Tony Schumacher seeking victory at Checker Shuck's Kragen Nationals

CHANDLER, Ariz. - The legend lives on. In one smooth, straight blast, a quarter-mile stretch of asphalt near Phoenix became immortalized in drag racing's history books. At the same time, a young driver from the suburbs of Chicago offered...

CHANDLER, Ariz. - The legend lives on. In one smooth, straight blast, a quarter-mile stretch of asphalt near Phoenix became immortalized in drag racing's history books. At the same time, a young driver from the suburbs of Chicago offered a glimpse of his true talent, and what would become his signature during the 1999 NHRA season. Indeed, when Tony Schumacher recorded the first 330 mile per hour speed in NHRA history early last season at Firebird International Raceway, the effort sent shock waves throughout the drag racing industry. Many had predicted such a speed was possible, perhaps two years into the future. Today the 330.23 mph effort stands as the target for Top Fuel teams who wish to achieve performance excellence in the NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series. Schumacher used the momentum from the milestone speed as the impetus to win his first NHRA Winston Top Fuel championship. All counted, he posted top speed at 14 events and owns seven of the top 10 fastest speeds recorded in NHRA history, including the national record, a 326.91 mph effort. He was not able to back-up the milestone 330.23 within the one percent required to become an NHRA national record. As Schumacher returns to the site of the incredible achievement for the 16th annual Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals presented by Pennzoil, Feb. 24-27, the 30-year-old driver will be seeking more impressive speeds and a victory as he aims to defend his NHRA Winston Top Fuel championship. Joe Amato, John Force and Kurt Johnson are the defending winners in their respective professional categories at the $1.5 million race, the second of 23 events in the $45 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series. Amato, driver of the Tenneco Automotive dragster, out-dueled longtime rival Kenny Bernstein in a Top Fuel final for the ages here one year ago. The two drivers lead a talented pack of favorites, including past Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals winners Cory McClenathan, Gary Scelzi and Larry Dixon. In addition to Schumacher, other top contenders include Doug Herbert, Doug Kalitta and Top Fuel rookie Don Lampus. Force, nine-time NHRA Winston Funny Car champion, also earned a victory here last season against one of his perennial foes, Cruz Pedregon. While the two drivers work for a rematch, other top favorites, like Checker Schuck's Kragen Funny Car teammates Del Worsham and Frank Pedregon, hope for a final round meeting of their own. Whit Bazemore, Funny Car newcomer Bruce Sarver, Cristen Powell, Ron Capps and WWF Racing's Jerry Toliver all pose considerable threats to unseat defending champion Force. Johnson drove his AC Delco Camaro to his first Firebird International Raceway victory in '99, blitzing past Troy Coughlin in the final. Young Johnson's first priorty in defending his crown this season will be holding off the advances of his five-time and defending Winston champion father, Warren. Other top candidates for a Pro Stock victory include Jeg Coughlin, a five-time winner in '99, Richie Stevens, two-time series champ Jim Yates and '93 Firebird winner Mark Pawuk.

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Bruce Sarver , Jeg Coughlin , Troy Coughlin , Larry Dixon , Kenny Bernstein , Mark Pawuk , Kurt Johnson , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , Ron Capps , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Joe Amato , Doug Kalitta , Cruz Pedregon , John Young , Cory McClenathan , Don Lampus , Jerry Toliver , Cristen Powell