Don Schumacher Racing assured itself of two Wallys at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals on Sunday, placing two teams in the finals in both Funny Car and Top Fuel categories. Jack Beckman brought home the Funny Car title from Gateway Motorsports Park in St. Louis, Missouri, while Antron Brown topped the Top Fuel class. Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Ed Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also earned wins at St. Louis.
Beckman, who qualified No. 1 with his track record-setting e.t. on Friday, bested Alexis DeJoria, Jeff Arend and Tony Pedregon on his way to the final round against DSR teammate Matt Hagan, who has been playing spoiler in the Countdown to the Championship after missing the cut; Hagan defeated Ron Capps in the second round, allowing Beckman to cut Capps’ points lead to just 30 points.
“It’s nice to know that we have a car that can challenge for the championship,” said Beckman. “This wasn’t do-or-die, but it’s getting pretty close. I’m not saying we counted points, but we had a tablet going with a lot of cross marks and updated math. Losing to Capps by four-thousandths in Dallas hurt a lot, but today went a long way towards healing that. It’s awesome to know that we have three races to go and are only 30 points back. All we want is a fighting chance going into Pomona.”
Brown also had team competition in the Top Fuel finals from Spencer Massey. Brown earned early round wins against Bruce Litton, Steve Torrence and Brandon Bernstein to reach the finals, and took over the points lead, which he had shared with Massey.
“It was a stressful day where we matched up against some great competition,” said Brown. “Matching up against my teammate (Massey) in the final was big – we’ve been back and forth in the points. It’s great to have six wins, but right now they’re all in the past. We need to go back to the shop and get focused on these last three races. It’s just so competitive out here and this points race is going to go down to the last race.”
Enders outlasted Shane Gray, Dave Connolly – her crew chief – and Jason Line before reaching the finals against points leader Allen Johnson. It’s Enders fourth victory in the last three months, having earned her first Wally at Route 66 Raceway in Chicago on July 1st.
“It is a total team effort every week,” said Enders. “My team is the reason why I get to do this. They’re great. They helped me get down a tricky track when other guys were getting in pedal-fests. We were a little behind performance-wise in the final, but we made a good run and I did my job.”
After the first non-Harley win of the season last weekend, Krawiec was back in the winner’s circle after defeating his Vance & Hines teammate Andrew Hines in the finals. Krawiec defeated Steve Johnson , Chip Ellis and Hector Arana Sr. on his way to the finals.
“Andrew and I were lucky to take out the Hectors in the semis and that really helped us in the points,” said Krawiec. “I lost in Dallas due to rider error. I had a .066 light which is unacceptable. This week I was good on the tree and had a good bike which is what it takes to win some rounds. Yes, I had three red-lights against me here but I did well and all my runs were good. I pushed it a little in the final but I know the potential of what he (Andrew) has. He crushed me in Charlotte.”
The fourth Countdown event in four weeks takes place this coming weekend, Thursday through Sunday, October 4th through 7th at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pennsylvania. Stay up-to-date with the NHRA at www.nhra.com.
Quotes in this piece provided by the NHRA.
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