SCHULTZ LOOKING TO KEEP MOMENTUM ALIVE AT BRAINERD BRAINERD, Minn. - Just when it appeared Dave Schultz would ride his familiar Sunoco Suzuki off into the sunset, never to be heard from again, he proves that he's not done just yet. There...
SCHULTZ LOOKING TO KEEP MOMENTUM ALIVE AT BRAINERD
BRAINERD, Minn. - Just when it appeared Dave Schultz would ride his familiar Sunoco Suzuki off into the sunset, never to be heard from again, he proves that he's not done just yet.
There will be no official passing of the torch. He's still got a few wins left in him.
After ending the longest winning drought of his career last month at Denver, Schultz is ready to get back into the winning groove.
The 51-year-old rider, a six-time Winston champion with 43 career victories, hopes to duplicate his Denver effort at the 18th annual Colonel's Truck Accessories NHRA Nationals, Aug. 19-22, at The Colonel's Brainerd International Raceway. The $1.6 million race is the 15th of 22 events in the $40 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.
"I may be old, but I'm not dead yet," said Schultz, a resident of Fort Myers, Fla. "Two-and-a-half years is way too long to go without a victory. We want to make sure that we don't go that long again without a victory. In fact, we're looking to make it two in a row at Brainerd."
While Matt Hines and Angelle Seeling have been stealing all the headlines in NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle competition for the last three years, Schultz has come to a crossroad in his career. After experimenting with his own engine program last season, he decided to make several changes for 1999.
"Last year was horrible," said Schultz, whose best finish was a couple of runner-up efforts. "I didn't win a race for the first time in my career and I turned 50. I started to wonder if there was a limit to how long you can do this competitively. Then we lost a good friend in John Myers with his tragic accident. All of those things together made me start thinking about my own mortality. My desire to win races is still there. Now I've proved to myself that I can still win these races, that's all I needed."
Schultz was also working with several newcomers to the category, most notably Antron Brown and Stephanie Reeves. Reeves has retired and Brown has teamed with Tony Mullen, giving Schultz the flexibility and time to focus entirely on his team.
Another major change in Schultz's team has been the addition of Byron Hines horsepower. Schultz dropped his engine building program and decided to become one of Hines' clients. Hines provides engines for a majority of the competitors in the category.
"For the first time in a long time, I only have my own racing operation to worry about," he said. "I feel very relaxed working with Byron and that's been a big plus for our program. In fact, that's one of the reasons our program came together so quickly."
Schultz is a two-time Brained winner, earning back-to-back victories there in 1993-94. His last final round appearance at the Minnesota quarter-mile was in 1997 when he lost to Matt Hines. Last season at Brainerd, Schultz lost in the second round, also to Hines.
Hometown favorites: Three NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle riders are Minnesota residents and would like nothing better than to post a victory at their home track: John Smith, from Champlin, rider of the Anoka-Ramsey Suzuki; Greg Underdahl, from Forest Lake, rider of the TAS Racing Suzuki; and C.J. Smith, also from Champlin, rider of the Briggs Racing Kawasaki.