Schumacher wins Top Fuel title in dramatic fashion

Updated: November 12, 2006, 10:39 PM ET
Associated Press

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 finale.

John Force
AP Photo/Ken Sklute-hoJohn Force won the season title after the second heat Sunday, then went on to win the finale at Pomona, Calif.

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.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press