The COVID-19 virus brought about many event cancellations and several event relocations during the past several months. The Mopar Express Lane NHRA Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway Park was moved from early spring to fall. Fans in attendance witnessed some of the closest competitive action in all the categories contested. They also witnessed the comeback of an eight-time champion and witnessed a 25-year-old racer win his first season title and first professional national event title in the same weekend.
Eight-time Top Fuel world champion Tony Schumacher had been out of competition since the end of the 2018 season. It had been over two years since he captured an event victory. He then returned for the events at Indianapolis including the Denso Spark Plugs NHRA U.S. Nationals. With a six-race Okuma/Sandvik Coromart deal for the remainder of the 2020 season, Schumacher would quickly showed he was not rusty. At the Mopar Express Lane NHRA Spring Nationals he put it all together. He ran consistent low 3.7-second elapse times to meet up against Top Fuel powerhouse Steve Torrence. With points contender Doug Kalitta going out in the second round, Torrence looked to extend his lead towards the season title, with only one more race remaining. Schumacher quickly let Torrence know he was back, as he drove around him for a 3.669 (low elapse time of the event) at 330.67 mph to 3.687 at 330.07 to take the win by a mere 2-foot margin.
In Funny Car, Tommy Johnson has been either dominating or mediocre at the last several events. He slipped from points leader to almost out of contention. But, at this event, he returned to form, as he took out the Funny Car points leader Matt Hagan in the semi-final round to meet up with Ron Capps in the final round. Capps, who struggled to a #16 spot in qualifying, took out #1 qualifier Jack Beckman in the opening round, Beckman had come into the event #2 in the points race, only seven points behind Hagan. In the final, Johnson defeated Capps by a margin of about 1-foot, with a 3.929 at 321.04 mph to 3.952 at 325.14 mph, as he passed him just before the finish line.
In Pro Stock, 25-year-old Aaron Stanfield collected his first ever Pro Stock event win over Jeg Coughlin Jr. Stanfield won with a 6.535 at 211.03 mph to 6.611 at 207.53 mph effort. Earlier in the day, Stanfield also won the Factory Stock Showdown (FSS) event title and clinched the class season championship.
Eddie Krawiec won his first Pro Stock Motorcycle event of the season, as he defeated Ryan Oehler, 6.801 at 198.61 mph to 6.905 at 181.36 mph.
With only one event left in the season, the Dodge NHRA Finals, in Las Vegas, the event is a 1.5-time points events. The following is the Pro Category Championship (minus points behind):
Top Fuel: (1) Steve Torrence, (2) Doug Kalitta -51, (3) Leah Pruitt -148, (4) Bill Torrence -166.
Funny Car: (1) Matt Hagan, (2) Tommy Johnson -42, (3) Jack Beckman -43, (4) Ron Capps -174.
Pro Stick: (1) Erica Enders, (2) Jason Line -31, (3) Jeg Coughlin -93, (4) Matt Hartford -181.
Pro Stock Motorcycle: (1) Matt Smith, (2) Scotty Pollacheck -49, (3) Andrew Hines -59, (4) Angelle Savoie -93, (5) Eddie Krawiec -114.
The final season event will be contested over the weekend of Oct. 30 through Nov. 1.