SCHUMACHER AND FORCE SQUARE OFF FOLLOWING CONTROVERSIAL RACE
There's little Don Schumacher and John Force will agree on.
The titans of nitro racing found common ground during final eliminations of the NHRA Toyota Nationals. They said one another's actions are an embarrassment to the sport.
The source of their common ire can be traced to a second-round drag race where newly christened point leader Robert Hight extended his point lead with a victory over John Force under questionable circumstances.
"John Force running against Robert, for John to have a .193 light and immediately turn the car to the guard wall and shut it off, no different than he did years ago in Indy," Schumacher told CompetitionPlus.com. "It’s an embarrassment for the fans, it’s an embarrassment to all his sponsors, and it’s an embarrassment to NHRA that NHRA doesn’t do anything about it."
Force said Schumacher's actions of making false claims he cannot prove put the shoe, no pun intended, on the other foot and only embarrass him.
"You're an embarrassment for saying that," Force responded. "When you just think it happens, and you say it because it makes you feel better for whatever reason. If you know it, then walk over here and prove it. You can assume all you want. To stand there and call you names, is when it gets too far out in front of people. I'm not going to be treated like that."
The numbers clearly do not appear in Force's favor on paper, after using a .056 light to beat Ron Capps, in the second round he had a .193. Force attributed the slower reaction to not deep-staging against Hight. He said traditionally he doesn't deep-stage against his teammates.
Force believes he was put in a no-win situation regardless of what transpired. Earlier in the weekend, a Friday evening run where his Funny Car crossed the center line led to scrutiny from fellow racers, who Force alleges, took the matter to NHRA VP of Operations Graham Light and the Professional Racers Organization board.
"I ain’t gone down the race track twice over there, and I head toward the wall, and there’s a committee against me to say that I can’t drive anymore and I’m running into walls," Force said. "This is how stupid this has got. They went to NHRA, okay? So what I’m saying is that now I go toward the wall and I lift, and like, ‘Oh, he did it on purpose."
"I can’t win. If I had hit the wall, they’d be back trying to pull my license."
Force said he's had many opportunities he could have made the same claim against Schumacher and his teams but refrained. The bottom line, Force said, what Schumacher says and believes is the least of his worries.
"I don’t care about him," Force said. "He ain’t in my life no more; you know what I mean? It’s just that; it’s just all of this is just too much. You know they think it was orchestrated, well why did my daughter just beat Robert? Give me a break. Why did my daughter just beat Robert? You don’t think if everybody wanted to do stuff, they could do it? We’re racing out here."
Schumacher, whose comments were made after the second round, said he plans to address the issue with Light.
"Not at this point. We’re in the midst of a race, and I haven’t gone to Graham," Schumacher said. "But it’s an embarrassment. They have to draw their own conclusion without my input. It was obvious to the fans; they booed John Force coming back. It was obvious to every racer out here, and I would think it’s obvious to every media person out here what went on, and it’s a shame.
"That isn’t what NHRA drag racing is about. We have an integrity out here that we need to race each other, I don’t care if it’s teammates."