Madison, IL (June 22): Less than one week after claiming victory in Columbus, reigning NHRA Winston Champion, Tony Schumacher must wait until the second day of qualifying for the Sears Craftsman Nationals to make the 16-car field at Gateway ...
Madison, IL (June 22): Less than one week after claiming victory in Columbus, reigning NHRA Winston Champion, Tony Schumacher must wait until the second day of qualifying for the Sears Craftsman Nationals to make the 16-car field at Gateway International Raceway.
Because of the unique night racing format, the first session of Top Fuel qualifying was actually held early Thursday evening. Second in NHRA points, Schumacher was paired against Gary Scelzi's Winston dragster. Schumacher's car smoked the tires just past 300 feet. The car recorded an aggressive 60 foot time and Schumacher was still able to run 6.194 seconds at 137.39 mph, which at the time was good enough for tenth in the field.
"The car left great," said Schumacher, "but we got out of the groove and it's impossible to keep traction at that point. We still have three more shots to get in."
In the second session of the day, teams had much better weather conditions as the sun had set and temperatures had dropped considerably. This time, instead of overpowering the Madison, Illinois racing surface, the Exide dragster underpowered the track and shook the tires, forcing Schumacher to abort the run.
"We didn't have enough power," said Schumacher, "the track was much better than we expected. I guess we just backed off it too much after the first run."
"We have two more sessions tomorrow. We will be all right. If there's anyone that can handle it, it's Dan Olson (crew chief)."
Qualifying for Top Fuel is scheduled for 5pm and 9pm. Final eliminations are scheduled for 4pm on Saturday. ESPN2 will televise qualifying highlights. Check local listings for times.