Recently crowned NHRA Winston Top Fuel champ, Tony Schumacher had no time to bask in his glory as Team Exide was the No. 2 qualifier and still had to compete in the Auto Club NHRA Finals at Pomona Raceway as the 1999 Winston drag race season comes to a close.
Schumacher's first round opponent was the young Australian, Andrew Cowin, who went to the finals at the U.S. Nationals earlier this year. Cowin deep staged against the Winston champ, but Schumacher got down the track with a Dan Olson tune-up that delivered a 4.707 e.t. at 304.53 mph to advance Team Exide to the second round of eliminations.
Schumacher once again faced former champion, Kenny Bernstein, one of the several Top Fuel drivers that contested the 1999 championship. Schumacher quickly made up a starting line advantage by Bernstein and cruised to a 4.622 e.t. at 314.68 mph to defeat the Budweiser driver and advance to his 12th semifinal appearance of the year.
It was fitting that Schumacher would face Mike Dunn in the final race of the year. Schumacher and Dunn were the only two Winston Championship points leaders of the 1999 season. Schumacher and the Exide Batteries team took the points lead at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis and never looked back. Unfortunately, Team Exide wasn't able to deliver a victory to add to the championship as they smoked the tires against Dunn who ran 4.71. Schumacher coasted to a 11.054 e.t. at 79.28 mph.
Team Exide's next scheduled appearance will be the NHRA Winston Drag Racing awards ceremony on Tuesday night as they will formally accept the title that they worked so hard for this year.
As they started their celebration in the pits, Schumacher commented, "I could not have asked for a better group of guys to work with and to share this championship with. This has been quite of year for the Exide Batteries Top Fuel Team."