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Tue, 24 Dec 2002, 04:23 AM

Don Schumacher Racing to Partner with DaimlerChrysler
Courtesy of David Ferroni

Funny Car Teams will Run the Dodge Stratus R/T Body

INDIANAPOLIS -- Don Schumacher Racing announced it has reached a multi-year agreement with DaimlerChrysler to form a partnership and run the Dodge Stratus R/T Funny Car body, beginning with the 2003 NHRA POWERade drag racing season.

"I can't tell you how excited I am to be reunited with the Dodge/Mopar family and to have state-of-the art engineering support made available to us from a manufacturer that's as committed and dedicated as we are to raise the performance level," said team owner Don Schumacher, who drove the Dodge and Plymouth Stardust Funny Cars from 1966-1974. "Dodge and Mopar have a storied history in motorsports and we are proud to be part of that tradition."

The Schumacher-owned Funny Car teams of Whit Bazemore, sponsored by Matco Tools and of Gary Scelzi, sponsored by Oakley, will make their Dodge debut at the NHRA season-opening K&N Filters Winternationals, Feb. 6-9 at Pomona (Calif.) Raceway.

"In terms of modern era race wins and round wins, being partnered with Don Schumacher Racing for the 2003 season and beyond brings an unprecedented level of competence to the Mopar/Dodge Funny Car program," said Brett Fischer, DaimlerChrysler drag racing program manager. "Everyone here is excited to see what our Dodge Stratus R/T body can do on a Don Schumacher Racing tune up.

"Even from the early discussions of reuniting Schumacher and Mopar, the DaimlerChrysler engineers and management recognized the commitment to win from Schumacher's team. I can tell you, nothing inspires and motivates people like working with proven winners and champions."

Also enthused about the new relationship is veteran crew chief Lee Beard, tuner of Bazemore's Matco Tools car.

"In motorsports you have to look at every detail and we certainly believe that aerodynamics play a major role in Funny Car racing," said Beard, who has tuned cars to 43 NHRA national event wins. "Mike (Scelzi's crew chief Mike Neff) and I understand that in order to be the best you have to out engineer your competition in every area and we certainly have worked hard in developing excellent programs with our engine, clutch and chassis departments. Now that we have this factory relationship with DaimlerChrysler we can be superior in our aerodynamic department. This is an exciting time for our race team."

As part of the agreement with DaimlerChrysler, one of Schumacher Racing's Funny Cars will be a Mopar-sponsored car with a special paint scheme for the 24th annual Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals, July 18-20 at Denver's Bandimere Speedway.

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