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Tony Schumacher Ready to Continue Progress, Budding Rivalry at NHRA 4-Wide Nationals

It’s safe to say that Tony Schumacher is more than ready to get back in the cockpit of his Top Fuel dragster to continue the fight for success this 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing season. This weekend at the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Schumacher will be piloting the Okuma Top Fuel Dragster from April 12 to 14, 2024.

Despite being the most successful driver in NHRA Top Fuel history, Tony Schumacher seeks his first four-wide Wally trophy, having come close with runner-up finishes in previous four-wide events at Charlotte and Las Vegas.

Schumacher enters the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals with strong momentum following his Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge victory in Phoenix and a runner-up finish at the NHRA Winternationals. As part of a new three-race primary partnership with Okuma, Schumacher aims to continue his exceptional performance in Las Vegas, Charlotte, and later in Dallas.

Schumacher’s friendly rivalry with Justin Ashley adds an intriguing layer to the upcoming races.

“I love going to a four-wide because even Justin Ashley can’t put me out of those rounds! All I’ve got to do is beat everyone else, which I’ve done all year with the exception of Gainesville, and I’m good,” said Schumacher. “I can finish second to him twice and then win in the finals. But all jokes aside, he’s my Achilles heel lately. He’s a great leaver and we’ve got mutual respect for each other and we’re making our own natural rivalry. No one has to build it, no one has to fake it.

“We have a great, great car. We ran low E.T. and would have beat every car except for Justin’s car on that (Phoenix E1) run. (NHRA announcer) Alan Reinhart says it often, this is a ‘right place, right time kind of sport,’ and I’ve said that a million times too because that’s just the way it is,” he added. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a situation where my run won, but would’ve lost to everyone else, or my run lost, but would’ve beat everyone else. But, at the end of the day, we have a car that’s fifty times better than what we’ve had the last few years. We’re ready to race. We’re showing up with a car that can perform. My light that round against Justin was third-quickest, it just got whooped by the guy who had the first-quickest. So, we’re not dropping the ball; it’s just we had a team step up to race us.”

The JCM Racing/Leatherwood Distillery A/Fuel Dragster will also be a key contender, piloted by Mike Lewis, VP of JCM Racing. The car, owned by Samsel Racing and previously driven by Joe C. Maynard, promises high performance after its double victories earlier this season in Gainesville, Fla.

This story was originally published on April 11, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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