For his efforts, Schumacher gets to answer one more big question this season: When is he going to break the tie with another NHRA legend - Pro Stock great Bob Glidden - and become the winningest driver ever at the Big Go?
For Schumacher, who has won the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals an amazing nine times in 11 final rounds during his career, he doesn't think there is any time better than the present.
Schumacher is still riding the momentum from last year's victory at Lucas Oil Raceway Park at Indianapolis and feels confident he can move ahead of Glidden. Mike Neff (Funny Car), Dave Connolly (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) joined Schumacher in the winner's circle at the iconic event in 2012. The Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, the final race of the regular season in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, will be contested Aug. 28-Sept. 2 at the multi-purpose motorsports facility located just west of downtown Indianapolis. Once again, the race will be showcased nationwide on ESPN2 and ESPN2HD during more than 10 hours of coverage.
Schumacher enters the 59th annual running of the tradition-rich event third in the Top Fuel points standings with three victories in six final round appearances behind the controls of his U.S. Army dragster. His seasoned crew, led by crew chief Mike Green, has a great feel for the track, and according to Schumacher, a knack for delivering the goods when it counts the most.
"We understand that championships are won by getting through the pressure races and by getting through the big, monster moments because we're all going to have them," Schumacher said.
Schumacher says just being mentioned alongside drag racing immortals like Glidden and Garlits turns into a pinch-me moment for the seven-time world champion.
"It sure puts you in an elite group," Schumacher said. "There's only two of us now that can say that (we've won Indy nine times). I'm honestly not showing up to Indy to take Glidden's record. I'm trying to win the race. If you do your job, those records will come."
"When you start thinking about what number wins you are at or who is next, you can start making mistakes," Schumacher said. "As far as I'm concerned, I am showing up to be a machine. The light comes on. Go. Over simplify. It's a dragster. I have guys around me that have to make my U.S. Army car very special at that moment and I have to make zero mistakes. So thinking about all of the records that could be out there is probably more harmful than it is good."
In order for Schumacher to win, he will need to hold off series points leader Shawn Langdon, a four-time season winner, along with another four-time season winner, Spencer Massey. Defending world champion Antron Brown, ultra-quick Doug Kalitta, Clay Millican, Morgan Lucas and Khalid alBalooshi are also among those to watch in the 8,000-horsepower category. Steve Torrence, Bob Vandergriff and David Grubnic will not only be looking for a race victory, but the trio also will be in the hunt to secure a post-season playoff position.
Pro Stock points leader Mike Edwards only has one victory at Indy, but is riding the season momentum from five victories in his I Am Second Chevy Camaro. Defending world champ Allen Johnson, three-time Indy winner Jeg Coughlin, Vincent Nobile, six-time Indy winner Greg Anderson and fellow Chevy Camaro driver Shane Gray are also among the pre-race favorites.
Teams in the NHRA Lucas Oil Series and the NHRA Pro Mod Series also will compete during the weekend. In addition, the world's fastest Super Stock cars will race for bonus bucks and bragging rights during the intense Mopar HEMI Challenge.
Fans can get a taste of the excitement on Wednesday, Aug. 28th by attending the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals Fan Fest, which will feature a display of race cars, live music, a huge jumbotron and plenty of giveaways at Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis. The Fan Fest, which starts at 11 a.m., also will feature a premier autograph session with many of the top professional drivers in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. In addition, a press conference will be held during the Fan Fest, where several news announcements will be made and the random lottery drawings for the No. 8 spots in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout will be held.
The first of five Mello Yello Series qualifying sessions are scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 30, which will be finished off with a thrilling fireworks display. Two sessions will be held on Saturday, Aug. 31 at 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. and will also be capped with a fireworks show. The final two qualifying sessions will take place on Sunday, Sept. 1 at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 2. The Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Top Fuel will be contested Saturday, Aug. 31 with rounds at 4 p.m., 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. The Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Funny Car will be held on Sunday, Sept. 1 for the eight qualified drivers, with rounds at 12:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 4:45 p.m.
ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise more than 10 hours of coverage of the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals. Five hours of qualifying coverage and coverage of the Traxxas Nitro Shootout will air on ESPN2 HD at 1 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, Sept. 1. Eliminations for the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals will be featured during six hours of coverage on Monday, Sept. 2, starting at noon (ET).
Tickets are available for the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals. Tickets are available by calling (800) 884-NHRA (6472), or online at www.NHRAtix.com.
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