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Tony Schumacher Races to Semifinal Finish at PRO Superstar Shootout

After a strong finish to his 2023 campaign, eight-time NHRA Top Fuel world champion Tony Schumacher kept that momentum rolling into 2024, advancing to the semifinals of the SCAG Power Equipment PRO Superstar Shootout presented by Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage on Saturday at Bradenton Motorsports Park.
 
Following two-plus days of impressive test runs in his JCM Racing Leatherwood Distillery Top Fuel dragster, Schumacher opened qualifying with a strong run of 3.696-seconds at 330.96 MPH on Thursday. He added a pair of consistent runs in the low 3.70s to close out qualifying on Friday, giving the team, led by crew chiefs Mike Neff and Jon Schaffer plenty of confidence heading into race day.
 
That turned into an opening-round win against Antron Brown, with Schumacher going 4.116 at 275.73 MPH. Both cars lost traction early, but Schumacher was able to recover to advance to the semifinals in the competitive eight-car field. There, Schumacher lost traction while Clay Millican made a clean pass in the next lane, putting an end to his day. Schumacher, though, left Bradenton with plenty of positives, especially considering the major overhaul that was done to the car in the off-season.
 
“We got a lot of really good test runs in,” said Schumacher, who has 86 career Top Fuel victories. “Changing so much on the car and running like we did, getting in the .60s a few times, probably as many as we ran all last year, it was outstanding. It’s a completely different car. It’s raceable, it’s fast, it looks great, and the team is gelling.”
 
It’s a great sign for Top Fuel’s winningest driver heading into the 2024 season in the NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series. After struggling early last season, Schumacher and his team found their rhythm late in the year, running in the 3.60s three different times in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
 
Even after the vast changes, the team picked up right where they left off, with Schumacher marveling at the team’s performance in testing leading into the PRO Superstar Shootout. Adding another run in the 3.60s in qualifying and advancing to the semifinals kept him confident as the team gets primed for a big season. It’s a step in the right direction and has Schumacher eager to start the 2024 NHRA season on a strong note.
 
“I can’t wait to get to Gainesville and do a little more testing,” Schumacher said. “It’s great to go out and run fast on a track that’s prepared differently, but we’re going to have to go out and race at an NHRA race. That’s really going to be a telltale sign in a couple of weeks, but we know now we have power. We ran 330 MPH so many times, the car’s keeping its head up, it’s not putting cylinders out and it’s just a completely different car than we had last year.”
 
The 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series season opens March 8-10 with the 55th annual NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway.

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