The tone in Tony Schumacher’s voice told the real story of his emotions following his No. 1 qualifying effort at the NHRA Lucas Oil Nationals in Brainerd, Minn. He felt like being as bold as his dragster was in qualifying.
Schumacher was far more agitated by criticism over his newly approved canopy covering his Top Fuel dragster than his 3.791 elapsed time which stood for his third pole position of the season.
There was no smile on his face. The elation replaced with a solemn look of frustration.
“I think it was a godsend that we went out and ran the same number both times when we ran against my teammate who doesn’t have a canopy,” Schumacher said sternly. “I’m so sick of already hearing whining people out there saying, ‘oh my gosh, it’s all the canopy.”
“The car beside me doesn’t have one and he ran the same exact time. Get over it. If you don’t like what I am running then put one on your car and run just as fast. The thing’s about keeping people alive and I am sick of hearing people whine about netting one. They could have ordered one six months ago. Maybe it wasn’t approved. But, we did. You should have bought one.”
Then Schumacher sent a warning, he is willing to call them out.
“If I hear people whining, and I will start naming names, but I am sick of it already,” Schumacher added. “The car is great and meant to keep me alive. The guys who worked on it and developed it are phenomenal. I thank them for building me a good and safe race car.”
Lost in the controversy of the enclosed cockpit was the fact the Top Fuel field from first to sixth were closer (.020) than the top three Pro Stockers (.023).
“I don’t know how that’s possible, I ought to be three-tenths ahead of everyone,” Schumacher said sarcastically. “I must be shutting off early.
“But when you look at the class, we are all good. And, the class has been similar to this quite often. This is not a miracle. The top five of this class have been like this all year long. The conditions just happened to be good this weekend and it tightens up the competition.”
The three DSR Top Fuel dragsters held the top three positions and were .003 apart. They run a semblance of the same tune-up.
“You can have the same crew chief, tune the same car and have three different cars and they aren’t going to run the same,” Schumacher explained. “It’s not physically possible. They guys welding it, weld differently. It’s a different piece of metal. You take a new car out and win a race. The chassis have a lot to do with it. They can’t be replicated. They can be close and I can promise you the three crew chiefs don’t tune the same.”
And for Schumacher, the cars run the same his just doesn’t look the same. The criticism doesn’t make him run any quicker.
“It makes them look ridiculous, foolish,” Schumacher said. “It’s not like we pulled this out of the trailer and said, ‘oops … surprise!”
“We had this car out in testing. We invited every driver to sit in it. They could order it now. We don’t own it. Aerodine can sell it to anyone. We don’t care. We want people in it. If I thought there was an advantage, I sure as heck wouldn’t want anyone in it. We want to keep people safe and follow what Wally Parks started. I want a safer place to race. This is not an advantage. This is what racing should be. We all have it on the car to keep people from getting killed.
“Is that bold enough?”
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