Schumacher, Hagan, Anderson & Tonglet Win at Dallas
The gap at the top of the points standings in all four pro divisions got a little narrower as three of the four point leaders fell in the final round, while Top Fuel leader Larry Dixon failed to make it past the semis.
Tony Schumacher came into this weekend’s event third in points behind Dixon and Cory McClenathan looking to make up some ground in hopes of defending his 2009 series title.
Starting from the no. 2 qualifying spot, Schumacher made it look easy with convincing victories over Mike Strasburg and Steve Torrence in the opening rounds, but needed a holeshot to beat McClenathan to advance to his seventh final round of the season.
Langdon, making only his second-career Top Fuel final round appearance, beat Bob Vandergriff face off with points leader Larry Dixon and knocked him out with a holeshot to break Dixon’s three-race win streak. Langdon then easily bested Brandon Bernstein to move on to the finals.
In the final, it was Langdon off the line first and out front until he started dropping cylinders, giving Schumacher a come-from-behind victory at 3.838 over Langdon’s 3.908.
Schumacher trimmed his points deficit to 94 points behind Dixon, who still leads by 69 over McClenathan.
“I wish we could have done this a race or two earlier,” said Schumacher.
We got three to go, we’re only down (94) points. I’ve been down a lot further than that and came back and won it, so let’s battle.”
Matt Hagan took a bite out of John Force’s points lead in Funny Car after beating the 14-time champion in their first-ever final round meeting.
Hagan, the 14th qualifier heading into Sunday’s event, faced an uphill battle all day, knocking out Jeff Arend, and Charlotte winner Cruz Pedregon and Ashley Force Hood to advance to just his third final round of the year.
Force, on the other hand, cruised into the finals after being mostly unchallenged in the opening rounds, besting Robert Hight, top qualifier Tim Wilkerson and Del Worsham to move on to his ninth final round of the season and 211th of his career.
In the finals, Hagan jumped out first with Force gaining ground before the back end started breaking loose on Force’s Mustang, giving Hagan his third victory of the season with a run of 4.155, cutting Force’s points lead to just 25.
“It was definitely gut-wrenching (to race Force),” said Hagan. “It was just amazing that it came down to me and him there at the end. I left the line and never saw him. I kept listening for him over there and I kept looking over. I was just saying, Come on! Turn that win light on! It finally came on.
“I have so much respect for that whole John Force team over there. When we won in Chicago, every one of those guys came over and shook our hands and told us what a great job we did. They're a first-class operation, just like DSR. We're a first-class operation and it's always great to race the best. It was just a great weekend.”
It had been a red-light special for Hines’ all day, with Angie Smith and then Steve Johnson missing the tree before Hines topped Matt Smith to move on to face Tonglet, who had bested Michael Phillips, Karen Stoffer and no. 1 qualifier Eddie Krawiec to advance.
Tonglet has now gone undefeated in the first three races of the Countdown, the only driver in the championship field to do so.
“It’s unbelievable, our season’s turned upside down,” said Tonglet. “I wasn’t feeling too confident Saturday night - we’ve been stumbling in qualifying and we didn’t find it until second round, and then the bike really woke up and from then on our confidence went up.
“We were just happy to just be in the semis, and from there on out is a bonus, and it didn’t matter of we won or lost, we were still going to go home happy, but the win makes it just that much better.”
In Pro Stock, Greg Anderson won his second-straight final round, topping Mike Edwards in a battle that matched up the top two in the points standings.
Trailing Edwards by 27 points coming into the weekend’s event, Anderson bumped out Ronnie Humphrey, top qualifier Allen Johnson and rookie Shane Gray to advance.
Edwards was on the lights all day, hitting a .013 in his victory over Ron Krisher and a .012 against Greg Stanfield - who red-lighted - in the semis to move on to face Anderson for their fifth career final-round meeting.
The final round was more of the same for Edwards, hitting a .001 at the start to jump to an early lead, but Anderson was right with him with a .014 of his own and marched past the defending series champion with a run of 6.585 to Edwards’ 6.612 for his fourth Wally of the season and 64th of his career. He now trails Edwards by just 16 points.
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