Phoenix: Schumacher fourth after first day

Phoenix, Ariz. (Feb. 15): In an attempt to defend his 2000 event title, Tony Schumacher finished the first day of qualifying for the 17th Annual Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals in the No. 4 position. Schumacher started the day with a solid...

Phoenix, Ariz. (Feb. 15): In an attempt to defend his 2000 event title, Tony Schumacher finished the first day of qualifying for the 17th Annual Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals in the No. 4 position.

Schumacher started the day with a solid 4.59 second blast at 313.88 mph. After the first session, only Larry Dixon had run quicker with his 4.58 second run down the quarter mile.

"That was on a much better pass than that," said Schumacher, "we dropped a cylinder three seconds into the run."

"The track is in great condition and with the temperatures we are seeing, it just couldn't be better racing conditions."

In the second session, Schumacher lined up in the right lane against Larry Dixon. Schumacher's performance fell off slightly with a 4.61 e.t. at 318.02 mph. Schumacher's earlier run was good enough to keep him in the No. 4 position at the end of the first of two days of qualifying.

"The car was a little soft," said Schumacher, "but we are safely in the top half of the field and we have two more chances to throw some numbers down tomorrow."

Schumacher also has some incentive as Mike Dunn ran 328 mph in the second session. That run is now the fastest run under the new 90 percent nitro rule and second only to Schumacher's historic 330-mph pass. Dunn's run also breaks Schumacher's lock on the five fastest speeds in the history of the sport.

Qualifying continues on Saturday with two sessions in preparation for Sunday's final eliminations.

-Mike DeLille-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Mike Dunn