Schumacher, Hagan, Gray, Win Carolina Nationals

Tony Schumacher

Tony Schumacher powered to his 75th-career NHRA Mello Yellow Drag Racing Series Top Fuel victory while Jonathan Gray scored his first ever NHRA Pro Stock win in the final round of the postponed Pep Boys Carolina Nationals that were held on Saturday at the Texas Motorplex during the qualifying sessions for the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals.

Matt Hagan also got his share of the action with a win in the Funny Car final and Eddie Krawiec picked up a Wally in the Pro Stock Motorcycle division.

One week after they first took the track at zMax Dragway in Concord, N.C. , drivers finally got to finish off the weekend and stake their claims in the title hunt in the opening event of the six-race Countdown the Championship after persistent rain showers and deteriorating track conditions force NHRA officials to postpone the finals last Sunday.

Schumacher topped Khalid alBalooshi in the Top Fuel final to collect his third win of the season and second-career zMax victory, and lay claim to the top spot in the Countdown standings as he vies for his eighth NHRA World Championship.

Schumacher defeated Bob Vandergriff, Billy Torrence and Spencer Massey to advance to his third money round of the year, and his first-ever career final-round meeting with alBalooshi.

In the final, Schumacher was first off the line with a .077 light and never looked back, going 3.866 at 318.77 mph over alBalooshi's 3.903, 316.67 to make it a perfect 3-0 in final rounds this season.

With the win, Schumacher moves from fourth to first in the point standings, leading Doug Kalitta by 27 points.

"This 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."

Steve Torrence, who lost out to alBalooshi in the semi-finals, held onto the third spot in the points standings while alBalooshi jumps from seventh to fourth ahead of Spencer Massey. Antron Brown took the biggest tumble in the standings, dropping from fourth to sixth after an opening-round loss to Massey.

In Pro Stock, Jonathan Gray added to his family's long history in the NHRA and the Pro Stock division by scoring his first-career NHRA victory as he beat points leader and two-time FallNationals winner Jason Line in just his third-career final round.

Gray had been lined up to make his first-round run last Sunday when the previous matchup between V. Gaines and Allen Johnson ended with Gaines barrel-rolling across the finish line, prompting NHRA officials to take a look at track conditions before finally postponing the event.

One week later, Gray finally got to take to the track and knocked out Rodger Brogdon before eliminating Gaines – who was uninjured in the previous weeks crash but needed to bring a new car to Dallas – and then finally his brother Shane Gray to move on to face Line for their first final-round faceoff.

At the start, it was Gray first off the line with a .021 light and that was more than enough of a lead as he flashed to the finish with a pass 6.589 at 209.10 mph over Line, who went 6.605, 209.62 in the loss.

The victory pushed Gray from 10th to fourth in the Countdown, 91 points behind Line.

"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."

Matt Hagan helped out his points position in the Funny Car standings defeating current points leader and defending World Champion John Force to collect just his second win of the season and his second win at the Texas Motorplex.

Hagan and Force faced off in their seventh final-round matchup, but the race was over right at the start as Force red-lighted by .053 second to hand the victory to Hagan, who laid down a low ET of 4.212 at 297.81 mph en route to his 12th-career victory.

"My guys busted their butts today, I'm so proud of them," said Hagan, who beat out Tony Pedregon, Tim Wilkerson and Robert Hight to reach the finals. "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 moved from fifth to third in points, 11 points behind second-place Robert Hight and 52 behind Force who retains the points lead.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Eddie Krawiec won over Steve Johnson to sweep the event and move himself to the top of the point standings with his fourth win of the season.

Krawiec, who came into the eliminations round as the no. 1 qualifier, picked up round wins versus Brian Pretzel, Scotty Pollacheck and teammate and points leader Andrew Hines to face Johnson in the final round.

In the final, Krawiec led wire to wire, getting out of the gate first with a .037 light to beat out Johnson 6.888, 193.49 to 6.917, 193.29.

The victory was the 26th of Krawiec's career and moved him past Hines in the PSM points lead by 23.

Johnson, who was the last driver to secure a Countdown spot at the US Nationals in Indianapolis three weeks ago, moved from 10th to fourth in the Countdown standings, 110 points back.

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