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Tony Schumacher Out Early After Jam-Packed Four-Wide Weekend in Charlotte

Schumacher began race day at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals from the No. 13 position after traction issues plagued the team during day one of qualifying. Starting from the bump spot in sixteenth on Saturday, crew chiefs Mike “Zippy” Neff and Jon “LJ” Schaffer tuned the JCM Racing Okuma rail to a 3.809-second pass at 325.30 MPH during the third qualifying round to move Schumacher up to the No. 15 spot. The team returned to the starting line for Q4 and closed out qualifying with another solid pass, posting a 3.766 E.T. at 320.89 MPH – their quickest of the weekend – to move Schumacher up another two positions to secure the 13th seed.

Facing No. 4 qualifier Clay Millican, No. 5 qualifier Billy Torrence, and No. 12 qualifier Josh Hart in round one of eliminations, Schumacher gave it a good effort, posting a 3.770 E.T. at 328.38, but it wasn’t enough to keep pace with Millican and Torrence, who advanced with 3.705 and 3.725 E.T.s, respectively.

“It gets old getting whipped like this, but we keep making strides,” said Schumacher, who has three runner-up finishes when competing in four-wide style events. “It takes time to get everything running and we are just on the edge of having the best car out here. We would have beat a lot of cars out there, but you can’t go run in the mid-3.70s when you are lined up next to three really great cars. I don’t think we went out there trying to run what we did but it is where we ended up. We’re not exactly where we need to be, but we will keep fighting toward it. Zippy, LJ, and my guys are working really hard at bringing the car to championship form and we are so close to being able to beat the best cars out here; I know it’s coming. For now, we will pack up and get ready to go race in Chicago.”

Before the race weekend got underway, the JCM Racing camp announced a newly formed partnership with Michael Waltrip Brewing Co., with team owner Joe Maynard taking on an ownership role in the NASCAR legend’s premium brewing company. To commemorate the new alliance, Schumacher, along with his teammate Ida Zetterström, and Waltrip, kicked off the race weekend at the Concord, N.C. Michael Waltrip Taproom, situated a stone’s throw away from the zMAX Dragway/Charlotte Motor Speedway racing compound. Earlier that afternoon, Schumacher and Zetterström visited a local ABC store where they autographed bottles of Leatherwood Distillery spirits while meeting with fans.

“Obviously, we had hoped for better results during the race weekend, but it’s been great to support Joe’s latest business ventures this past week,” Schumacher added. “We had a great time meeting with fans at the Waltrip Taproom here in town, and our Bristol fans are in for a real treat as we will be unveiling a co-branded Waltrip Brewing Co./Leatherwood Distillery livery when we head to Bristol, Tennessee later this summer. Premium spirits, cold brews, and drag racing – what could be better?”

Schumacher and the JCM team had more good news to celebrate during the race week as the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America recently released their Class of 2025 roster, which has Schumacher poised to join some of the most elite names in American motorsports history, including his father, Don Schumacher, the late Funny Car pioneer and NHRA team owner, when the class is inducted next March.

Schumacher competes next at Route 66 Raceway where the soon-to-be Hall of Famer returns to his family’s hometown track in Joliet, Ill. Qualifying for the Route 66 Nationals kicks off at 3:30 p.m. local time on Friday, May 17. Fans are invited to join a trackside celebration of life ceremony honoring Don Schumacher, scheduled for 11:30 a.m. that same day.

JCM Racing developmental driver Waylon Bennett

Second-year JCM Racing developmental driver Waylon Bennett won the NHRA Summit Jr. Drag Racing League National Shootout on Sunday at zMAX Dragway. The Shootout featured eight Jr. champions from the 2023 season competing for the national championship.

This story was originally published on April 29, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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