MILLINGTON, Tenn. - Tommy Johnson Jr. defeated both Team Castrol Ford Mustangs on Sunday at the AutoZone Nationals presented by Pennzoil to claim his second Funny Car victory of the season in his third-straight final round appearance.
Johnson, from Ottumwa, Iowa, covered the Memphis Motorsports Park quarter-mile in 4.996 seconds at 300.33 mph in his Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird to defeat final round opponent Tony Pedregon, 90 minutes after sending Winston points leader John Force home early.
"That's as good as it gets," said Johnson, who posted a 4.990 at 299.66 to oust season long dominator Force in the second round. "When you can take out both of those cars in the same day it doesn't get any better than that. I tried to mentally prepare myself to not let down after we beat Force. Beating him was like winning the final, but you can't quit there. When it's your day, you can do anything and win. Today was our day."
Doug Herbert, Mike Edwards, Angelle Seeling and Brad Jeter also were winners in their respective pro categories at the $1.7 million race, the 19th of 22 events in the $40 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.
With the win, Johnson joins Mike Dunn as the only drivers to post wins in both Top Fuel and Funny Car at Memphis. Johnson, in his 10th race as the pilot of Joe Gibbs' Funny Car, claimed his last Top Fuel victory here in 1994, defeating Michael Brotherton.
"I kind of like Memphis," Johnson said. "I just like this racetrack. But I'm having fun being competitive on a consistent basis with such a competitive team. All the breaks that seemed to be going against us at first seem to be going our way now. Right now everything is coming together. The consistency of the team is great."
Force, who set low elapsed time for the event despite losing in the semifinals, maintained a 295 point lead over runner-up Pedregon in the Winston point standings and closing fast on his ninth NHRA Winston championship.
Herbert, from Cherryville, N.C., defeated Jim Head in a classic tire-smoking battle for his fourth victory of the season, and second straight. Herbert drove his Snap-on Tools dragster to a 5.635 at 261.22, while Head lost traction and posted a slower 6.242 at 279.85.
"It was just an unbelievable day," said Herbert, who qualified 13th and defeated Doug Kalitta, Eddie Hill and Terry Mullins to advance to his sixth final round of the season. "Larry (Frazier, crew chief) really has it set on straight and the car is running great. I had to work the car a little bit in the final, but it ran great the rest of the day. My guys have done a great job and we're winning some races."
Tony Schumacher remained the Winston points leader following a wild day that saw points challengers Mike Dunn and Doug Kalitta suffer first round losses and Kenny Bernstein take a wild ride after a second round victory over points leader Tony Schumacher.
Bernstein's Bud King dragster crossed the finish line in front of Schumacher's Exide Batteries dragster, took the win light, then veered out of control in a spectacular crash. Bernstein escaped the incident without injury, but his dragster suffered too much damage to make it to the semifinals, giving Head the automatic final round berth.
"It was going down through there and everything was going well and then all of a sudden it was lights out," Bernstein said. "I was upside down that quick. In that instant I was about to release the chutes when I lost vision. I didn't get knocked out, but I know that it turned over a few times and then spun a couple of times. I remember going backwards, slamming against one guardwall real hard.
"We needed to win that round and the race, but I'm just tickled the Lord above pulled me through it, again. I've been doing this for a long time and anytime you can walk away from one of those you have to be very happy. Of course we were disappointed we couldn't compete in the next round, but I'll take my life and everything else the Lord preserved for me today over a win any day of the week."
Edwards, from Broken Arrow, Okla., claimed his second consecutive victory in Pro Stock, using a holeshot start to defeat Richie Stevens. Edwards ran 6.976 at 197.59 in his Dewco Performance Camaro Z28 and crossed the finish line just in front of the quicker Stevens, who covered the distance in 6.935 at 197.22.
It was Edwards' first victory at Memphis and eighth of his career.
"We've come a long way with this car since the first of the season," Edwards said. "We couldn't go 30 feet in it at the beginning of the year, much less 1320. We're in a groove right now. There are some days where you are better and some days where it seems like you can't do anything. We've found a sweet spot. The Camaro is responding great."
Warren Johnson was slam-dunked in the first round by former NBA pro Larry Nance, but maintained a 180 point lead over son Kurt in the Winston point standings as he puts the finishing touches on a fifth NHRA Winston championship.
Seeling, from New Orleans, also used a holeshot to score her fifth Pro Stock Motorcycle victory of the season, defeating first time finalist Fred Collis, who made a spectacular NHRA debut. Seeling, who moved into the Winston points lead with the win, posted a 7.398 at 178.50, while Collis ran a quicker, but losing 7.370 at 177.37.
"Thank God he had a bad light in that final because he was getting some awesome lights all day," said Seeling. "He's a great racer and I knew it was going to be a close final. I'm happy because I'm going home with the trophy and the points lead."
Seeling teammate Collis knocked off Antron Brown in the second round and Matt Hines in the semifinals, paving the way for Seeling to reclaim the Winston points lead. Seeling holds a 35 point lead over Hines with two bike races remaining.
Seeling said Collis' appearance at the event was merely to have an extra bike to do some research and development for the George Bryce-owned team.
"Vance and Hines have about 10 engines out there and we had only one until this weekend," Seeling said. "Fred was helping us try some new things and get through the weekend and give some of the other guys some good competition. He did a great job and nearly won the race."
Greenville, S.C.'s Jeter won his second Pro Stock Truck title of the season, running 7.605 at 176.67 to defeat fellow Chevy S-10 driver Randy Daniels, who slowed with a 8.786 at 114.53.
"I had a good day qualifying on Thursday and knew if I wanted to get back in this Winston points chase I had to put my Chevy S-10 in the final," Jeter said. "My crew chief (Gerald Gualdanolo) had a talk with me the other night and gave me the confidence I needed to get back in the game. I have to thank him for that."
Bob Panella, who lost to Jeter in a close semifinal battle, held on to the Winston points lead, 92 ahead of Mark Osborne and 99 in front of third place Jeter.
The four-day estimated attendance was 65,500.
The next NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series event is the 14th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec, Oct. 21-24 at the Texas Motorplex, near Dallas.
Sunday's final results from the 12th annual AutoZone Nationals presented by Pennzoil at Memphis Motorsports Park. The $1.6-million race is the 12th of 22 events in the $40-million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series:
Top Fuel Dragster - Doug Herbert, Cherryville, N.C., 5.635 seconds, 261.22 mph def. Jim Head, Columbus, Ohio, 6.242 seconds, 279.85 mph.
Funny Car - Tommy Johnson Jr., Ottumwa, Iowa, Pontiac Firebird, 4.996, 300.33 def. Tony Pedregon, Gardena, Calif., Ford Mustang, 5.916, 176.72.
Pro Stock - Mike Edwards, Broken Arrow, Okla., Chevrolet Camaro, 6.976, 197.59 def. Richie Stevens, New Orleans, Pontiac Firebird, 6.935, 197.22.
Pro Stock Motorcycle - Angelle Seeling, New Orleans, Suzuki GSXR, 7.398, 178.50 def. Fred Collis, Americus, Ga., Suzuki, 7.370, 177.37.
Pro Stock Truck - Brad Jeter, Greenville, S.C., Chevrolet S-10, 7.605, 176.67 def. Randy Daniels, Grantsboro, N.C., S-10, 8.786, 114.53.
Final round-by-round results from the 12th annual AutoZone Nationals presented by Pennzoil at Memphis Motorsports Park, the 3319th of 22 events in the $40-million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series:
ROUND ONE -- Terry Mullins, Oak Ridge, Tenn., 4.693, 296.63 def. Randy Parks, Lombard, Ill., 9.445, 84.94; Kenny Bernstein, Lake Forest, Calif., 4.573, 306.53 def. Larry Dixon, San Diego, 4.700, 295.72; Eddie Hill, Wichita Falls, Texas, 4.614, 311.13 def. Cory McClenathan, Anaheim, Calif., 4.756, 263.87; Jim Head, Columbus, Ohio, 4.747, 302.48 def. Scott Kalitta, Ypsilanti, Mich., 11.740, 78.41; Doug Herbert, Cherryville, N.C., 4.727, 304.60 def. Doug Kalitta, Ann Arbor, Mich., 10.973, 82.61; Tony Schumacher, Park Ridge, Ill., 4.651, 312.93 def. Mike Smith, Round Rock, Texas, 12.623, 72.19; Joe Amato, Exeter, Pa., 5.668, 265.22 def. David Grubnic, Ennis, Mont., 5.926, 271.57; Bob Vandergriff, Cumming, Ga., 4.681, 302.28 def. Gary Scelzi, Fresno, Calif., 4.639, 306.67;
QUARTERFINALS -- Mullins, 4.708, 295.72 def. Amato, 4.751, 298.01; Head, 4.708, 297.61 def. Vandergriff, 12.428, 68.58; Bernstein, 4.653, 300.73 def. Schumacher, 6.102, 149.93; Herbert, 4.750, 300.86 def. Hill, 6.504, 127.33;
SEMIFINALS -- Herbert, 4.676, 305.15 def. Mullins, 4.742, 303.09; Head, 4.753, 294.24 def. Bernstein, no show;
FINAL -- Herbert, 5.635, 261.22 def. Head, 6.242, 279.85.
ROUND ONE -- Gary Densham, Bellflower, Calif., Pontiac Firebird, 5.094, 288.58 def. Dean Skuza, Brecksville, Ohio, Dodge Avenger, 7.593, 110.52; Bob Gilbertson, Gastonia, N.C., Firebird, 5.128, 257.24 def. Jim Epler, Phoenix, Firebird, 8.897, 88.85; Tommy Johnson Jr., Ottumwa, Iowa, Firebird, 5.005, 295.72 def. Cruz Pedregon, Camarillo, Calif., Firebird, 5.410, 252.14; Tony Pedregon, Gardena, Calif., Ford Mustang, 5.010, 301.00 def. Cory Lee, Sierra Del Oro, Calif., Avenger, 5.037, 298.21; Al Hofmann, Umatilla, Fla., Firebird, 5.211, 275.22 def. Scotty Cannon, Lyman, S.C., Chevrolet Corvette, 5.147, 295.14; John Force, Yorba Linda, Calif., Mustang, 4.943, 300.73 def. Scott Weis, Ashland, Va., Mustang, 5.343, 229.12; Cristen Powell, Portland, Ore., Firebird, 4.947, 290.26 def. Whit Bazemore, Indianapolis, Chevrolet Camaro, 5.149, 292.39; Ron Capps, La Costa, Calif., Camaro, 4.958, 295.92 def. Del Worsham, Costa Mesa, Calif., Firebird, 9.538, 87.48;
QUARTERFINALS -- T. Pedregon, 5.149, 293.28 def. Capps, 7.324, 112.38; Johnson Jr., 4.999, 300.73 def. Powell, 9.049, 88.22; Force, 4.927, 298.47 def. Gilbertson, 10.434, 85.00; Hofmann, 5.135, 272.34 def. Densham, 9.448, 99.88;
SEMIFINALS -- T. Pedregon, 5.011, 302.75 def. Hofmann, 5.169, 286.32; Johnson Jr., 4.990, 299.66 def. Force, 5.138, 292.20;
FINAL -- Johnson Jr., 4.996, 300.33 def. T. Pedregon, 5.916, 176.72.
ROUND ONE -- Kurt Johnson, Lawrenceville, Ga., Chevrolet Camaro, 7.013, 197.31 def. Bruce Allen, Arlington, Texas, Pontiac Firebird, 6.993, 196.44; Tony Gillig, Lake Zurich, Ill., Oldsmobile Cutlass, 6.968, 197.48 def. Mike Thomas, Knoxville, Tenn., Firebird, 8.832, 108.34; George Marnell, Las Vegas, Firebird, 6.956, 198.03 def. Allen Johnson, Greeneville, Tenn., Dodge Avenger, 8.580, 109.57; Richie Stevens, New Orleans, Firebird, 6.951, 197.05 def. John Nobile, Melville, N.Y., Cutlass, 7.008, 196.96; Steve Schmidt, Indianapolis, Firebird, 6.988, 196.56 def. Tom Martino, Farmingdale, N.J., Firebird, 12.428, 69.75; Larry Nance, Akron, Ohio, Avenger, 7.006, 196.50 def. Warren Johnson, Buford, Ga., Firebird, 7.042, 198.64; Mike Edwards, Broken Arrow, Okla., Camaro, 6.962, 197.91 def. Jim Yates, Alexandria, Va., Firebird, 7.003, 196.85; Jeg Coughlin, Columbus, Ohio, Cutlass, 7.011, 198.58 def. Troy Coughlin, Columbus, Ohio, Cutlass, 6.992, 196.87;
QUARTERFINALS -- K. Johnson, 6.968, 198.47 def. Nance, 7.039, 195.65; Edwards, 6.963, 197.59 def. Gillig, 6.990, 196.47; J. Coughlin, 6.958, 198.70 def. Marnell, 7.079, 196.36; Stevens, 6.965, 197.16 def. Schmidt, 7.066, 196.42;
SEMIFINALS -- Stevens, 6.928, 197.59 def. K. Johnson, 6.943, 198.61; Edwards, 6.931, 198.00 def. J. Coughlin, 6.953, 198.55;
FINAL -- Edwards, 6.976, 197.59 def. Stevens, 6.935, 197.22.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE:
ROUND ONE -- Angelle Seeling, New Orleans, Suzuki GSXR, 7.321, 176.01 def. Ron Ayers, Greenville, N.C., Suzuki, 7.460, 177.21; John Smith, Minneapolis, Suzuki, 7.367, 182.90 def. Steve Johnson, Chatsworth, Calif., Suzuki, 7.432, 181.50; Craig Treble, Chandler, Ariz., Suzuki, 7.371, 179.21 def. Greg Underdahl, Minneapolis, Suzuki, 7.419, 179.45; Matt Hines, Trinidad, Colo., Suzuki, 7.272, 180.38 def. Hector Arana, Miami, Suzuki, broke; Antron Brown, Chesterfield, N.J., Suzuki, 7.350, 183.17 def. Gary Tonglet, Metairie, La., Suzuki, 7.518, 179.90; David Schultz, Fort Myers, Fla., Suzuki, 7.331, 179.17 def. Fred Camarena, Placentia, Calif., Suzuki, 7.542, 171.64; Fred Collis, Americus, Ga., Suzuki, 7.352, 181.15 def. Chris Reuter, Gretna, Neb., Suzuki, 7.553, 172.01; Tony Mullen, Bradenton, Fla., Suzuki, 7.381, 175.89 def. Larry Cook, West Linn, Ore., Suzuki, 7.447, 177.91;
QUARTERFINALS -- Seeling, 7.299, 178.31 def. Mullen, 7.356, 181.30; Collis, 7.354, 177.16 def. Brown, 7.371, 186.64; Schultz, 7.346, 182.90 def. Treble, 7.388, 175.50; Hines, 7.276, 179.09 def. Smith, 7.347, 187.08;
SEMIFINALS -- Seeling, 7.285, 182.43 def. Schultz, foul; Collis, 7.345, 180.86 def. Hines, 7.348, 183.94;
FINAL -- Seeling, 7.398, 178.50 def. Collis, 7.370, 177.37.
PRO STOCK TRUCK:
ROUND ONE -- Todd Patterson, Augusta, Kan., Dodge Dakota, 7.686, 174.03 def. Larry Kopp, Baltimore, Chevrolet S-10, 7.715, 162.29; Brian Self, Houston, S-10, 7.646, 175.57 def. Mark Osborne, Abingdon, Va., S-10, 7.617, 176.10; John Lingenfelter, Decatur, Ind., S-10, 7.681, 176.79 def. Jerry Haas, St. Louis, S-10, 9.466, 103.45; Brad Jeter, Greenville, S.C., S-10, 7.638, 176.17 def. Scott Tidwell, Pinson, Ala., S-10, 9.465, 100.26; Bart Price, Hayward, Calif., S-10, 7.623, 176.24 def. Greg Stanfield, Bossier City,, La., S-10, 7.615, 176.10; Mike Coughlin, Columbus, Ohio, S-10, 7.614, 176.26 def. Jeff Lukovich, Royal Oak, Mich., S-10, 7.667, 175.02; Bob Panella Jr, Stockton, Calif., S-10, 7.593, 176.93 def. Craig Eaton, Glendale, Ariz., Dakota, 7.660, 175.30; Randy Daniels, Grantsboro, N.C., S-10, 7.613, 176.74 def. Scott Perin, Pen Argyl, Pa., S-10, 7.714, 174.71;
QUARTERFINALS -- Jeter, 7.675, 176.14 def. Price, foul; Coughlin, 7.594, 176.42 def. Lingenfelter, 13.020, 65.57; Daniels, 7.591, 175.68 def. Self, 7.639, 175.92; Panella Jr, 7.681, 174.75 def. Patterson, 8.042, 142.76;
SEMIFINALS -- Jeter, 7.604, 176.30 def. Panella Jr, 7.582, 177.21; Daniels, 7.599, 176.37 def. Coughlin, 7.594, 176.90;
FINAL -- Jeter, 7.605, 176.67 def. Daniels, 8.786, 114.53.
TOP FUEL: 1. Tony Schumacher, 1,221; 2. Joe Amato, 1,201; 3. Gary Scelzi, 1,155; 4. Doug Herbert, 1,146; 5. Kenny Bernstein, 1,1230; 6. Mike Dunn, 1,097; 7. Doug Kalitta, 1,086 8. Cory McClenathan, 1,028; 9. Larry Dixon, 1,010; 10. Bob Vandergriff, 991.
FUNNY CAR: 1. John Force, 1,739; 2. Tony Pedregon, 1,444; 3. Whit Bazemore, 1,266; 4. Frank Pedregon, 930; 5. Dean Skuza, 858; 6. Del Worsham, 855; 7. Jim Epler, 758; 8. Ron Capps, 748; 9. Cory Lee, 737; 10. Scotty Cannon, 708.
PRO STOCK: 1. Warren Johnson, 1,512; 2. Kurt Johnson, 1,332; 3. Jeg Coughlin Jr., 1,236; 4. Jim Yates, 1,087; 5. Richie Stevens, 1,004; 6. Mike Edwards, 953; 7. (tie) Mark Pawuk, 866; Troy Coughlin, 866; 9. Allen Johnson, 800; 10. Greg Anderson, 743.
PRO STOCK Truck: 1b>. Bob Panella, 972; 2. Mark Osborne, 880; 3. Brad Jeter, 873; 4. Mike Coughlin, 771; 5. Randy Daniels, 707; 6. Todd Patterson, 546; 7. Larry Kopp, 538; 8. Tim Freeman, 535; 9. Craig Eaton, 500; 10. Jerry Haas, 483. .
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Angelle Seeling, 1,067; 2 Matt Hines, 1,032;
3. Antron Brown, 860; 4. David Schultz, 809; 5. John Smith, 694; 6. Tony
Mullen, 680; 7. Greg Underdahl, 639; 8. Craig Treble, 635; 9. Steve Johnson,
574; 10. Gary Tonglet, 527.