Auto racing is one of the few sports where men and women can compete against each other for the win – it’s also often a family affair. Even so, Sunday’s event at New England Dragway in Epping, New Hampshire, site of the second annual Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals, marked a rare occurrence, as husband and wife team Matt and Angie Smith raced against each other in the Pro Stock Motorcycle finals, with Angie coming out on top for her first career victory.
Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel) and Ron Capps (Funny Car) gave Don Schumacher Racing a double-win at New England Dragway, while Dave Connolly (Pro Stock) picked up his first Wally of the season.
Smith’s first PSM victory came at the expense not only of her husband, but also Jim Underdahl and the Screamin’ Eagles Harley team of Eddie Krawiec and Andrew Hines. It was the first time that a husband and wife met in the final of an NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event.
“In this sport, I'll take it any way I can get it," said Smith. "It's my first one, I'm proud to be here. I'm really tired of dusting all of (Matt's) Wallys. I at least want to dust one of mine at the house. Now I have one, and I'm good with that."
Schumacher piloted his U.S. Army dragster to a win over points leader Doug Kalitta for his second victory of the season. He defeated Steve Torrence, Antron Brown and Clay Millican in earlier rounds.
“The fans that paid good money to go to a drag race got the best show I’ve seen this year,” said Schumacher. “It was outstanding racing. It’s cyclical. You go up and down. Right now we’re up and it’s outstanding.”
Capps took the final-round win over Alexis DeJoria for his first win of the season; he earned early round wins over Tim Wilkerson, Cruz Pedregon and Courtney Force. With win, Capps took the final transfer spot in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout, taking place during the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis on Labor Day weekend.
“It was huge to get (crew chief) Rahn Tobler back his mojo,” said Capps. “He was beating himself up. He found something overnight. He and Eric (Lane, assistant crew chief) worked all night on what they were going to do this morning.”
“It was big because we haven’t been in the winner’s circle since Brainerd,” he continued. “It was bigger because there was one spot left in the Traxxas Shootout. Nobody wanted to talk about it in our pit area, but that was it.”
Connolly reached his first Pro Stock final since 2012, earning the win over his Gray Motorsports teammate Jonathan Gray. Connolly earned early round wins against Kenny Delco, Vincent Nobile and Greg Anderson.
“I had very high expectations of this team,” said Connolly. “I know the caliber of people working on it. The talent pool is deep. What a great weekend.”
“This class is brutal right now,” said Connolly of his pro Stock competition. “It’s tough. One-thousandths of a second separate us every weekend. Today was no different.”
The 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule continues Thursday through Sunday, June 26th through 29th with the O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois. Keep up with the action at www.nhra.com.
Quotes in this piece provided by the NHRA.
Check out Paula’s Examiner columns on motorsports:
Follow Paula on:
· Twitter - @paulat14
· Website – paulathompsonfreelance.com
· Flickr – Paula Thompson Freelance
Contact Paula at firstname.lastname@example.org