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Originally published July 19, 2009 at 7:32 PM | Page modified July 19, 2009 at 11:37 PM

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Antron Brown takes Top Fuel title at NHRA Northwest Nationals

Brown ends three-year winning streak by Tony Schumacher at Pacific Raceways

Special to The Seattle Times

KENT — Antron Brown won at Tony Schumacher's track on Sunday.

By a margin of less than two feet, and an elapsed time of 3.985 to 3.990, Brown edged Schumacher for the Top Fuel title at the NHRA Northwest Nationals on Sunday.

Brown ended Schumacher's three-year winning streak at Pacific Raceways and dropped Schumacher's remarkable record here to 23-2 in his last 25 eliminations.

Brown had a top speed of 301.07 mph with Schumacher at 300.00 mph in a finish too close to call with the naked eye.

"That was a good drag race and if I would have lost I still would have been happy because we went out and did the best we could," Brown said. "Tony made sure I knew how stout his record was here. We both just ran really, really well. There aren't too many times Tony has come up short in his career, so to beat him feels great."

A former motorcycle racer, Brown, 33, was in only his second Top Fuel race here. He went out in the first round in 2008.

The victory also extends Brown's season-points lead over Schumacher, the five-time defending champion, to 137 points (1,168 to 1,031).

"It was a great race, just a great race," Schumacher said. "[The crew] did a great job of getting the car ready after a disastrous third round."

Schumacher, the all-time Top Fuel victory leader with 59 titles, admitted he "got lucky" to win his semifinal match against Troy Buff. Schumacher pedaled his car all the way down the racetrack, but Buff barely got his off the starting line.

Schumacher ended up with a speed of only 203.86 mph to Buff's slowed down for a school zone at 30.81 mph.

Schumacher's biggest win was in the opening round when he beat the team run by his former crew chief Alan Johnson and driver Larry Dixon. The win moved Schumacher into second place in the points standings ahead of Dixon.

Tim Wilkerson won his first Funny Car race of the season when he beat Tony Pedregon in another photo finish.

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Wilkerson, 48, moved up to fifth in the Funny Car standings and it was the 12th win of his career. He is unique in that he serves as his own crew chief and spends much more time working on the car than he does driving on it.

"It's purely economics," Wilkerson said of his dual roles. "We have a certain amount of money to spend and I can't afford to hire anyone who could do a better job than me. Until we get a great big sponsor I'm going to keep doing it. Hopefully we can do it soon because it's wearing me out. I'm getting older every second."

Pedregon, who was also the top qualifier, knocked out Ashley Force Hood in the second round and John Force in round three to make it to the final.

The win by Pedregon meant John Force, the 14-time world champion, has gone 29 races without making it to a final and his streak of having won at least once in 22 consecutive seasons is in jeopardy.

"Racing against John is always tough," Pedregon said. "He is still one of the best and I don't care about his age (60)."

Pedregon had an elapsed time of 4.262 and Force 4.308.

The second-round loss by Force Hood gives Ron Capps the points lead after the weekend. Capps beat Cruz Pedregon in the opening round, and teammate Jack Beckman in the quarterfinals before losing to Wilkerson in the semifinals.

"We do see the Countdown on the horizon," Capps said of the final six races where the points title will be decided. "Even though we're not really counting points at this stage, we are well aware of the importance of leaving the U.S. Nationals with the points lead and those 20 bonus points before the Countdown begins."

Capps leads with 1,039 points to 1,018 for Force Hood after the two came into the race tied for the lead.

Mike Edwards, 51, took the Pro Stock championship with a finals win over Jason Line.

It was Edwards' third win at Pacific Raceways and the 37th of his career and he now trails points leader Jeg Coughlin by only 20 points.

"The car was flawless and a joy to drive," Edwards said after a top speed of 211.03 mph.

A Force was a winner on Sunday, but it was the least known of the famous racing family.

Courtney Force, 21, the youngest daughter of John Force, won the Top Alcohol Dragster championship when she beat Chris Demke in the final.

She beat older sister Brittany Force in the semifinals.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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