CONCORD, NC – September 20, 2023 – (Motor Sports NewsWire) – A regular season filled with struggles changed almost overnight for Tony Schumacher. The Top Fuel legend and eight-time world champ enjoyed a sizeable turnaround to open the Countdown to the Championship, advancing to the semifinals last weekend to kick off the playoffs.
He moved up to ninth in the points standings heading to this weekend’s betway NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway, determined to make another significant jump at a track that has served him well over the years in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series.
Schumacher has won the Charlotte fall race twice and is excited for another big weekend at the Bellagio of dragstrips. Last weekend was Schumacher’s best performance in his 11,000-horsepower SCAG Power Equipment/JCM Racing dragster in three months and it couldn’t have happened at a better time as the 86-time event winner has his sights set on a big playoff push.
“I love Charlotte,” Schumacher said. “We’re getting down to cutthroat time with just five races left in the season. Right now, we’ve got to make moves, but our SCAG dragster performed so great last weekend in Reading. I’ve been saying all year long, we’re going to get it figured out. It’s not a matter of if but when. We have a lot of confidence going into this weekend and we all feel really good about these last few races of the year.”
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Aaron Stanfield (Pro Stock) claimed victories in 2022 at the fall race at zMAX Dragway. This year’s race will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 (FS1), including eliminations coverage at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 24. It is the second of six playoff races and the 17th of 21 races during the 2023 NHRA season, and Schumacher and his team may be rounding into form at the perfect time.
After a rough start to the season, Schumacher appeared to hit his stride, advancing to the final round of the Epping event, which took place in Bristol in early June. But the team against struggled to find its rhythm, posting only one round over the next eight events heading into the Countdown to the Championship.
That left Schumacher an uncharacteristic 12th in points to open the playoffs, but he enjoyed a swift and significant turnaround at Maple Grove Raceway. He qualified ninth, displaying strong consistency and qualifying, winning a pair of rounds before weather pushed the finish to Monday.
He fell in the semifinals to four-time world champion Steve Torrence, but Schumacher was thrilled with the improvements, also knowing his team is capable of winning in Charlotte. Of course, making up ground isn’t easy in the loaded Top Fuel ranks, where fans at zMAX Dragway will see the likes of points leader Torrence, Reading winner Doug Kalitta, standout Justin Ashley, reigning world champion Brittany Force, Leah Pruett, Charlotte spring race winner Austin Prock and Antron Brown. But a determined Schumacher is confident his team can continue to make things happen this weekend.
“We were 139 points out (of first) coming into (Maple Grove) and we worked our way closer,” Schumacher said. “We’re a long way from a championship, but we’re still alive. We’ve pulled off miracles before and the fact that the car came so far (last weekend), it’s huge. We have five races left to go. Let’s get ourselves into the top five and fight for this thing.”
Funny Car’s Robert Hight, who won the spring race in Charlotte, moved into the points lead last weekend with a victory, but stands at just three points over back-to-back defending world champ Capps. Others to watch including Bob Tasca III, Matt Hagan, John Force, Chad Green and J.R. Todd.
Matt Hartford moved into the Pro Stock points lead for the first time in his career with his win in the playoff opener. He’ll try to keep it against the likes of reigning world champion Erica Enders, Dallas Glenn, Troy Coughlin Jr., defending event winner Stanfield and Circle K NHRA Four-Wide Nationals winner Deric Kramer.
Also on track will be the Pro Stock Motorcycle division which will include the likes of points leader Matt Smith, who jumped Gaige Herrera with his win to start the Countdown. Hot on their heels are Hector Arana Jr., Eddie Krawiec and Angie Smith.
The betway NHRA Carolina Nationals also will feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, which includes some of the sport’s top drivers, as well as the new NHRA Factory X presented by Holley class, the ever-exciting Mountain Motor Pro Stock category and a Top Fuel Motorcycle exhibition. Fans can also look forward to special freestyle motocross exhibitions all weekend. The star riders will perform three times a day in the midway, adding another entertaining aspect to the weekend.
On Saturday, fans can brush up on their NHRA knowledge and attend Nitro School to learn more about how the cars operate and reach their thrilling speeds. That takes place at the Nitro Alley Stage all weekend, which is the main entertainment hub in the pits when the Camping World Drag Racing Series competitors are not on the track, hosting Nitro School, meet and greets and much more.
Race fans at zMAX Dragway can enjoy the special pre-race ceremonies that introduce and celebrate each of the drivers racing for the prestigious Wally on Sunday and includes the fan favorite SealMaster Track Walk. The final can’t-miss experience of any NHRA event is the winner’s circle celebration on Sunday after racing concludes, where fans are invited to congratulate the betway NHRA Carolina Nationals event winners.
As always, fans also get an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet in Charlotte. This unique opportunity gives fans a chance to see teams in action and service their hot rods between rounds, get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers, and more. Fans can also visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create an exciting atmosphere that includes interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food, and fun for the entire family.
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature one round at 6:00 p.m. ET on Friday, Sept. 22, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Sept. 23 at 1:00 and 4:00 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11:00 a.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 24. Television coverage includes qualifying action on FS1 at 9:30 a.m. ET on Saturday and 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, and then eliminations on FS1 at 2:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.
About Camping World Holdings, Inc.
Camping World Holdings, Inc., headquartered in Lincolnshire, IL, (together with its subsidiaries) is the World’s largest retailer of RVs and related products and services. Our vision is to build a long-term legacy business that makes RVing fun and easy. Our Camping World and Good Sam brands have been serving RV consumers since 1966. We strive to build long-term value for our customers, employees, and shareholders by combining a unique and comprehensive assortment of RV products and services with a national network of RV dealerships, service centers and customer support centers along with the industry’s most extensive online presence and a highly trained and knowledgeable team of employees serving our customers, the RV lifestyle, and the communities in which we operate. We also believe that our Good Sam organization and family of programs and services uniquely enable us to connect with our customers as stewards of the RV enthusiast community and the RV lifestyle. With RV sales and service locations in 43 states, Camping World has grown to become the prime destination for everything RV. For more information, visit www.CampingWorld.com.
Headquartered in San Dimas, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 21 national events featuring the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, FuelTech NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by Type A Motorsports, Flexjet NHRA Factory Stock Showdown™ and Top Fuel Harley Series. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and NHRA Street Legal™. NHRA also offers the NHRA Jr. Street® program for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League® for youth ages 5 to 17. With 120 Member Tracks, NHRA allows racers to compete at a variety of locations nationally and internationally. NHRA’s Youth and Education Services® (YES) Program reaches over 30,000 students annually to ignite their interest in automotive and racing related careers. NHRA’s streaming service, NHRA.tv®, allows fans to view all NHRA national events as well as exclusive features of the sport. In addition, NHRA owns and operates three racing facilities: Gainesville Raceway in Florida; Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park; and In-N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip in Southern California. For more information, log on to www.NHRA.com, or visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
Source: National Hot Rod Association