(Photos courtesy NHRA)

NHRA: Tony Schumacher charges to Traxxas Shootout win over Leah Pritchett

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BROWNSBURG, Indiana — Tony Schumacher held off Don Schumacher Racing teammate Leah Pritchett to capture the Traxxas Shootout for Top Fuel dragsters Saturday at Lucas Oil Raceway.

Schumacher covered the 1,000 foot drag strip with a winning elapsed time of 3.717 seconds (at 328.86 mph). In so doing, the winningest driver in NHRA Top Fuel history took home the $100,000 first place prize.

It was Schumacher’s second Traxxas Shootout win in the event’s five-year history, and his second in the last three years (also won in 2014). It also marked the fourth time that a DSR driver has won the Shootout.

Now Schumacher turns his attention towards winning the U.S. Nationals for the 10th time in his career. The finals are Monday. Schumacher last won the NHRA’s biggest race of the season in 2012.

“We went to a party Thursday night and I said, ‘Man, I’m not being cocky, but I feel like we’re running this race. The car just got too good at the right time, coming to a race that we’re always good at anyways.’

“It’s easy to say that, but it’s hard to come out and do it. We’ve got the first leg done. Now we go out tomorrow and work on a warm-track tuneup because Monday it’s going to be hot out and, it’s funny, but we’re a way better team when it’s hot out.”

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Schumacher defeated Brittany Force in the first round and fellow DSR teammate Antron Brown in the second round before his matchup with Pritchett.

Pritchett, appearing in her first Shootout and sporting sponsorship from Papa John’s Pizza, was a close second at 3.738 (at 317.05 mph). She defeated Doug Kalitta and another DSR teammate, Shawn Langdon, to reach the final round vs. Schumacher and his U.S. Army-sponsored dragster. Pritchett earned $15,000 for her runner-up finish.

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Sunday will mark the Traxxas Shootout for Funny Cars, again with $100,000 going to the winner.

The first round will see a classic battle between Funny Car points leader Ron Capps and 16-time champion John Force. Other first-round matches have Robert Hight vs. Tommy Johnson Jr., Courtney Force against Alexis DeJoria and Matt Hagan vs. Tim Wilkerson.

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Steve Torrence takes NHRA points lead with Gatornationals victory

NHRA Gainesville Steve Torrence
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two-time defending NHRA Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence took the points lead Sunday in the AMALIE Motor Oil Gatornationals, beating his father, Billy, in the final round at Gainesville Raceway.

Torrence had a 3.809-second run at 322.11 mph to win for the third time this year and 39th overall. He is now on track for another championship despite missing the season opener.

“We’ve got some good momentum and to be in the points lead, it’s a testament to how hard these guys work,” Steve Torrence said after the NHRA Gainesville victory. “We’ve just got to stay focused and concentrate on what the task at hand is, and that’s trying to win a championship. These guys give me an unbelievable race car and you just try not to screw it up.”

Ron Capps won in Funny Car, Alex Laughlin in Pro Stock and Matt Smith in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Capps raced to his second win this year and 66th overall, beating Tim Wilkerson with a 3.937 at 323.12 in a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat.

Laughlin topped Aaron Stanfield with a 7.068 at 204.76 in a Chevrolet Camaro for his first win this season and fourth in his career. Smith rode to his first victory in 2020 and 25th overall, topping Andrew Hines with a 6.843 at 196.99 on an EBR.