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JCM Racing Post-Race Recap: Dallas

Texas NHRA Fall Nationals

Event 19 of 21

Countdown Event 4 of 6

Texas Motorplex

Ennis, Texas

Oct. 13 – 15, 2023

Top Fuel:

Justin Ashley Misses Three-Peat at Texas Fall Nationals

ENNIS, Texas (October 15, 2023) – Looking to become the first Top Fuel driver to win three NHRA Texas Fall Nationals titles in a row, Justin Ashley brought the Leatherwood Distillery Top Fuel dragster powered by Phillips Connect into eliminations with high hopes. As the No. 6 qualifier on the strength of his 3.661-second at 336.20 MPH run, Ashley matched up with veteran Clay Millican in a tough first-round match-up between Countdown championship contenders. The team owner and driver was bringing momentum from a strong qualifying pass that saw him earn a qualifying bonus point as one of the three quickest Top Fuel dragsters of the final session.

The Leatherwood Distillery Top Fuel dragster rolled up for the first round against Millican as the final pair of Top Fuel dragsters to open race day. In a wild first round, several top contenders dropped races on a cool and quick Texas Motorplex all-concrete racetrack. Ashley continued his domination on the starting line, getting a great start with a .037 second reaction time as his 11,000-horsepower race car launched off the line. As he accelerated, his Goodyear slicks briefly overpowered the track while Millican was on a smooth run beside him. The momentary loss of traction robbed Ashley of critical momentum and allowed Millican to move in front. At the finish line stripe, Millican earned the win light and Ashley turned his attention to getting ready for the Nevada Nationals in two weeks.

“We just missed it a little on that first run,” said Ashley, a six-time Top Fuel winner in 2023. “We are going to learn from this weekend and get ready for Las Vegas. Our Leatherwood Distillery Top Fuel dragster powered by Phillips Connect did some really good things in Dallas that we can take with us and apply moving forward. We’re excited to get back to work.”

At the end of the day, Ashley, who entered the Countdown as the No. 1 seed will move to the fifth race of the playoffs sitting in fourth place 108 points out of first with two races left in the season.

“We are not out of this championship hunt. The best thing we can do right now is win these last two races and let the points take care of themselves. It’s a tall task but there’s no quit in this team. Thank you to everyone from Leatherwood Distillery, Phillips Connect, Toyota and all of our partners that support us. We’re going to finish the season strong.”

Ashley will be on track again in two weeks at the NHRA Nevada Nationals from The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Qualified: No. 6 (3.661 E.T. at 336.20 MPH)

Elimination Round Results:

E1: 4.356 E.T. at 197.29 MPH defeated by Clay Millican 3.789 E.T. at 269.53 MPH

Tony Schumacher Comes Up Short in Battle of ‘Texan vs Texan’ at Dallas Fall Nationals

Top Fuel’s winningest driver has a long history of success at the Texas Motorplex located outside of Dallas, and he was looking for more Motorplex magic on Sunday at the Texas NHRA Fall Nationals as he sought to pick up his first win of the year. Tony Schumacher has enjoyed a recent late-season performance boost, which saw him advance to the semifinals at two out of the first three playoff events. The Austin resident was hoping to take it one round further at the Ennis, Texas facility but traction issues during round one of eliminations ended Schumacher’s day early, preventing him from making a run at a seventh Dallas trophy.

Aboard the SCAG Power Equipment Top Fuel dragster, Schumacher’s weekend began with a solid 3.739-second baseline run right out of the trailer on Friday afternoon. On Friday night, he clocked his best E.T. and speed of the season when he lit up the scoreboards with a 3.690 E.T. at 333.46 MPH. With the unseasonably cool temperatures, many of his competitors also took advantage of the favorable conditions and despite the good run, Schumacher found himself in 10th at the end of the session.

During Saturday’s two qualifying rounds, the SCAG machine recorded two more good runs, but by the time the Top Fuel field was set, Schumacher had settled into the No. 12 position on the ladder and found himself facing a heavy-hitter in fellow Texan Billy Torrence in the first round of eliminations. While Schumacher and the SCAG team were armed with the confidence of knowing they were four-for-four throughout qualifying heading into race day, they also knew that if they wanted to get past the Torrence team in the first round, they’d have to run a mid-3.60. In the contest, Schumacher stood on the throttle first to secure the early lead but his machine was up in smoke by the 300-foot marker and he clicked it off as his opponent made a clean pass for the win in the opposite lane.

“I hate getting beat. We made four great runs during qualifying but we knew that not one of those runs would’ve won the round today,” said Schumacher, who was named a Texas Motorplex Legend in 2020 for his tremendous history of success at the facility, which includes his first professional win during the 1999 event.

“We had to step on it,” added Schumacher of his first-round match with the elder Torrence Racing driver. “We pushed it and the track got a little slower since yesterday. The track itself hadn’t seen UV rays and hot sun until today. We pushed it a little too hard, but the reality is a 3.69 or 70 wasn’t going to win that round so we knew we had to lean on it; that was the right call. We’ve got to find our place in the mid-60s, so we’ll keep working toward being able to run in the mid-60s so we can compete with these guys.”

With the end of the 2023 NHRA Camping World Series season fast approaching, Schumacher and the SCAG Power Equipment team have two shots left to close out the year with a win. They return to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the season’s penultimate event, the NHRA Nevada Nationals, ranked ninth in the Top Fuel standings. Schumacher is an eight-time winner at ‘The Strip.’

Qualified: No. 12 (3.690 E.T. at 333.46 MPH)

Elimination Round Results:

E1: 5.326 E.T. at 133.84 MPH defeated by Billy Torrence 3.664 E.T. at 3335.42 MPH

Funny Car:

Tim Wilkerson Records Season-Best E.T. En Route to Semifinal Finish at Dallas

Tim Wilkerson may have lost his semifinal match with Matt Hagan at the Texas NHRA Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex, but a season-best elapsed time in Sunday eliminations gave the driver/tuner of the SCAG Power Equipment/Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Mustang a confidence boost. Knowing he has a Maynard Wilkerson Racing hot rod that can consistently run in the 3.80-second range, Wilkerson is already looking forward to the next race as the 2023 NHRA Camping World Series season starts to wrap up.

In qualifying, Wilkerson started the weekend with a strong baseline run in Friday’s first session before laying down a 3.884-second pass at 317.80 MPH to go into Saturday as the provisional No. 7 qualifier. He had to lift off the throttle in the third session on Saturday, but came back in the final session and recorded a 3.879 E.T. to qualify No. 9 in a nearly all-3-second field.

Wilkerson was one half of NHRA’s Funny Car marquee matchup with Alexis DeJoria. It was a nailbiter, as Wilkerson had the starting line advantage while DeJoria had traction issues, but Wilkerson encountered his own issues late in the run. He held on to get the win, but lost lane choice to Bob Tasca III in the second round. That didn’t matter, though, since Wilkerson used a season-best 3.866-second performance to power past Tasca and his 3.921 E.T. Wilkerson’s SCAG Power Equipment entry slowed a bit in the semifinals, dropping a side-by-side race with Matt Hagan.

“We had some real weird conditions on Sunday,” said Wilkerson, who won the Fall Nationals in 2008. “The sun was out, track was good, all kinds of people were smoking the tires, but the air was so good early. That got us in trouble first round. We came back for the second round and fixed it and it went good. Last round, the clouds came in before the last run and I didn't have enough clutch on it. It just ruined the clutch, so it slowed down two or three hundredths. We had a good car today and the guys performed well and I’m real happy for everybody here, but I really wanted to be in the finals.”

Wilkerson went into the weekend seventh in points ahead of Alexis DeJoria and John Force by just a few points. He slipped one spot to eighth, but he’s less than two rounds behind No. 5-ranked Force going into the next race on tour, the NHRA Nevada Nationals, Oct. 27-29, at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Qualified: No. 9 (3.879 E.T. at 324.25 MPH)

Elimination Round Results:

E1: 4.416 E.T. at 202.42 MPH defeated Alexis DeJoria 5.238 E.T. at 209.17 MPH

E2: 3.866 E.T. at 327.58 MPH defeated Bob Tasca 3.921 E.T. at 328.25 MPH

E3: 3.897 E.T. at 328.95 MPH defeated by Matt Hagan 3.875 E.T. at 328.85 MPH


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