesville Raceway when he ran a 6.535 at 212.96 in his Chevy Camaro to defeat four-time champion Greg Anderson and his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro’s 6.560 at 213.43 in the final.
“I wasn’t supposed to win,” Gray said. “When you’re testing parts, you’re just not supposed to win which is basically what we’re doing with my car. We had a lucky day today. There were some round wins when the car pulled me out of the hole and there were a couple rounds where I pulled the car out of the hole. It was a complete team effort today.”
Gray turned on win lights against Allen Johnson, Erica Enders and Chris McGaha, while Anderson won against Matt Hartford, Jeg Coughlin Jr., and teammate and reigning world champion Jason Line before reaching the finals.
Krawiec Pro Stock Motorcycle
Three-time Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion Eddie Krawiec defeated teammate Andrew Hines for his 37th career victory, second-consecutive, and fifth overall at Gainesville Raceway. Krawiec rode his Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson to a 6.763 pass at 199.76 bettering Hines’ 6.802 at 197.10 on his Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson.
“This helps set the pace for the year,” Krawiec said. “Get that first win off your back, keep that momentum rolling, get the points. You know once you win one or two races you kind of solidify your spot. With the extra-competitive class we have this year it definitely helps. There are a lot of great motorcycles. My Harley-Davidson this weekend really has been really fast, we just haven’t been able to harness that power and get it sorted out. I think as the year goes on we’re going to get better.”
Krawiec rode past Mike Berry, Matt Smith and Joey Gladstone before racing Hines in the finals. Hines defeated Angelle Sampey, Scotty Pollacheck and Steve Johnson before being defeated himself.
The 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season continues at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway March 31-April 2.
NHRA Pro Stock Point Standings
1. Greg Anderson 319 2. Jason Line 281 3. Shane Gray 226 4. Bo Butner 198 5. Jeg Coughlin 187
NHRA Funny Car Point Standings
1. Matt Hagan 308 2. John Force 238 3. Ron Capps 235 4. Tommy Johnson Jr. 209 5. Courtney Force 177
NHRA Top Fuel Point Standings
1. Leah Pritchett 300 2. Tony Schumacher 279 3. Antron Brown 243 4. Doug Kalitta 220 5. Brittany Force 202
NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle Point Standings
1. Eddie Krawiec 120 2. Andrew Hines 97 3. Joey Gladstone 81 4. Steve Johnson 74 5. Jerry Savoie 63
Drag Race Central and NHRA contributed to this report.