Schumacher Wins Thriller At NHRA SpringNationals

MARC GEWERTZ Photo

Tony Schumacher defeated Steve Torrence by .002 seconds to win the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series’ SpringNationals at Houston Raceway Park, Sunday. His victory is the fourth of the season for a Toyota NHRA driver and Schumacher’s first since returning to the seat of a Top Fuel dragster in July after being sidelined since the end of the 2018 season.

After qualifying second on Saturday, Schumacher opened his day with a first-round win over Cameron Ferre, then followed it up with victories over Doug Foley and Billy Torrence to advance to the finals against point leader Steve Torrence. 

Both cars turned in strong reaction times with Torrence having a slight advantage, but Schumacher ran him down by the 330’ foot mark. The two raced side-by-side through 600 feet, separated by just .001 seconds. The eight-time world champion then held off his rival with a margin of victory of just .002 seconds, winning with a 3.669-second pass at 330.63 mph – the quickest pass of the weekend.

“We’ve only had a handful of races back as a team and they’re doing a great job for Sandvik, Okuma and Toyota,” said Schumacher who earned his NHRA record 85th Top Fuel win. “And Camping World thank you for stepping up. It feels unbelievable. Both the semis and the finals were outstanding races. That’s about as rewarding of a day as anybody can have. We’ve been through three race cars in six races. We qualified excellent, then lost our car after Leah broke one. We had to take a new car out and that’s just the second race on it. That car hasn’t made two dozen runs down a racetrack and Mike Green and this Okuma/Sandvik Coromant Toyota team just went out and figured out how to win a race with it. Unbelievable.”

In Funny Car, after another strong qualifying effort earned her the fifth starting spot, Alexis DeJoria opened eliminations by running the quickest Funny Car pass of the weekend with a 3.874-second run to defeat Tim Wilkerson. In round two, the ROKiT Toyota Camry driver picked up right where she left off, registering the quickest pass of the round with a 3.912-second run in defeating Bob Tasca. In the semis against Ron Capps, DeJoria left first and led through the 330’ mark, but appeared to have a cylinder out, shutting it down and giving Capps the victory, 4.160-5.175.

All six Toyota drivers won at least one round on the day with Antron Brown advancing to the semifinals in Top Fuel with victories over Scott Palmer and Doug Kalitta before falling to Steve Torrence. Kalitta and teammate Shawn Langdon were each eliminated in round two. Kalitta had defeated Kebin Kinsley in round one, while Langdon knocked off Justin Ashley. 

DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car driver J.R. Todd ran the overall fastest pass of the weekend with a 333.49 mph run in defeating Terry Haddock in round one before being eliminated by Tommy Johnson in the second round. 

The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series closes out its 2020 season next weekend at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Oct. 31 – Nov. 1.

2020 Toyota Wins: 

Top Fuel: 4 – Doug Kalitta (2), Pomona, St. Louis; Shawn Langdon (1), Indianapolis; Tony Schumacher (1), Houston

  Toyota Driver Results – NHRA Houston Eliminations Round-by-Round

Top Fuel Qual/Fin Rd. 1 Results Rd. 2 Results Semis Finals
Tony Schumacher 2/Winner W– Ferre, 3.712-Red W – Foley, 3.735-3.852 W-B. Torrence, 3.701-3.753 W–S. Torrence, 3.669-3.687 
Antron Brown 4/Semis W – Palmer, 3.731-4.283 W – Kalitta, 3.719-3.747 L- S. Torrence, 3.673-4.763 —
Doug Kalitta  5/Rd 2 W –Kinsley, 3.716-6.874 L – Brown, 3.719-3.747 — —
Shawn Langdon 8/Rd 2 W – Ashley, 3.720-4.741 L- S. Torrence, 3.686-4.063 — —
Funny Car Qu/Fin Rd. 1 Results Rd. 2 Results SemisFinals
Alexis DeJoria 5/Semis W-Wilkerson, 3.874-5.426  W – Tasca, 3.912-3.970 L – Capps, 4.160-5.175 —
J.R. Todd 3/Rd 2 W –Haddock, 3.894-9.360 L-Johnson, 3.934-3.979 — —

Notes:

– Tony Schumacher earned his 85th career Top Fuel victory today and his third Baytown victory after previously winning in 2005 and 2009. The win is the first since returning to the seat of a dragster in July after sitting out since the end of the 2018 season. His last win came at Bristol in 2018.

– Schumacher has now advanced to 154Top Fuel final rounds and earned 850 career round wins.

– Doug Kalitta remains second in the Top Fuel championship race, he will need to win next weekend’s Las Vegas event to remain in contention for his first world championship. 

– Toyota Camry drivers registered both the quickest and the fastest runs of the weekend in Funny Car. Alexis DeJoria ran the quickest pass with a 3.874 against Tim Wilkerson in the opening round, while J.R. Todd’s 333.49 mph run against Terry Haddock was not only the fastest in Funny Car, but the fastest in any class this weekend.

– All six Toyota drivers advanced to the second round or beyond today. 

Quotes: 

Tony Schumacher, Okuma/Sandvik Coromant Toyota Top Fuel dragster:

How does it feel to come back and earn this victory?

“I’ve missed the guys and I’ve missed the people. We’ve only had a handful of races back as a team and they’re doing a great job for Sandvik, Okuma and Toyota. And Camping World thank you for stepping up. It feels unbelievable. Both the semis and the finals were outstanding races. That’s about as rewarding of a day as anybody can have.” 

What’s it been like coming back with a new team?

“We’ve been through three race cars in six races. We qualified excellent, then lost our car after Leah broke one. We had to take a new car out and that’s just the second race on it. That car hasn’t made two dozen runs down a racetrack and Mike Green and this Okuma/Sandvik Coromant Toyota team just went out and figured out how to win a race with it. Unbelievable. This is an incredible opportunity and I’m going to display this trophy proudly. I’m super happy for the guys.” 

Living in Austin, did it provide any extra motivation?

“This is our home track. My fiancé and her family are from here and they’re all here today. Half of my neighbors in Austin have come out today and have never been here before. They just saw two of the best semifinal and final rounds you’re ever going to see. I don’t know what that came down to, but I’m guessing inches and thousandths of a second. That’s what it’s about. It’s about the people who showed up here in the stands, the people who worked so hard on this car. We just love the opportunity.” 

What’s next?

“We’ve got one more race in Vegas and I’m looking forward to that.  It’s one of my favorite tracks. I really want to win Vegas because you get the whole off-season to think about it.”

Alexis DeJoria, ROKiT Phones Toyota Camry Funny Car: “We are the only Funny Car team to have qualified in the top five in each of the last four races, that’s huge for us. Qualifying went really well and eliminations even better until the semifinals. In the first round we raced Tim Wilkerson, who has a very good team and a very fast car, and we ran the quickest E.T. of the event. That just blew my mind. Seeing that win light with the car in one piece was just such a relief. In the second race, it was the same – Bob Tasca, who’s really tough, but we did well again. We ran the quickest pass of the round again. In the semifinals, we just saw a big old fireball coming out of the side of the car and shut it off. Unfortunately, that was the end of our day. But we’re putting our car back in the trailer and we are leaving this track with two bodies (laughing). We have some momentum ending the season. We would have liked for it to happen sooner, but it’s been a really crazy year for all of us. We’re really excited to be running in the finals in Las Vegas. That racetrack has been very good to myself and my guys. I’ve won two races there. We’ve got a good hot rod. Going into the off-season, we know we have a very fast car and we’re going to work on that for next year.”

Antron Brown, Matco Tools/Global Electronic Toyota Top Fuel dragster: “We’ve been working on a lot of things. We’re definitely getting better. We’re consistent and going down the race track. We’re pressing. We want to get the car to leave better. Brian (Corradi) and Mark (Oswald) and the rest of our Matco Tools/Global Electronic Toyota boys are working towards that. Once we get to that happy spot we should be good. We want to end this year off strong and make a good showing in Vegas and get ready for the 2021 season. We’re going to roll some dice next weekend. We were pressing on it in the semis. We just pressed too hard in the middle. We wanted to run a high 60, but we have to get it going better early. That’s the main focus. We’ll get better and we’re making strides and not hurting parts and pieces.”

Doug Kalitta, Mac Tools Toyota Top Fuel dragster: “We knew the championship would come down to the last race. We have a hole to dig out of for sure. The one thing about this Mac Tools team is we are going to keep fighting. There are points and half in Las Vegas and if we get a couple quick qualifying runs we can make up some ground on Saturday. We are going to go into the weekend with our focus on winning the race and getting the championship.”


Shawn Langdon, DHL Toyota Top Fuel dragster: “We had a good win in the first round for DHL, Kalitta Air and Toyota. Then we had tough competitor in the second round. We had an aggressive tune-up and gave it a good run. We are giving it our best every round. Today did not go the way we wanted. This DHL Kalitta Air dragster will be ready for Las Vegas.” 

J.R. Todd, DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car: “We had a great run in the first round. It’s nice to have run the fastest pass of the weekend in this DHL Camry, but in the end, that’s not why we’re here. We’re here to win. This is the second straight race that we’ve run really well in the first round, but we need four of those. We have one race left to get it done. We’ve won in Las Vegas three times in the past couple of years and our goal will be to get a fourth next week.”

Toyota Drivers   Top FuelPoints – (margin) Torrence (868)2020 Wins2020 W-L Career RacesCareer WinsCareer Win-Loss
2. Kalitta767 (-101)221-852349711-467
5. Langdon544 (-324)110-926417297-246
6. Brown534 (-334)010-1043866737-381
9. Schumacher415 (-453)18-651185850-418
Funny CarHagan (842)     
6. Todd584 (-258)012-1023218249-211
8. DeJoria489 (-353)09-101515107-142

Toyota Racing PR