Two titanic Top Fuel talents on Matco Tools team. ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (May 14) -- With an eye on the future of NHRA drag racing, Matco Tools has corralled two of the most promising young guns of the Top Fuel class to be a part of its race team.
Two titanic Top Fuel talents on Matco Tools team.
ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. (May 14) -- With an eye on the future of NHRA drag racing, Matco Tools has corralled two of the most promising young guns of the Top Fuel class to be a part of its race team. Decorated pilots Darrell Russell and Tony Schumacher both proudly display the Matco Tools logo on their 330-mph dragsters, routinely carrying the Matco Tools "Iron Eagle" down the quarter-mile in a jaw-dropping 4.5 seconds. They'll battle this weekend for the title of the 33rd annual Matco Tools SuperNationals presented by Racing Champions at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.
The 33-year-old Russell carries on a long-standing relationship between Matco Tools and team owner Joe Amato, who retired after the 2000 season. A five-time series champion and the all-time wins leader in Top Fuel history with 52 national event titles to his credit, Amato put Matco Tools in the winner's circle of this event six times (1983, '88, '92, '96, '98-'99), making him the most prolific winner in the 33-year history of the Matco Tools SuperNationals and Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.
Now Russell has taken over for the legendary Amato and has successfully kept his Bilstein Engine Flush System/Matco Tools dragster in its rightful place among the class leaders. Matching a feat accomplished only two times in the 51-year history of the NHRA, Russell won his first event as a professional driver and carried the momentum of that win to an impressive first year that ended with him receiving the coveted title of 2001 NHRA Rookie of the Year.
Russell and Amato now enter the 2002 Matco Tools SuperNationals presented by Racing Champions intent on continuing Team Amato's winning tradition at this historic race track. With crew chief Wayne Dupuy calling the shots, Russell's rocketship is definitely one to keep an eye on throughout the weekend.
"Every race is important," Russell said. "But considering Joe lives near here in Northeast Pennsylvania and his well-chronicled history at this track plus the fact it's a Matco Tools event, we plan to go all out to put this Bilstein Engine Flush System/Matco Tools dragster on the podium come Sunday."
Vying for the same position will be the charismatic driver of the U.S. Army/Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster, Tony Schumacher. The son of Funny Car pioneer Don Schumacher, the 32-year-old Tony is racing in his seventh season of professional competition. In his short tenure, the popular pro already has a world championship to his credit (1999) and has taken home the hardware from a national event six different times, including the 2002 Phoenix event.
Aside from his prowess when the race's title is on the line, Schumacher has gained worldwide recognition for being the fastest pilot on the planet. He first assumed that mantle in 1999 when he rocked the world with an unbelievable pass of 330.23 mph, which made him the first driver to eclipse the 330-mph barrier. A few years later he did it again in Reading, Pa., guiding the U.S. Army/Matco Tools Top Fuel rail through a 333.08-mph excursion to reset the NHRA's all-time speed mark -- a record that still stands to this day.
"When you have a fast race car and you're running strong you love coming to your sponsor's race," Schumacher said. "Not to mention we're at Englishtown, which can be one of the best tracks we race on. I love this facility and because it's a Matco Tools race I feel like we have an edge. The way the Matco Tools people make us feel like a part of their family, it's like a home-track advantage for us.
"I hope we win but if it's not us, I hope Darrell wins. We're good friends and we talk all the time about how much fun it would be to go head-to-head every weekend. It's time for some new blood fighting for supremacy in the Top Fuel class and Darrell and I would love to take Matco Tools with us to the top."