After an offseason of rumors regarding the sponsorship status of Tony Schumacher and the former U.S. Army Top Fuel team, the eight-time NHRA Top Fuel world champion confirmed this evening that he will not race at this weekend’s 59th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com. This will be Schumacher’s first time missing the NHRA season-opener since he started racing Top Fuel in 1997.
The U.S. Army, Schumacher’s primary sponsor for 18 seasons, announced last July that it would not renew its contract with Don Schumacher Racing for the 2019 season. The marketing team at the Brownsburg, Indiana-based DSR shop went to work searching for a new brand to support the 2019 efforts of Schumacher and his team led by crew chiefs Mike Neff and Phil Shuler.
Rumors about a potential new sponsor circulated over the offseason. One week it was another branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, the next week it was a company in the IT industry. With none of the rumored sponsorship deals materializing in time to make the Winternationals, the mega-team was left with the difficult decision to park its winningest team.
Stay tuned to DragIllustrated.com for updates on this situation as it unfolds.