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Flash Back: Tony Schumacher makes “The Run”

In 2006, Tony Schumacher pulled off one of the most improbable feats in the history of professional drag racing, pulling out all of the stops necessary to come storming from behind and snatch the season points championship from the jaws of defeat.

Schumacher had struggled to kick off the campaign, falling as far as 8th in points before then-crew chief Alan Johnson and the US Army Top Fuel crew began to turn things around and begin reeling in points leader Doug Kalitta. As the season progressed The Sarge would steadily close the gap, but even with an impressive late season charge, he would need a near-miracle to catch and overtake the quietly consistent Kalitta and his Mac Tools dragster. By the time the season finale in Pomona rolled around, the once-commanding lead had been reduced to a mere 45 points. Each round was worth 20 points, so Schumacher would have to either go three rounds farther in the race than Kalitta, or make it two rounds farther and reset his own quarter mile elapsed to, which was also worth 20 points at the time.

Kalitta fired a shot across the bow of the DSR camp when he secured the #1 qualifier position, leaving Tony in second place, which would mean Tony had to count on somebody else in the field to take Kalitta out if he was to make up any ground. In the semi finals, the unlikely spoiler role was played by Melanie Troxel, who waltzed right into Kalitta’s world and turned it upside down. Her holeshot win slammed the door on the Mac Tools car and just barely opened it for Schumacher, who won his semifinal and sliced 20 points off the lead.

However, it would take a home run ball in the semifinal against Troxel, who was riding a wave of confidence and completely relishing the idea of playing spoiler yet again.

However, Johnson found just the right tuneup for the US Army digger and sent Tony to the Winner’s Circle with a new world record elapsed time of 4.428 seconds, giving him 40 more points, putting him just fifteen ahead of Kalitta and sealing the points title. When all the money is on the line, there are few tuners you would rather have in your corner than Alan Johnson, and few drivers that would be more clutch under pressure than The Sarge. And now, race fans, you know the history of “The Run”.