Pomona Pre-race: Tony Schumacher and the Exide Batteries race team only had a short time to enjoy the result of their hard work from their 1999 NHRA Winston Championship season. It has been business as usual as they prepare to defend their title,...
Pomona Pre-race: Tony Schumacher and the Exide Batteries race team only had a short time to enjoy the result of their hard work from their 1999 NHRA Winston Championship season. It has been business as usual as they prepare to defend their title, starting at the AutoZone Winter Nationals February 3-6, in Pomona, California.
The Exide Batteries team should be well prepared, as they have taken full advantage of the season break to test a new chassis in Florida, Phoenix and Tucson. "We are ready to go," said an upbeat driver Tony Schumacher, "it will be tougher this year, since our expectations will be higher."
"We know what a Championship feels like. Now we want another; along with some additional event titles."
By winning the 1999 NHRA Winston Championship, the Exide team shocked many onlookers. Take into account that this young team won their first event, set top speed at 14 of the 22 National events, recorded 11 new track records, a national MPH record and the sport's only 330 mph pass and it should be no surprise. To put icing on the cake, the Exide Batteries dragster and pilot Schumacher also made the five fastest passes in NHRA history.
"I know many people don't think we deserved the championship since we won only one race," said Schumacher, "but this team deserves it as much as any other out there for the dedication and hard work that they put in last year." "If you look at what this team accomplished in 1999 and realize it was our first full year together, it is the perfect example of great teamwork."
Asked if the rule changes for the new season will affect their performance, Schumacher commented, "We were already running in the 93-94% range on nitro, so backing it down to 90% won't really affect Dan's (Olson - Crew Chief) tune-up very much. We are very happy where we are after testing the new car."
The Dan Olson-tuned dragster and Exide Batteries team will also be sporting a new paint scheme and uniforms as well as some new sponsors as they make their season debut.
Qualifying at the AutoZone Winter Nationals begins Thursday, Feb. 3 at 3 p.m. (PST). A second qualifying session is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 4 at 3 p.m., followed by two sessions Saturday at noon and 4:00 p.m. Eliminations begin at 11:00 a.m. Sunday morning.