Hello again. I apologize in the delay for the post-Bristol NHRA.com blog. Bristol was the first of four consecutive races that bring us to Epping, N.H. this weekend and then conclude at with races at Joliet, Ill., the home race for the Schumacher’s, and Norwalk, Ohio. It’s the first of two four-race swings on the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Series schedule.
Bristol was a remarkable race for us. We didn’t double-up at Bristol Dragway at the U.S. Army and NAPA teams did two years ago, but we did win our first Funny Car race of the season. It was our first Funny Car win since Matt Hagan and the Mopar team won the Auto Club Finals last November at Pomona. It’s important to win races for our sponsors, for our teams, for our shop employees, for our fans, but last Sunday’s win was not only an important relief, but it was exuberant for all seven of our teams.
The Make-A-Wish program has been so satisfying to be involved in. It’s not about winning races. To be able to put smiles on the faces of the children and families each weekend is extremely rewarding. The team has had a few bumps in the road over the past month, but they’ve shown the signs of excelling. We know TJ can drive and John Collins and crew can put a solid tune-up on the car and they proved that last weekend at Bristol.
The made six runs at Bristol Dragway – Q2 was rained out and there was as mechanical error on Q4 – and all six were quickest of each session. The Q1 lap was tied to the thousandth of-a-second. It was a remarkable performance. TJ drove great. His reaction times were outstanding, and to see that win light come on in the right lane on Sunday after really did bring a tear to our eyes.
It was so great to see that team win and put the Make-A-Wish car in the winner’s circle. Also, it was TJ’s first win since Englishtown 2007, more than seven years. It also was John Collins’ (JC) first win as a crew chief. John has had some great mentors, including Rahn Tobler, and he’s been crew chief ready for some time and is capitalizing on the opportunity.
The TJ and JC tie-in is storybook. They’re both from Ottumwa, Iowa. TJ went to school with John’s wife, Kelly. John volunteer to work on TJ’s race cars when they were family-run may years ago. So, to see them win as teammates is so very cool. Congrats again Make-A-Wish team!
On Sunday morning, a good friend of our team, Nolan Lopez, and his family visited Bristol from their home in North Carolina. Nolan is a big Matt Hagan supporter. The Mopar/Rocky team refers to him as their good luck charm. He was at the track for most of their wins last year.
Nolan’s dad serves in the U.S. military. He served in the Army and now is a member of the Joint Commands. He travels a lot serving our nation. He brought me a wonderful gift; a framed American flag that recently flew over Afghanistan.
DSR has a long relationship with the U.S. Army and our Army Strong soldiers. Last weekend we celebrated the Army’s 239th birthday. I feel very honored they chose to give me the flag and I will make sure it is displayed at my condo for friends and family to see. Thank you Lopez family!
Before I head off to Epping for our race at New England Dragway, I want to share a funny photo of my dog, Teddy. Teddy might be part fish. He loves to swim. Anytime he goes out back at my parent’s Chicago home, he goes directly to the lake and swims. The other dogs avoid the water, but not Teddy. Here’s a photo of a wet, swimming Teddy.
Thanks for reading and we’ll check in again next week after Epping.