POMONA, Calif. -- Tony Schumacher completed the biggest
comeback in NHRA history Sunday, winning his third straight Top
Fuel season title with a world record final-round run in the season
Entering the final round in the Auto Club NHRA Finals needing to
win the race with a performance quicker than 4.437 seconds,
Schumacher and crew chief Alan Johnson delivered with a stunning
4.428 at 327.98 mph to edge Doug Kalitta by 14 points.
"I probably felt better today than I ever had in my life
because the pressure was so high that it was too much to even
comprehend," said Schumacher, who joined Joe Amato as the only Top
Fuel drivers to win three consecutive titles. "I don't know that
there's ever been a single pass in drag racing where so much was on
the line in one round. To win it like this is unreal. It's beyond
anything that you can ever dream up."
Schumacher won his fourth season title and raised his victory
total to 35, tying drag racing icon "Big Daddy" Don Garlits on
the career list.
In order to win the championship, Schumacher has to win two more
rounds than Kalitta on the day and set a national elapsed time
record, which is worth 20 bonus points. He pulled it off by beating
teammate Melanie Troxel in the final to completely erase a deficit
that was 336 points at the season's mid-point.
In Funny Car, John Force used a holeshot to win his 122nd race
just two rounds after clinching his 14th title. Greg Anderson
bettered new champ and teammate Jason Line by three-hundredths of a
second in Pro Stock, while Craig Treble got his first Pro Stock
Motorcycle win in more than two years on a day that featured Andrew
Hines winning his third straight motorcycle championship.
Force beat Beckman in the closest race of the day. Beckman's
4.662 performance set a national elapsed time record, but wasn't
enough to beat the quicker-reacting Force's 4.697.
Anderson and Line had nearly identical reaction times in their
Pontiac GTOs in the final round, but Anderson worked the gears a
little bit better and pulled away to claim his 43rd career victory
with a 6.652 at 208.14 mph to Line's 6.691 at 208.46 mph.
Treble broke a two year winless drought when he ran away from
challenger Tom Bradford in the Pro Stock Motorcycle final and took
the stripe with a 7.072 at 190.81 mph on his Suzuki against
Bradford's Buell, which ran 7.301 at 182.06 mph.
Hines secured his third straight Pro Stock Motorcycle
championship when his final challenger, Antron Brown, lost in the
quarterfinals to Treble.