NHRA Top Fuel: Tony Schumacher earns record-breaking 10th U.S. Nationals win


BROWNSBURG, Indiana – The Sarge won the battle. Now he’s ready to win the war.

Nicknamed “The Sarge” due to his U.S. Army sponsorship, Tony Schumacher continued the strong roll that he’s been on of late, winning the Top Fuel class Monday in the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway.

This win was more than just big for Schumacher – it was huge, marking the 10th time the Illinois native (now lives in Texas) has won the biggest race of the season in the last 21 years.

That puts Schumacher in a class of his own, having broken the tie he had with retired Pro Stock driver Bob Glidden for most wins at the race nicknamed “the Big Go.”

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“I love my job; that’s a gift,” Schumacher said. “I love driving a race car; that’s a gift. I drive for the Army; that’s a gift. I drive a car that’s fast and can win on any given day; that’s a gift. I drive for nine of the best crew guys in the world; that’s a gift.

“And then, of all those gifts, we also get opportunities like this: it’s a must-win. And that’s the best gift of all, to have that put in front of you and you have an opportunity to do it.”

And speaking of gifts, Schumacher earned $100,000 for Monday’s win.


In earning the second win of this season, Schumacher extended his dominance as the winningest driver in Top Fuel history. Monday’s win was the 82nd of his career.

But now that the battle is over, Schumacher is ready to go to war in the NHRA’s six-race playoffs, the Countdown to the Championship, which begin two weeks from now in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Schumacher enters the Countdown as the No. 4 seed. He’s seeking to extend his existing record of Top Fuel championships to nine.

That’s quite a contrast to some of the early season struggles Schumacher had gone through. Now that he’s been on a roll in the last several races, he’s ready to ride this string to yet another championship.

“I’m in a happier place,” Schumacher said with a laugh.

But then he turned serious, knowing his struggles were not all that long ago and that there’s always a chance they could rear their ugly head at any time during the upcoming playoffs.

“Because of those rough times, this is amazing,” Schumacher said. “Ten wins at Indy are great memories.

“… None of us want to go out and win a race or two, we want to win the championship. We want to be a champion, and to do that, you have to step outside the box.”

Before he celebrated the win, Schumacher paid tribute to late Top Fuel driver Blaine Johnson, who was killed in a racing accident in the 1996 U.S. Nationals.

“We lost Blaine 20 years ago; he was riding with me today,” Schumacher said. “What an awesome final round. This place is magic. I’ve had some incredible runs here. We didn’t leave anything on the table. It was a great, great day.”

Schumacher (3.806 seconds at 317.64 mph) defeated Steve Torrence (3.803 seconds at 325.06mph) in the final round.

While Torrence was faster, Schumacher had the better jump at the start of the race with a .036 seconds reaction time (to Torrence’s .045 seconds reaction time).


Schumacher defeated Tripp Tatum in the first round, Don Schumacher Racing teammate Antron Brown in the second round, J.R. Todd in the semifinal third round and then held off a very strong challenge by Torrence.

Among other highlights from the four rounds of eliminations:

* Antron Brown remains the leader as the points are reset for the Countdown. Brown will enter the first race at Charlotte in two weeks with 2,110 points. Doug Kalitta is second (2,080 points), followed by Steve Torrence (2,070), Schumacher (2,060), Brittany Force (2,050), J.R. Todd (2,040), Shawn Langdon (2,030), Clay Millican (2,020), Richie Crampton (2,010) and Leah Pritchett (2,000).

* During the previous three days of qualifying, Schumacher also had the fastest speed of the weekend (330.31 mph).

* No. 1 qualifier Clay McMillen (3.692 seconds) bowed out with a quarterfinal loss to J.R. Todd.

* Leah Pritchett lost in the first round to former champ Shawn Langdon, but earned enough points to qualify for the upcoming six-race Countdown to the Championship playoff.

* Brittany Force reached the second round before losing to Doug Kalitta, who advanced to the third round before losing to Torrence.

* Hoping to make it two U.S. Nationals wins in a row, defending champ Antron Brown fell to Schumacher in the quarterfinals after losing traction.

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Justin Grant prevails over Kyle Larson in the Turkey Night Grand Prix

Grant Larson Turkey Night
USACRacing.com / DB3 Inc.

On the heels of his Hangtown 100 victory, Justin Grant worked his way from 13th in the Turkey Night Grand Prix to beat three-time event winner Kyle Larson by 1.367 seconds. The 81st annual event was run at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway for the sixth time.

“My dad used to take me to Irwindale Speedway, and we’d watch Turkey Night there every year,” Grant said in a series press release. “This is one of the races I fell in love with. I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to run in it, never thought I’d make a show and certainly never thought I’d be able to win one.”

With its genesis in 1934 at Gilmore Stadium, a quarter-mile dirt track in Los Angeles, the race is steeped in history with winners that include AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Gary Bettenhausen and Johnnie Parsons. Tony Stewart won it in 2000. Kyle Larson won his first of three Turkey Night Grands Prix in 2012. Christopher Bell earned his first of three in 2014, so Grant’s enthusiasm was well deserved.

So was the skepticism that he would win. He failed to crack the top five in three previous attempts, although he came close last year with a sixth-place result. When he lined up for the feature 13th in the crowded 28-car field, winning seemed like a longshot.

Grant watched as serious challengers fell by the wayside. Mitchel Moles flipped on Lap 10 of the feature. Michael “Buddy” Kofoid took a tumble on Lap 68 and World of Outlaws Sprint car driver Carson Macedo flipped on Lap 79. Grant saw the carnage ahead of him and held a steady wheel as he passed Tanner Thorson for the lead with 15 laps remaining and stayed out of trouble for the remainder of the event.

“It’s a dream come true to win the Turkey Night Grand Prix,” Grant said.

Kyle Larson follows Justin Grant to the front on Turkey Night

The 2012, 2016 and 2019 winner, Larson was not scheduled to run the event. His wife Katelyn is expecting their third child shortly, but after a couple of glasses of wine with Thanksgiving dinner and while watching some replays of the event, Larson texted car owner Chad Boat to see if he had a spare car lying around. He did.

“We weren’t great but just hung around and it seemed like anybody who got to the lead crashed and collected some people,” Larson said. “We made some passes throughout; in the mid-portion, we weren’t very good but then we got better at the end.

“I just ran really, really hard there, and knew I was running out of time, so I had to go. I made some pretty crazy and dumb moves, but I got to second and was hoping we could get a caution to get racing with Justin there. He was sliding himself at both ends and thought that maybe we could get a run and just out-angle him into [Turn] 1 and get clear off [Turn] 2 if we got a caution, but it just didn’t work out.”

Larson padded one of the most impressive stats in the history of this race, however. In 10 starts, he’s won three times, finished second four times, was third once and fourth twice.

Bryant Wiedeman took the final spot on the podium.

As Grant and Larson began to pick their way through the field, Kofoid took the lead early from the outside of the front row and led the first 44 laps of the race before handing it over to Cannon McIntosh, who bicycled on Lap 71 before landing on all fours. While Macedo and Thorson tussled for the lead with McIntosh, Grant closed in.

Thorson finished 19th with McIntosh 20th. Macedo recovered from his incident to finish ninth. Kofoid’s hard tumble relegated him to 23rd.

Jake Andreotti in fourth and Kevin Thomas, Jr. rounded out the top five.

1. Justin Grant (started 13)
2. Kyle Larson (22)
3. Bryant Wiedeman (4)
4. Jake Andreotti (9)
5. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1)
6. Logan Seavey (8)
7. Alex Bright (27)
8. Emerson Axsom (24)
9. Carson Macedo (7)
10. Jason McDougal (18)
11. Jake Swanson (16)
12. Chase Johnson (6)
13. Jacob Denney (26)
14. Ryan Timms (23)
15. Chance Crum (28)
16. Brenham Crouch (17)
17. Jonathan Beason (19)
18. Cade Lewis (14)
19. Tanner Thorson (11)
20. Cannon McIntosh (3)
21. Thomas Meseraull (15)
22. Tyler Courtney (21)
23. Buddy Kofoid (2)
24. Brody Fuson (5)
25. Mitchel Moles (20)
26. Daniel Whitley (10)
27. Kaylee Bryson (12)
28. Spencer Bayston (25)