INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 1, 2012) - The odds favored Don Schumacher Racing at the start of Saturday's inaugural Traxxas Nitro Shootout bonus race when all three of its Top Fuel Dragster teams qualified for the eight-car all-star field.
But after DSR's Tony Schumacher and Antron Brown lost in the opening round, the pressure fell to teammate Spencer Massey, and Massey's Prestone/FRAM team led by crew chiefs Todd Okuhara and Phil Shuler responded by winning the Shootout and getting the provisional pole with track elapsed-time record.
In the Shootout, Massey eliminated David Grubnic and Morgan Lucas to get to the final where his time of 3.780 seconds at 325.61 mph beat Torrence's 4.840 (155.70). Massey and Torrence, both Texans, split their four previous meetings this year but it is the second time Massey beat Torrence when a race was for the money and trophy.
The team not only earned DSR a first-place Shootout bonus of $100,000 but Massey's run of 3.762 seconds at 324.51 mph in the second round, which also was part of the third qualifying session, earned the team the provisional pole in the U.S. Nationals heading to Sunday's last two qualifying runs before the championship eliminations begin at 11 a.m. Monday.
"Just making it into the Traxxas Shootout was huge," said Massey, who earned the first of eight spots when he won the season-opener in February at Pomona, Calif. "Getting into the Shootout in the first race was great because we got that out of the way.
"Winning anything out here in Top Fuel is amazing because all the cars are bad to the bone," said the 29-year-old from Fort Worth, Texas, who has won four titles this season and is second in points to teammate Brown.
"We knew we had what it would take to win the Shootout but we had to put it all together to make three runs today. And with the weather we had this morning it was hard to fathom ever getting to race."
A steady, light rain was persistent for much of Saturday but quit mid-afternoon in time for racing to begin at 4 p.m.
"NHRA did a great job of preparing the track," he said.
Weather also could be an issue Sunday. The Weather.com forecast as of 10 p.m. Saturday called for an 80-percent chance of rain with thunder on Sunday and 30 percent chance of scattered thunderstorms on Monday.
In Funny Car, DSR's Jack Beckman lost the provisional top qualifying spot he earned Friday night when it was taken away by two-thousandths of a second when rookie Courtney Force closed Saturday night with a career-best run of 4.049 seconds at 317.27 mph, which is a track speed record.
The Funny Car version of the Traxxas Nitro Shootout is scheduled for Sunday when DSR will have three entries in the eight-car field. In the first round, Ron Capps, the current Funny Car points leader and top seed in the Shootout, will face Force, who was selected for the field in a lottery-style drawing.
TRAXXAS NITRO SHOOTOUT - TOP FUEL
FIRST ROUND: Steve Torrence (3.834 sec., 295.34 mph) def. Doug Kalitta (3.859, 318.99); Morgan Lucas (3.792, 311.63) def. TONY SCHUMACHER (3.805, 324.67); SPENCER MASSEY (3.815, 323.74) def. David Grubnic (3.958, 294.50); Brandon Bernstein (3.842, 318.92) def. ANTRON BROWN (3.851, 317.42).
SEMIFINALS: Torrence (3.888, 259.41) def. Brandon Bernstein (4.792, 156.81); MASSEY (3.762, 324.51) def. Lucas (4.128, 230.84).
FINALS: MASSEY (3.780, 325.61) def. Torrence (4.840, 155.70)
Winner gets $100,000, runner-up $15,000
TRAXXAS NITRO SHOOTOUT - FUNNY CAR
(first round 12:30 p.m., semifinals 3:30 p.m., final 4:30 p.m.)
1. RON CAPPS vs. No. 8 Courtney Force; 2. Robert Hight vs. No. 7 Jeff Arend; 3. JACK BECKMAN vs. No. 6 John Force; 4. JOHNNY GRAY vs. No. 5 Mike Neff.
The following are DSR qualifying results from Saturday's sessions and other notes:
Provisional No. 1 qualifier: Spencer Massey (DSR), 3.762 sec., 324.51 mph
Spencer Massey, Prestone/FRAM dragster
Provisional qualifying position: No. 1
Session 1: 5.984 sec., 103.69 mph
Session 2: 3.815, 323.74 (Shootout first-round win)
Session 3: 3.762 sec., 324.51 mph (Shootout semifinals win; track elapsed-time record)
Shootout final: 3.780, 325.61 (does not count toward qualifying)
Tony Schumacher, U.S. Army ROTC dragster
Provisional qualifying position: No. 2
Session 1: 3.814 sec., 324.67 mph
Session 2: 3.805, 324.67 (first-round loss in Shootout)
Session 3: 3.772, 326.79 (track speed record)
Antron Brown, Matco Tools dragster
Provisional qualifying position: No. 5
Session 1: 3.844 sec., 319.37 mph
Session 2: 3.851, 317.42 (first-round loss in Shootout)
Session 3: 3.807, 322.34
Provisional No. 1 qualifier: Courtney Force (John Force Racing), 4.049, 317.27 (track record)
Jack Beckman, Valvoline NextGen Dodge Charger R/T
Provisional qualifying position: No. 2
Session 1: 4.051 sec., 302.62 mph
Session 2: 4.056, 310.70
Session 3: 5.799, 117.56
Ron Capps, NAPA Shocks Dodge Charger R/T
Provisional qualifying position: No. 5
Session 1: 4.122 sec., 308.00 mph
Session 2: 8.031, 87.65
Session 3: 4.064, 312.13
Johnny Gray, NTB/Big O Tires/Service Central Dodge Charger R/T
Provisional qualifying position: No. 8
Session 1: Johnny Gray, 4.079 sec., 310.98 mph
Session 2: 6.107, 108.78
Session 3: 5.758, 119.51
Matt Hagan, Mopar/Aaron's Dream Machine Dodge Charger R/T
Provisional qualifying position: No. 12
Session 1: 4.225 sec., 294.95 mph
Session 2: 4.119, 307.65
Session 3: 6.145, 106.56
RECORD, MILESTONE DAY FOR BIG O DSR OPEN HOUSE
The seventh annual Big O Tires presents the Don Schumacher Racing Open House on Friday afternoon produced a record crowd and the $25,000 raised for Riley Hospital for Children was a DSR record.
The event featured a car show, motorsports art show, autograph session with DSR's seven professional NHRA drivers and tours of the spacious DSR speed factory near Indianapolis
The biggest star of the five-hour, fun-filled event was the annual silent auction in which DSR's sponsors and loyal NHRA drag racing fans raised the bulk of $25,000 generated that pushed the total contributed by DSR events to Riley Hospital to over $200,000.
"To reach $200,000 is a milestone," said Mike Lewis, DSR senior vice president. "Our turnout of about 4,000 to 5,000 fans was our biggest crowd, the car show was the biggest we've ever had and we raised more money in one day than ever before.
"I can sum it up with two words: best ever."
Money raised at the event, which was free to the public, goes to the Riley Children's Foundation that supports Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health. Riley Hospital has served as Indiana's only comprehensive children's hospital since 1924.
The Open House is held annually in conjunction with the prestigious NHRA U.S. Nationals on the Friday of Labor Day weekend.
"I couldn't think of a better charity for DSR to work with than Riley Hospital."
The following sponsors and friends of DSR contributed greatly to the success of the Open House: Big O Tires/Service Central, Aaron's, NAPA AUTO PARTS, Matco Tools, Gates Belts & Hose, Valvoline, Hendricks County Flyer, City of Brownsburg, Lucas Oil Raceway, NHRA, Oakley, Goodyear, DieHard, Bruce Tatman, Mechanix Wear, Impact by MasterCraft Safety, Olson Paint & Body, Mopar, U Coat It, Toyota, Vance & Hines, AutoImagery.com, MarkJRebilas.com and Kerry Garner.
FULL THROTTLE NITRO SCHEDULE (all times ET)
Sunday: Qualifying, 12:30, 3 p.m.; Traxxas Funny Car championship, 4:30 p.m.
Monday: Championship eliminations, 11 a.m.
ON ESPN2 (all times ET)
Sunday: Qualifying, Shootouts, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Monday: Eliminations, 12-6 p.m.
Sunday: high 79; 80 percent chance rain/thunder
Monday: high 88; 30 percent chance scattered thunderstorms
About Don Schumacher Racing
Don Schumacher Racing, headquartered in Brownsburg, Ind., consists of seven professional NHRA teams: in Top Fuel, the U.S. Army dragster driven by seven-time world champion Tony Schumacher, the FRAM/Prestone dragster of Spencer Massey and the Matco Tools dragster of Antron Brown; and in Funny Car, 2011 NHRA Funny Car champion Matt Hagan in the Aaron's Dream Machine/Mopar Dodge Charger R/T, Valvoline NextGen Dodge piloted by Jack Beckman, the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge of Ron Capps and the Service Central Dodge of Johnny Gray. DSR has won 190 NHRA national event titles and nine world championships.
Follow Don Schumacher Racing at ShoeRacing.com, on Twitter at @shoeracing and Facebook.com/shoeracing.
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