Schumacher back to winning ways

Published: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 7:28 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 7:28 p.m.

What's happened in 2013: Tony Schumacher, who came on strong in his Army dragster in the last half of the 2012 season, has continued his hot, fast run early this season. In the opening event of the season, Sarge made it to the final at the O'Reilly Auto Parts Winternationals in Pomona, Calif., where he was edged out by Shawn Langdon (3.721 seconds to 3.747). A few weeks later, at the Arizona Nationals in Phoenix, he streaked through eliminations again to reach the final. This time, he came away a winner in a wild race with Morgan Lucas that saw both drivers smoke their tires early. Schumacher recovered quicker and edged out Lucas at the finish. It was the 70th Top Fuel victory of Schumacher's career.


Last year

Gatornationals reigning champion

Morgan Lucas (3.743 seconds elapsed time, 326.87 miles per hour) defeated Tony Schumacher (5.289 ET, 139.63 mph) in the final.

Track records

ET: 3.749 seconds by Lucas in 2012

MPH: 326.87 by Lucas in 2012

National records

ET: 3.701 seconds by Antron Brown in 2012 in Reading, Pa.

MPH: 332.18 by Spencer Massey in Charlotte in 2012

Previewing The Gator: Over the past 10 years or so, Top Fuel has been dominated by a few. Actually, the two. There was Tony Schumacher winning six consecutive points championships from 2004-09. Then there was that remarkable 2010 season that saw Larry Dixon win 12 races to dominate a season perhaps like no other driver has, in any category. Schumacher says those days where one driver dominates is over in Top Fuel. “It's because there's so many good teams. There are so many good cars. There are so many good drivers doing just a great job,” he said. Despite that, Schumacher heads into Gatornationals looking like he could possibly regain his dominant form. He won in Phoenix three weeks ago after reaching the final at Pomona in the season-opening race. In the last four events, dating back to the end of last season, Sarge has reached four consecutive finals. So, he's the guy to beat this weekend, in a race he's won four times. But the competition will be fierce. Antron Brown, Schumacher's Army teammate, won the points championship last season and is one of the new stars in Top Fuel. Dixon, who also has won four Gatornationals, has a full-time ride after competing in only three races a year ago, and is looking to become relevant again. The driver who likely will receive the most attention this weekend is Brittany Force, the youngest of the racing Forces. She is a rookie in Top Fuel, stepping outside her father's comfort zone (Funny Car). There are a host of other drivers also capable of winning this weekend, including Spencer Massey, Brandon Bernstein, Shawn Langdon, Doug Kalitta, Morgan Lucas and others.

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