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Tony Schumacher Comes Up Short in Battle of ‘Texan vs Texan’ at Dallas FallNationals

Top Fuel’s winningest driver has a long history of success at the Texas Motorplex located outside of Dallas, and he was looking for more Motorplex magic on Sunday at the Texas NHRA Fall Nationals as he sought to pick up his first win of the year. Tony Schumacher has enjoyed a recent late-season performance boost, which saw him advance to the semifinals at two out of the first three playoff events. The Austin resident was hoping to take it one round further at the Ennis, Texas facility but traction issues during round one of eliminations ended Schumacher’s day early, preventing him from making a run at a seventh Dallas trophy.
 
Aboard the SCAG Power Equipment Top Fuel dragster, Schumacher’s weekend began with a solid 3.739-second baseline run right out of the trailer on Friday afternoon. On Friday night, he clocked his best E.T. and speed of the season when he lit up the scoreboards with a 3.690 E.T. at 333.46 MPH. With the unseasonably cool temperatures, many of his competitors also took advantage of the favorable conditions and despite the good run, Schumacher found himself in 10th at the end of the session.
 
During Saturday’s two qualifying rounds, the SCAG machine recorded two more good runs, but by the time the Top Fuel field was set, Schumacher had settled into the No. 12 position on the ladder and found himself facing a heavy-hitter in fellow Texan Billy Torrence in the first round of eliminations. While Schumacher and the SCAG team were armed with the confidence of knowing they were four-for-four throughout qualifying heading into race day, they also knew that if they wanted to get past the Torrence team in the first round, they’d have to run a mid-3.60. In the contest, Schumacher stood on the throttle first to secure the early lead but his machine was up in smoke by the 300-foot marker and he clicked it off as his opponent made a clean pass for the win in the opposite lane.
 
“I hate getting beat. We made four great runs during qualifying but we knew that not one of those runs would’ve won the round today,” said Schumacher, who was named a Texas Motorplex Legend in 2020 for his tremendous history of success at the facility, which includes his first professional win during the 1999 event.
 
“We had to step on it,” added Schumacher of his first-round match with the elder Torrence Racing driver. “We pushed it and the track got a little slower since yesterday. The track itself hadn’t seen UV rays and hot sun until today. We pushed it a little too hard, but the reality is a 3.69 or 70 wasn’t going to win that round so we knew we had to lean on it; that was the right call. We’ve got to find our place in the mid-60s, so we’ll keep working toward being able to run in the mid-60s so we can compete with these guys.”
 
With the end of the 2023 NHRA Camping World Series season fast approaching, Schumacher and the SCAG Power Equipment team have two shots left to close out the year with a win. They return to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the season’s penultimate event, the NHRA Nevada Nationals, ranked ninth in the Top Fuel standings. Schumacher is an eight-time winner at ‘The Strip.’

This story was originally published on October 16, 2023. Drag Illustrated

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