Don Schumacher Racing will start the racing season Tuesday at The PRO Winter Warm-up, a five-day test session at Palm Beach International Raceway in Jupiter, Fla., will provide a kick-start to the upcoming season for NHRA drag racing teams. NHRA superpower Don Schumacher Racing will have a major effort at the test, fielding four Funny Cars and two Top Fuel Dragsters.
Leading the contingent will be reigning NHRA champions Antron Brown in the new Matco Tools enclosed canopy Top Fuel Dragster and Jack Beckman in the Valvoline/Mail Terminal Services Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car.
In Top Fuel, Tony Schumacher returns with U.S. Army sponsorship for the 13th straight season after "Sarge" came within seven points of winning his eighth NHRA championship on the final run of last season.
Joining Beckman in Funny Cars will be championship runner-up Ron Capps, who along with DSR has signed a multi-year contract extension with marketing partner NAPA Auto Parts. Johnny Gray, who finished 2012 with a career-best sixth-place finish in points, is back along with 2011 Funny Car champion Matt Hagan in the Mopar/Rocky Boots Dodge.
Hagan will begin testing at Palm Beach International Raceway with veteran DSR crew chiefs Todd Okuhara and Phil Shuler leading his team. Okuhara and Shuler won four event titles and finished third a year ago with former DSR Top Fuel driver Spencer Massey, who mutually agreed with team owner Don Schumacher to go separate ways in December.
Schumacher continues to work on securing sponsorship for the dragster formerly sponsored by FRAM/Prestone, which announced last summer that it would not continue its motorsports involvement. With an uncertain future for the team, Schumacher assigned Okuhara and Shuler to oversee Hagan's team with the departure of crew chief Tommy Delago at the end of the season.
In addition to partnership extensions with Matco and NAPA with Brown and Capps, respectively, Rocky Boots joins Mopar as a sponsor for Hagan and Mail Terminal Systems (MTS) has expanded its involvement with the Dodge driven by Beckman with a campaign to get fans to send postcards to Wounded Warriors and support the Hire a Vet program.
PRO WINTER WARM-UP SCHEDULE
The first three days of the Warm-up are closed to public, but Friday and Saturday nights, Jan. 18-19, are open to the fans when teams make runs under the lights.
The two-night event will feature side-by-side runs and a shootout between the two quickest Top Fuel Dragsters and two quickest Funny Cars.
Gates open each day at 4 p.m. with racing from 5-7 p.m. Autograph sessions are scheduled for between 7 and 8 p.m. each night.