NHRA: Cory McClenathan to unretire for two races next month in Indy

Photos and image courtesy Don Schumacher Racing

The Mac Attack is back.

Veteran NHRA Top Fuel driver Cory McClenathan — also known as “Cory Mac” — will come out of retirement to drive in next month’s first two races of the resumed 2020 NHRA national event schedule.

Both races will be held at Lucas Oil Raceway in suburban Indianapolis on July 11-12 and July 18-19.

The 57-year-old McClenathan’s return to racing will be brief. He plans to retire again after competing in those two races, which he’s calling his “redemption tour.”

He explained the reason why in a media release issued Wednesday morning:

“I had made the decision to hang up my driving shoes last year, but I ran the last three events of the 2019 season, and things didn’t go as I had hoped. I was left feeling like I had some unfinished business.”

McClenathan will drive for Don Schumacher Racing, who he previously raced for earlier in his career, including earning five of his 34 career Top Fuel wins for between 2008 and 2010.

“I’ve known Don Schumacher and the Schumacher family for years and have remained close with them,” McClenathan said. “Don knew that I really wanted to go out with a bang last year, and that didn’t happen.

“So when all of this talk of re-starting the 2020 season with two consecutive Indy races came about, he told me that if I could come up with the necessary funding, I could run those two events in a DSR Top Fuel dragster.

“DSR is a top-tier team, so to be able to drive with them again is a big deal to me; the opportunity was just too good to pass up. I called upon my longtime partners and we were able to put a deal together which will allow me to race at the first two Indy events.”

McClenathan is one of the more notable drivers in Top Fuel history. He was the first driver to break the 320 mph barrier and also the first driver to cover the quarter-mile in under 4.80 seconds. He also has more than 500 career individual round victories in NHRA Top Fuel competition.

The Corona, California resident is currently ninth on the NHRA Top Fuel all-time wins list. If he wins either race in Indianapolis, he would tie “Big Daddy” Don Garlits’ mark for eighth on the list with 35 wins apiece.

McClenathan will pilot DSR driver Leah Pruett’s back-up car, and will be reunited with his former crew chief, Todd Okuhara, who will tune both McClenathan’s dragster as well as Pruett’s primary ride in the two Indy races.

Indianapolis has been a successful venue for McClenathan. He has two NHRA U.S. Nationals wins (1996 and 1999) and two runner-up finishes there.

McClenathan isn’t the only driver coming back next month. Eight-time champion and the winningest driver in Top Fuel history (84 wins), Tony Schumacher, will also race in next month’s races at Indy.

Although the pair has been longtime friends, they’re also staunch rivals on the dragstrip.

“An ideal situation would be meeting up with Tony in the final round,” McClenathan said. “I think the fans would really get a kick out of watching us battle it out.

“We raced against each other in the 1996 U.S. Nationals finals; it was Tony’s first time competing in Top Fuel. I ended up winning but I think it would be really fun and special if we could have a repeat of that.”

McClenathan is putting Schumacher and all other Top Fuel drivers on notice: “I’m just so excited to get back out there, see the fans, and hopefully add another Wally (a national event win) trophy to my collection. Yes, I’m here to have fun, but I’m also here to win.”

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IndyCar releases schedule for 2023 season

IndyCar schedule 2023
Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NTT IndyCar Series’ 2023 schedule will feature the same number of races and tracks as this season with some minor reshuffling of dates.

IndyCar will open the 2023 season March 5 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, and will conclude Sept. 10 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. The 107th Indy 500 will take place May 28 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The 17-race schedule will conclude with a stretch of eight races in the final nine weeks.

“The NTT IndyCar Series is on an impactful upward trajectory, making progress at a pace that befits our thrilling style of competition,” Penske Entertainment Corp. president and CEO Mark Miles said in a release. “The 2023 season provides an opportunity to further build on this trend, bringing our sport and its stars to more markets and households and reaching new consumers across the globe.”

There will be 15 events on NBC: 13 races (including six of the final seven) plus Indy 500 qualifying May 20-21. There also are three races on USA Network and the Toronto race exclusively on Peacock. All races on NBC and USA also will have live simulstreams on Peacock.

In partnership with NBC Sports, the 2022 IndyCar season was the most-watched in six years and the most-watched across NBC Sports on record. The 2022 season also was the most streamed season on record.

“We’re very excited for our 2023 NTT IndyCar Series schedule and to build on this past season’s viewership milestones,” NBC Sports vice president of programming Mike Perman said in a release. “In providing comprehensive coverage across NBC, Peacock and USA Network, NBC Sports is once again looking forward to telling the stories of these world-class drivers and this compelling series.”

Notable elements on the 2023 schedule:

–There will be the same balance of seven road course races, five street courses and five ovals.

–St. Pete will be the season opener for the 13th time.

–The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix will move from Belle Isle to the streets of downtown.

–The NASCAR doubleheader weekend at the IMS road course will shift to mid-August.

–The World Wide Technology Raceway event will move from Saturday to Sunday.

Start times for the 2023 events will be announced at a later date.

Here’s the 2023 IndyCar schedule:

Date Race/Track Network/Platform
Sun., March 5 Streets of St. Petersburg NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 2 Texas Motor Speedway NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 16 Streets of Long Beach NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 30 Barber Motorsports Park NBC, Peacock
Sat., May 13 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) NBC, Peacock
Sun., May 28 The 107th Indianapolis 500 NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 4 Streets of Detroit NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 18 Road America USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 2 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 16 Streets of Toronto Peacock
Sat., July 22 Iowa Speedway – Race 1 NBC, Peacock
Sun., July 23 Iowa Speedway – Race 2 NBC, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 6 Streets of Nashville NBC, Peacock
Sat., Aug. 12 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) USA Network, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 27 World Wide Technology Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 3 Portland International Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 10 WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca NBC, Peacock

*dates and networks/platforms are subject to change