Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Johnny Gray (Funny Car), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) took home Wallys from the historic Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Auto Plus Raceway at Gainesville, Florida on Sunday. The wins by Brown and Gray give Don Schumacher Racing its 199th and 200th wins in NHRA competition.
Team owner Don Schumacher earned five victories as a driver and 195 over the years in all four NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series categories. Only John Force Racing has more victories in NHRA history: 218, all earned in the Funny Car category.
“It’s incredible,” Schumacher said. “It started in 1970 in Indianapolis when I won the U.S. Nationals. I am not someone who ever counts things like that. I never thought it would happen or even considered it. Thanks to all of my drivers. They do an incredible job day in and day out.”
Brown earned round wins over Larry Dixon, Steve Torrence and DSR teammate Spencer Massey on his way to the finals against Clay Millican. It was Brown’s first win of the season and 38th of his career, and came just one month after his spectacular season-opening crash at Pomona.
“To win you have to have every piece of the pie,” said Brown. “It was important to be consistent and as fast and quick as you can be. Every round was tough. It’s a great win for this team. It gives you great confidence as a driver to see the car running like this and come out and win after what happened in Pomona.”
Gray defeated Del Worsham in the finals for his first win of the season, which Gray has already announced will be his final full-time season. Gray defeated Jeff Arend, Alexis DeJoria and his DSR teammate Jack Beckman on his way to the final round.
“The Gatornationals is such a prestigious race and to win it is just a great feeling,” said Gray. “I was disappointed last year we had a great race car and should’ve won it, but it wasn’t our day.”
2012 Pro Stock champ Johnson won his first event of the season, defeating his new teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. in the final round. Johnson beat Matt Hartford, Erica Enders-Stevens and Jason Line in earlier rounds.
“Everyone asks me why I would hire two assassins (Coughlin Jr. and his other teammate, Vincent Nobile),” Johnson said.. “They make me better. Vincent challenges me and it’s the same with Jeggie; I knew I would have to do my ultimate best to beat him. I hope we have to go head-to-head like that a bunch more.”
“I think we’re one of the premier teams in Pro Stock now,” continued Johnson. “We have a great team that makes great decisions based on scientific methods and data and we keep improving those decision making tools. We aren’t the fastest car right now, but we are consistent and we can win some races like that.”
In what was a rarity last season, neither Harley Davidson advanced past the second round in the season-opener for Pro Stock Motorcycle. Hector Arana Sr. picked up the first win of 2013, defeating Steve Johnson in the finals. Arana Jr. earned early round wins over Michael Phillips, Eddie Krawiec and his father.
“To grab the race win for Team Arana and Lucas Oil is a big accomplishment and it proves that having a third bike isn’t going to slow us down, but actually speed us up,” said Arana Jr. Adam Arana joins his brother and father in the PSM ranks this season.
“I am looking forward to a very competitive season and some close racing this season,” continued Arana Jr. “This is a step in the right direction. When my dad won his championship he won the Gatornationals and Eddie Krawiec has done that the last two years. I hope to keep that trend going this year as well.”
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series returns to the track April 5th through 7th for the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Stay up-to-date with the NHRA at www.nhra.com.
Quotes in this piece provided by the NHRA.
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