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Tony Schumacher Charges to Second Semifinal Countdown Appearance at St. Louis

Eight-time NHRA Top Fuel world champion Tony Schumacher’s Countdown to the Championship resurgence continued Sunday afternoon when he raced to the semifinals at the NHRA Midwest Nationals at World Wide Technology Raceway near St. Louis. It was Schumacher’s second semifinal finish in three Countdown races, helping the driver of the SCAG Power Equipment Top Fuel dragster move up a spot in the points standings with three races left in the season.
 
Guided by crew chiefs Mike Neff and Jon Schaffer, Schumacher ended Friday as the provisional No. 5 qualifier on the strength of a 3.734-second pass. He struggled to get down the track in the second session on Saturday, but he bounced back in the final session with a 3.754 E.T., the fifth-quickest run of the round. Schumacher settled into the No. 6 spot going into Sunday, marking the second consecutive top-half qualifying effort for the JCM Racing team.
 
In NHRA’s marquee matchup, reigning world champion Brittany Force left the starting line first, but Schumacher pulled ahead by the half-track mark and posted a 3.730 E.T. at 332.84 MPH to finish ahead of Force’s 3.803 E.T. Schumacher met another fellow multi-time world champion, Antron Brown, in the second round. There, he was quicker at the starting line and quicker at the finish line, winning with a 3.808-second pass. Schumacher and semifinal opponent Clay Millican had nearly identical reaction times, but Millican started to pull away by the 330-foot mark and finished ahead of Schumacher and his 3.869 E.T.
 
“The first couple of rounds were outstanding,” said Schumacher, a two-time winner and three-time runner-up at St. Louis. “The last one we went into a mad thrash – we had to change engines twice. I was strapped in before we even pulled out of the pit. Unfortunately, we put a cylinder out and got beat. I had a lot of confidence in that car today and would have been nice to go to the finals. Really would have moved us up seriously in the points. We did some damage. We got some big boys and girls. We got the champ, we got Antron, and made a couple of good runs. Looking forward to getting to Dallas and doing it again.”
 
Schumacher started the Countdown in the No. 12 spot after a regular season plagued by gremlins and tough losses. By reaching the semifinals at two of the three Countdown races, he’s moved up to No. 9 going into the Texas NHRA FallNationals, Oct. 12-15, at the Texas Motorplex outside Dallas.

This story was originally published on October 2, 2023. Drag Illustrated

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