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NHRA star Tony Schumacher goes for seven straight Top Fuel titles

So Jimmie Johnson is chasing his fifth consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup title?

Tony Schumacher will see that and raise him by two.

Schumacher, 40, is the six-time defending NHRA Top Fuel champion and has seven titles overall. And last year drew notice from outside the NHRA community as well, being named the Speed Channel Performer of the Year, the first drag racer to do so.

Heading into the 2009 season the big question was whether his team would be able to withstand the loss of crew chief Alan Johnson, who had left to join Al-Anabi Racing with driver Larry Dixon.

But with new crew chief Mike Green in charge, Schumacher earned five victories last season and edged Dixon by two points for the championship.

"Mike Green proved he is a very capable crew chief. Something he's wanted to do for a long, long time," Schumacher said in a teleconference this week. "Go out there and do it on his own. (And) it wasn't like we hired anyone off a Cracker Jack box. These guys are excellent. Each one of them in their own right. Now we've been together for a year."

Those victories last year extended Schumacher's all-time Top Fuel record to 61, nine more than Joe Amato. Schumacher has made the final elimination round 95 times, four short of Amato's class record.

Schumacher, who races for the Don Schumacher team owned by his father, is nicknamed "The Sarge," which dovetails nicely with his dragster's sponsor, the U.S. Army.

"I've said this a thousand times," he told John Sturbin of racintoday.com. "I'm not racing for beer, and I'm not racing for tools. I'm racing for a way of life and a group of people. It makes a big difference."

As for 2010, after a preseason test in which he nearly beat 3.75 seconds for a 1,000-foot run, he's eager for this weekend's opener, the Winternationals in Pomona, Calif.

"The biggest names that have ever won championships in racing and just races in general started right there," he told NHRA.com. "So that's the place. The history of racing comes from California. To go out and perform at that race from the first get-go, man, you just can't beat it."

NHRA star Tony Schumacher goes for seven straight Top Fuel titles 02/10/10 [Last modified: Thursday, February 11, 2010 7:40pm]
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