Don Schumacher Racing announced Wednesday that eight-time Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher will return to full-time competition in 2022. Schumacher, who earned the nickname “The Sarge” during his extensive racing in U.S. Army colors (pictured above), stopped racing in 2018 when his long-time supporter left motorsports. But Schumacher popped back up last season to help the organization fulfill sponsor obligations and won the Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals at Houston Raceway Park in October.
Next year, Schumacher will have primary support from The Maynard Family and work with lead tuner Todd Okuhara. Okuhara currently serves as the crew chief for Leah Pruett’s Top Fuel team. Additional partners for Schumacher will be announced at a later date.
“We’re thrilled to have Tony return to full-time competition next year aboard The Maynard Family Top Fuel dragster,” said team owner Don Schumacher. “Tony and Todd Okuhara are two of the most dominant players in our sport, and I liken this alliance to two powerhouses teaming up. I have no doubt the Tony-Todd combo will find success early on in their 2022 campaign.
“Joe and Cathi Maynard joined our team at the beginning of 2021 and have proven to be tremendous partners. We couldn’t be more pleased that they have decided to grow with our team into a larger role, and we look forward to continuing to make them proud.”
The Maynards are both military veterans and long-time fans of Schumacher. Joe Maynard retired from the Army in 1994 as an SFC, and Cathi served as a Military Policewoman and Department of the Army Civilian from 1976 to 1994.
“Cathi and I have been avid NHRA fans for many years, and as Army veterans, Tony Schumacher in the U.S. Army dragster was also our favorite and ignited our passion for drag racing,” said Joe Maynard. “When we first became involved with DSR last year, our initial discussions centered around bringing Tony back in a full-time capacity, and we’ve been working toward that goal ever since. We’re so excited that we get to be a major part of his return and can’t wait to see him get back to his winning ways.”
Schumacher is the winningest Top Fuel driver in NHRA history. Houston was Schumacher’s first in more than two years and the 85th of his career.
“I wasn’t interested in just doing a few one-offs here and there,” Schumacher said of his time away from NHRA. “I wanted to be in a situation where I could compete for a championship. 2020 was an exception, of course, and returning to the seat for that eight-race stint made me realize how much I truly, truly missed being out here and driving a 330-mile-per-hour Top Fuel machine. Drag racing is in my blood; it’s who I am, and I’m incredibly pumped I get to suit back up and race for a championship in 2022.”
The ’22 NHRA season opens in Pomona, California, on February 17-20.