Don Schumacher Racing clinched its 200th win Sunday at Gatornationals with a pair of victories from Johnny Gray and Antron Brown in Funny Car & Top Fuel respectively at Gatornationals on Sunday
“That’s an incredible number. Never thought it would happen, never even considered it,” owner Don Schumacher said of the milestone, reflecting over how difficult it was racing in the 1970s when he won 5 of those victories himself. Schumacher credited his drivers like his son Tony, Jack Beckman, and today’s winners Brown and Gray for the feat, but said it still had some personal significance.
“I can’t say what this personally feels like,” Schumacher said. “When we won both World Championships this past November [with drivers Antron Brown and Jack Beckman], my mother passed away the day of the banquet. I haven’t had joy really since then,” he paused tearfully before continuing. “Today brings a special meaning to all my efforts out here.”
Drivers Johnny Gray and Antron Brown were happy to be a part of it. Last year, Johnny Gray was runner-up at Auto Plus Raceway, but this year he took win No. 199 for DSR with a win over Del Worsham in the final round. Gray’s 4.053 bested Worsham’s 4.100 and give Gray his first win in his final season before he retires. But his focus was on being a part of his owner’s historical moment.
“[Don and I] discussed it before the final round in all actuality,” admitted Gray. “We said, ‘Man if we can win this and Antron could win, Don’s gonna get his 200th win.’ It’s an awesome feeling for Antron and I both.”
Teammate Antron Brown’s win over Clay Millican in Top Fuel would seal No. 200 for DSR. Both Brown and Millican had quick runs coming in at 3.761 and 3.813 respectively, but Brown said focusing on the track was the key to his win.
“We weren’t worried about who we were racing, we were worried about the track that we had to race on. So we went out there and we just tried to execute the best run we could at each condition,” said Brown.
In the Pro Stock Motorcycle class, three Aranas went in, but only one came out champion. Hector Arana Jr. walked into the post-race press conference proudly clenching his first Wally since 2011 after defeating Steve Johnson in the final round on Sunday – and his father before that.
Arana Jr.’s younger brother Adam also competed today, but was eliminated in the first round. Junior went on to defeat Senior in a close matchup in the semifinal round, taking out his father by just .005 with a 6.844.
“I was really excited, but I didn’t do any fist pumping because I didn’t wanna do that in front of him,” said Arana, smiling. “And I wanted to real bad.”
But there were no hard feelings within the Arana family. “When we got back he said good job and he congratulated me,” he said.
Arana went on to top Steve Johnson in the final with a 6.888 over his 6.909. He believes the win in Gainesville was a sign of good things to come.
“My dad, when he won his championship he won Gatornationals the first race out, and [last year’s World Champion] Eddie Krawiec won Gatornationals when he won the championship, so I’m looking forward to doing the same thing too,” said Arana.
In Pro Stock, Jeg Coughlin had defeated top qualifier Mike Edwards to reach the finals against Allen Johnson, but it was Johnson who would end up on top.
It turned out to be a battle of the reaction times as champion Allen Johnson used a quick .005 reaction over opponent Coughlin’s .031 to make his 6.535 ET win out over Coughlin’s 6.514.
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series heads out west to Las Vegas next for the SummitRacing.com Nationals April 5-7.