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1 Professional driver without a firstround loss this season (Jeg Coughlin) 2 final rounds in the last two races for Michael Phillips (five in the previous 135) 2 Top Fuel drivers to win Indy in the past decade (Tony Schumacher and Larry Dixon) 3 reaction times quicker than .030 for Brandon Angelle Sampey, Ashley Force Hood Bernstein this season (leads Top Fuel class) 3 wins for Hector Arana in 2009, compared to one in his previous 19 seasons 3 women to win Indy in a Professional category (Shirley Muldowney, 3reaction times quicker than .030 for Brandon Angelle Sampey, Ashley Force Hood) 4Indy wins for Jeg Coughlin (three in Pro Stock, one in Super Gas, 1992) 4straight Indy finals for Robert Hight 5head-to-head matchups between Spencer Massey and Larry Dixon this season (Dixon leads 3-2) 6straight Ringers Gloves Pro Bike Battle wins for the Screamin' Eagle team 6Pro Stock drivers to qualify for every race this year (Greg Anderson, Jeg Coughlin, Mike Edwards, Johnny Gray, Rickie Jones, Jason Line) 6world champs out of a possible 11 Indy winners 8Indy wins for Tony Schumacher (tying Don Garlits for most in Top Fuel history) 8straight Indy finals for Schumacher 10No.

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									      EVENT OVERVIEW — 55th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, Sept. 2-7, Indianapolis

                                                  Tony Schumacher’s love affair with the Indy Wally continued unabated with the driver of the U.S. Army dragster winning the
                                                  Mac Tools U.S. Nationals for the eighth time in 10 years. Schumacher clinched the win and a tie with Don Garlits for most
                                                  wins in the class at the Big Go by defeating the only other driver to win the race this decade, Larry Dixon, who was at the
                                                  wheel of the Al-Anabi dragster of Alan Johnson, who tuned Schumacher to so many of his 60 career wins.

                                                     Schumacher makes some history, Force Hood
                                                      survives the drama, and Coughlin and Arana
                                                       both will their way to U.S. Nationals glory
                                                      INDIANAPOLIS — When legend “Big Daddy”                     into the Countdown to 1 and with Ashley Force
                                                   Don Garlits won his sixth, seventh, and eighth U.S.           Hood beating first Tony Pedregon then Hight to win
                                                   Nationals Top Fuel titles in quick succession from            Indy for the second time, all supercharged by a
                                                   1984 through 1986, NHRA race fans could not have              heated exchange between the John Force Racing and
                                                   imagined that another driver someday would so                 Pedregon camps.
                                                   thoroughly own the sport’s biggest race in its most               And though Pro Stock champ Jeg Coughlin became
                                                   iconic class.                                                 just the 15th racer to score four or more U.S. Nationals
                                                      Then came Tony Schumacher, who, with his                   Wallys, Pro Stock Motorcycle winner Hector Arana
                                                   victory at this year’s 55th annual Mac Tools U.S.             joined the elite list of drivers to triumph at the world’s
                                                   Nationals presented by Lucas Oil, tied Garlits’ long-         biggest drag race, and the Countdown to 1 fields were
                                                   standing and seemingly unassailable record with his           sealed, those heroics played out a bit in the shadows of
                                                   astonishing eighth Indy win in the last 10 years.             the fuel classes, where drama and passion were
                                                      And after Funny Car’s Robert Hight spent the               whipped to fever pitch.
                                                   last 10 races mired in 12th place and seemingly out               Given the way the decade of Top Fuel in Indy has
                                                   of contention for the Countdown to 1 playoffs, no             gone, it should be no surprise that for the fourth time
                                                   one gave him much of a chance of cracking the top             in eight years, the final pitted the only two guys to
                                                   10, let alone on a stage as big as Indy or under the          win the Big Go this decade: Schumacher, a seven-time
                                                   pressure of doing it at the last race possible.               winner, and Dixon, who won the race in his rookie
                                                      Then came as wild and crazy a Monday as any                season in 1995 and two times since. In a true battle
                                                   Funny Car fan can probably remember, a day that               of class heavyweights and a bit of a grudge match
                                                   ended with Hight squeezing past Cruz Pedregon and             with former Schumacher tuner Alan Johnson now

18 ✦ National DRAGSTER
                         1   Professional driver without a first-
                             round loss this season (Jeg Coughlin)    2     final rounds in the last two races for
                                                                            Michael Phillips (five in the previous 135)    2     Top Fuel drivers to win Indy in the past
                                                                                                                                 decade (Tony Schumacher and Larry Dixon)
                     55th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, Sept. 2-7, Indianapolis
             from page 19
                                                                            Robert Hight, near lane, defeated his
             turned Friday, beginning with Thursday’s                       boss, John Force, in the semifinals of
             announcement that hall of fame crew chief Austin               Funny Car to lock up the final spot in
             Coil was hospitalized with stomach ailments and                the Countdown to 1. Force got out of
             would not attend. Hight began his long-shot bid at             the groove and smoked the tires.
             knocking Cruz Pedregon from the Funny Car
             Countdown to 1 by leading a JFR domination of the
             top half of qualifying. He qualified No. 1, Force Hood
             was No. 2, Mike Neff No. 3, and Force — who had
             failed to make the show at the last two U.S.
             Nationals — was fifth, separated only by Cruzer.
                 Force Hood, who won the 2004 Big Go in Top
             Alcohol Dragster, reached her second U.S. Nationals
             final but her first at the event in Funny Car by
             powering her Dean Antonelli- and Ron Douglas-tuned
             Castrol GTX Mustang past Matt Hagan — knocking
             the rookie from playoff contention — then followed          what was going on that day. Now, I can look back                 reasons. He was trying to protect Jason Line’s
             with victories against Jeff Arend and Tony Pedregon.        and appreciate it. It’s funny because before that final opportunity to unseed us for the No. 1 spot going into
             Following the victory over points leader Pedregon —         round, I was thinking, ‘OK, Robert seems to have                 the Countdown to 1. The win over Greg all but sealed
             who locked up the No. 1 seed in the playoffs in             magic here. When that team comes here, they do                   the No. 1 spot for us, which means a lot because you
             round one — emotions ran high in the shutdown               really well.’ Either way, team Force was going to get            get an extra 20 points going into it. That’s how we
             area, where Force and Hight stood after Hight had           in that winner’s circle.”                                        started the day, but then good old Lady Luck put us
             defeated his tire-smoking boss to knock Cruz from               The Pro Stock title bout between Coughlin and                through the next two rounds, without question. We had
             the playoffs and reach the Indy final for the third         first-time Indy finalist Greg Stanfield was a rematch            really good luck in the first round against Greg; right
             straight year.                                              of their Las Vegas duel, which Coughlin won, and a               at the top of 3rd gear getting ready to go into 4th, the
                 Accusations had been made by the Pedregons about        battle between a pair of the few drivers to have won             transmission actually broke a gear and shattered my
             how Force had lost to Hight and were followed by            national events in five classes. Coughlin won again,             arm for a split second. Fortunately, it went into 4th
             superheated discussions between Force and former            this time by the narrowest of margins — .001-second              gear and 5th ge
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