Tony under glass' puts U.S. Army dragster on pole at Brainerd in first race with new Top Fuel canopy
BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug.17, 2012) - Don Schumacher Racing left Brainerd International Raceway on Friday evening with the two quickest Top Fuel Dragsters in the NHRA Nationals, and the one that holds the provisional pole also is the most unique in the field of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event.
In the second of two qualifying sessions at Brainerd, DSR teammates Tony Schumacher and Antron Brown produced identical elapsed times of 3.791 seconds - the only dragsters quicker than 3.8 seconds - but Schumacher's faster speed (323.97 mph to 323.74 mph) served as the tiebreaker that earned Schumacher the provisional No. 1 qualifying position heading to Saturday's last two qualifying sessions at the Minnesota track.
"We went up there knowing we could put a good number on the board and the U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster was flawless," said Schumacher, who won Top Fuel titles at Brainerd in 2000, 2004 and 2008. If his time holds up it will be the sixth Brainerd pole and 70th of his career.
"Most of the other guys went up there and spun their tires and we just went down the track. Then Antron goes and matches my time on the next pass. What a great statement for Don Schumacher Racing and the U.S. Army and Matco Tools teams."
And Schumacher, the seven-time Top Fuel world champion, did it with a new revolutionary covered cockpit that was approved for competition on Monday by NHRA officials.
He was thrilled before he went 3.791 and set the track speed record.
"Both runs felt good. (The canopy) is phenomenal. You're in the thing and they close it and you just feel a sense of safety which is the whole point. For 16 years, I've driven one with an open cockpit where parts and pieces can fly in. Now I'm in a capsule. I've been looking forward to doing this for a long time.
"I'd like to credit first the U.S. Army team and Aerodine (Composites) for building it. They did an amazing job. Aerodine perfected this thing, and you've got to give credit to NHRA for approving it.
"The (performance) advantage with the canopy is an advantage in life expectancy. Wally Parks founded NHRA to keep people safe. With all of us working together, we're going to make that happen.
"We are trying to make this car our future with other people putting it on their cars so we won't have to see any more tragedies. I want to see one on every car I race."
It was a little good-natured revenge by Schumacher who lost to Brown in the championship round a year ago at Brainerd. But Brown isn't ready to concede the pole to his U.S. Army teammate.
"My teammate snuck around me on miles an hour, but we've got two more shots at it Saturday and we're going to go for it," said Brown, who also won four NHRA titles at Brainerd in Pro Stock Motorcycle between 2000 and 2006.
"We made two great runs that were fast and consistent; that's what you need to do to win rounds on Sunday.
"What a way to start a race. All of the credit goes to our Matco Tools boys and (crew chiefs) Mark Oswald and Brian Corradi. They gave me a great horse to ride."
The fall-like weather with temperatures in the low 70s under clear skies was not typical for a Brainerd weekend in August and polar opposite to the excessive heat the Full Throttle tour has suffered through the past couple months.
"We like it when it's cool and NHRA did a great job of preparing the track," Brown said. "And we went out and had some fun."
In Funny Car, Jack Beckman and crew chief Todd Smith continue to be the most improved team in the category and are qualified third after Friday's two runs. Their Valvoline NextGen Dodge Charger R/T's best run was in the evening session when Beckman went 4.067 seconds at 311.85.
The quickest Funny Car pass was by Tim Wilkerson who went 4.049 seconds to set a track record.
But Beckman was more impressed with his run considering contributions made by his team and DSR fabricators.
"That was only the second run on this car," he said adding that after the last event in Seattle on Aug. 5, the team returned to DSR headquarters near Indianapolis where DSR fabrication technicians replaced the front half of the chassis.
"We are so confident with our fabrication shop that we weren't worried about any issues when we brought that car to Brainerd," Beckman said. "It's nice when runs validate that confidence because with these cars sometime you just don't know.
"It was 31 hours from the time they started taking the car apart until it was completely back together, and that included a little time when the guys went home to sleep. That alone is very impressive."
Source: Don Schumacher Racing