Schumacher, U.S. Army team head to site of seven NHRA titles after winning once in two final rounds last year at Las Vegas
Tony Schumacher knows his way down a dragstrip well enough to have won a record 72 NHRA Top Fuel titles, be the first to reach 330 mph at any distance and own nearly ever record in NHRA's most prestigious category.
Each year he and his U.S. Army team begin with the goal of winning the world championship and seven times they have reached that goal. It doesn't matter to them if they win one event title or all 24 in a season.
Tony and the U.S. Army team exude confidence.
They will arrive confidently to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and be ready for qualifying on Friday and Saturday.
It certainly helps that Tony is headed to Las Vegas where he has earned a track-record seven NHRA Wally trophies in 10 final rounds through 27 events at the track. Last season, he won the spring event and was a finalist at the one in the fall. He has only won more times (nine) at the prestigious U.S. Nationals held over Labor Day Weekend near Indianapolis.
"I wish I had the answer because I'd bottle it up and sell it," he said of his success at Las Vegas and Indy.
"There's just no answer. Why haven't we ever won at Atlanta? Or why have we won the U.S. Nationals nine times, and that's the hardest race in the world."
Atlanta Dragway is the only track on the schedule where he has not conquered the winner's circle.
"Vegas is early in the year when there's pressure on all of us, and the next-to-last race when we've had to do well to either clinch the championship or get into position to do it at the next race at Pomona."
Tony, 44, is the defending champ of the spring race at Las Vegas and was runner-up last October to teammate Antron Brown in the season's penultimate event.
But through three races this year, Tony has lost in the first round twice and in the quarterfinals once. The team's last trip to pick up a trophy was at Route 66 Raceway near Chicago last June, which is 15 races ago.
"The next time we win it will be a helluva party because it's been a while," he said. "And there's no place better to have a party than in Las Vegas."
The U.S. Army team led by crew chief Mike Green and assistant Neal Strausbaugh has shown that it is closing in on the right tune-up and clutch set-up. Tony qualified second last month near Phoenix and seventh two weeks ago at Gainesville, Fla.
"Getting through adversity when others might get mad is what pulls us together," Tony said. "We've seen numerous teams fall apart when they're not winning. But we've sucked it up and have stayed together. We know the outcome will be good and adversity happens in our sport. We know tough times occur and that's just part of the game.
"Championships are the most excellent when you had to go through times like this. I'm an extreme pressure driver, and our Army team with Mike and Neal are all about pressure."
Thursday's Fanfest on 'Brookyn Bridge'
The annual spring NHRA Fanfest returns to the "Brooklyn Bridge" in front of the New York New York Hotel & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip is 5-7 p.m. (PT) Thursday when the event kicks off the NHRA Nationals with music, games, ticket giveaways and fun.
Tony will join Don Schumacher Racing drivers Antron Brown, Spencer Massey, Ron Capps, Jack Beckman, Matt Hagan and Tommy Johnson Jr. and other stars of the Mello Yello Series from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. for a free autograph session.
Another feature of Fanfest will be the display of DSR's New York New York Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car.
New York New York is the official Las Vegas hotel and casino for DSR.
Don Schumacher Racing