After a year that did not meet the high expectations for eight-time Top Fuel world champion Tony Schumacher, the veteran knew there needed to be some changes.
After an off-season that included a significant one, Schumacher, who finished eighth in the Top Fuel standings a year ago, appears to be quickly back in championship form.
The 83-time event winner was the runner-up at the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season opener in Pomona, a strong start after Mike Neff was named the new crew chief over the winter.
Heading into this weekend's 34th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, where Schumacher is a five-time winner in his 10,000-horsepower U.S. Army dragster, the longtime talent is already impressed with what Neff brings to the team.
"He's an awesome dude, (and) he's really hands on with the guys on this U.S. Army team," Schumacher said. "He's spends quite a bit of time talking with each and every one of the guys getting their feedback, looking for their thoughts and ideas on how to make our U.S. Army car faster."
Leah Pritchett (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) were last year's winners of a race that will once again be televised nationally on Fox Sports 1 (FS1), including finals coverage starting at 6:30 p.m. EST on Sunday, Feb. 25.
The Arizona race is the second on the 24-race schedule and it already appears on a better path than a 2017 campaign that did not reach the lofty standards Schumacher has on an annual basis.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 1:30 and 4 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 23 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Feb. 24, also at 1:30 and 4 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 25.