Schumacher closes in on Winston title Baytown, TX (October 31) : Sunday: Tony Schumacher and Team Exide knew there was the possibility of claiming the NHRA Winston Top Fuel championship at the Matco Tools SuperNationals as the headed into ...
Schumacher closes in on Winston title
Baytown, TX (October 31) : Sunday: Tony Schumacher and Team Exide knew there was the possibility of claiming the NHRA Winston Top Fuel championship at the Matco Tools SuperNationals as the headed into Sunday eliminations. But it was business as usual for Team Exide as they set their only sites on winning each round of competition.
"We can't get caught up in 'what ifs' at this point," said driver Tony Schumacher, "we will take each round as it comes and whatever happens, happens."
Schumacher, who qualified in the No. 8 spot, faced fellow Chicago-area resident Randy Parks in the first round of eliminations. Schumacher ran a 4.569 e.t. at 323.04 mph to end Park's day and move on to the second round to face Doug Herbert, who was able to knock out No. 1 qualifier Mike Dunn.
Kenny Bernstein was able to help Schumacher's title cause as he ousted first round opponent, Joe Amato, who was trailing Schumacher by only 81 points, and ended Amato's chances for a sixth Top Fuel championship.
Schumacher staged for the second round knowing that he could stretch his lead even further over Amato by taking out Herbert, but also knew his chances of meeting Gary Scelzi would be great. As it has happened many times this season, as soon as one fellow driver seems to be out of the points chase, another is standing tall to take a shot at the young Exide Batteries team.
"We haven't had any room to breath," said Schumacher, "this has been quite a battle and each round has been more important than the last."
Schumacher quickly ended Herbert's title hopes as Herbert smoked the tires and Schumacher's Dan Olson-tuned dragster ran even quicker with a 4.585 e.t. at 325 mph. "Dan's (Olson-crew chief) got a great handle on this track. We have run quicker each pass," commented Schumacher.
Team Exide knew the semifinals would be a dogfight. If they won the round they would clinch the world title. They also knew that they needed to step up in performance as Gary Scelzi's Alan Johnson-tuned dragster ran a 4.554 e.t. in the previous round.
The race was over immediately as Schumacher smoked his tires and was only able to watch as Scelzi ran the quickest time ever with a 4.480 e.t. at 312.21 mph. It was fitting that the world's quickest pass was made against the world's fastest car.
Scelzi's loss in the finals to Larry Dixon keeps him 109 points out of first place. This means that all Schumacher has to do is qualify in Pomona to clinch the NHRA Winston championship title. If Schumacher makes a qualifying attempt and fails to qualify for eliminations, Scelzi must win the race and set a national e.t. record to capture 20 additional points. If Schumacher fails to qualify and Scelzi qualifies No. 1 and wins the race he would still only earn 108 points, without the e.t. record points.
"We fell pretty good that the championship is ours," said Schumacher, "by the numbers, Gary still has a chance. But the possibility to run an e.t. record in Pomona isn't that great."
"We are really happy with the way this team has performed all year for Exide Batteries and all our sponsors," said car owner Don Schumacher, "the guys have worked so hard and they really deserve to win this championship."