Phoenix: 330 mph blast launches Schumacher career

CHANDLER, Ariz. - Tony Schumacher's notoriety has soared over the last two NHRA seasons. Much of his recognition can be attributed to a single pass the Park Ridge, Ill., resident made at Firebird Raceway in 1999. During one ...

CHANDLER, Ariz. - Tony Schumacher's notoriety has soared over the last two NHRA seasons. Much of his recognition can be attributed to a single pass the Park Ridge, Ill., resident made at Firebird Raceway in 1999.

During one memorable qualifying session at that event, Schumacher raced down the track reaching a speed of 330.23 mph, etching his name in NHRA's history book as the first driver to eclipse the 330-mph barrier.

Some would argue that Schumacher gained immediate exposure when he reached the final round in his first national event, the 1996 U.S. Nationals. However, Schumacher definitely established himself as a Top Fuel contender with his 1999 NHRA Winston Top Fuel championship. He unseated Gary Scelzi as the series champ by being the most consistent driver in the category with one victory in five final rounds.

Following his '99 championship, Schumacher appeared in 10 final rounds with four victories during the 2000 season and finished second to rival Scelzi in the Winston points standings. Schumacher was unable to compete in the final three races of the 2000 season following a spectacular crash in his U.S. Army dragster in Memphis, Tenn. He finished 266 points behind Scelzi.

"We know what winning the Winston championship feels like and our priority is getting it back for the Army," said Schumacher. "Running for our second championship is every bit as important as winning our first. We feel like we have the best race team possible out here."

Schumacher will return to the site of his historic 330-mph pass when he competes in the 17th annual Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals presented by Pennzoil, Feb. 15-18, at the ultra-quick Firebird International Raceway. $The $1.8 million race is the second of 24 events in the $50 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.

During the 2000 campaign Schumacher only suffered one first round loss. After a disappointing first round defeat at the season-opening event in Pomona, Calif., the 31-year old will look to rebound at a facility that has been good to him.

"We were running awesome during testing in Phoenix," said Schumacher. "In our first round loss in Pomona, we needed to be more aggressive. We were consistent during qualifying, but we were not consistent where we needed to be. We're going to be more aggressive in Phoenix and I guarantee that car will smoke the tires before it shakes. There is not a place I'd rather be than Phoenix. It's a track that has always treated us right and when I'm there I don't ever want to go back to Chicago."

-NHRA-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Schumacher