JOLIET, Ill. --
Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Jeg Coughlin (Pro Stock) and Michael Ray (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were winners of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event.
Schumacher's fiery finish stopped the clocks in 3.930 seconds at 269.29 mph, but it was quick enough to hold off a determined Clay Millican, whose Parts Plus dragster trailed and the veteran driver remained winless in six career final round appearances. It was the third win of the season and the 72nd overall for local favorite Schumacher, a longtime Chicagoland area resident.
Schumacher powered past David Grubnic, Khalid alBalooshi and defending world champ Antron Brown to advance to the final round. In the final, Millican was actually ahead of Schumacher near mid-track, but Schumacher's machine surged forward, the engine eventually expiring just as he crossed the finish line first.
Going into the final with Millican, he was very aware of his record against drivers who are seeking their first wins.
"When you look back in Top Fuel history, whenever anybody gets their first win, it's against me," said Schumacher, who regained the series lead with the victory. "Between Shawn Langdon, J.R. Todd, and everybody else, that is what has happened. But I told myself today that this is not going to be an ongoing trait. We're going to stop it right here and now. I don't care when or if Clay wins a race, but just not today. Not here at my home track where we have a chance to extend our points lead, which is going to be very valuable when we get down to Indy [the last race of the regular season]."
In Funny Car, Hagan extended his series lead with his third win of the season as he edged final round opponent John Force at the finish line. Hagan's Magneti Marelli/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger posted a 4.605 at 315.34, while Force's Castrol GTX Ford Mustang finished just behind in 4.113 at 304.80.
"I don't think you could put together a tougher line-up," Hagan continued. "We're doing good things right now and we want to keep it up, but I want to stay humble. This is such a humbling sport. Things can change fast, so we're just gonna keep doing what we've been doing."
It was Force's third consecutive final round appearance and the 15-time world champ has surged from 10th to third place in the last three races. Hagan said his adrenaline was overflowing for that final round with the NHRA icon.
"John [Force] is tough so we knew we had to run well and that 4.06 in the final was stout," said Hagan, who leads second place Cruz Pedregon by 106 points. "[Crew chief] Dickie [Venebles] and the crew have done a great job with this car. I just had to hang on and get it to the finish line."
In Pro Stock, Coughlin raced to his second win of the season and fifth at Route 66 Raceway when he drove his JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge Avenger away from final round opponent Greg Anderson. Coughlin covered the distance in 6.603 at 209.85 while Anderson's Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro lost traction near mid-track and slowed.
Coughlin outran Bristol winner Rodger Brogdon, Jason Line and teammate and Epping winner Allen Johnson to get to the final. He says getting the victory here put a big yellow and black bow on an outstanding weekend for the entire JEGS operation.
"It certainly didn't hurt taking out one of the Summit cars [Anderson] in the final," said Coughlin of his 54th career victory. "But I think that the big exclamation point is that this was the weekend of the JEGS Allstars, which is a huge, huge deal for the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and all the Sportsman racers. We put a lot of effort into this weekend, and I think that's been a little bit of the ingredient that has contributed to our success at this track."
Ray earned his second win of the season and third of his career in Pro Stock Motorcycle by defeating former teammate Matt Smith in the final round. Ray used a near-perfect reaction time and powered his Soeverign-Star Racing Buell to a 6.986 at 191.29 to hold off Smith's charging Viper Motorcycle Company Buell, which finished in 6.992 at 190.22.
"Most people know that I rode for Matt last year and we do have a little bit of a rivalry," Ray said. "When I moved to Star I think it was the best decision I've ever made. I've won two races so far and it was especially nice to beat my old crew chief. This was definitely a bit of redemption."
Ray used a string of mid-6.9 second runs to defeat Epping winner John Hall, teammate Scotty Pollacheck and Hector Arana Sr. to advance to the final round.
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues July 4-7 with the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Norwalk, Ohio.
Sunday's final results from the 16th annual O'Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries at Route 66 Raceway. The race is the 12th of 24 in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series-
Top Fuel -- Tony Schumacher, 3.930 seconds, 269.29 mph def. Clay Millican, 4.094 seconds, 171.77 mph.
Funny Car -- Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 4.065, 315.34 def. John Force, Ford Mustang, 4.113, 304.80.
Pro Stock -- Jeg Coughlin, Dodge Avenger, 6.603, 209.85 def. Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 11.680, 74.15.
Pro Stock Motorcycle -- Michael Ray, Buell, 6.986, 191.29 def. Matt Smith, Buell, 6.992, 190.22.
Top Alcohol Dragster -- Chris Demke, 5.319, 271.35 def. Rishi Kanick, 5.441, 262.49.
Top Alcohol Funny Car -- Annie Whiteley, Ford Mustang, 5.608, 257.33 def. Fred Hagen, Mustang, 5.968, 226.81.
Competition Eliminator -- Mike DePalma, Pontiac Trans Am, 10.702, 89.42 def. John Frech, Dragster, foul.
Super Stock -- Phil Unruh, Chevy Cobalt, 8.688, 153.30 def. Larry Hodge, Chevy Monte Carlo, 10.547, 116.89.
Stock Eliminator -- Drew Skillman, Ford Mustang, 8.869, 152.16 def. Don Fezell, Mustang, foul.
Super Comp -- Nick Folk, Dragster, 8.927, 163.83 def. Aaron Kinard, Dragster, 8.921, 160.84.
Super Gas -- Ray Connolly, Chevy Corvette, 9.908, 156.95 def. Ray Sawyer, Chevy Camaro, 9.914, 171.62.
Super Street -- Ricky Shipp, Chevy Nova, 10.913, 135.77 def. Mike Blodgett Jr., Chevy Vega, 10.899, 129.63.
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