Fort Worth’s Spencer Massey returns home leading Top Fuel standings

Posted Saturday, Sep. 21, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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More information AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals Today through Sunday at Texas Motorplex, Ennis. Today’sschedule: Qualifying in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle at 11:15 a.m. and 2:15 p.m. Tickets: Texas Motorplex will upgrade all Friday tickets to today or Sunday southside tickets with a pit pass. Fans should bring their Friday tickets to the front gate for that exchange. Tickets are available by calling 800-668-6775 or at www.texasmotorplex.com or www.NHRATIX.com.

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Not even a rainy Friday at the racetrack can dampen Spencer Massey’s outlook on life these days, a fact that goes well beyond his points lead in the NHRA’s Top Fuel standings.

A native and resident of Fort Worth, Massey said he is a better person than the “spoiled kid” who was fired by team owner Don Schumacher after an embarrassing, alcohol-related incident at the 2012 season-ending NHRA Awards Banquet last November.

Rehired by Schumacher in February, a regular program of anger management counseling with a friend in Fort Worth and Bible study with Don Schumacher Racing teammate Antron Brown have served to remind Massey of how close he came to losing “the biggest dream of my life” as a Top Fuel driver.

“For sure. It’s a constant reminder,” Massey said Friday afternoon, shortly after rain forced cancellation of the opening two rounds of qualifying for the 28th annual AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals. “At any moment as a person you can mess up and lose your dream. You can’t take anything for granted, is what I’m trying to say. Grasp every day as it comes along and love life.”

Massey assumed the Top Fuel points lead for the first time this season Sunday with a runner-up finish to Morgan Lucas in the final at zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C. Massey will take a 24-point lead over Shawn Langdon of Al-Anabi Racing into Saturday’s scheduled two rounds of Professional qualifications down the all-concrete Texas Motorplex strip.

Persistent showers prompted NHRA officials to cancel qualifying at approximately 3 p.m. Friday for Round 2 of the six-race Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship. Competitors in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle are scheduled to qualify at 11:15 a.m. and 2:15 p.m. Saturday. Sunday’s final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m.

Massey used Friday’s soggy down time to go over the performance checklist on his 8,000-horsepower Battery Extender Powered by Schumacher dragster tuned by crew chief Phil Shuler. And there was the inevitable busy work that comes with racing at Spencer’s home track.

“My [cell] phone’s been ringing off the hook,” said Massey, who turned 31 on Sept. 13. “Lots of family and friends, going back to elementary school, calling and I’ve been rounding up tickets. But that’s why I love racing here. I basically live on the road and when I come back to Texas it’s one of the few times I can see my father [Raymond] and mother [Sharon] and all my friends. It’s definitely nice.

“My parents now live in Burnett, in a farmhouse with some acreage with some cows and goats. The only time I get to see my family is when they come to the races in Houston or the Motorplex or during the holidays.

“I’ve been coming to this race since 1986, the first weekend it opened up and ran the Top Fuel cars. And now that I’m here and in the sport, it’s very special to come here. Every time I pull under that tower it’s awesome that I get to do what I love to do. We’re No. 1 in points and racing for Don Schumacher Racing and I couldn’t be any happier.”

Massey, who is in his third full season with DSR, finished second in the final Top Fuel standings to Del Worsham in 2011 and third behind teammates Brown and Tony “The Sarge” Schumacher last year. Those three drivers have combined to win nine NHRA Top Fuel world championships.

Massey won four NHRA national events in both 2011-12, but that success initially was not enough to save his job after the awards banquet incident. Schumacher’s late-winter decision to sponsor the team via his electrical company saved Massey from an uncertain future. In turn, Massey has repaid his boss with another four victories this season.

“Don Schumacher is a great guy for taking me back and believing in me,” Massey said. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him taking me back and putting his name on this race car. He wanted to keep our team together and me as the driver with his sponsorship. I’m honored to drive that race car.”

John Sturbin is a senior writer at RacinToday.com. He can be contacted at jsturbin@racintoday.com.

AAA Texas NHRA

Fall Nationals

Saturday through Sunday at Texas Motorplex, 7500 W. Highway 287, Ennis.

Saturday’s schedule: Qualifying in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle at 11:15 a.m. and 2:15 p.m.

Tickets: Texas Motorplex will upgrade all Friday tickets to Saturday or Sunday southside tickets with a pit pass. Fans should bring their Friday tickets to the front gate for that exchange. Tickets are available by calling 800 MOTORPLEX (668-6775), or on the web at www.texasmotorplex.com or www.NHRATIX.com.

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