Schumacher wins $100,000 Traxxas Top Fuel Shootout prize
Saturday, August 30, 2014

by Brad Littlefield, National DRAGSTER Associate Editor

Tony Schumacher, near lane, defeated Richie Crampton to win the NHRA Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Top Fuel with his U.S. Army team.

Tony Schumacher has been one of the eight drivers to qualify for the NHRA Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Top Fuel and compete for the $100,000 prize during the prestigious Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis at all three incarnations of the event. He had never won a round at the event before this year, but the U.S. Army driver made up for lost time by nabbing the 2014 win and subsequent prize.

The decorated racer met with hopeful rookie Richie Crampton in the final round. Schumacher grabbed a big starting-line advantage and pulled away to win with a 3.748 at a track-record speed of 328.54 mph to defeat Crampton’s time of 3.798, 318.24.

“We knew we would be racing a good car because Richie is tough, and Morgan [Lucas, Crampton’s teammate] just ran a 3.75 earlier,” said Schumacher. “These are the eight best cars in the world. They are cars that have gone out, won races, and continuously found themselves in final rounds. It’s very satisfying.

“It’s not my 10th Indy win, but it’s my 10th win in Indy,” said the nine-time Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals champion. “That’s pretty cool. I said coming into this place that we tend to be the ‘right time, right place’ car, and this is the right time at the right place.”

Schumacher, who qualified for the event by winning the NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas, was strapped into his car before the first round while Alexis Green, daughter of crew chief Mike, sang the national anthem. That set the pace for the day, and he began his trek to the final with a 3.801 to 3.967 victory over teammate and 2012 NHRA Traxxas Nitro Shootout winner Spencer Massey that set up a semifinal battle against Doug Kalitta.

“The first round against Spencer was going to be a hard match,” said Schumacher. “He’s beat me more than I’ve beat him. We ran the slowest of all the winning cars that round with a 3.80 while the other three cars were in the .70s. We caught a little break there. I don’t know what the record is between Kalitta and me, but I’m sure it’s pretty even. I didn’t go into that one thinking, ‘Oh, I’ve got this.’ I thought they’d go .72. All in all, until the win light came on, I was never sure.”

Schumacher left first and stretched his lead in a 3.767 to 3.776 decision over Kalitta. On the other side of the ladder, Crampton ran 3.772 and 3.797 in respective wins over 2012 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Top Fuel champion Antron Brown and defending event winner Shawn Langdon. Schumacher hoisted the unique trophy at the big end while surrounded by an elated crew.

“When they got down to the finish line, I got mauled by all of them,” said Schumacher. “You win the race and get down there, but you don’t get excited until you see them. It was fantastic.”