Enclosed capsule receives approval

NHRA officials gave final approval Monday evening for Don Schumacher Racing to use the new enclosed capsule on Tony Schumacher's Army-sponsored Top Fuel dragster, DSR officials confirmed Tuesday.

Members of the NHRA's technical department inspected a third generation of the canopy Monday at DSR headquarters in Brownsburg, Ind., before giving the final approval.

Tony Schumacher, a seven-time NHRA of Fuel champion, will use the canopy for the first time in competition this weekend at the NHRA event in Brainerd, Minn. DSR also plans to add the enclosed capsule to Antron Brown's Top Fuel dragster, possibly in time for the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis on Labor Day weekend.

"We all want to see it for the safety of our sport," Tony Schumacher said recently about the enclosure. "We didn't do this to go fast. The only advantage I care about is life expectancy. It's about safety, period."

DSR first tested the enclosure on Tony Schumacher's dragster during preseason testing in Florida in January. NHRA officials wanted some changes made to the canopy before approving its use in a regular-season event.

A small wicker blade was added to the top of the canopy to negate any possibly aerodynamic advantage caused by the enclosure.

The NHRA also wanted pop-out openings on the enclosure to insert a hose in case of a possible fire. And NHRA officials wanted to make sure the device was available for purchase for every team that might want to use it. Aerodine Composites designs and builds the canopies.