World champs Schumacher, Force win at Firebird - East Valley Tribune: Sports

World champs Schumacher, Force win at Firebird

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Posted: Monday, February 28, 2005 5:37 am | Updated: 9:12 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

World champions ruled the drag strip Sunday at Firebird International Raceway west of Chandler. Top Fuel driver Tony Schumacher and Funny Car driver John Force, both 2004 series champions, won their respective categories at the Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals.

"That car is flawless right now," said Schumacher, who made eight passes in three days at Firebird and never ran slower than a 4.5-second pass. "It is really all due to (crew chief) Alan Johnson. He gives confidence to the team and to me."

Schumacher outlasted 22-year-old Morgan Lucas with a pass of 4.48 seconds at 329.50 mph to win his third title at Firebird and claim his 22nd career victory.

Lucas, who replaced the late Darrell Russell in August 2004, has been in three of the last four finals. He has 10 career Top Fuel starts.

"I almost feel bad for (Lucas) because I know what it is like to keep getting beat and beat," said Schumacher, who jumped to the points lead with 176 just ahead of Scott Kalitta (171). "I went to nine finals before I won."

Schumacher, who qualified No. 1, defeated Bruce Litton in Round 1, Cory McClenathan in Round 2 and Brandon Bernstein in the semifinals. Bernstein had won the last two titles at Firebird and had won 10 straight races at Firebird.

"Everyone has their racetrack and whether you run good something always helps you get that win," said Schumacher, who is the all-time winningest Top Fuel driver at Firebird with three titles. "I was a little detoured about that but I am glad we ended it for him."

Force caught Ron Capps in the finals at half-track and raced to his eighth victory at Firebird with a pass of 4.80 at 324.15 mph. The victory gave Force 34 wins in 41 races against Capps, the driver of the Brut car.

"I kissed Capps down there at the finish line and I think I made him mad," said Force, who is the all-time winningest driver at Firebird. "I told him that cologne was getting to me."

Force knocked off Frank Pedregon in Round 1, Gary Scelzi in Round 2 and Eric Medlen in the semifinals. After a first-round loss at Pomona, Calif., two weeks ago, Force moved into second place in the points standings with 152. Phil Burkart leads with 164 for the first time in his career.

"Right now a lot of people are talking that I am focusing on my daughter (Ashley) or Robert Hight or Eric Medlen, my drivers, and I am not right. Well that is not true," said Force, who last won at Firebird in 2001 and has 115 career victories. "We are fine. I don't know why but I am feeling better. I wasn't right last year."

In Pro Stock, Allen Johnson topped Ron Krisher with a pass of 6.801 at 202.36 mph. The victory vaulted Johnson to the top of the points standings for the first time in his career with 166, just ahead of Krisher (164).

PIT STOPS: Top Fuel driver Andrew Cowin was docked 25 series points and fined $10,000 for oiling the raceway in the first and second rounds. Funny Car driver Gary Densham was docked $500 and 10 points for oiling the track in Round 2.  . . .

In the sportsman classes, Rodger Brogdon won the Competition Eliminator, Gregg Luneack the Super Stock, Jody Lang the Stock Eliminator, Sheldon Gecker of Surprise the Super Comp and Mark Yeager the Super Street.

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