Baytown: Round four preview

PLOT LINES START TO UNFOLD AFTER THREE NHRA POWERADE SERIES EVENTS; SCHUMACHER ONCE AGAIN LEADER IN FASTEST CATEGORY BAYTOWN, Texas -- It takes 46 days for pledges to approach proven. All teams make promises before a season starts. Everyone...

PLOT LINES START TO UNFOLD AFTER THREE NHRA POWERADE SERIES EVENTS; SCHUMACHER ONCE AGAIN LEADER IN FASTEST CATEGORY

BAYTOWN, Texas -- It takes 46 days for pledges to approach proven.

All teams make promises before a season starts. Everyone has goals for 2008. But less than two months have passed since the season-opener of the NHRA POWERade Series in Pomona, Calif. and in the three races since, some promises look primed to be broken. Others are well on their way to fulfillment.

Take Tony Schumacher's, for instance. Schumacher has held off a host of formidable talent to hang on to the NHRA POWERade Series world championship title in Top Fuel since 2004 (he also won the championship in 1999). His goal? Championship ring No. 6.

Out of his 43 career wins, only one has come at the next stop on the tour, Houston (2005). The NHRA POWERade Series comes to Houston Raceway Park for the O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals presented by Pennzoil, March 27-30. The event is the fourth of 24 in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, the world's fastest motorsport.

"We're going to need to try some different parts to get back ahead because everyone is right there with us," Schumacher said after his recent win. "There were a lot of good cars and a lot of people running equal to us and every round (in Gainesville) was a battle. We really had to earn this one. I look at this trophy and it's a nice one, and we had really difficult cars to beat and it was one of the (tougher) ones to earn."

Schumacher is the only driver to win multiple titles so far this season, reaching the winner's circle in Pomona and Gainesville, Fla. in his U.S. Army dragster. He holds a 52-point lead over Phoenix winner Larry Dixon, who sits in the No. 2 spot entering Houston. Schumacher's is obviously a formidable stable and with coveted tuner Alan Johnson at the lead, it's no wonder his is the first ride to win more than one event this year. But there's plenty of talent still at the table and 21 events between the best drag racers in the world and the final win light of the year. And 52 points is a little less than three rounds of competition.

Funny Car and Pro Stock have seen three different winners in three races. Robert Hight (Pomona), Jack Beckman (Phoenix) and Tony Pedregon (Gainesville) have all outlasted the others in what's been called the most competitive field in NHRA Funny Car history. Of the three, Robert Hight and his Auto Club Ford Mustang holds the points lead. Beckman and Tony Pedregon's brother Cruz are No. 2 and 3, with Tony Pedregon in the fourth position.

In Pro Stock, the story is much the same. The expected duel between the Jegs and Summit Racing Equipment camps has come to fruition yet again, with both Jeg Coughlin Jr. (Jegs.com Chevy Cobalt) and Greg Anderson (Summit Racing Pontiac GXP) at one win each. Veteran racer V. Gaines pulled off a stunner in Phoenix.

Pro Stock Motorcycle's drama has just begun with one race in the books. In Gainesville, Northern California's Matt Guidera proved his Mohegan Sun Rocklin Motorsports Buell the one to beat, turning in a blistering 6.922-second run in qualifying and winning the event with a 6.949 at 191.54 -- after leaving on three-time NHRA POWERade Series world champion Andrew Hines at the tree.

SCHEDULE: Pro qualifying sessions are scheduled for 2 and 5 p.m. on Friday, March 28. Qualifying continues at 11:15 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 29 and final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday, March 30.

TICKETS: Tickets are available for the O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals presented by Pennzoil. Call Houston Raceway Park at (281) 383-RACE (7223) or check online at Ticketmaster.com.

ON TV: ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise qualifying highlights at 4:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. (ET) on Saturday, March 29. ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise NHRA Race Day, a 30-minute pre-race show, at 11 a.m. (ET) on Sunday, March 30. ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise the race beginning at 4:30 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, March 30.

-credit: nh

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Tony Pedregon , Tony Schumacher , Greg Anderson , Jack Beckman , Andrew Hines , Robert Hight , Matt Guidera