THREE POINTS LEADERS BEATEN IN THE FINAL ROUNDS AT CARQUEST AUTO PARTS NHRA NATIONALS AT ROUTE 66 RACEWAY

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Three NHRA POWERade points leaders earned a trip to the final round Sunday during the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway. None of them earned the victory. Doug Herbert (Top Fuel), Del Worsham (Funny Car) and Dave Connolly (Pro Stock) drove to upset victories in their respective categories at the $1.8 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event. Herbert earned his first win since August 2002, beating points leader Tony Schumacher in the final with a 4.516-second pass at 329.75 mph in the Snap-on dragster for his eighth career victory. Schumacher ran a 4.527 at 329.18 in the U.S. Army dragster in the losing effort. ?My fun meter is pegged,? Herbert said about his career-best run. ?I told my crew chiefs that we needed to run the best lap of our life and that?s exactly what we did. It?s nice when a plan comes together.? Worsham beat 12-time NHRA POWERade champion John Force for a category-leading fifth win this season and 19th of his career. Worsham drove his Checker Schuck?s Kragen Chevy Monte Carlo to a 4.809 at 329.75 to post the win over Force?s 6.854 at 131.11 in his Castrol GTX Start Up Ford Mustang. "Early on we thought that maybe this was our year," said Worsham, who also won last weekend in Dallas. "Then we came apart a bit in the summer with the rule changes, but here lately we've been right back where we were. We seem to have found it again. Maybe one of these years we'll get it all together for the whole season. "We go into the final and I know they've out-performed us. I mean, when he ran that 4.66, even I got excited. That was huge. But I've learned over the years that the best way to race Force is to just run what you can run and don't worry about them. You still know who's over there and my knees were knocking and my stomach was turning, but you still go for it and race the best you can. Any win is great. A win over Force is even better. We are fully stoked." Connolly continued his recent assault on two-time defending Pro Stock champion Greg Anderson and the rest of the category. He grabbed the win over Anderson for his third victory in eight final rounds this season. Connolly is 2-3 in final rounds against Anderson - the recently crowned 2004 Pro Stock world champion - but has earned the victory in the last two meetings. Anderson fouled at the starting line, giving a potential NHRA record 14th season victory away. Connolly has been in five final rounds in the last six events. Connolly didn?t record a time or speed because he broke at the starting line. "I don't know if we were too aggressive but as soon as I let the clutch out it went dead right and I had to shut it off to stay out of trouble," Connolly said. "Then the guys got on the radio and they were screaming that he went red. They told me to take it to the line so I re-fired her up and went through the gears nice and slow. I needed to go down there and get my trophy.?
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