Just four days removed from the season-opening Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals at Pomona, California, eight-time Top Fuel world champion Tony Schumacher publicly addressed one of the offseason’s major question marks by confirming that his team will not be in attendance to open the Mello Mello Series campaign, citing a lack of primary sponsorship.
Schumacher, whose partnership with the U.S. Army concluded last fall after a highly successful 18-year run, confirmed that his team will sit out the Winternationals while sponsor negations continue, but insisted that he is by no means walking away from the sport.
“Some of you have probably heard the news that our car is parked,” he said in a public statement issued via social media. “We are still working on a sponsorship deal. These things take time. but like I said before, I am absolutely not retiring. I love this sport and have dedicated most of my life to it. I love my team, and they are the best guys I know. Unfortunately, our car will not be at Pomona, but I will still be there to support my teammates and fans. Thank you all for your continued support and patience!”
Some of you have probably heard the news that our car is parked. We are still working on a sponsorship deal. These things take time. but like I said before, I am absolutely not retiring.
While various sources have said that members of the former U.S. Army team have been dismissed, that development remains unconfirmed. If true, however, it might suggest the sponsor search is too distanced from bearing fruit than would be justifiable to keep the team on the payroll.
Schumacher, who famously made his Top Fuel debut in 1996 with a final round appearance at the U.S. Nationals, has not missed a race since 2000 when he endured a high-speed crash in Memphis, Tennessee and was forced to sit out two events. He won his first title in 1999, and became Top Fuel’s most prolific driver by winning six straight titles from 2004-’09 and adding an eighth in 2014. In his final season with the U.S. Army, he finished second in the standings after back-to-back eighth-place seasons.