Larry Dixon and Mike Edwards continued their winning ways in Chicago, while Matt Hagan ended Robert Hight’s three-race Funny Car win streak at the United Association Route 66 NHRA Nationals presented by Miller Welders outside Chicago.
In a weekend where rain interrupted proceedings, Sunday’s final eliminations were on hold for nearly five hours after the first two rounds of eliminations. Teams not only had to wait out the storm but also to adjust for radically different track and atmospheric conditions throughout the day.
The wait was well worth it as Dixon posted two of the best runs of the year to extend his points lead. The Al-Anabi driver took his fifth win in 10 events this season with victory over arch rival Tony Schumacher, 3.773-seconds to 3.823-seconds.
With the win, Dixon passed NHRA legend Joe Amato by claiming his 53rd Top Fuel title, second only to Schumacher’s 64.
“Obviously this is big,” said Dixon.
“The last couple of times we ran in the final, he has got the best of us.
“This track is the gold standard when sun is off of it. It is awesome. And a final round under the lights is so cool. I wish we raced through the summer on Saturday nights.”
“As for Joe Amato, I’m not worthy.
“He has so many wins and so many championships. To pass guys like ‘Snake’ (Don Prudhomme) and (Don) Garlits, these are all people I looked up to as a kid. For a lot of years Joe Amato was the guy. Like I said, I’m not worthy.”
Hagan stopped Hight’s Funnycar win streak at 15 rounds with a new national record of 4.022-seconds in his semi-final win against Ashley Force Hood. He then backed up with 4.035-seconds in the final that bettered Hight’s 4.069-seconds.
“This was (crew chiefs) Tommy DeLago and John Medlen’s race,” said Hagan.
“This weekend, I had a great race car. It’s great to have that confidence and great to set the record and win the race.
“Hopefully, we’ll be in the winner’s circle a few more times.”
Edwards continued his relentless assault on the Pro Stock class as he won for the sixth time in 10 races, surpassing last year’s victory total of five. He also extended his points lead over second-place Allen Johnson in the Full Throttle standings.
He beat Jason Line in the one of the best races of the day; leaving together with a pair of nearly perfect reaction times, Edwards crossed the finish line first by four-thousandths, 6.594-seconds to 6.599-seconds.
“That’s what Pro Stock is all about,” said Edwards.
“What a great way to finish the day. We weren’t at our best today, but we managed to pull off another win.
“It just feels great. To think that I’m having a better year than last is just incredible. I can’t believe what is taking place.”
PRO STOCK BIKE
In Pro Stock Bike the evening’s biggest celebration was reserved for 20-year-old Le Tonglet who joined his brother GT as an NHRA national event champion when he downed Steve Johnson in the final.
Tonglet, who has now been to the final round of two of the last three NHRA Full Throttle Series events, established himself as a serious threat for the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future award after stopping Johnson, 6.935-seconds to 6.966-seconds.
The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series heads to Englishtown in New Jersey next weekend for the NHRA SuperNationals.