Commerce: Friday qualifying report

SCHUMACHER LEADS AFTER DAY 1 OF QUALIFYING AT SUMMIT RACING NHRA SOUTHERN NATIONALS Worsham, Krisher and Hines also are leaders at Atlanta Dragway COMMERCE, Ga. -- Tony Schumacher is the leader after the first two rounds of Top Fuel...

SCHUMACHER LEADS AFTER DAY 1 OF QUALIFYING AT SUMMIT RACING NHRA SOUTHERN NATIONALS
Worsham, Krisher and Hines also are leaders at Atlanta Dragway

COMMERCE, Ga. -- Tony Schumacher is the leader after the first two rounds of Top Fuel qualifying Friday at the Summit Racing NHRA Southern Nationals at the Atlanta Dragway.

Schumacher set the time on the final run of the day, making a pass of 4.550 seconds at 321.58 mph.

"That 4.55 was cool but the 4.63 we ran in the heat of the day shutting off earlier was cooler," said Schumacher, who pilots the U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster. "This is a different place to race when it's cooler. Look how many guys got down the track tonight versus how many struggled in the heat. We were a tenth better and we didn't do anything different."

Schumacher who sits in second place in the NHRA POWERade point standings behind Doug Kalitta, found himself more concerned with sixth-place Cory McClenathan entering the second round of qualifying Saturday and final eliminations on Sunday.

"I don't know why any of us are bothering to race at this point. Everyone said Cory Mac was gonna win this weekend so we might as well pack it in and save the money, right? Hey, I love the competition. That's what makes it so much fun," Schumacher said.

Friday was a record-setting day in the Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle classes.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Andrew Hines set a new elapsed time record (7.094 seconds) riding his Vance & Hines Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson to his top run of the day at 189.87 mph and in Pro Stock it was Ron Krisher breaking the elapsed time (6.757) and speed (203.89) records at the Atlanta Dragway.

If Krisher holds onto the No. 1 qualifying position, it will be the first No. 1 qualifier for Krisher since Dallas in 2002.

"It's been awhile. But I think we're gonna be a lot better now. We just have 15 passes on this new car and only the two from today in competition so we've still got a lot to learn about it but it's definitely better than our old car," said Krisher, referring to the recently introduced Chevrolet Cobalt chassis into NHRA Pro Stock competition.

Warren Johnson, a Buford, Ga. native, is in his final scheduled competition as a driver at the Atlanta Dragway and he sat No. 1 after the afternoon round.

"We saw what W.J. [Warren Johnson] did in Round 1. He just beat us to 330 feet. After that we matched him or beat him so I knew I could fix the early part of the run in the transmission. The car responded, and most importantly it went straight."

Hines' run was the stunner of the day as he secured the top qualifying position in the afternoon session with the track as hot as it was all day.

"We hit the nail right on the head in the first session," Hines said. "So we took that tune-up and put it in GT's bike and pretty much left mine alone. Then we saw him bog big-time at the starting line so we changed the set-up on my ride, but the bike didn't like it at all. Somehow we stayed on top so we're very happy. It looks like we've stumbled on our hot-weather tune-up a little early this year."

The other top qualifier Friday was Del Worsham, whose Checker Schuck's Kragen Chevy Monte Carlo Funny Car was the fastest down the track at 4.834 seconds and 321.58 mph.

He laid down the top run just moments after teammate Phil Burkart had a 4.838-second run at 320.58 mph in his Checker Schuck's Kragen Toyota Celica.

"How about Atlanta," said an excited Worsham. "I'm more excited to be No. 1 with my car but I'm pretty darn happy about Phil being No. 2. That's probably the bigger surprise of the two of us because that car is brand new. Dad and I drove home to get that body, loaded in a $400 boat trailer we bought off some guy, and drove three days straight to get it here. We never shut the bus off."

Atlanta also has good feeling for Worsham as it was the site of his first win 14 years ago.

"Fourteen years ago I won this race and I was so inexperienced I didn't know what to do," Worsham said. "I thought you just went and partied with your crew. Kenny Bernstein saw me wandering around in the pits and said, 'Come here kid, let me show you what to do.' I didn't know about the media or coming to the tower for interviews. He got me up here and I froze up and could barely talk."

As good a career as Worsham has had -- 19 career wins including five last season -- he has struggled a bit in 2005, sitting 10th in the Funny Car standings entering this seventh of 23 events as part of the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

"Everyone's been asking us what's been wrong," Worsham said. "There's nothing wrong. We just haven't been getting the little breaks and we've lost a few by thousandths of a second. This is just qualifying but hopefully everything is working right now and we won't have to answer that question any more."

-nhra-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Kenny Bernstein , Warren Johnson , Del Worsham , Tony Schumacher , Doug Kalitta , Ron Krisher , Phil Burkart , Cory Mac , Andrew Hines