Tony Schumacher sets NHRA Top Fuel No. 1 qualifying record

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One day after setting a career best low elapsed time mark, Tony Schumacher recorded a NHRA Top Fuel record by earning his 77th No. 1 qualifying position Saturday in advance of Sunday’s final eliminations of the CARQUEST Auto Parts Nationals in suburban Phoenix.

Schumacher, who won his eighth NHRA Top Fuel championship last season, earned the No. 1 spot in his category, while fellow 2014 champs Matt Hagan (Funny Car) and Erica Enders-Stevens (Pro Stock) were top qualifiers in their respective classes.

Schumacher on Friday set a career-quick run of 3.722 seconds at 325.61 mph. He had two other runs in the 3.7-second range on Saturday at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Ariz.

“It is great that we went down the track on all four runs and got every point except one,” Schumacher said in an NHRA media release. “It is more impressive that the run was my career-best.

“The car is making good, quality runs down the track and it is being consistent. If we can continue to do that we’ve got a good chance of going out and winning some races.”

Schumacher will start Sunday’s eliminations facing Jenna Haddock, a rematch from last season’s race in when Haddock beat Schumacher in her first career start.

“We’ll go out there and do our job, not try to smoke the tires in the first round like we did in Denver,” Schumacher said. “That was an exciting win when she beat me in Denver – I just don’t want her to get used to it.”

In Funny Car, Hagan overtook Courtney Force, who earned the provisional pole in Friday’s qualifying. Hagan recorded a track record elapsed time Saturday with a run of 3.978 seconds (at 320.28 mph).

Hagan, who is also Schumacher’s teammate, is looking to make it two wins in a row, having won the season opener in Pomona, Calif., two weeks ago.

“It speaks volumes of why we are a championship team,” said Hagan, who will face Jeff Diehl in Sunday’s first round. “That thing was just really digging and posted some great numbers.

“This team continues to grow and we are really coming together and have great chemistry. I am very excited what this year has to hold for us and I think we are going to win a lot of races this season.”

In Pro Stock, Enders-Stevens earned her second No. 1 qualifier position of the season and 14th of her career, as no driver on Saturday could beat her best effort on Friday of 6.545 (at 211.20 mph).

Enders, who won this race last season, faces Joey Grose in the first round Sunday.

“It’s just a great start to the year … a better start to the year than we had in 2014,” Enders-Stevens said. “It would definitely be great to win early in the year. It, obviously, doesn’t determine where you end up, but it certainly helps boost confidence and morale.”

SUNDAY’S FIRST ROUND PAIRINGS

Top Fuel: 1. Tony Schumacher, 3.722 seconds, 325.69 mph  vs. 16. Jenna Haddock, 4.015, 295.59; 2. Doug Kalitta, 3.733, 329.02  vs. 15. Clay Millican, 3.924, 311.34; 3. Richie Crampton, 3.739, 324.51  vs. 14. Troy Buff, 3.905, 306.81; 4. J.R. Todd, 3.753, 323.97  vs. 13. Terry McMillen, 3.844, 310.27; 5. Antron Brown, 3.753, 318.69  vs. 12. Dave Connolly, 3.804, 321.58; 6. Shawn Langdon, 3.755, 319.37  vs. 11. Leah Pritchett, 3.794, 317.72; 7. Steve Torrence, 3.760, 325.85 vs. 10. Brittany Force, 3.792, 323.81; 8. Larry Dixon, 3.778, 324.05  vs. 9. Spencer Massey, 3.791, 321.81.  Did Not Qualify: 17. Steven Chrisman, 4.410, 218.90.

Funny Car: 1. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.978, 320.28  vs. 16. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Solara, 4.866, 264.96; 2. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.996, 321.58  vs. 15. Shane Westerfield, Charger, 4.558, 273.22; 3. Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 3.997, 319.98  vs. 14. John Hale, Charger, 4.194, 307.23; 4. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.000, 313.58  vs. 13. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.060, 310.13; 5. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.003, 315.27  vs. 12. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.047, 309.63; 6. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.020, 316.30  vs. 11. Chad Head, Camry, 4.043, 309.13; 7. John Force, Camaro, 4.025, 315.05  vs. 10. Robert Hight, Chevrolet Camaro, 4.038, 318.47; 8. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.032, 306.60  vs. 9. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.034, 314.39.  Did Not Qualify: 17. Terry Haddock, 5.082, 181.84.

Pro Stock: 1. Erica Enders-Stevens, Chevy Camaro, 6.545, 211.26  vs. 16. Joey Grose, Camaro, 6.689, 207.05; 2. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.545, 211.63  vs. 15. Deric Kramer, Dodge Avenger, 6.643, 208.91; 3. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.548, 211.20  vs. 14. Matt Hartford, Pontiac GXP, 6.632, 209.14; 4. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.551, 211.36  vs. 13. Jimmy Alund, GXP, 6.626, 209.69; 5. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.559, 210.54  vs. 12. V. Gaines, Dart, 6.620, 209.95; 6. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.562, 211.59  vs. 11. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.586, 210.87; 7. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.565, 211.46 vs. 10. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.578, 210.34; 8. Larry Morgan, Camaro, 6.569, 211.89  vs. 9. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.578, 210.67.  Did Not Qualify: 17. Jeff Isbell, 6.718, 205.98.

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Houston Supercross by the numbers: Five riders begin to gap the field

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Chase Sexton stumbled in San Diego and Eli Tomac had a hard fall in Anaheim 2, but the Monster Energy Supercross numbers for Houston suggest they will continue to be the ones to beat in Houston. To do so, they will have to turn back challenges from another pair of riders who have swept the top five in the first three rounds and another with a worst finish of sixth.

Houston Supercross numbers
Cooper Webb’s ability to close races makes him a Houston favorite. – Feld Motor Sports

Despite an accident in his heat in San Diego that sent him to the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ), Sexton recovered to score a top-five that weekend. His podium finish in Anaheim 1 and overall win last week in Anaheim 2 makes him one of the three riders with a perfect top-five record. He is joined by Cooper Webb, who finished second in the first two rounds and fourth last week, and Ken Roczen, whose consistency in the first three races contributed to him grabbing the top spot in this week’s NBC Supercross Power Rankings.

There are reasons to believe Webb and Roczen can keep those streaks alive.

Webb is the only multiple winner at Supercross’ current Houston stadium. His pair of wins came in 2019 and 2021, the same year he won his two 450 championships.

Clinton Fowler points out this week, that Webb has carried that strength into 2023. Webb had a late surge in Anaheim 1, advancing from fifth to second in the final six laps. In San Diego, he set his ninth fastest lap with two to go and his eighth fastest on the final lap. He posted his fastest lap of Anaheim 2 on Lap 12 while the rest of the field did so on Lap 6 on average.

By comparison, Tomac set his 14th fastest lap on the final circuit in route to winning the Main at San Diego while he was trying to keep Webb at bay.

With a sixth at San Diego, Dylan Ferrandis barely missed sweeping the top five in his first three races as did Tomac with a sixth last week at Anaheim 2.

This will be the 46th year Supercross has visited Houston and with 55 races the city is tied for the second-most with Detroit.

Jim Pomeroy won the first race in the Astrodome during the inaugural season of 1974 on a 250, which was the premiere class at the time. Houston was one of three races held that year along with events at Daytona International Speedway and the Los Angeles Coliseum. All three venues return in 2023 with the first SuperMotocross championship finale returning to the famed LA Coliseum in September.

Webb won most recently in 2021 in the final race of three held there that year as the series executed a strategy of racing in residencies to limit travel during height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tomac and Justin Barcia also won in Houston in 2021.

Two privateers have started the season on a high note.

Joshua Cartwright and Joshua Varize have each made the last two Mains. Cartwright finished 18th in San Diego and 21st last week in Anaheim 2 – all while working fulltime as a Business Intelligence Analyst at the University of Texas, Dallas. Varize earned a top-15 (12th) in San Diego and was 21st in Anaheim 2 in his third season on a 450.

Michael Mosiman scored his first 250 win last year in San Diego. – Feld Motor Sports

The numbers show none of the active 250 Supercross East riders have won in Houston, so no matter who steps on top of the box, there is going to be a fresh face. That is not surprising since most of the top competitors have not raced at this venue yet.

Michael Mosiman has a pair of top-fives there, however. His best finish was a second in the second 2021 race. Garrett Marchbanks scored a top-10 in his rookie season of 2019 in Houston.

In the 250 East division, Hunter Lawrence is one of the favorites to win the title now that Christian Craig has moved to 450s. Last year he had four wins and nine podiums, but failed to set a fast lap in a race.

The other 250 riders with 2022 wins this week are Mosiman, who earned his first Supercross win last year in San Diego, and Nate Thrasher, who became the fifth new class winner at Daytona.

Jeremy Martin will attempt to extend a record this week in Houston. His division leading SuperMotocross podiums number 65. He has 26 wins in the combined sessions, which ranks fourth all time.

Last Five Houston Winners

450s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Cooper Webb
2021, Race 2: Eli Tomac
2021, Race 1: Justin Barcia
2020, no race
2019, Cooper Webb
2018, Jason Anderson

250s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Colt Nichols
2021, Race 2: Jett Lawrence
2021, Race 1: Christian Craig
2020, no race
2019, Dylan Ferrandis
2018, Aaron Plessinger

By the Numbers

Anaheim 2
San Diego

More SuperMotocross coverage

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Power Rankings after week 3
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Haiden Deegan makes Supercross debut in Houston, Justin Cooper to 450s
Talon Hawkins set to relieve injured Jalek Swoll in Houston
Jalek Swoll out for an indefinite period with broken arm
Ken Roczen urgently needed a change
Chris Blose joins Pro Circuit Kawasaki in 250 East opener
Seth Hammaker to miss Houston with wrist injury
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Injury sidelines Austin Forkner for remainder of 2023 SX
Chase Sexton wins Anaheim 2 in 450s; Levi Kitchen takes 250s
Results and points from Anaheim 2