PRESTIGIOUS CHEVROLET PERFORMANCE U.S. NATIONALS BRINGS OUT THE BEST IN EIGHT-TIME TOP FUEL WORLD CHAMP TONY SCHUMACHER
Schumacher made NHRA history in 2016 with 10th Big Go win & Traxxas Nitro Shootout victory
INDIANAPOLIS – While Tony Schumacher has always enjoyed considerable success at the prestigious Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, the eight-time Top Fuel world champion took that success to new heights a season ago at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.
Schumacher started by winning the $100,000 Traxxas Nitro Shootout, capping off a memorable Labor Day weekend with his 10th Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals victory, becoming the first driver in NHRA history to reach that mark at the world’s biggest drag race. As far as an encore during this weekend’s 63rd annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, Schumacher hopes he can match what he did a year ago in his 10,000-horsepower U.S. Army dragster.
“We have the opportunity to match it, but going out last year and being a machine Saturday and winning the Traxxas Shootout and then coming back Monday and winning our 10th U.S. Nationals, it was a complete team effort and the result of a tremendous amount of work,” Schumacher said. “You remember the little things the most, the look in the eyes of the guys that won Indy for the first time. Everyone works so hard to have that feeling and to be able to experience it with them is something that’s very hard to describe. It’s just one of the many things that makes Indy so special. We’re excited to get out there and see if we can do it again.”
Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Chris McGaha (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were also last year’s winners of a race that will be broadcasted on FOX and Fox Sports 1 (FS1), including a live broadcast of finals on both FOX and FS1 on Monday, Sept. 4. Drag racing’s grandest event marks the end of the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series regular season, with the six-race Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship to follow.
Schumacher has always shined at the Big Go, including an incredible string from 2000-2009 where he won the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals eight times. But after winning again in 2012, he had been ousted in recent years before knocking off Steve Torrence in the finals last season. It also only further Schumacher’s reputation of racing at his best in the biggest moments.
“This team lives for the big moments,” said Schumacher, who has 83 career wins. “The times when your back is against the wall and you absolutely have to perform, that’s what its all about. The U.S. Nationals brings out the best in all of us, because it’s the event everyone points too. I have been extremely fortunate during my career not only to in big moments, especially at Indy, but to be surrounded by a team capable of that moment. We always have positive feelings when we come here, and we’ve had so much luck here. There’s no better feeling, than being the last one standing on Monday afternoon knowing you just won Indy.”
Having success in both the Traxxas Nitro Shootout, which takes place on Saturday in Top Fuel, and in eliminations for the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals would come at a perfect time for Schumacher, who is currently fourth in the points standings. He only trails Don Schumacher Racing teammates Antron Brown, the current points leader, and Leah Pritchett, and Torrence, a six-time winner this season, knowing full well what a boost a victory in Indy can provide.
“The U.S. Army team is a pressure driven team,” Schumacher said. “We’ve been through so many battles together. We know what it takes to win and right now, winning Indy is the most important thing. If you can win Indy, chances are you have a car and team capable of doing some damage in the Countdown. It’s been proven that you have to win in the Countdown to be champ. We’re ready to come out with our best showing Friday and be ready to make a run at the Traxxas Shootout Saturday and position ourselves to be in the mix Monday for the biggest trophy of the season.”
Hagan grabbed his first career Indy win last season in Funny Car and has three wins in 2017. He’s currently chasing reigning world champ Ron Capps, who has six wins this season, and Robert Hight, who won two races during the NHRA’s Western Swing.
McGaha’s first Indy win in Pro Stock came a year ago. Greg Anderson has six wins at the Big Go, second to only Bob Glidden’s nine at the race, while others to watch include points leader Bo Butner, rookie Tanner Gray and Drew Skillman.
Hines picked up his second Indy win in 2016 and is after his first win of 2017. Former world champ and 2010 Indy winner LE Tonglet has been dominant this year, winning five races, but will have to hold off reigning world champ Jerry Savoie, Eddie Krawiec and Matt Smith.
Bonus bucks are on the line for qualified drivers in Top Fuel and Funny Car in the lucrative Traxxas Nitro Shootout. The Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Funny Car is contested on Sunday. Traxxas Nitro Shootout winners will earn $100,000. Courtney Force was the 2016 winner in Funny Car.
Drivers in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Series also will look to become winners of the prestigious event. The fastest Super Stock cars will challenge for ultimate bragging rights and bonus purse during the popular Mopar HEMI Challenge. After Nitro qualifying, fans can watch the spectacular Muy Caliente Racing jet dragsters sponsored by Lucas Oil and the Larsen Motorsports jet dragsters sponsored by Florida Tech and Matrix System. Jet cars are thrust driven propelled by jet engines with exciting pre-run flame shows.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers. Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
A special Monday edition of the SealMaster NHRA Track Walk also will take place prior to final eliminations, where many of the sport’s most celebrated drivers will walk alongside fans down the historic dragstrip. Fan-favorite vintage racecars will be on display in the Hot Rod Junction, along with several autograph sessions featuring the biggest stars of the sport will be featured.
Downtown Indianapolis will come alive with NHRA excitement at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 30, when the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals Fan Fest comes to Monument Circle. It will feature NHRA race team showcars, classic cars, live music, video displays and giveaways, along with one of the largest autograph sessions of the season, featuring all the fans’ favorite drivers. In addition, the official event press conference will take place and the random lottery drawings for the No. 8 positions in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout will be conducted.
The first of five Mello Yello Series qualifying sessions is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 1. Two more sessions will take to the track on Saturday, Sept. 2 at 2:30 p.m. and 6:15 p.m., and the final two qualifying sessions will take place on Sunday, Sept. 3 at 11:30 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 4. The Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Top Fuel will be contested Saturday, Sept. 2 with rounds at 3:45 p.m., 5:45 p.m. and 7:40 p.m. The Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Funny Car takes place on Sunday, Sept. 3 for the eight qualified drivers, with rounds at 12:45 p.m., 2:45 p.m. and 4:40 p.m.
FOX national broadcast and FS1 will televise coverage of the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, starting with qualifying on Sunday, Sept. 3 on FS1 at 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. EST. The broadcasts continue on FS1 with two hours of live coverage of eliminations on Monday, Sept. 4 starting at 11 a.m. EST, continuing live on FOX at 1 p.m. EST.
Tickets for the world’s most prestigious drag race can be purchased by calling the NHRA Ticket Sales Center at (800) 884-NHRA (6472), or online at www.NHRA.com/tickets. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. To honor the Salute to First Responders, military and first responders can save 20 percent on general admission tickets at the gate. For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.