NHRA - National Hot Rod Association

Top Fuel's winningest driver Schumacher still looking for first four-wide victory

For all of the NHRA Top Fuel records that Tony Schumacher holds, Top Fuel’s most decorated driver has never turned on the final win light in a four-wide race, a fact he hopes to change this weekend in Las Vegas, where he's won eight times in the two-wide format.
14 Apr 2023
Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor
Tony Schumacher

For all of the NHRA Top Fuel records that Tony Schumacher holds — most wins, most championships, most victories in a single season, most rounds won in a season, most final rounds in a season, longest event-winning streak, most consecutive rounds won, most consecutive final-round appearances, most U.S. Nationals wins, and several more — Top Fuel’s most decorated driver has never turned on the final win light in a four-wide race.

The eight-time world champion has finished second four times — thrice in Charlotte and once in Las Vegas — and has been in the final-round quad five times, including at last year’s Las Vegas four-wide, where he ultimately finished third. It’s not the track that has him snake-bit — he’s won in the spring at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway four times before it switched to the four-wide format in 2018, has four wins at the fall Vegas event, and has a class-leading 11 No. 1 qualifiers at the track — but a four-wide title has eluded him.

“I’ve won at Vegas a lot but have never won a four-wide trophy from either here or Charlotte,” he confirmed. “I will say, the last time that ‘Zippy’ [crew chief Mike Neff] and I raced together at the Vegas four-wide event [2018], we were literally in the lead in the finals when the car shut off. So, we’re continuing with our theme of ‘we have some unfinished business’ this weekend.”

Schumacher lost that final round to Steve Torrence, who also beat him in the 2017 final in Charlotte, and the driver of the Scag Power Equipment dragster is eager to make up for those close misses and add another title to his Hall of Fame résumé.

It’s been a rocky start to the 2023 season for the 85-time winner, who has won at least one NHRA national event in 20 of the last 22 seasons. He has just one round-win — in Gainesville — in the year’s first three races and lost a heartbreaker in round one two weeks ago in Pomona on a holeshot to Shawn Langdon.

“Pomona, man, that was a hell of a race; lost by 15-thousandths of a second,” he said. “We left there saying, ‘We made it down the track four times, we’re in a really good spot.’ We finally found the pieces that all fit together, and now we’ve just got to start adjusting them to go quicker with each run. We’re in a good spot going into this race. but we’re not ignorant; we know we’ve got some really strong opponents, but we’re one of them now.” 

“This year, we’ve gotten better with each race, and now we finally have a car that all of us, including I’m pretty sure many of our opponents, can see the true potential. Now we have a tune-up that we just need to nip at. We have four qualifying runs this weekend, which is important. Some of the tracks where you only get three, you’re always one run down, and for a new team like ours, you need those four runs. So, everything is looking fantastic for this weekend.”