Tony Schumacher heads west to Phoenix

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Schumacher ready for turnaround heading to Phoenix after winning title, setting speed record there a year ago.

BROWNSBURG, Ind. (Feb. 18, 2014) - Seven-time NHRA Top Fuel world champion Tony Schumacher understands one event doesn't comprise a season, and that's why the driver of Don Schumacher Racing's U.S. Army dragster isn't looking for a panic button let alone be ready to push it.

Tony Schumacher
Tony Schumacher

Photo by: Todd Steitle

Tony, winner of an NHRA-record 72 event titles, was disappointed along with crew chief Mike Green and assistant Neal Strausbaugh when their team qualified 10th at the opener two weeks ago at Pomona, Calif., and lost in the opening round of eliminations.

So the team headed for Las Vegas Motor Speedway and tested two days later.

"I'm not worried," Tony said. "This team thrives on adversity. Mike has a plan that I know will work, and you don't change their plan when there are 23 events left in the season.

It will help the U.S. Army team to be racing near Phoenix at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, formerly Firebird International Raceway. Tony owns four titles from the track outside Chandler, Ariz., including last year's and has won four poles there. He also holds the track speed record of 329.91 mph that he set a year ago.

The facility will host its 30th annual NHRA national event but under new management for the first time. The track, which had been plagued with some bumps the past few years has mostly been repaved. About 600 feet of the dragstrip was removed and replaced with concrete.

"We set the speed record there last year and won the title even with the bumps," he said. "We've always done well there and expect our plan to take a big step forward last year.

What hampered the team most two weeks ago at Pomona was qualifying 10th that cost it lane choice in the first round when it lost to eventual event winner Khalid alBalooshi.

"Our qualifying will improve at Phoenix because it can't be the way it was at Pomona," he said. "We can't end up qualified that way and expect to win. We put ourselves in that spot. We need to go fast right off the get-go instead of catching up. Mike knows what he's doing. We have a great plan, and we're getting there."

Don Schumacher Racing

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Series NHRA
Article type Preview
Tags don schumacher racing, nhra, phoenix, tony schumacher