Tony Schumacher knows there are vastly different challenges when he arrives at state-of-the-art zMAX Dragway for this weekend’s NHRA Four-Wide Nationals.

But that doesn’t change the approach for the reigning Top Fuel world champion. As always, it is business as usual for Schumacher, who embraces the unique aspects of the race that leads to one of the most entertaining weekends of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.

But Schumacher, who is seeking his first NHRA Four-Wide Nationals win, knows the weekend just isn’t about entertainment.

“This race is certainly different from all of the others, but it’s still my job to leave the starting line when the light turns and get to the finish line first,” Schumacher said. “That’s it. My job is to drive a racecar no matter how many cars are there and get to the finish line first. We love Bruton Smith and his staff does a great job of putting on big events. It’s always exciting to come to Charlotte and we know this race is truly unique.”

As the fourth of 24 races in 2015, the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway is one of the most thrilling events in motorsports as on each run four 10,000-horsepower machines line up next to each other on the starting line in Charlotte.

Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Jimmy Alund (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (PSM) were last year’s winners of the event that will once again be televised on ESPN and ESPN2. ESPN will provide live eliminations coverage on Sunday starting at 2 p.m., and Mello Yello Series racing will begin at 1 p.m. (ET) at the track.

After claiming his eighth world championship in 2014 with a dominant performance in the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, Schumacher and his 10,000-horsepower U.S. Army dragster is once again in top form.

He won in Phoenix and posted another final round berth at the most recent event in Gainesville before falling to teammate Spencer Massey. That puts him in second heading into the Four-Wide Nationals, which requires a mindset that is totally different from any other race on the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series circuit.

schumacher“We’ve all learned how to race in the Four-Wide and it’s not as easy to race three other cars,” Schumacher said. “If you show up at a boxing match with three other guys, it is distracting. Who’s going to hit me first? What’s the next move? There’s a lot of other variables and for a driver that is trained and used to going one on one, it’s certainly takes some getting used to. It starts with staging. You can’t make a little mistake, because there are three other drivers that can capitalize on it.”

Racing well in pressure situations has been a key component in Schumacher’s stay at the top of the Top Fuel ranks. It’s also crucial for success at the Four-Wide Nationals, something Schumacher knows must be present all weekend at zMAX Dragway.

“Normally, you might be able to make a mistake and there’s a chance the other driver will make one too, but when there’s three of them, you’ve got a couple guys that are going to be ice cold,” Schumacher said. “You have to be a machine to win the Four-Wide. You have to be as ice cold as you can ever be to get the job done.”

It’s also needed because Schumacher will face off against a loaded Top Fuel lineup that includes Brown, who picked up one of his six victories in 2014 at the event. Massey is a two-time winner at the event, while other top contenders include Doug Kalitta, J.R. Todd, three-time world champ Larry Dixon, reigning rookie of the year Richie Crampton, Brittany Force, Steve Torrence and 2013 world champion Shawn Langdon.

But Schumacher, who has 78 career wins, will have only one thing on his mind this weekend in Charlotte.

“The U.S. Army car has been an incredible machine,” Schumacher said. “(Crew chief) Mike (Green) and (assistant crew chief) Neal (Strausbaugh) and all my guys have been doing a phenomenal job. I’m surrounded by guys that make a difference every race weekend, just like the Soldiers in the U.S. Army make a difference for America every day. I feel like I need to drive better. I’ve got to step up my performance for us to have the kind of success we are striving for. I want that Four-Wide trophy. It’s a race that I haven’t won and our mission this weekend to be the last one standing.”

In Funny Car, Hight scored a victory at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in 2014, his first of three straight victories on the season. The winningest driver in NHRA history at zMAX Dragway with four victories, Hight has won twice at the Four-Wide Nationals. Reigning world champ Matt Hagan, the series points leader with two wins this season, is a three-time winner at Charlotte, while other stars include John Force, Courtney Force, three-time national event winner Alexis DeJoria, Del Worsham, Cruz Pedregon, Jack Beckman, Tommy Johnson Jr. and Ron Capps, who won the most recent event at Gainesville.

Substituting for four-time Pro Stock world champ Greg Anderson, who had off-season heart surgery, Alund ran the first five races and struck gold at zMAX Dragway in 2014. Anderson, a two-time winner of the event, is looking to build momentum after his 75th career victory two weeks ago at Gainesville, while teammate Jason Line won the season-opening race. Others to watch include reigning world champ Erica Enders-Stevens, 2012 world champ Allen Johnson, Phoenix winner and current points leader Rodger Brogdon, rookie sensation Drew Skillman, Shane Gray and Jonathan Gray.

Hines and Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson teammate Eddie Krawiec dominated the Pro Stock Motorcycle season, combining to win 11 of the 16 events in 2014. Hines claimed his first win of the year in Charlotte and claimed five more titles en route to his fourth career world championship. Krawiec, 2009 world champ Hector Arana Sr., 2013 event winner Hector Arana Jr.; two-time world champ Matt Smith, Angie Smith, Gainesville winner Karen Stoffer, and two-time zMAX winner Steve Johnson are all expected to be competitive in the two-wheeled category.

As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and enjoy some cherished face time with their favorite NHRA drivers.

Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.

Mello Yello Series qualifying begins Friday, March 27, with sessions at 1:15 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. The final two qualifying sessions will take place Saturday, March 28, also at 1:15 and 4 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday, March 29.

The 2015 NHRA Four-Wide Nationals will also feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.

Be a part of the action all weekend with a Three-Day Pass to the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals starting at $99. Tickets for children 13 and under are free with any paid adult ticket; to purchase general admission or reserved seats please visit or call the box office at (800) 455-FANS (3267).


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