SCHUMACHER SECURES NUMBER ONE SPOT
Schumacher's 3.814-second pass at 325.45 mph from Friday was never challenged through the last two rounds of qualifying. It allowed the Chicago-area resident to claim his first pole of the year and the 62nd of his career.
"We'll take it for sure," said Schumacher. "It got a bit warmer today, so we didn't see the kind of numbers like we had on Friday. I'm happy for Mike Green (his crew chief) and the guys, but it's time for us to shift our focus to race day."
On Sunday, Schumacher will take on 16th-place qualifier, David Grubnic, in the first round of final eliminations beginning at 11 a.m. ET.
"David is out of the Kalitta Racing camp, so you know he'll be a formidable opponent," said Schumacher. "You also know he's going to bring his 'A' game to try and beat us. Of course, we're going to bring our own 'A' game to try and knock him off."
Schumacher, who is the defending event champion, will be looking for his fifth career Gatornationals win. He arrived in Florida tied with Don Garlits, Larry Dixon and Joe Amato for the Top Fuel class lead.
"We want this race real bad," said the seven-time world champion. "This is such an important event for so many reasons. I would love to put another Gatornationals trophy on my shelf at home."
Battling a track temperature that rose to almost 110 degrees, Schumacher's U.S. Army dragster managed to clock the quickest run in the final qualifying session - 3.852-seconds at 320.89 mph.
"That's definitely a solid run to take into tomorrow," offered Schumacher. "We'll have to have that kind of performance if we're going to advance deep into race day." Schumacher's U.S. Army Racing teammate, Antron Brown, held on to the second starting spot following final qualifying. It is the second straight race he has been among the top two.
In his Matco Tools/U.S. Army dragster, Brown will match up with 15th-place qualifier, Dominick Lagana, in the opening round of final eliminations.