Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NHRA [Print without images]

Sunday, July 24, 2011
Spencer Massey wins Top Fuel

Associated Press

MORRISON, Colo. -- Spencer Massey's return from a year-long driving hiatus keeps getting better.

Massey edged teammate Tony Schumacher in the final elimination round to win the Top Fuel dragster division at the Mopar Mile High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway on Sunday.

Part of the Don Schumacher racing team with Schumacher's son, Massey hit 269.67 mph and covered the 1,000-foot straight-line course in 4.150 seconds in his nitro-fueled dragster for his fifth career victory and third this season.

"It was tough sitting back and watching on the sidelines for so long," said Massey, the NHRA's rookie of the year in 2009 who lost his first driving job when team owner Don Prudhomme closed up shop.

"But I knew that one day, I would have a shot at it again," Massey added. "I knew it might not be the next year or the next year, but if I kept my head up and kept beating up the doors, eventually something would happen. I kept my faith and here I am."

His latest victory closed the gap between him and points leader Del Worsham, 1,057 to 989, and clinched a Top 10 spot in the NHRA's Countdown to the Championship. The six-race, title-deciding series begins in Charlotte in mid-September.

"It's great that we are in for the Countdown," said Massey, who joined the Schumacher team before this season. "We're catching up to Del a little bit. So if we can stay No. 1 or 2, even with 3, I guess it would be OK. We're ready for it. We're hungry for the championship. These guys have been so close so many years and I'm just the new guy.

"Now we have a great, full head of steam marching to Sonoma with a win here," added Massey, referring to the NHRA Nationals in Sonoma, Calif., next weekend. "I'm just estatic."

In the Funny Car division, John Force coasted to victory after his opponent in the final, Matt Hagan, drew a red light infraction for leaving a split-second early. Force, shaking off a qualifying run Saturday in which the body of his Ford Mustang was blown off the chassis and flipped in the air, finished the 1,000-foot course in 4.361 seconds and at a speed of 285.23 mph. It was his 133rd career victory but first this season. Six of those wins have come at the Mile High Nationals.

"I'm back in the game," Force said. "I will be back the rest of the season. You have my word. I ain't going to say I'm going to win, but I will be back."

A red light infraction also figured in Mike Edwards' victory in the Pro Stock dragster division. Allen Johnson jumped out an instant before being cleared and Edwards went on to cover the quarter-mile course in 6.970 seconds, going 197.65 mph.

Karen Stoffer beat Michael Phillips to win the Pro Stock motorcycle division. The win was the sixth of her career, but first since 2007.

"I was counting the days," Stoffer said. "But it takes patience, fortitude. This is a tough sport and it has lot of good teams."

She tipped her helmet to her crew, saying they had her motorcyle in peak racing condition.

"Hats off to them," Stoffer said. "We've been struggling with mechanical problems and they did a great job. They diagnosed everything and gave me a phenomenal bike for this weekend."

Stoffer, riding a Suzuki, hit 182.58 mph and covered the quarter-mile course in 7.283 seconds, narrowly in front of Phillips, who also was riding a Suzuki.