Story By: NHRA – BAYTOWN, TX – A three-time winner at Houston Raceway Park, Tony Schumacher has the chance to be the final winner of the NHRA SpringNationals, which takes place this weekend at the legendary track just outside of Houston.
It also means Schumacher could finish with the most Top Fuel wins in the history of Houston Raceway Park if he closes it out with a victory. That would be almost fitting for Schumacher, whose eight Top Fuel world titles and 85 wins leads all drivers in the class. He’s eager for a fourth – and final – win at Houston Raceway Park in his 11,000-horsepower Scag Power Equipment dragster and doing it in front of the massive crowds expected in Houston would make it even sweeter.
“Houston’s a powerful track, so I’m looking forward to this weekend,” Schumacher said. “It’s the last year and it’s going to be a sold-out show, so that’s going to be exciting. It’s a beautiful place and we’ve had some great success there and I just love racing there. The last time I was there (in 2020), we went out and won it, and we would love to do that again.”
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car) and Matt Hartford (Pro Stock) picked up wins last year in Houston and this year’s race will again be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 (FS1). It is the fifth race of the 2022 season, and it is approaching sold-out status throughout the weekend. That’s great news for Schumacher, who always seems to rise to the occasion during the big moments.
He’s currently seventh in points after returning to full-time racing in 2022. Schumacher didn’t race a year ago or in 2019 and ran a limited schedule during 2020, picking up a thrilling win in Houston against Torrence in a final round that was the second-quickest side-by-side run in NHRA history. As excited as he is to be back, Schumacher is driven by wins and championships. He advanced to the final quad at the most recent race in Las Vegas and likes where his team is headed, even while competing against standouts like Torrence, the four-time defending world champ, Las Vegas winner Brittany Force, Justin Ashley, Mike Salinas, Leah Pruett, Antron Brown, and Doug Kalitta.
Winning in Houston would certainly put the team on the right path and give Schumacher a thrilling memory in a career that’s been filled with them.
“We’re exactly where we thought we would be,” Schumacher said. “I’ve never worked with (crew chief) Todd Okuhara before. They’re new guys for me, I drive a little different. They’re kind of catching up to where I am and I’m catching up to where they are. We’ve got a car that even though we’re seventh in points, it’s way better than it even looks. We’re out there making fantastic early parts of the run and as we reel that in a little bit, it’s going to be good.”
In Funny Car, Alexis DeJoria, who resides in the Austin area, has one final chance to pick up her first win at Houston Raceway Park. She heads into the race with plenty of momentum, too, in her 11,000-horsepower Bandero Premium Tequila Toyota GR Supra. She advanced to the final quad in Vegas as well, seeing impressive improvements in the new Supra body that debuted this year.
The new car seems to have unlimited potential and DeJoria is excited about the possibilities. Of course, she’ll have to tangle with the likes of points leader Matt Hagan, Ron Capps, who won in Vegas, Robert Hight, Cruz Pedregon, John Force and J.R. Todd in Houston, but she’s confident the team is capable of a putting together a winning performance in her final appearance at Houston.
“I’ve had some good luck in Houston. I have never won there, though, but anytime I get to race in the state that I live in is a gift,” DeJoria said. “I love the people out at that track, and it’s been a good season. There’s been a bit of a learning curve with the new Supra body, but that body is incredible. It’s much quicker, the guys love it, (crew chief) Del (Worsham) love it. I absolutely love this car and it’s only going to get better.”
In Pro Stock, Erica Enders will try to close out Houston Raceway Park with a win at her hometown track. She’ll look for her third Pro Stock win in Houston against the likes of points leader Aaron Stanfield, who picked up his first career Pro Stock win in 2020 at the track, defending world champ Greg Anderson, a three-time Houston winner, Dallas Glenn, Kyle Koretsky and Mason McGaha.
Pro Stock Motorcycle returns to action in Houston, fresh off a record-breaking performance in Gainesville. Karen Stoffer won there to open the year, making the quickest run in class history. She’ll look to keep rolling in Houston, where she has a pair of wins, against four-time winner Angelle Sampey, Eddie Krawiec, defending world champ Matt Smith and Gainesville runner-up Angie Smith.
The event also will feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, which features some of the sport’s top drivers, and the NHRA Summit Racing Series. On Saturday, Toyota-sponsored drivers will be signing autographs at 11:30 a.m. at the Toyota Midway Display, while Dodge-sponsored drivers will have an autograph session at the Dodge Display at 12:30 p.m. Fans can attend Nitro School with Del Worsham to learn more about how the cars operate and reach their thrilling speeds.
Houston Raceway Park will host the special pre-race ceremonies that introduce and celebrate each of the drivers racing for the prestigious Wally on Sunday and includes the final SealMaster Track Walk at the facility. The final can’t-miss experience of any NHRA event is the winner’s circle celebration on Sunday after racing concludes, where fans are invited to congratulate the final event winners of the NHRA SpringNationals.
As always, fans also get an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet in Houston. This unique opportunity gives fans a unique chance to see teams in action and service their hot rods between rounds, get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers and more. Fans can also visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create an exciting atmosphere that includes interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family. The new Pep Boys midway display will include tire change challenges, oil change challenges, a slot car track and much more, adding even more excitement to the midway.
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature one round at 6 p.m. CT on Friday, April 22 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, April 23 at 1 and 4:15 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. CT on Sunday, April 24. Television coverage includes qualifying action on FS1 at 7 p.m. ET on Friday, 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, and then eliminations action at 7:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.