Schumacher (TF), C. Force (FC), Connolly (PS), Hines (PSM) are NHRA winners at Texas


Top Fuel driver Tony Schumacher won his second race in as many days to highlight Sunday’s final round of the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals at Texas Motorplex in Ennis, Texas.

Schumacher won Saturday’s final round of last week’s delayed Pep Boys NHRA Carolina Nationals, which was relocated to this weekend at Texas due to inclement weather and track conditions in Charlotte, N.C.

Then the Chicago-area native doubled-up with his record 76th national event win in Sunday’s race, taking over the lead in the Top Fuel standings, as well.

In winning his sixth FallNationals title, Schumacher (3.891 seconds/318.62 mph) defeated No. 1 qualifier J.R. Todd (4.134 seconds/251.49 mph) and now took over the points lead, 106 points ahead of second-ranked Steve Torrence and 107 points ahead of Countdown to the Championship No. 1 seed Doug Kalitta.

“It’s an unbelievable situation,” Schumacher said in a NHRA media release. “We’ve won two races in less than 24 hours. My family drove up, I won a race, we went to dinner, went to bed, came back, and won another race in under 24 hours.

“We have a 100-point leading going into two more back-to-back races. It’s brutal pressure. Going into it with this much momentum places that pressure on other people. Some will be able to handle it; some won’t.”

Others who won the delayed Charlotte final on Saturday were Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Jonathan Gray (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

As for other pro classes in Sunday’s final eliminations, Courtney Force (Funny Car), Dave Connolly (Pro Stock), and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were also winners in their classes.

The No. 1 qualifier coming into Sunday, Force (4.227 seconds/301.07 mph) earned the 11th win this season by a female racer in the NHRA pro ranks, defeating Del Worsham (4.309/285.65) in the finals.

“I’m proud of my team to come out here and make some great laps – especially out here in the heat of Texas,” Force said. “We needed to go some rounds today if we still wanted a shot at the championship. … We’ve made a huge move up and we’re still in the hunt (for the championship).”

Force’s father, 16-time Funny Car champ John Force, retains the lead in the FC standings with a 45-point margin over fellow teammate Robert Hight.

In Pro Stock, Connolly (6.616 seconds/210.55 mph) defeated teammate Shane Gray (6.617/210.73) to earn his second win of 2014 and 25th of his career. It was also the third straight Pro Stock win in as many races for Gray Motorsports.

“I’ve been very blessed with a lot of great opportunities and I would have to say this is one of the best,” Connolly said. “The camaraderie we have and the friendships we have grown over the year is unbelievable.

“We are out there having fun and running into each other in semifinals and finals and could not be better. … It is a win-win when we make it to the final and there is Gray Motorsports on both the doors.”

Jason Line continues to lead the Pro Stock standings, holding a 43-point lead over Connolly.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Hines earned his fifth win of the season (7.571 seconds at 186.54 mph). Opponent Steve Johnson suffered mechanical problems and was unable to compete in the final run.

It was Hines’ first career win at Texas and the 35th of his NHRA career.

The third race of the six-race NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs will be the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis, Sept. 26-28.


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Sunday’s final round results:

Top Fuel: Tony Schumacher, 3.891 seconds, 318.62 mph def. J.R. Todd, 4.134 seconds, 251.49 mph.

Funny Car: Courtney Force, Ford Mustang, 4.227, 301.07 def. Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 4.309, 285.65.

Pro Stock: Dave Connolly, Chevy Camaro, 6.616, 210.05 def. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.617, 210.73.

Pro Stock Motorcycle: Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 7.571, 186.54 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, broke.


Sunday’s final finishing order:

TOP FUEL: 1. Tony Schumacher; 2. J.R. Todd; 3. Shawn Langdon; 4. Troy Buff; 5. Bob Vandergriff; 6. Spencer Massey; 7. Steve Torrence; 8. Larry Dixon; 9. Antron Brown; 10. Morgan Lucas; 11. Khalid alBalooshi; 12. Leah Pritchett; 13. Doug Kalitta; 14. Richie Crampton; 15. Terry McMillen; 16. Billy Torrence.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Courtney Force; 2. Del Worsham; 3. Tim Wilkerson; 4. Tommy Johnson Jr.; 5. Robert Hight; 6. Alexis DeJoria; 7. John Force; 8. Matt Hagan; 9. Ron Capps; 10. Tony Pedregon; 11. Bob Tasca III; 12. Cruz Pedregon; 13. Chad Head; 14. Jeff Arend; 15. Jeff Diehl; 16. Jack Beckman.

PRO STOCK: 1. Dave Connolly; 2. Shane Gray; 3. Jonathan Gray; 4. Vincent Nobile; 5. Erica Enders-Stevens; 6. Allen Johnson; 7. Greg Anderson; 8. Jason Line; 9. Chris McGaha; 10. Rodger Brogdon; 11. V. Gaines; 12. John Gaydosh Jr; 13. Aaron Stanfield; 14. Jeg Coughlin; 15. Matt Hartford; 16. Shane Tucker.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Andrew Hines; 2. Steve Johnson; 3. Matt Smith; 4. Scotty Pollacheck; 5. Jerry Savoie; 6. Shawn Gann; 7. Freddie Camarena; 8. John Hall; 9. Hector Arana; 10. Chaz Kennedy; 11. Angelle Sampey; 12. Angie Smith; 13. LE Tonglet; 14. Adam Arana; 15. Hector Arana Jr; 16. Eddie Krawiec.


Sunday’s final round-by-round results:

TOP FUEL: ROUND ONE — Spencer Massey, 3.831, 321.27 def. Richie Crampton, 4.755, 161.67; Shawn Langdon, 3.805, 321.19 def. Antron Brown, 3.876, 308.50; Bob Vandergriff, 3.818, 321.50 def. Terry McMillen, 4.991, 148.99; J.R. Todd, 3.815, 323.04 def. Morgan Lucas, 4.088, 228.58; Troy Buff, 3.841, 311.05 def. Doug Kalitta, 4.353, 196.13; Steve Torrence, 3.831, 324.05 def. Khalid alBalooshi, 4.227, 224.92; Tony Schumacher, 3.817, 320.97 def. Leah Pritchett, 4.254, 223.80; Larry Dixon, 4.171, 208.52 def. Billy Torrence, 5.196, 135.22;

QUARTERFINALS — Buff, 3.961, 293.73 def. Dixon, 5.857, 150.70; Schumacher, 3.854, 320.05 def. Vandergriff, 3.934, 302.69; Todd, 3.864, 316.67 def. Massey, 4.147, 236.55; Langdon, 4.622, 234.78 def. S. Torrence, 4.913, 194.24;

SEMIFINALS — Todd, 4.253, 237.13 def. Langdon, 4.320, 270.32; Schumacher, 3.930, 309.06 def. Buff, 4.889, 160.16;

FINAL — Schumacher, 3.891, 318.62 def. Todd, 4.134, 251.49.

FUNNY CAR: ROUND ONE — John Force, Ford Mustang, 4.111, 309.42 def. Jeff Arend, Dodge Charger, 4.259, 293.66; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.775, 169.91 def. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, foul; Courtney Force, Mustang, 4.173, 305.56 def. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.232, 297.81; Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.173, 304.25 def. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.223, 295.72; Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.171, 299.06 def. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Solara, 6.424, 104.10; Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.221, 270.81 def. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.243, 297.29; Del Worsham, Camry, 4.213, 297.16 def. Chad Head, Camry, 4.257, 293.09; Robert Hight, Mustang, 4.501, 271.57 def. Jack Beckman, Charger, 10.679, 71.72;

QUARTERFINALS — Johnson Jr., 4.192, 302.08 def. J. Force, 4.532, 205.38; Wilkerson, 4.209, 295.59 def. Hagan, 4.537, 230.76; C. Force, 4.161, 305.49 def. Hight, 4.214, 300.80; Worsham, 4.272, 288.03 def. DeJoria, 4.340, 248.93;

SEMIFINALS — Worsham, 4.178, 302.41 def. Wilkerson, 4.221, 296.50; C. Force, 4.218, 299.06 def. Johnson Jr., 4.254, 268.54;

FINAL — C. Force, 4.227, 301.07 def. Worsham, 4.309, 285.65.

PRO STOCK: ROUND ONE — Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.595, 210.97 def. Jeg Coughlin, Dodge Dart, 9.460, 108.85; Dave Connolly, Camaro, 6.597, 210.57 def. Shane Tucker, Camaro, broke; Erica Enders-Stevens, Camaro, 6.574, 210.44 def. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.646, 209.49; Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.581, 210.77 def. Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, 8.575, 111.81; Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.572, 210.83 def. V. Gaines, Dodge Avenger, 6.646, 209.26; Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.568, 210.87 def. Matt Hartford, Avenger, 9.510, 97.74; Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.566, 210.70 def. John Gaydosh Jr, Pontiac GXP, 6.730, 205.82; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.574, 210.80 def. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.617, 208.71;

QUARTERFINALS — Nobile, 6.625, 209.72 def. Line, 12.243, 69.72; J. Gray, 6.597, 209.92 def. Enders-Stevens, 6.599, 209.98; Connolly, 6.603, 209.33 def. Johnson, 6.607, 210.47; S. Gray, 6.604, 210.14 def. Anderson, foul;

SEMIFINALS — S. Gray, 6.617, 210.18 def. Nobile, 6.677, 209.65; Connolly, 6.616, 209.85 def. J. Gray, 6.651, 207.21;

FINAL — Connolly, 6.616, 210.05 def. S. Gray, 6.617, 210.73.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: ROUND ONE — Matt Smith, Buell, 6.920, 194.02 def. Adam Arana, Buell, 7.169, 189.73; Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.948, 193.54 def. Chaz Kennedy, Buell, 6.958, 192.60; Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.928, 193.24 def. Angie Smith, Buell, 6.996, 190.35; John Hall, Buell, 6.975, 192.82 def. Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.978, 182.45; Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.929, 192.88 def. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 7.007, 182.16; Shawn Gann, Buell, 6.959, 188.70 def. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 7.550, 135.14; Freddie Camarena, Suzuki, 7.025, 194.30 def. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 22.232, 32.59; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.883, 194.38 def. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.906, 195.28;

QUARTERFINALS — Pollacheck, 7.000, 191.10 def. Gann, 7.018, 190.08; Johnson, 6.901, 192.93 def. Hall, 15.294, 35.54; M. Smith, 6.954, 193.13 def. Camarena, 7.093, 188.81; Hines, 6.909, 192.88 def. Savoie, foul;

SEMIFINALS — Hines, 6.926, 193.18 def. Pollacheck, 6.980, 190.97; Johnson, 6.979, 187.34 def. M. Smith, 6.940, 191.43;

FINAL — Hines, 7.571, 186.54 def. Johnson, broke.


Updated points standings:

Top Fuel: 1. Tony Schumacher, 2,296; 2. Steve Torrence, 2,190; 3. Doug Kalitta, 2,189; 4. Shawn Langdon, 2,181; 5. J.R. Todd, 2,168; 6. Spencer Massey, 2,167; 7. Khalid alBalooshi, 2,156; 8. Antron Brown, 2,143; 9. Richie Crampton, 2,085; 10. Brittany Force, 2,053.

Funny Car: 1. John Force, 2,258; 2. Robert Hight, 2,213; 3. Matt Hagan, 2,209; 4. Courtney Force, 2,197; 5. (tie) Ron Capps, 2,164; Alexis DeJoria, 2,164; 7. Tommy Johnson Jr., 2,162; 8. Del Worsham, 2,135; 9. Tim Wilkerson, 2,123; 10. Cruz Pedregon, 2,093.

Pro Stock: 1. Jason Line, 2,266; 2. Dave Connolly, 2,223; 3. Shane Gray, 2,218; 4. Erica Enders-Stevens, 2,207; 5. Jonathan Gray, 2,192; 6. Vincent Nobile, 2,186; 7. Allen Johnson, 2,166; 8. Jeg Coughlin, 2,150; 9. V. Gaines, 2,103; 10. Chris McGaha, 2,073.

Pro Stock Motorcycle: 1. Andrew Hines, 2,302; 2. Eddie Krawiec, 2,257; 3. Steve Johnson, 2,198; 4. Hector Arana Jr, 2,177; 5. Matt Smith, 2,169; 6. Scotty Pollacheck, 2,144; 7. John Hall, 2,139; 8. Hector Arana, 2,122; 9. Angie Smith, 2,094; 10. Michael Ray, 2,071.

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Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images

Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed their new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with US-based Ford Motors in a press event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Team Principle Christian Horner. They are the only Formula 1 team to launch in the United States, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen had already wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
(Gongora / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Now Verstappen’s thoughts will inevitably turn to establishing a dynasty – and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his principle rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.