Story By: SCOTT SMITH / NHRA – MADISON, IL – Eight-time Top Fuel world champion Tony Schumacher powered to his first No. 1 qualifier since 2018, breaking the track speed record during Saturday’s ninth annual Mopar Express Lane NHRA Midwest Nationals presented by Pennzoil at World Wide Technology Raceway.
Paul Lee (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are also No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the eighth race of the 2020 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season. Only one run of qualifying was completed in Top Fuel and Funny Car on Saturday due to weather.
Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle were not able to make a qualifying attempt due to weather. Their eliminations ladders were set by the current points standings in each class, with points leaders Line and Smith getting the top spots.
After multiple rain delays, Schumacher, who returned to Top Fuel action in July after not racing in 2019, went 3.680-seconds at 332.92 mph in his 11,000-horsepower Okuma/Sandvik Coromant dragster, earning his 88th career No. 1 qualifier. Top Fuel’s winningest driver will aim for his 85th career victory on Sunday and third at St. Louis, opening eliminations against Kebin Kinsley. Schumacher raced at the first two events when the NHRA returned to action in July, and then committed to the final six races of the 2020 season starting at the U.S. Nationals.
“I was just on a dynamite run,” Schumacher said. “I honestly didn’t think it was going to stick, but for all the people who jumped in at the last minute to help me out and get me back out here, I appreciate it. (Crew chief) Mike Green and I have been doing this a long time together. We work well together and understand how each other works, and these guys are having a great time. I’m real happy to be here. I’ve got faith in the guys and that makes a big difference. It’s hard to go down a track that’s 64 degrees. It takes a great crew chief, a great team and some luck. We had it all right there, so it was perfect for us.”
Terry McMillen qualified second after his run of 3.715 at 319.45 and Antron Brown was a spot behind in third after going 3.720 at 326.95. Points leader Steve Torrence starts eliminations from sixth after going 3.924 at 327.82.
Paul Lee earned his first career No. 1 qualifier in Funny Car thanks to a run of 3.913 at 326.95 in his 11,000-horsepower FTI Performance Dodge Charger. Next up, the veteran will try to pick up his first career win in the class and he’ll open eliminations against Jim Campbell. Alexis DeJoria, who returned to the class this year after not racing the previous two seasons, took second with a 3.929 at 288.21 and Cruz Pedregon qualified third with a run of 3.949 at 329.58. Points leader Jack Beckman ended in the fifth position after his pass of 4.750 at 185.03.
For the first time since the 2000 season, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying was determined by the current points standings. Following the lengthy rain delays, cooler track conditions didn’t allow for either class to make a qualifying run on Saturday. Line, who entered the weekend with a two-point lead over reigning world champion Erica Enders, picked up his third top qualifier this year and 58th in his career in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro. He will open eliminations against rookie Mason McGaha. Enders will start from the second position and Jeg Coughlin Jr. will be third.
After moving into the points lead with a victory at the most recent race in Gainesville, Matt Smith will begin eliminations from the top spot for the second straight race on his DENSO Auto Parts/Stockseth Racing EBR. It serves as his third No. 1 qualifier in 2020 and 41st in his career. Smith will take on Hector Arana to begin eliminations. Scotty Pollacheck opens race day from the second spot and Andrew Hines is third.
In the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series, reigning world champion Stevie “Fast” Jackson qualified No. 1 thanks to his run of 5.659 at 253.52 in his blown Bahrain 1 Racing Camaro on Friday. The pass also set a new track elapse time record. Saturday’s qualifying session was canceled due to inclement weather. Jackson, who is currently second in points, will face off with Steve Matusek to open eliminations. Brandon Snider qualified second with a 5.660 at 252.00 and Khalid alBalooshi took third after going 5.699 at 253.18. Points leader and former world champ Mike Janis will start race day from 11th after going 5.859 at 211.33.
Eliminations for the Mopar Express Lane NHRA Midwest Nationals presented by Pennzoil begin at 11 a.m. CT on Sunday. Live television coverage of eliminations begins at 2:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1 (FS1).
MADISON, Ill. — Sunday’s first-round pairings for eliminations for the ninth annual Mopar Express Lane NHRA Midwest Nationals presented by Pennzoil at World Wide Technology Raceway, the eighth of 11 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Pairings based on results in qualifying, which ended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings.
Top Fuel — 1. Tony Schumacher, 3.680 seconds, 332.92 mph vs. 16. Kebin Kinsley, 8.869, 61.82; 2. Terry McMillen, 3.715, 319.45 vs. 15. Todd Paton, 8.822, 81.37; 3. Antron Brown, 3.720, 326.95 vs. 14. Justin Ashley, 6.503, 123.41; 4. T.J. Zizzo, 3.755, 327.74 vs. 13. Luigi Novelli, 6.303, 89.81; 5. Doug Kalitta, 3.913, 325.22 vs. 12. Shawn Langdon, 5.993, 271.35; 6. Steve Torrence, 3.924, 327.82 vs. 11. Kyle Wurtzel, 5.274, 132.30; 7. Billy Torrence, 4.022, 322.50 vs. 10. Chris Karamesines, 4.701, 158.41; 8. Pat Dakin, 4.087, 300.66 vs. 9. Leah Pruett, 4.310, 249.07.
Did Not Qualify: 17. Clay Millican, 13.497, 43.49.
Funny Car — 1. Paul Lee, Dodge Charger, 3.913, 326.95 vs. 16. Jim Campbell, Charger, broke; 2. Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, 3.929, 288.21 vs. 15. Dale Creasy Jr., Charger, 15.785, 67.72; 3. Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 3.949, 329.58 vs. 14. Ron Capps, Charger, 12.851, 71.93; 4. Daniel Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.389, 197.48 vs. 13. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 11.856, 79.57; 5. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.750, 185.03 vs. 12. Blake Alexander, Mustang, 10.593, 73.12; 6. Matt Hagan, Charger, 5.105, 148.15 vs. 11. Bob Bode, Mustang, 8.440, 85.95; 7. J.R. Todd, Camry, 5.801, 184.98 vs. 10. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 7.985, 149.96; 8. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 7.220, 118.97 vs. 9. Terry Haddock, Mustang, 7.372, 87.39.
Pro Modified — 1. Steve Jackson, Chevy Camaro, 5.659, 253.52 vs. 16. Steve Matusek, Ford Mustang, 8.217, 110.44; 2. Brandon Snider, Chevy Corvette, 5.660, 252.00 vs. 15. Clint Satterfield, Camaro, 7.646, 123.71; 3. Khalid alBalooshi, Camaro, 5.699, 253.18 vs. 14. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 7.362, 127.88; 4. Rickie Smith, Camaro, 5.711, 252.33 vs. 13. Jeff Jones, Corvette, 6.731, 137.61; 5. Chad Green, Corvette, 5.739, 249.72 vs. 12. Justin Jones, Corvette, 5.956, 207.02; 6. Jeffery Barker, Camaro, 5.745, 253.14 vs. 11. Mike Janis, Camaro, 5.859, 211.33; 7. Brandon Pesz, Camaro, 5.748, 248.57 vs. 10. Doug Winters, Chevy Chevelle, 5.846, 245.81; 8. Kris Thorne, Camaro, 5.776, 258.52 vs. 9. Jim Whiteley, Corvette, 5.785, 246.03.
Did Not Qualify: 17. Jason Scruggs, broke.