Schumacher, Hight, Edwards lead Topeka NHRA winners
Robert Hight continued on his impressive three-race hot streak and dominated the Funny Car field to get his third win in as many races during the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Summer Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka. Tony Schumacher took home the win in Top Fuel and Mike Edwards secured a victory in Pro Stock.
In the final round of Funny Car, Hight in his Auto Club Ford Mustang, was able to hold off the DHL Toyota Camry driven by Jeff Arend for his 17th career victory during his 4.104sec, 303.50mph pass to the losing effort of 4.150sec at 300.80mph by Arend. Hight started the day as the No. 1 qualifier and used it to his advantage as he defeated a tough field of competitors including rival Ron Capps. With the win, Hight – the 2009 Full Throttle Series World Funny Car Champion – closes within 49 points of current points leader and his team owner John Force.
“Right now what is happening to the Auto Club Ford is stuff you dream about. To win three in a row I've only ever won three races in a season and to win three in a row, to come out here and qualify No. 1 and win from the pole is tough to do and not many guys do that,” said Hight following the race.
“It's also all about the team. I like baseball, basketball all that stuff and a big Los Angeles Lakers fan and Kobe Bryant. Kobe is the Lakers but it takes the entire team around him, he couldn't win alone. You see Lebron James and what he does, they couldn't win with just one guy. Kobe Bryant is Jimmy Prock [crew chief] and there are eight other guys putting that thing together perfectly every run not making any mistakes. All the variables there are with these fuel cars, clutch discs, tires, traction; there are so many variables and to run like this and to do a job like we are doing you have to give to the whole team.“
The Top Fuel final pitted Schumacher in his U. S. Army dragster up against his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Cory McClenathan. Schumacher took the lead off the starting line and was able to hold off McClenathan in the Fram dragster for the win with a run of 3.875sec at 310.27mph to the losing effort of 3.864sec 312.35mph. This is the third win of the season for Schumacher and he has yet to be defeated when making it to the finals.
“It was a heck of a day,” said Schumacher. “To go out and beat Cory by five-thousandths of a second, Dixon the round before, and Shawn Langdon by eight-thousandths of a second; that's what racing is about. That's why you get up in the morning. I say it all the time, it's not the trophy, it's getting up Sunday morning and knowing you're going to have to dig real deep to get it, and we did.
“We needed to get [Topeka] off the list. It's been a great career but there were two tracks I hadn't won at, here and Atlanta. I've got Atlanta left and I've still got time in my career to go out and do that. I enjoy those big moments, where you have to really pull something off and that's what we had today. Cory's a great driver and he gave us a great race. We knew it was just going to be just inches no matter what.”
Edwards notched his fifth win of the season and his domination of the category continued when he was able to defeat Allen Johnson in the finals. Edwards in his Penhall / Interstate Batteries Pontiac GXP, posted a winning run of 6.717sec at 204.63mph to the losing effort of 6.710 at 205.19 of the Team Mopar / J7J Racing Dodge Avenger driven by Johnson. This year Edwards has 26 round wins to only four losses and also secured his seventh No. 1 qualifying position of the season during the course of the weekend.
“It's been awhile since our last win in Topeka [in 1999], although we were runner-up to Allen Johnson last year,” said Edwards. “But what made this weekend so special was the fact that my parents, A.C. and Gladys were here to see the win. They've never been to any of the races that I've won before, and you can't believe how much it means to me for them to see this one. They're from Oklahoma., and they only get to come to this race and maybe a couple of times to Dallas.
“We managed to leave first today because, and that was a good thing because that Hemi Dodge of Roy and Allen Johnson is really running strong, they are a top-notch team and they're going to be something to reckon with all year long. I'm not sure that they won't make a lot of winner's circles this year because they are running extremely strong.”