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Sun, 24 Oct 1999, 10:40 PM

Force, Johnson Clinch Championships


Schumacher Claims First Career Top Fuel Victory



ENNIS, Texas -- John Force and Warren Johnson clinched NHRA Winston championships in their respective categories Sunday at the Texas Motorplex en route to winning event titles at the 14th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec.

Force claimed his ninth Funny Car championship and 10th victory of the season, while Johnson earned his fifth Pro Stock championship and seventh season victory in record-setting fashion.

Tony Schumacher and Brad Jeter also were record-setting winners at the $1.8 million race, the 20th of 22 events in the $40 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.

Force, from Yorba Linda, Calif., outran Tommy Johnson Jr. in the quickest side-by-side Funny Car race in NHRA history to record his 80th career victory, putting the icing on his ninth series title. Force drove his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang to a 4.827 at 319.60, edging past Johnson's Interstate Batteries Pontiac Firebird at the finish, which ran a 4.843 at 319.82.

Force earned $40,000 for the race win and $200,000 for the championship.

"The old hot rod did what it needed to do today," said Force, who ousted Al Hofmann, Scotty Cannon and Ron Capps on his way to the final. "It was fast and that's what we needed to beat that Interstate Batteries team in the final. That's one heck of a race team over there. We're glad to get the win and get the championship locked away."

Johnson, from Buford, Ga., won a classic Pro Stock final with rival Jim Yates to take his 79th career win, solidifying his fifth Winston crown. Johnson, who set both ends of the national record during qualifying, covered the all-concrete quarter-mile in 6.842 at 201.74 in his GM Goodwrench Pontiac Firebird, crossing the finish line just in front of Yates' Firebird, which ran 6.892 at 199.24.

"The car was awesome on the final run," said Johnson, who claimed $25,000 for the race victory and $125,000 for the series title. "I stuck it in second gear and it just hiked up the front end and marched right to the finish line. I'm happy for our team and sponsors and most of all for the fans - I appreciate them all. I'll enjoy the championship for about a half-hour and then I have to get back to work."

Schumacher, from Park Ridge, Ill., claimed an emotional first victory in his ninth career final, defeating two-time NHRA champion Scott Kalitta. The Exide Batteries dragster driver set a national speed record at 326.91 before posting the winning 4.621 at 323.89. Kalitta's Kitty Hawk dragster slowed in the final, running 5.072 at 205.62 in his first final round appearance since coming out of retirement at mid-season.

"This win came along when we really needed it, like I hoped it would all along," said Schumacher who moved 81 points ahead of Joe Amato in the Winston point standings with the victory.

"I knew if I got out in front of him that the race was mine," Schumacher added. "Once I got there and didn't see him, it was a big relief. When you have that many shots at winning and don't get it done, it begins to wear on you mentally. Now we want to keep it going and focus our efforts on winning the next two races and the championship."

Jeter, from Greenville, S.C., extended his Winston championship hopes in Pro Stock Truck by posting his third victory of the season in a close side-by-side match with former sportsman champ Vinny Barone. Jeter posted a 7.522 at 178.64 in his Chevy S-10 to outrun Barone's S-10, which clocked a 7.593 at 177.65. With the victory Jeter, who set a national speed record at 179.21 mph, cut point leader Bob Panella's advantage to 56 with one truck race remaining.

"We knew coming into this race that if we wanted to win the championship we had to win today," said Jeter, who took a key victory in eliminations when he defeated Panella in the semifinals. "We did everything we could possibly do as far as tuning and I drove it the best I could and we came up a winner. That was probably the best run of my career to beat Panella. I knew that was the round I needed to win to keep my championship hopes alive."

The four-day, estimated attendance was 140,700.

The next NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series event is the third annual Matco Tools Supernationals presented by Racing Champions, Oct. 28-31 at Houston Raceway Park.

Sunday's final results from the 14th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec at the Texas Motorplex. The $1.8 million race is the 20th of 22 events in the $40 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series:

Top Fuel - Tony Schumacher, Park Ridge, Ill., 4.621 seconds, 323.39 mph def. Scott Kalitta, Ypsilanti, Mich., 5.072 seconds, 205.62 mph.

Funny Car - John Force, Yorba Linda, Calif., Ford Mustang, 4.827, 319.60 def. Tommy Johnson Jr., Ottumwa, Iowa, Pontiac Firebird, 4.843, 319.82.

Pro Stock - Warren Johnson, Buford, Ga., Pontiac Firebird, 6.842, 201.74 def. Jim Yates, Alexandria, Va., Firebird, 6.892, 199.24.

Pro Stock Truck - Brad Jeter, Greenville, S.C., Chevrolet S-10, 7.522, 178.64 def. Vinny Barone, Dix Hill, N.Y., S-10, 7.593, 177.65.

Federal-Mogul Dragster - Rick Santos, San Leandro, Calif., 5.469, 255.97 def. Bill Reichert, Owosso, Mich., 5.656, 250.55.

Federal-Mogul Funny Car - Pat Austin, Tacoma, Wash., Pontiac Firebird, 5.656, 253.52 def. Chuck Cheeseman, Galena, Ohio, Firebird, 5.734, 249.30.

Comp Eliminator - David Rampy, Piedmont, Ala., Dragster, 7.385, 136.67 def. Doug Engels, Watertown, S.D., Dragster, foul.

Super Stock - Bo Butner, Clarksville, Ind., Pontiac Grand Am, 8.911, 125.96 def. Jimmy DeFrank, Tarzana, Calif., Chevrolet Camaro, broke.

Stock - Lee Bannister, Crosby, Texas, Pontiac Firebird, 11.621, 114.19 def. Frank Dobrovich, Stuttgart, Ark., Chevrolet Camaro, foul.

Super Comp - Gary Stinnett, Emporia, Kan., Dragster, 8.949, 165.38 def. Jason Lynch, Ashland City, Tenn., Dragster, 8.961, 155.03.

Super Gas - Joe Scarlata, Dallas, Chevrolet Corvette, 9.899, 149.20 def. Jim Hughes, Phoenix, Corvette, 9.882, 140.07.

Final round-by-round results from the 14th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec at Texas Motorplex, the 20th of 22 events in the $40-million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series:

TOP FUEL:

ROUND ONE -- Larry Dixon, San Diego, 4.624, 317.12 def. Kenny Bernstein, Lake Forest, Calif., 9.949, 91.93; Doug Herbert, Cherryville, N.C., 4.615, 311.20 def. Eddie Hill, Wichita Falls, Texas, 6.470, 127.71; Cory McClenathan, Anaheim, Calif., 4.615, 314.79 def. Tim Gibson, Irvine, Calif., 4.939, 224.15; Mike Dunn, Wrightsville, Pa., 4.608, 303.74 def. Jim Head, Columbus, Ohio, 4.712, 301.60; Scott Kalitta, Ypsilanti, Mich., 4.567, 317.01 def. Mike Smith, Round Rock, Texas, 4.855, 285.80; Tony Schumacher, Park Ridge, Ill., 4.659, 323.85 def. Don Lampus, Garland, Texas, 5.523, 176.43; Joe Amato, Exeter, Pa., 4.561, 324.20 def. Bob Vandergriff, Cumming, Ga., 5.017, 289.01; Doug Kalitta, Ann Arbor, Mich., 4.554, 309.49 def. Gary Scelzi, Fresno, Calif., 4.595, 312.39; QUARTERFINALS -- Schumacher, 4.591, 319.94 def. Herbert, 4.639, 315.45; Dunn, 4.637, 305.08 def. McClenathan, foul; S. Kalitta, 4.596, 310.66 def. Dixon, 4.643, 312.71; D. Kalitta, 4.596, 313.47 def. Amato, 4.702, 274.64; SEMIFINALS -- S. Kalitta, 4.585, 306.22 def. Dunn, 11.810, 78.43; Schumacher, 4.598, 323.85 def. D. Kalitta, 8.397, 97.19; FINAL -- Schumacher, 4.621, 323.39 def. S. Kalitta, 5.072, 205.62.

FUNNY CAR:

ROUND ONE -- Ron Capps, La Costa, Calif., Chevrolet Camaro, 4.899, 310.98 def. Dale Creasy Jr., Lansing, Ill., Pontiac Firebird, 16.146, 62.58; Whit Bazemore, Indianapolis, Camaro, 4.854, 304.98 def. Cory Lee, Sierra Del Oro, Calif., Dodge Avenger, 5.024, 305.81; John Force, Yorba Linda, Calif., Ford Mustang, 4.828, 321.54 def. Al Hofmann, Umatilla, Fla., Firebird, 5.271, 279.06; Tommy Johnson Jr., Ottumwa, Iowa, Firebird, 5.176, 259.96 def. Scott Weis, Ashland, Va., Mustang, 10.017, 87.17; Cruz Pedregon, Camarillo, Calif., Firebird, 5.492, 201.34 def. Dean Skuza, Brecksville, Ohio, Avenger, 10.807, 87.06; Tony Pedregon, Gardena, Calif., Mustang, 4.937, 312.06 def. Jerry Toliver, Huntington Beach, Calif., Chevrolet Corvette, 6.557, 139.68; Gary Densham, Bellflower, Calif., Firebird, 5.039, 301.30 def. Frank Pedregon, Alta Loma, Calif., Firebird, 5.418, 203.29; Scotty Cannon, Lyman, S.C., Corvette, 5.469, 217.65 def. Jim Epler, Phoenix, Firebird, 9.319, 86.93; QUARTERFINALS -- Bazemore, 4.860, 303.03 def. T. Pedregon, 5.026, 268.70; Capps, 4.973, 292.77 def. C. Pedregon, 5.129, 245.29; Force, 4.851, 317.79 def. Cannon, 8.568, 94.94; Johnson Jr., 4.868, 312.17 def. Densham, 5.029, 285.80; SEMIFINALS -- Johnson Jr., 4.841, 320.05 def. Bazemore, 6.135, 212.06; Force, 4.824, 309.27 def. Capps, 4.873, 310.55; FINAL -- Force, 4.827, 319.60 def. Johnson Jr., 4.843, 319.82.

PRO STOCK:

ROUND ONE -- Allen Johnson, Greeneville, Tenn., Dodge Avenger, 6.924, 198.76 def. Richie Stevens, New Orleans, Pontiac Firebird, 6.908, 196.67; George Marnell, Las Vegas, Firebird, 6.879, 199.29 def. Greg Anderson, Jacksonville, N.C., Oldsmobile Cutlass, 7.072, 173.81; Jim Yates, Alexandria, Va., Firebird, 6.875, 199.82 def. Mike Thomas, Knoxville, Tenn., Firebird, 7.367, 149.52; Darrell Alderman, Morehead, Ky., Avenger, 6.893, 199.02 def. Bruce Allen, Arlington, Texas, Firebird, 6.869, 200.08; Tom Martino, Farmingdale, N.J., Firebird, 6.853, 200.98 def. Mark Pawuk, Bath, Ohio, Firebird, 6.875, 200.04; Warren Johnson, Buford, Ga., Firebird, 6.860, 201.16 def. Mike Edwards, Broken Arrow, Okla., Chevrolet Camaro, 6.899, 199.20; John Nobile, Melville, N.Y., Cutlass, 6.897, 199.68 def. Jeg Coughlin, Columbus, Ohio, Cutlass, 7.193, 161.81; Troy Coughlin, Columbus, Ohio, Cutlass, 6.891, 199.73 def. Kurt Johnson, Lawrenceville, Ga., Camaro, 9.041, 107.11; QUARTERFINALS -- T. Coughlin, 6.892, 199.73 def. Alderman, 6.978, 197.02; Marnell, 6.938, 198.50 def. Nobile, 6.913, 198.89; W. Johnson, 6.854, 201.47 def. A. Johnson, foul; Yates, 6.890, 199.11 def. Martino, 13.157, 64.94; SEMIFINALS -- Yates, 6.889, 199.86 def. Marnell, 6.911, 200.00; W. Johnson, 6.858, 202.11 def. T. Coughlin, 6.870, 200.71; FINAL -- W. Johnson, 6.842, 201.74 def. Yates, 6.892, 199.24.

PRO STOCK TRUCK:

ROUND ONE -- Tim Freeman, Roan Mountain, Tenn., Chevrolet S-10, 7.585, 177.13 def. John Coughlin, Columbus, Ohio, S-10, 7.563, 176.95; Bob Panella Jr, Stockton, Calif., S-10, 7.543, 177.83 def. Mark Whisnant, Stockbridge, Ga., S-10, 7.585, 176.95; Greg Stanfield, Bossier City, La., S-10, 7.539, 177.54 def. Larry Perkins, Collegeville, Pa., S-10, 7.574, 177.33; Mike Coughlin, Columbus, Ohio, S-10, 7.539, 177.79 def. Larry Kopp, Baltimore, S-10, 7.614, 177.27; Vinny Barone, Dix Hill, N.Y., S-10, 7.537, 177.54 def. Craig Eaton, Glendale, Ariz., Dodge Dakota, 7.691, 173.44; Brad Jeter, Greenville, S.C., S-10, 7.544, 178.25 def. Brian Self, Houston, S-10, 7.563, 176.99; Mark Osborne, Abingdon, Va., S-10, 7.524, 178.32 def. Scott Tidwell, Pinson, Ala., S-10, 7.597, 176.88; Randy Daniels, Grantsboro, N.C., S-10, 7.532, 178.53 def. Steve Johns, Mountville, Va., S-10, 7.648, 177.58; QUARTERFINALS -- Jeter, 7.550, 178.42 def. Stanfield, 7.578, 177.13; Barone, 7.602, 177.58 def. M. Coughlin, 17.141, 41.34; Panella Jr, 7.578, 177.13 def. Daniels, 7.540, 179.14; Freeman, 7.628, 176.26 def. Osborne, 7.563, 178.35; SEMIFINALS -- Barone, 7.572, 178.18 def. Freeman, 7.572, 177.79; Jeter, 7.518, 179.21 def. Panella Jr, 8.958, 109.23; FINAL -- Jeter, 7.522, 178.64 def. Barone, 7.593, 177.65.

* POINTS STANDINGS *

TOP FUEL: 1. Tony Schumacher, 1,338; 2. Joe Amato, 1,257; 3. Doug Herbert, 1,198; 4. Gary Scelzi, 1,187; 5. Mike Dunn, 1,172; 6. Doug Kalitta, 1,160 7. Kenny Bernstein, 1,115; 8. Cory McClenathan, 1,082; 9. Larry Dixon, 1,063; 10. Bob Vandergriff, 1,022.

FUNNY CAR: 1. John Force, 1,857; 2. Tony Pedregon, 1,496; 3. Whit Bazemore, 1,342; 4. Frank Pedregon, 962; 5. Dean Skuza, 892; 6. Del Worsham, 865; 7. Ron Capps, 823; 8. Jim Epler, 791; 9. Tommy Johnson Jr. 774; 10. Cory Lee, 768.

PRO STOCK: 1. Warren Johnson, 1,650; 2. Kurt Johnson, 1,367; 3. Jeg Coughlin Jr., 1,273; 4. Jim Yates, 1,201/1,181; 5. Richie Stevens, 1,036; 6. Mike Edwards, 984; 7. Troy Coughlin, 937; 8. Mark Pawuk, 897; 9. Allen Johnson, 853; 10. Greg Anderson, 775.

PRO STOCK Truck: 1. Bob Panella, 1,045; 2. Brad Jeter, 989; 3. Mark Osborne, 938; 4. Mike Coughlin, 825; 5. Randy Daniels, 764; 6. Tim Freeman, 607; 7 Larry Kopp, 570; 8. Todd Patterson, 556; 9. Craig Eaton, 531; 10. Jerry Haas, 493.

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.



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