Tommy Johnson Jr. gets his first NHRA win of 2016 at Bristol
When you own seven championship-contending teams, and there's a race on Father's Day, chances there's a good Father's Day gift at the end of the day.
Team owner Don Schumacher reaped the rewards of his investment Sunday at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.
Don Schumacher Racing dominated the 11th stop on the 24-race when Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel) and Tommy Johnson Jr. (Funny Car) captured their first victories of the season. Meanwhile in Pro Stock, the three-car team of KB Racing continued their stranglehold of the factory hot rod division when Jason Line beat teammate Greg Anderson in the final round.
Johnson, who in winning captured his first 2016 victory of the season, beat Matt Hagan in the final round.
Johnson drove the Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger, a car funded 100-percent by philanthropist Terry Chandler, to a 4.038-second victory at 313 mph to beat Hagan's quicker and faster 4.030s, 317 mph. After running the quickest elapsed time [3.87s] in Funny Car history back in February, Johnson claimed his first victory of the season 11 races into the season.
"We're just a slow starter.," said Johnson. "We're strong finishers; that's the important part. The guys just kept working. The tune-ups on these cars are ever-changing, and the guys just kept working hard, and I have to hand it to [crew chief] John Collins and all my guys; they just kept their heads down and kept tickling it. Every race we got a little better."
In winning, Johnson clinched the final spot in the Traxxas Shootout, scheduled for Labor Day weekend's U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis.
Langdon, who joined Don Schumacher Racing last season after Alan Johnson parked his Top Fuel operation, scored his second Bristol victory at the expense of a resurgent Tony Schumacher.
A past NHRA professional and sportsman series champion, Langdon left the starting line ahead of Schumacher and never looked back en route to a 3.838 victory at 322.19 mph.
"We really did struggle at the beginning of the year and the Red Fuel team, everybody at Don Schumacher Racing, really just came together," said Langdon. "It's a big team effort over there; we have seven full-time individual cars and everybody there is a big team. Not only do I have to thank the whole team, the Red Fuel team, but I have to thank all the other crews and crew chiefs that helped out. It's a big win for us; we're excited."
Line continued the KB Racing domination by winning an all-Summit Racing final round, by out-reacting and outrunning teammate Greg Anderson. The teammates entered the day qualified first and second, and finished that way on Sunday.
Since NHRA reformatted the NHRA Pro Stock division to include electronic fuel injection, the Mooresville, NC-based team has been unbeatable by leading every qualifying session, qualifying No. 1 and winning all 11 events this season.
"It's been amazing," Line said. "I'm so thrilled to be out here; you can't imagine. I'm living my dream and the fact that I'm getting to do this for a living, and we're so successful this year; it's been awesome. We're going to lobby for a rules change every year, so it's been really exciting for us."
The NHRA heads to Norwalk, Ohio next weekend for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals.
Bobby Bennett is the Publisher/Editor of CompetitionPlus.com, a leading independent online drag racing magazine, since 1999. For the latest in dragster news worldwide, visit www.competitionplus.com or follow on Twitter @competitionplus