By Anthony Caruso III
Posted: September 20th, 2014 at 9:49 pm EST
The NHRA Carolina Nationals are finally completed. Last Sunday, rain caused the postponement of the race to the Texas Motorplex.
In the Nitro class, Don Schumacher Racing teammates won the Top Fuel and Funny Car wally’s. Tony Schumacher won his 75th career win in Top Fuel, while Matt Hagan picked up his second win of the season in Funny Car.
U.S. Nationals winner Eddie Krawiec has won three straight races in Pro Stock Motorcycle. He will be going for this third win tomorrow in eliminations for the NHRA Fallnationals outside of Dallas, Texas.
Rookie Jonathan Gray won his first-career wally in Pro Stock. Gray Motorsports, which owns his car, also won the U.S. Nationals when his brother Shane Gray defeated fellow teammate Dave Connolly.
Schumacher defeated Al-Anabi Racing’s Khalid alBalooshi with a time of 3.866 seconds at 318.77 mph. Schumacher now has 2,216 points to second place Doug Kalitta, who has 2,169 points. “The Sarge” is looking for his first championship since 2009, and 8th overall in his 18-year career.
“It couldn’t have come at a better time,” Schumacher said. “It is the first race in the Countdown even though we had to move it, it doesn’t really matter. In reality, fantastic timing, we took over the points lead, I don’t know where we are but we are in the lead. If we can maintain and stay ahead of these guys for five more races, and I know we have the car capable of doing it, we’ll be there to force the issue.”
Hagan had to defeat long-time rival John Force in the final, who picked up his 12th win in his career. The Rocky Boots/Mopar driver had a 4.200 at 297.17 to defeat the 65-year-old Force.
“My guys busted their butts today, I’m so proud of them,” Hagan said. “To see my guys sweating and working so hard, it makes me so proud of them. They are a great group. I wouldn’t trade Dickie Venables for any crew chief out here. The guy is smart, he is methodical, and this is only our second year together and we still have a lot of growing to do.”
Hagan, who is looking to win his second championship, is just 11 points shy of John Force Racing President Robert Hight, who is second place in the standings. The 16-time Funny Car champion Force is the points leader.
“Dickie was able to put a car under me that went down the track every lap,” Hagan said. “We wanted those bonus point, you’d love to see yourself go out there and scoop up all the points that you can but you have to be smart and what Dickie did today was smart. He went out there and raced.”
Gray needed a 6.589 at 209.10 to defeat Jason Line to raise the wally for the first time. Gray, was able to beat out Line’s teammate Greg Anderson for the 10th and final Countdown to the Championship at the U.S. Nationals.
“It’s huge, it is big for all the guys back at the shop and all the guys at Gray Motorsports,” Gray said. “They are doing a phenomenal job, all the guys in the engine shop. I’ve got a really good group of guys. I’ve got to thank my wife and kids for their support and my mom and dad for being so supportive. I can’t say enough and such a good deal.”
Krawiec needed a 6.888 at 193.49 to defeat Steve Johnson, who went 6.917 at 193.29. This is Krawiec’s 26th win of his career and he is now first with 2,228 points over teammate and 3-time Pro Stock Motorcycle champion Andrew Hines.
“You want to do well at every race you go to and you want to be prepared,” Krawiec said. “The key for us I think was rolling off the truck with great momentum, and making good runs down the track. That is what I have done with my Harley the last couple of laps and making good clean straight runs . Work on your setup and tweak away at it. I think I’ve got an awesome motorcycle and it has been great to do. I’m excited.”