Chicago Top Fuel Preview

SCHUMACHER HOPES TO EARN FIRST TOP FUEL WIN BEFORE HOME CROWD JOLIET, Ill. -- Tony Schumacher can already see the headline in bold print: 'Local boy does good.' That's what he hopes to read in all of Chicago's daily newspapers following...

SCHUMACHER HOPES TO EARN FIRST TOP FUEL WIN BEFORE HOME CROWD JOLIET, Ill. -- Tony Schumacher can already see the headline in bold print: 'Local boy does good.' That's what he hopes to read in all of Chicago's daily newspapers following completion of the second annual FRAM Route 66 Nationals. Schumacher, from nearby Park Ridge, Ill., will lead a host of Top Fuel contenders in search of victory at the $1.8 million race, June 3-6, at state-of-the-art Route 66 Raceway. The race is the ninth of 22 events in the $40 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series. Schumacher, 29, is looking forward to debuting his new Exide Batteries dragster for his legion of hometown fans. The 6,000 horsepower machine has quickly earned a reputation as one of the quickest and fastest in the category. That reputation has come from a series of thrilling runs this season, including a 330.23 mph blast at Phoenix. That speed is the fastest in NHRA history. He has also been one of the most consistent competitors this season, posting one runner-up finish and three semi-final appearances. However, with five career runner-up finishes, Schumacher will be the first to tell you he's anxious to visit winner's circle. "We've been on the verge of getting that first win all season," Schumacher said. "It's just a matter of being there at the right time. We've got the team and the car to do it, that's for sure." Schumacher, who lost in the second round to Paul Romine at Route 66 Raceway last year, is hoping for much better results this season. He says the venue provides the perfect setting for his first career victory to take place. "We've been looking forward to this event all season," Schumacher said. "We want to give all our fans a good race. If we could pull out our first win there in front of the hometown crowd, that would be the ultimate. Talk about a post race party. It would be incredible." One thing Schumacher is excited about is returning to Route 66 Raceway's super-fast track surface. He says track conditions there definitely play into his team's favor. He says they've struggled somewhat to find the right combination during recent events in Richmond, Va. and Atlanta. "We've had to de-tune the car quite a bit during the last few races because of marginal track conditions," Schumacher said. "At Chicago we should be able to get the most out of Dan's (Olson, crew chief) tune-up. The track held some pretty incredible numbers last year and I think we'll see even quicker times and faster speeds this year since the track has had a year to develop. It should hold everything we're capable of throwing at it. We're definitely pumped." Another thing that has Schumacher pumped is his team's position in the NHRA Winston Top Fuel point standings. After eight races, he is fourth in the standings with 491 points, 110 behind leader Mike Dunn, driver of the Team Mopar dragster. After finishing 15th overall in the standings one year ago, he is looking forward to the challenge of battling for the Winston championship this season. "We're confident about our chances," Schumacher said. "We still believe our best performance is yet to come. We've just got to go rounds. That's the main ingredient in winning a Winston championship. It doesn't matter who we're running against, we just need to get some win lights."

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Series NHRA
Drivers Paul Romine , Mike Dunn , Tony Schumacher