Sunday, February 17, 2013

NHRA NEWS: Schumacher in Top Fuel, Capps in Funny Car advance to finals for DSR but best news is Brown uninjured in second-round crash

Don Schumacher Racing advances two of its seven teams into the championship round of Sunday's NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Southern California.

Although Tony Schumacher's U.S. Army team advanced to the Top Fuel final, and Ron Capps and the NAPA AUTO PARTS team made it to the championship round, most talk was about a big crash in the second round by DSR's Antron Brown only a few feet past the finish line after he won to advance to the semifinals.

The crash, which resulted from an engine explosion, forced Antron's Matco Tools to withdraw because NHRA rules mandate a driver must finish elimination rounds in the car he started with.

But all that mattered was Brown was able to walk away from the highlight-reel crash without any injuries due to NHRA standards and a year-old enclosed safety canopy designed by DSR and manufactured by Aerodine Composites of Indianapolis.

"The windshield is five-eighths-of-an-inch thick. Nothing got to me," Brown said. "When I hit the sand trap (at the end of the pavement), I saw stones flying all over the place, but I didn't get dusty, nothing got into me. It really, really did its job.

"I remember turning the fresh air on because the (nitro) fumes were getting to me. Thank God that canopy is on our car because when we hit that sand trap it really kept everything away from me and the fire away from me."

When Brown had to forfeit the semifinals, he was paired with Schumacher and ended up with a bye-run to a final round match-up against Shawn Langdon of Al-Anabi Racing. Schumacher, who was the No. 1 qualifier, produced a run of 3.747 seconds at 324.12 but fell a little short to Langdon's 3.721 (322.27) that was the quickest run of the four-day event.

In Funny Car, Capps was paired against Courtney Force in the final round but Force posted the quickest Funny Car run of the weekend at 4.025 (317.22) while the NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge Charger R/T overpowered the track and lost traction and slowed to a 6.090 (116.32).

"Any time you get to the championship round you expect to win, but Courtney just had the better car on that run," Ron said. "She is going to be tough all year, but I know I wouldn't want to have to race our NAPA AUTO PARTS Dodge."

The best Funny Car on Sunday until the semifinals was Johnny Gray's DSR Pitch Energy Dodge that was quickest car in the first and second rounds with runs of 4.056 (314.31) and 4.038 (307.72), respectively. He faced Capps in the semis and ran a stout 4.056 (301.07) but Capps was a little quicker at 4.036 (316.23)

DSR teams, include Brown's Matco unit, will compete next weekend in the NHRA Arizona Nationals near Phoenix.

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