NHRA: Unmatched Legacy Continues With Eighth Top Fuel Crown for Schumacher

RaceChaser Staff Drag Racing, NHRA, West 0 Comments

POMONA, Calif. — official release — NHRA photo —

Tony Schumacher, the winningest driver in NHRA Top Fuel competition, locked up his eighth Mello Yello Top Fuel championship during qualifying at the Auto Club NHRA Finals.

Schumacher clinched the championship by qualifying for the event and nearest competitor Spencer Massey not earning enough bonus points in the final session to come within 100 points of Schumacher heading into final eliminations.

“In the regular season, Kalitta had the car, a phenomenal car,” said Schumacher. “We were all thinking that he’d be leading the points if he could maintain. Very seldom does a car lead from the beginning to the end, and that’s what we were hoping for. It’s just a long season with a lot of different changes and different conditions.”

“Getting near the Countdown, we started doing what we needed to do,” said Schumacher. “We went out and won Epping and Vegas. We won the Traxxas Shootout in Indy, which was fantastic. It was a letdown to enter the Countdown in fourth-place and not in the lead in the points standings.

“For me and my dad and all of us, we questioned it at some point. It’s hard to go all those races without pulling off a victory without thinking about it. We want to win every race, and we were forcing certain issues. We knew we had to make a six-disc clutch program work, and we did not revert back to a five-disc. That’s what won us the championship. We stayed with it. We made it work, and when the Countdown came, we were ready for it.”

“This is an awesome sport, but there is luck involved,” said Schumacher. “You can make a great run, but the other guy makes the best run of his life. You have to have that luck and have those rounds go in your favor. You have to have faith going into a race that you can win.”

Schumacher, who entered NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship playoffs as the fourth seed, quickly rocketed to the top by winning the three of the first four playoff races– a double-header win in Dallas that included the rain-delayed Charlotte event, then two weeks later added a win in Reading — to gain an big lead over his rivals.

Schumacher won seven championships between 1999 and 2009, but has been held from the top spot the last four seasons by Al-Anabi drivers Larry Dixon (2010), Del Worsham (2011), and Shawn Langdon (2013), and by his own Don Schumacher Racing teammate, Antron Brown, who won the 2012 championship on the final run of the season when Schumacher was upset in the final round of the Auto Club NHRA Finals.

In addition to his Countdowns wins in Charlotte, Dallas, and Reading, Schumacher scored regular-season victories at the spring Las Vegas event and in Epping. He was the No. 1 qualifier six times and, entering the Pomona event, had compiled a 36-18 win-loss record.

In his career, Schumacher has collected 77 NHRA national event wins, 15 more than second-ranked Larry Dixon. Schumacher’s eight season championships account for three more than the next best driver, Joe Amato, who won the title five times between 1984 and 1992.

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