History made, tempers flared; Big Go was crazy

September, 8, 2009
09/08/09
12:15
PM ET

One family accuses another family of throwing a race. Former teammates almost come to blows. Tony Schumacher ties "Big Daddy" Don Garlits. And Ashley Force Hood makes history.

Wow.

The U.S. Nationals have given drag racing fans many incredible moments over the past 50 years, but Monday's finals might have been the best show ever for the NHRA's signature event.

Schumacher beat his former crew chief Alan Johnson and rival driver Larry Dixon to win an eighth U.S. Nationals Top Fuel crown, equaling the legendary Garlits for the most ever in the class.

Force Hood upheld the family honor by becoming the first woman to win the event in a Funny Car.

But both remarkable accomplishments were overshadowed by the Pedregon brothers accusing John Force of deliberating losing to son-in-law Robert Hight in the Funny Car semifinals.

Hight needed to win the match-up to earn the 10th and final spot in the Countdown playoff ahead of Cruz Pedregon.

Force had a slow reaction time as the car veered toward the wall and spun the tires. Hight made it down the track for the victory.

Cruz Pedregon called Force "a cheater" and Tony Pedregon, who leads the standings, accused Force of throwing the match. The two men had harsh words before being separated.

I don't know if Force took a dive, but I do know the NHRA shouldn't be surprised when these questions arise with multi-car teams and playoff spots on the line.

Getting every possible car into the playoff for a chance at winning the championship is something every team wants for its sponsors.

Tony said his victory over Cruz last month in Brainerd, Minn. proves they wouldn't stoop to throwing a race.

Looking back two events ago is not the same thing. If the Pedregon brothers were in the exact same situation Monday, would anyone have been surprised if Tony lost?

Tony also said he knows what goes on at John Force Racing because he worked there for eight years. Last time I checked, Pedregon won a championship at JFR. Is he insinuating his title there was given to him?

A few weeks after his title at JFR in 2003, Pedregon left the organization and formed his own team with his brother.

Monday was an unfortunate situation that can happen when multi-car teams have a playoff waiting, but Tony Pedregon owes his entire career to John Force.

Terry Blount

ESPN Seattle Seahawks reporter

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