READING, PA – After a regular season filled with struggles, eight-time NHRA Top Fuel world champion Tony Schumacher kick-started his Countdown to the Championship campaign with a get-healthy weekend at the Pep Boys NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway. His Reading, Pa. outing included a consistent qualifying effort and successful race day that saw Schumacher and the SCAG Power Equipment dragster move on to the rain-delayed semifinals on Monday morning.
Schumacher ran into tire smoke early in his first qualifying attempt on Friday, but he came back in the second session and laid down a smooth 3.737 E.T. at 328.54 MPH to sit eighth going into Saturday. His 3.755-second pass was the third-quickest run of the third session on Saturday, earning one bonus point. The five-time Reading winner rounded out qualifying with a 3.749-second effort in the final session, settling into the No. 9 position for Sunday eliminations. It was one of Schumacher’s best overall qualifying performances of the season.
In the first pair of Top Fuel eliminations after the national anthem on Sunday morning, Schumacher lined up with No. 8 qualifier Austin Prock. Schumacher was first off the starting line by a few thousandths of a second and led the whole way, winning with a 3.701 E.T. to Prock’s 3.716 E.T. Schumacher then faced fellow JCM Racing driver and points leader Justin Ashley in the second round. Schumacher moved first again, and it was enough of a holeshot advantage to beat Ashley’s quicker 3.707-second pass with a 3.716 E.T.
READING, PA – After inclement weather-plagued race day Sunday at the Pep Boys NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway, racing was delayed to Monday morning. Robert Hight and the Cornwell Tools Chevy Camaro SS team will continue their event defense when they face off with reigning world champion Ron Capps in the semifinals.
John Force in the PEAK Antifreeze and Coolant Chevy Camaro SS and Brittany Force in the Monster Energy / Flav-R-Pac Chevy dragster had a quarterfinal finish and Austin Prock in the Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist team had a first-round exit.
Coming in as the No. 2 qualifier, Robert Hight and the Cornwell Tools Chevy continued to keep up their performance with the quickest pass of the round at 3.875 seconds and 331.20 mph to defeat Jim Campbell and his 6.603 at 98.93 after driving into tire smoke. In the second round, Hight had a monster matchup against Matt Hagan with huge points implications. Hight and the Cornwell Tools Chevy laid down a 3.852 pass at 327.66 to defeat Hagan’s 3.859 at 335.48 and move around him in the points standings. His win lines the Cornwell Tools team to take on Ron Capps in the semifinals.
Action will begin at 10 a.m. ET with the completion of the semifinals in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series, starting with the remaining Top Fuel semifinal between Steve Torrence and Tony Schumacher. Finals in the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series will also take place on Monday. The race will be broadcast at 9:30 p.m. ET on Monday on Fox Sports 1 (FS1).
Top Fuel’s Doug Kalitta is the lone driver who has advanced to the final round of the first race in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs, putting together a string of runs in the 3.60s, including a pass of 3.684-seconds at 332.84 mph to get a holeshot win over Leah Pruett in the semifinals. If Kalitta wins in the final round, the veteran would pick up his 50th career victory. He’ll take on the winner of Schumacher and Torrence, who will meet in the other semifinal and will kick off raceday on Monday.
MOHNTON, PA – Tim Wilkerson returned to the Pep Boys NHRA Nationals as the Funny Car event runner-up after having advanced to the final round in 2022. He was seeking a fourth Maple Grove Raceway final-round outing on Sunday during the first event of the six-race NHRA Countdown to the Championship.
Making his 15th Countdown appearance, the driver/tuner of the SCAG Power Equipment/Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Mustang, began the playoffs from the No. 8 seed. Wilkerson’s best prior Countdown finish was a second-place effort in 2008, and with two national event wins in three final-round appearances so far in 2023, Wilkerson looks prime for a strong Countdown showing as he closes out his first season as a member of the JCM Racing team.
Wilkerson began race day in Reading, Pa. as the No. 4 qualifier, which he earned on the strength of his 3.881-second at 329.91 MPH pass from the fourth round of qualifying. The run held up to be the third-quickest of the round, earning the Maynard Wilkerson Racing team one bonus point.
MOHNTON, PA – Antron Brown was looking for a third consecutive event win to start the NHRA Countdown to the Championship at the Pep Boys NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway, but a close second-round match with fellow multi-time world champion Steve Torrence didn’t go Brown’s way. The quarterfinal performance showed the potential in Brown’s Matco Tools ‘Test Drive’ Top Fuel dragster, so he’s confident his AB Motorsports team is ready to continue the Countdown portion of the NHRA Camping World Series season.
Brown, who went into the weekend ranked third in points, opened Friday qualifying with the second-quickest pass of the session to pick up two bonus points. He was the fifth-quickest in the second session with a 3.716-second pass at 321.50 MPH, which held up for the No. 5 qualifying position on the final qualifying order after two more sessions on Saturday. Brown suffered a supercharger backfire on the third session and wounded an engine on the final attempt, though his Matco Tools ‘Test Drive’ team led by Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald worked hard to get the car right for race day.
READING, PA – Entering the 2023 NHRA Countdown as the No. 1 seed Justin Ashley and the Phillips Connect Toyota team ran to the No. 1 qualifier position at the Pep Boys NHRA Nationals. On Friday night Ashley posted the quickest time of two days of qualifying, a solid 3.687 second pass and went into race day with a first round match up against No. 16 qualifier Scott Farley. Ashley picked up three qualifying bonus points and had lane choice over Farley.
The NHRA moved the start time for the race up to 9:30 a.m. ET and Ashley’s team was ready to go when they pulled up to the water box. The Phillips Connect Toyota Top Fuel team fired up and began their pre-race routine, but Farley’s team was unable to fire their 11,000-horsepowered Top Fuel dragster. Ashley was awarded a competition bye. The six-time winner this season launched and powered down the left lane before he hazed the tires and coasted across the finish line for the win light with a 6.496 second pass at 91.75 mph.
The win propelled Ashley to a race with the eight-time Top Fuel world champion Tony Schumacher. This season Ashley was 3-0 in his head-to-head races against Schumacher, but he gave up lane choice in the second round. When the dragsters launched it was Schumacher getting off the line first, but Ashley was right beside him flying down the track. Unfortunately, the starting line deficit was too much to overcome and Ashley’s quicker 3.707 second run wasn’t enough to get to the stripe first. At the top end Ashley was complimentary of his opponent but also focused on the overall goals for the team.
Norwalk, OH – Thirty-two exceptional Edelbrock Super Series racers qualified to represent Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio at the North Central Division Summit Racing Series Team Finals, Sept. 13-17, 2023, at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park in Indiana, and they all played a part in propelling the team to the 2023 Team Championship.
On Sunday, Jim Ring earned the win in Sportsman, which qualified him to race toward a World Championship at the NHRA Nevada Nationals, Oct. 26-29, 2023 at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Additionally on Sunday, John Boes earned the runner-up finish in Super Pro and Brandon Buchanan earned the runner-up finish in High School.
In a Summit Motorsports Park sweep on Saturday, Aubrey Collins won Best Appearing in Super Pro, Matt Ball won Best Appearing in Pro, Matt Short won Best Appearing in Super Bike and Scott Chitty won Best Appearing in Sportsman.
READING, PA – Alexis DeJoria began the Pep Boys NHRA Nationals, the first event of the six-race NHRA Countdown to the Championship, from the No. 6 seed in the Funny Car standings. Making her sixth playoff appearance, DeJoria is on track to finish in the top 10 for the seventh time, including her 2020 campaign.
DeJoria returned to Maple Grove Raceway with three runner-up finishes through the first 15 events of the regular season and was looking to break through for her first event win of the year. Out of four qualifying runs, DeJoria placed her Bandero Premium Tequila Toyota GR Supra eighth on the Funny Car ladder on the strength of her 3.915-second at 331.04 MPH pass, which she clocked during the second session. She drew No. 9 qualifier Blake Alexander as her first-round opponent. DeJoria carried a 6-3 round-win lead over Alexander into the race and used a stout 3.879-second pass to easily defeat her opponent who suffered a loss of traction. Her run held up to be the third-quickest of the round and earned her the advantage of lane choice versus Bob Tasca III in the quarterfinals.
When the DC Motorsports team returned to the starting line for round two, both DeJoria and Tasca did their burnouts before the skies opened and it started to sprinkle. The two teams opted to delay their match and returned to the staging lanes to run at the end of the second Funny Car session. When they rolled back up to the waterbox for a second time, DeJoria staged her machine and clocked another solid pass but her 3.904 E.T. couldn’t keep pace with Tasca’s faster 3.867.
READING, PA – At the conclusion of the 2023 NHRA regular season Josh Hart and the R+L Carriers Top Fuel dragster team looked to ramp up their success rate for the six race Countdown. Hart, who stormed onto the NHRA scene in 2021 with two wins and opened this season with a dominating win at the Pep Boys Top Fuel Allstar Callout race was looking to grab his first Top Fuel world championship. Through two days of uneventful qualifying at the Pep Boys NHRA Nationals Hart entered race day as the No. 14 qualifier.
It was the toughest qualifying position Hart had started a race in his career. The consistently optimistic Hart looked to the previous recent success of one of his competitors for hope before the race day started.
“We are going to Antron Brown this race today,” said Hart, referring to Brown’s U.S. Nationals win as the No. 15 qualifier. “We are so lucky to be out here I just want to give it my all against Kalitta and see what happens. He is a great racer and I am looking forward to the challenge.”
READING, PA – Today during the first race of the 2023 NHRA Countdown Camrie Caruso and the Tequila Comisario Chevrolet Camaro raced to a quarterfinal finish and secured the young driver’s first round win of her playoff career. Last year during her rookie campaign Caruso entered the Countdown No. 10 but suffered six straight first round losses in a tough end to a strong rookie campaign. This weekend Caruso’s Tequila Comisario Chevrolet Camaro battled through two days of qualifying and entered race day as the No. 12 qualifier.
In the final qualifying session on Saturday Caruso made her best run of the weekend and gave the team confidence heading into a first round race with fellow Countdown competitor Deric Kramer. In the opening round today the veteran driver was first off the line against the second year pro, but Caruso quickly caught up to him and moved around him at half-track when he experienced severe tire-shake. Caruso made her quickest run of the weekend, a strong 6.537 second run at 209.36 mph to advance to the second round.
“Getting that first Countdown round win definitely helps,” said Caruso, who won her first Pro Stock race at the Arizona Nationals this season. “I didn’t like seeing my teammate Dallas Glenn go out so early, but the points are going to tighten up now. We are looking forward to getting to Charlotte and qualifying better and going rounds on Sunday. There are five races left and we want to do everything we can to try and win this championship.”