Schumacher smokes tires in first attempt at season opener

Pomona, CA (February 3): The 2000 NHRA Winston Championship season has officially begun as the 40th Annual AutoZone WinterNationals opened with the first round of Top Fuel qualifying. Tony Schumacher and the Exide Batteries team who have been ...

Pomona, CA (February 3): The 2000 NHRA Winston Championship season has officially begun as the 40th Annual AutoZone WinterNationals opened with the first round of Top Fuel qualifying. Tony Schumacher and the Exide Batteries team who have been eager to defend their new championship trophy and are sporting all new colors on the Exide dragster made their first official appearance as the reigning NHRA Winston Top Fuel Champions.

Schumacher's first qualifying attempt produced tire smoke as he spun the tires before he hit the 330-foot mark on the racetrack. He coasted down the track with a 10.258 ET at 80.26 mph, leaving the team in the 16th qualifying spot.

"We should be alright," said Schumacher after returning to his pit area, "as long as we don't have any weather problems this weekend."

"It's really good to finally be back into the season again," he added, "we had some great passes in testing and it's just a matter of getting our tune-up for Pomona dialed in for the weather and track conditions."

Schumacher was paired against runner up for the 1999 Championship, Gary Scelzi, who also smoked his tires and sits in the number 18 qualifying spot. Nineteen cars made qualifying attempts with Joe Amato leading the way with a 4.666 ET at 320.05 mph.

Round two of qualifying is scheduled for Friday afternoon with the final two sessions scheduled for Saturday. Schumacher and team will hope to better their previous attempt as will many others who failed to make solid passes on the first day of qualifying.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Schumacher , Joe Amato