By LEWIS SPEARMAN
MONT BELVIEU On a rainy day you can see Highlands and Crosby residents sloshing in mud, muffling their ears and grinning like a canary stuffed cat at Houston Raceway Park for OReilly Spring Nationals.
Stormy weather held the crowd down to about 20,000 for eliminations on Sunday. The devout, however, saw many tight passes. Jason Line won the Pro-Stock by about 23 inches over Allen Johnson.
The fastest race of the day had about 8 feet difference. In the first round of the Top Fuel Dragsters, Sarg. Tony Schumacher of the U.S. Army Racing Team was treed against Brandon Bernstein in the Budweiser Top Fuel Dragster. Brandon was out first with a 0.034 second reaction time, to 0.065. Sarg. passed him but something broke on the Army dragster just before the finish. The pair ended up down the quarter mile in just over 4.5 seconds.
J.R. Todd won the final pass in the Fuel Dragster by defeating record setting new commer, Joe Hartley, by .042 seconds. Todd left first, ran faster and took second place in overall points.
Ron Capps in the Brut Dodge Funny Car edged out Cruz Pedregon in the Monte Carlo although Cruz left earlier 0.045 against 0.039. This is the second time these two have been in the finals and now each has a win. At the finish, it appeared that Pedregons rear brake lights flashed. Capps elapsed time was 4.868 against Cruzs 5.025.
The most emotional interview witnessed at the finals was Capps dedicating his victory to the now deceased Eric Medlen of John Force Racing. Medlen died in a freak accident on March 23 when his left tire become involved in unprecedented vibrations that caused his Funny Car to swerve left into the wall. J.R. Todd likewise dedicated his Top Fuel Win to Medlen. John Force did not race in Houston Raceway due to the death in his team.
At the end of the race, teary Capps said, Were not morning Erics loss, were celebrating his life today, I miss him so badly. I didnt even want to race this weekend, but Eric wouldnt have it any other way. This trophy is going straight to Medlen, and Im gonna have another one made for his mom.
Angelle Sampey won for the second year in a row at Houston Raceway Park on her U.S. Army Suzuki by going 188.9 against 145.59 by Graige Treble, although Treble had the best reaction time of 0.015 seconds against Sampeys 0.084. She just ran faster all day, saying I wore green underwear today, and now I guess I better wear them every race,
The Pro-Stock, like stock car dragsters but with big hood scoops, went to Jason Line. Remember that name because he won the third event for his team in the first four events of the day. Line is now second to the legendary Greg Anderson, Pro-Stock great racer, note Pomona and Gainesville. Of course, Line was again up against a great name at the final tree, the Johnson Family Warren Johnson was six time world champion. He was beaten at the start by .01 to .055 by Alan Johnson and had to make up with fast sprinting.
ProModified went to Joshua Hernandez over Scott Cannon although both rookies finished in just over 6.2 seconds and about six feet different.
Brian Hough in a Chevy beat Cy Chesterman in a Mustang with great reaction times in Alcohol Funny Car.
OReillys sets records, underdogs win
By LEWIS SPEARMAN