DSR kicks butt at Englishtown

Spencer Massey's history-making Top Fuel run during Friday qualifying helped set the tone at Englishtown, N.J., for a Don Schumacher coup at last weekend's Toyota SuperNationals. (Photo by Ron Lewis)



ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. - Multi-car team owner Don Schumacher still is limping following some minor foot surgery. But his Top Fuel and Funny Car representatives were kicking butt this past weekend at the National Hot Rod Association's Toyota SuperNationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.
Spencer Massey's 3.728-second blast Friday night in the Prestone/FRAM Dragster makes him the quickest racer in NHRA history on a 1,000-foot course. And with his 332.18-mph pass in April at Charlotte, he officially is the fastest, as well.
His feat came just a few minutes after his DSR colleague Ron Capps became the quickest Funny Car driver in history, driving the NAPA Dodge Charger to a 3.964-second, 320.89-mph that garnered even a congratulatory tweet from NASCAR star Jimmie Johnson.
Then eliminations Sunday saw all four DSR Funny Cars advance to the quarterfinals and Johnny Gray, in the NTB / Service Central Dodge, win the final round over Capps. That marked the 14th time since 2005 that DSR teammates had squared off for the $50,000 payout -- and the 35th time a nitro-class final featured two DSR drivers.
Gray secured a berth in the $100,000-to-win Traxxas Nitro Shootout bonus race-within-a-race that will take place in September during the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis. With that, DSR has balanced out the John Force-heavy lineup that saw Force, Robert Hight, and Mike Neff grab the first three spots. Atlanta winner Capps and Topeka winner Jack Beckman, in the DSR-owned Valvoline NextGen Dodge, already are entered.
Capps, whose world seemed to collapse with the early-season DNQ at Las Vegas that cost the services of crew chief Tim Richards but has resulted in five straight final-round appearances with new crew chiefs Rahn Tobler and John Collins, is No. 2 in the Funny Car standings. DSR's Gray and Beckman are fourth and fifth. So DSR has three of the top five drivers as the tour heads to Bristol, Tenn., in two weeks for the Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.
DSR still has a 1-2-3 hold on the Top Fuel standings. Three-time winner Massey leads, Tony Schumacher is No. 2, and Antron Brown (who had little flash for his home track crowd this past weekend) is No. 3.
As overwhelmingly giddy as it made Capps and as much as it stoked the happy-go-lucky confidence of Massey, Friday night's historical achievements drew contained enthusiasm from boss Schumacher.
"Every racetrack I come to, I look for my teams to be able to set a world record on every run. That's the type of person I am," Schumacher said. "I race only to win world championships which means winning a lot of races. That's what I'm out here for. That's the competitor I am, and that's what I choose to do."
But Schumacher made sure to credit everyone involved, not just drivers and crew members, but also the "forgotten heroes" who stay behind at the 120,000-square-foot shop at Brownsburg, Ind.
"I have to take my hat off to, of course, the drivers, Ron Capps and Spencer Massey, but they just get to take the ride in what (crew chiefs) Rahn Tobler, John Collins, Phil Shuler and Todd Okuhara put underneath them," Schumacher said. "I call our crew chiefs 'scientists' for figuring out how to run these things."
He remembered the 25 or so employees who don't travel with the team but helped develop the organization's in-house chassis and more than 100 other parts.
"Without the people at the shop we could not perform at this level," the team owner said. "My people have worked incredibly hard to develop the pieces that performed the way they did [Friday] night. I take my hat off to everybody back at our shop in Brownsburg. There is a lot of time and dedication from all of those people that enabled us to accomplish what we did Friday night."
"What an amazing result for DSR," he said.
Capps' and Massey's accomplishments happened weekend that marks the 40th anniversary of Don Schumacher's lone Funny Car victory here. So he said he thought Friday night's performances were extra-special because they happened at Raceway Park.
"I’ve never had a night like that. I’ve had some of my teams perform extraordinarily well but never had them change Top Fuel and Funny Car marks like that on one night," Schumacher said. "And to do it at Englishtown just makes it more special. Englishtown is one of the renowned facilities on the circuit. As times change, other facilities come to the forefront, but Englishtown carries so much history and recognition. There have been a lot of special times here. To come out and make those runs at Englishtown is a remarkable feat."
Moreover, he revealed that he had bought a helmet and firesuit and planned to return to the Funny Car cockpit himself in a move that would have been as stunning as Massey's and Capps' Q2 runs at Englishtown.
"I probably went 240 or 250 back then. I never saw a speed coming like what Ron ran on Friday night," he said. "The performances in both elapsed time and miles an hour are amazing with what these guys are able to do. It's to the credit of the racing facilities, NHRA with track prep by the Safety Safari, devices that Dale Armstrong came up with years ago and the use of computers developed by Ray Alley that provide crew chiefs with data and information rather than going by the driver's seat of the pants."
And at one time, he considered jumping into the competitive Full Throttle Drag Racing Series mix himself.
"I sat in one of my Funny Cars to warm it up about eight years ago and then ordered a helmet and fire suit," Schumacher said. "Driving was going to be the next step. My family discussed it with me. And I'm not one to take direction from anybody on anything, but I decided that it would be best to stay out of the seat."
So he has decided to settle back in the executive chair and let his drivers have at it. But as mastermind of the weekend assault on Englishtown, Don Schumacher is off on the right foot for a big run at both the Funny Car and Top Fuel series championships.

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