BRAINERD, Minn. (August 21, 2022) – For the second time in three events, Tony Schumacher and the Okuma Top Fuel team advanced to the final round, having recorded a runner-up finish on Sunday afternoon at the NHRA Brainerd Nationals.
Following his NHRA Northwest Nationals victory in Seattle earlier this month, and a quarterfinal finish in Topeka, Kansas last weekend, Schumacher and the Maynard Family Racing team have been steadily making their way back into the
2022 NHRA Top Fuel title conversation. With Sunday’s final round appearance, Schumacher moved up one spot in the standings to eighth with only one event remaining before Countdown starting positions are set.
Schumacher qualified his DSR Performance-powered Okuma dragster seventh to start race day, and eliminated Doug Kalitta, Josh Hart, and Justin Ashley to reach his 156th final round, but it wasn’t without some drama, and the round wins were hard-fought. Schumacher pedaled to an ugly win over Kalitta as the two Top Fuel titans smoked their way down the track. While getting the car prepped for their
round two contest versus Hart, the team encountered a mechanical issue which caused them to be delayed heading to the starting line. Without the opportunity to warm up, the team raced to the starting line with moments to spare before crew chiefs were instructed to fire up their machines. Despite the hiccup in the pit and a loss of traction during his race, Schumacher powered to the win over Hart’s immediate tire-smoker.
The semifinals featured another pedalfest between Schumacher and Ashley, with the 86-time winner relying on his two-plus decades of driving experience to set off the win light once more and earn a bid into the final round.
“Pedaling the car every single run, until the final round, it just kicks your butt,” said Schumacher, a three-time Brainerd event champion. “These cars are beautiful machines, but violent as the day is long, and it was epic. Second round, we couldn’t even get our car to start. We didn’t even fire the thing up on nitromethane before we went up against Josh Hart. I thank him for waiting, he’s a class act. It was one of those things today where you pretty much knew you and whoever you’re racing, you’re both going to smoke the tires so you’ve got to focus on what you’ve got to do; the track was so bald. Situational awareness is important. Understanding who you’re racing, understanding what the track is going to do, and what the car is more than likely going to provide for you, and
being able to react to it is key to going rounds and reaching the finals on a day like today.”
In the final round showdown, fans were treated to a race between the winningest Top Fuel driver in the history of the sport, and the reigning four-time series champ, Steve Torrence. Against Torrence, Schumacher moved first and was charging hard but his machine started to haze the tires near the eighth-mile mark and Torrence was able to pull ahead for the win. “By the time we got to the final round I thought, man, if we can get down this track, we’re going to win it,” Schumacher explained while debriefing after eliminations had wrapped. “I swore at halftrack, I thought we had it won. We were so far out and it started spinning the tires and I still thought, no way two of us are going down this
race track; it’s too hot, too slippery. But, at the end of the day, we got some good points this weekend, and had a good run; we’re happy. I’m proud of my guys, they work so damn hard, it’s simply insane what they had to go through today. “We’ve got momentum, we’ve got a good car. We were going to stay and test tomorrow, but instead, we’re going to go back, go through our parts and get everything ready because the sole thing on our mind right now is winning Indy.”
Schumacher will have the opportunity for more points moves at the upcoming NHRA U.S. Nationals, an event that features a unique points-and-a-half format. Schumacher returns to Indianapolis for the final event of the NHRA’s ‘regular’ season as a 10-time event winner, the most of any NHRA Camping World Series competitor.
Qualified: No. 7 (3.716 E.T. at 325.92 MPH) Elimination Round Results: E1: 3.940 E.T. at 292.27 MPH defeated Doug Kalitta 5.349 E.T. at 118.13 MPH E2: 4.227 E.T. at 201.16 MPH defeated Josh Hart 10.848 E.T. at 78.57 MPH E3: 4.336 E.T. at 226.32 MPH defeated Justin Ashley 4.936 E.T. at 292.71 MPH E4: 3.942 E.T. a
t 286.50 MPH defeated by Steve Torrence 3.866 E.T. at 322.04 MPH NHRA Camping World Series Top Fuel Point Standings (unofficial):
1 Brittany Force 1206
2 Mike Salinas 1112
3 Steve Torrence 1076
4 Justin Ashley 1070
5 Josh Hart 797
6 Leah Pruett 761
6 Shawn Langdon 761
8 Tony Schumacher 703
9 Doug Kalitta 692
10 Antron Brown 668