BAYTOWN, Texas – Eight-time NHRA Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher picked up his first victory in more than two years Sunday at Houston Raceway Park.
Schumacher powered to the win in a thrilling side-by-side duel with Steve Torrence during the final round of Sunday’s 33rd annual Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals presented by Pennzoil.
Tommy Johnson Jr. (Funny Car), Aaron Stanfield (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also won during the Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals presented by Pennzoil, the 10th of 11 races during the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season.
With Schumacher and Johnson both winning, it gave Don Schumacher Racing its first nitro sweep of 2020 and 66th overall for the organization, which now has 356 wins.
Schumacher, the winningest driver in Top Fuel history, and Torrence put on a remarkable show in the final round, with Schumacher’s run of 3.669 seconds at 330.63 mph in his 11,000-horsepower Okuma/Sandvik Coromant Toyota dragster edging past Torrence’s 3.687 at 330.07.
It gave Schumacher his 85th career victory and first since winning at Bristol in June of 2018. He defeated Cameron Ferre, Doug Foley and Billy Torrence to reach the final round, saving his best pass of the weekend for the championship round.
“I’m super proud and I’m so happy for my guys,” said Schumacher, who returned to the sport in July after not racing in 2019. “I’ve done this and lived these moments, and been part of some cool stuff, and these guys were able to dig deep. That final round, those are epic battles. I’ve been on both sides of that. I beat Torrence in Indy by .0006 and lost the same way to him. You’ve got two badass teams battling it out and that was the best race we’ve seen all year.
“It was a team effort and everybody did a great job.”
Torrence, the No. 1 qualifier, stayed on paced as he chases his third straight Top Fuel world championship by advancing to his sixth final round this year and 61st in his career.
He picked up round wins against Shawn Langdon and Antron Brown, making six passes in the 3.60s this weekend. Torrence will take a 101-point lead over Doug Kalitta to the finale in Las Vegas.
Johnson remained in championship contention in Funny Car with a clutch performance in Houston, going 3.929 at 321.04 in his 11,000-horsepower MD Anderson Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat to beat teammate Ron Capps’ 3.952 at 325.14 in the final round.
It gave DSR its 13th straight Funny Car win and a victory for Johnson’s sponsor in their hometown.
Johnson, who now has three victories this season and 22 in his career, beat Jim Campbell, J.R. Todd and then points leader Matt Hagan in a critical semifinal race to reach the finals.
The victory pulled Johnson to within 42 points of Hagan, with Jack Beckman, who was upset in the opening round by Capps, just one point behind Johnson, ensuring a must-see showdown in Las Vegas.
“It was a must-win,” Johnson said. “We get close and then we stumble and we think we’re out of it, and here we come again. We just keep coming back. It’s like a heavyweight battle and when we get knocked down, we get back up and keep swinging. I’m just really proud of these guys. They never quit. I’m just super happy with the fight in these guys and this has got drama written all over it when we go to Vegas.
“You’ve got to keep digging and you knew the final round was going to be a great race. It’s definitely been different this year, but once you fire the engine it’s no different. These guys have done a really good job under some tough circumstances.”
Capps reached the final round for the 125th time in his career with victories against Beckman, who was the No. 1 qualifier, Cruz Pedregon and Alexis DeJoria.
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