Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor
Tony Schumacher was grounded for the better part of two seasons while he searched for a sponsor, but the sport’s winningest Top Fuel driver clearly hasn’t forgotten how to find the winner’s circle. In his eighth race back this season, Schumacher earned his 85th career win by driving his Okuma/Coromant Sandvik dragster past points leader Steve Torrence in the final.
Tony Schumacher was grounded for the better part of two seasons while he searched for a sponsor, but the sport’s winningest Top Fuel driver clearly hasn’t forgotten how to find the winner’s circle. In his eighth race back this season, Schumacher earned his 85th career win by driving his Okuma/Coromant Sandvik dragster past points leader Steve Torrence in the final. Scumacher knew he’d need a big effort to dethrone the two-time and reigning champion and he got it with a 3.669 that held off the Capco driver’s extremely consistent 3.687 effort in one of the quickest side-by-side races in the history of Top Fuel.
“This is an incredible opportunity and I’m going to display this trophy proudly,” said Schumacher, who won for the first time since the 2018 Bristol race. “I’m super happy for the guys. This is our home track. My fiancé [Summer] and her family are from here and they’re all here today. Half of my neighbors in Austin have come out today and have never been here before. They just saw two of the best semifinal and final rounds you’re ever going to see. I don’t know what that came down to, but I’m guessing inches and thousandths of a second. That’s what it’s about. It’s about the people who showed up here in the stands, the people who worked so hard on this car. We just love the opportunity. We’ve got one more in Vegas and I’m looking forward to that, it’s one of my favorite tracks coming up. I want to win Vegas because you get the whole off-season to think about it.”
I’ve missed the guys and I’ve missed the people,” said Schumacher. We’ve only had a handful of races back as a team and they’re doing a great job for Sandvik, Okuma and Toyota. We’ve been through three race cars in six races. We qualified excellent, then lost our car after Leah broke one. We had to take a new car out and that’s just the second race on it. That car hasn’t made two dozen runs down a racetrack and [crew chief] Mike Green and this Okuma/Sandvik Coromant Toyota team just went out and figured out how to win a race with it.”
Schumacher began the weekend from the No. 2 spot, his best qualifying effort of the season, and marched to his 154th career final thanks to wins against Cameron Ferre, Doug Foley, and Billy Torrence. Schumacher got off the starting line first in that match and never looked back, winning by a 3.701 to 3.753 count.
Torrence may have lost the final but he’s in a prime position to win his third-straight title after making it to the final for the fifth time in the last six races. The Capco Contractors dragster was dominant all weekend with a string of 3.6-second runs. He heads to Las Vegas 101 points ahead of second-ranked Doug Kalitta with a maximum of 183-points available for the weekend meaning he needs to do little more than qualify to secure the title.