Keeping Pace

Schumacher focused on return to victory lane

Tony Schumacher celebrates his NHRA victory in Bristol, Tenn. (Photo courtesy of NHRA)
Tony Schumacher celebrates his NHRA victory in Bristol, Tenn. (Photo courtesy of NHRA)

Heading into this weekend’s O’Reilly Auto Parts Nationals here at zMax Dragway, Tony Schumacher finds himself trailing Top Fuel points leader Larry Dixon by more than four rounds of racing – 87 points – and holding third-place in the standings.

Courtesy: NHRA Media Relations

Charlotte, NC-It may not be a make or break scenario just yet, but U.S. Army Top Fuel driver Tony “The Sarge” Schumacher clearly knows he can’t lose any more ground in the NHRA’s Countdown to 1 if he’s going to challenge for a seventh straight world championship.

Heading into this weekend’s O’Reilly Auto Parts Nationals here at zMax Dragway, Schumacher finds himself trailing leader Larry Dixon by more than four rounds of racing – 87 points – and holding third-place in the standings.

“We definitely need to pick up the pace pretty quickly,” said Schumacher as he packed for the trip to the Tar Heel State. “Frankly, we could use a win this Sunday. That would provide a tremendous lift for us.”

The Chicago-area resident advanced to the semifinals of the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis two weeks ago, but was beaten by his Don Schumacher Racing teammate, Cory McClenathan. He then watched Dixon record his 10th victory of the season.

“Obviously, we wanted Cory to take out Larry in the finals for a number of different reasons, but it just wasn’t in the cards,” said Schumacher. “It is what it is for us right now. We know what we have to do if we’re going to remain in contention for the title. Like our Army Strong Soldiers, my team has incredible drive and determination to be successful.”

With only five races remaining in the Countdown to 1, Schumacher is fully aware he has to leave zMAX Dragway having drawn closer to Dixon or risk watching the parade pass him by.

“That’s the best way to sum it up,” he said. “We have to cut into his lead this weekend if we’re going to have a shot. While it would be welcomed, we don’t necessarily have to get it all back with one swing of the bat. We need to chip away and eventually we’ll find ourselves back on top.”

Schumacher is quite happy round two of the Countdown will take place at Bruton Smith’s “Bellagio of drag strips". He captured the inaugural race in 2008 and in the process became the winningest Top Fuel driver in NHRA history.

“That was a huge moment for a lot of us,” he offered. “No matter what happens from this point forward in my career, I’ll always have that special memory.”




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Keeping Pace

Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.





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