DSR's Schumacher, Beckman rest on high ground with provisional poles heading to potentially soggy weekend
CLERMONT, Ohio (Aug. 31, 2012) - With the U.S. Nationals facing perilous weather forecasts for Saturday and Sunday, Friday's only qualifying session could have added importance.
On a humid but rain-free Friday night at Lucas Oil Raceway near Indianapolis, Don Schumacher Racing's Tony Schumacher in the U.S. Army ROTC Top Fuel Dragster and Jack Beckman in the Valvoline NextGen Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car earned provisional poles in their respective categories on opening day of the most prestigious event on the Full Throttle Drag Racing Series tour.
Schumacher, who has won the Top Fuel title at the U.S. Nationals eight times, recorded a run of 3.814 seconds at 324.67 mph. Beckman leads Funny Car with a run of 4.051 seconds at 302.62 mph with teammate Johnny Gray close behind in the second position after going 4.079 (310.98, top speed) in the Big O Tires/Service Central Dodge.
"I'd rather race here than anywhere else because of the amount of success we've had," said Schumacher, who is third in points with one title and five final round appearances this year. "We're just getting back to the way we used to be with the car running good."
In Top Fuel, Schumacher could record his fourth pole of the season and 71st of his career.
The U.S Nationals, the most prestigious event of the 23-race series, is the only one that has five qualifying runs in pro categories over three days leading to championship eliminations on Monday.
Drivers are scheduled to get two sessions Saturday and two more Sunday.
But Weather.com forecasts are not optimistic as remnants of Hurricane Isaac continue to move north into the Midwest.
Saturday's forecast is for a 70 percent chance of thunderstorms and 60 percent on Sunday. A 30 percent of isolated thunderstorms are called for on Monday.
"Probably because of the weather conditions and the forecast of rain more cars were more conservative. You had to play it smart and go out there and get it down the track," said Schumacher, who complimented crew chief Mike Green and assistant Neal Strasbaugh.
"The key is to get the car down the racetrack, and Mike and Neal did a great job getting it down the track and it was low (elapsed time)."
The time for Beckman's run directed by crew chief Todd Smith and assistant Terry Snyder was quicker than the driver expected. Beckman was just trying to keep the car going straight.
"It started to make a move toward the center line and you can't jerk the steering wheel," said Beckman, who is trying for his team's third pole of the season.
"So I'm moving (the steering wheel) a little bit, little bit, little bit and it started to settle in the lane. Then it dropped a hole (engine cylinder) and then another hole.
"I pulled the chutes and saw the 4.051 on the scoreboard and thought it must be for the other lane. That run never felt that quick."
Source: Don Schumacher Racing