SCHUMACHER TO START THIRD IN SEASON OPENER
POMONA, Calif., February 26, 2011 - U.S. Army Top Fuel driver Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher secured the third starting position here Saturday during final qualifying for tomorrow's Kragen O'Reilly Auto Parts Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway. After sitting through a weather delay that included a period of hail, Schumacher posted two qualifying runs with the late afternoon session producing a 3.789-second pass at 324.59 mph.
"We had really cool conditions for that last run, so the car was loving life," said the seven-time world champion. "That was a nice job by the U.S. Army team. We were able to gain some momentum going into race day."
Schumacher will square off with 14th-place qualifier, Troy Buff, in the first round of eliminations beginning at 11 a.m. PT.
"I can't wait to line up tomorrow," he said. "We had an enjoyable off season, but now it's time to get back to racing. Let the fun and games begin.
"We'll take the same approach as we always do going into a first round. We'll be focused and looking to take care of business."
On Sunday, the Chicago-area resident will be gunning for his third career Winternationals win and his seventh career victory at Auto Club Raceway, which would push him into the lead for most Top Fuel wins at the historic facility.
"We just want to start the 2011 season off on the right foot," offered Schumacher. "Again, I'm pumped up it has begun."
Schumacher had won six straight world titles before finishing second in the points to Larry Dixon last year. As a result, he's determined to regain the top spot.
"One race does not make a season, but we'd love to get this one for sure," he said. "We enjoy giving trophies to our Army Strong Soldiers."
Schumacher's U.S. Army Racing teammate, Antron Brown, also put down impressive numbers in the final qualifying session (3.788-seconds at 323.35 mph) and thus edged out Schumacher for second in the final order.
The Matco Tools/U.S. Army dragster pilot, who captured the 2010 season finale at Auto Club Raceway, will take on 15th-place qualifier, Mike Strasburg, in the opening round of eliminations.
Dixon, with a national record-setting 3.770-second trip at 324.98 mph, captured the pole, while Spencer Massey (fourth) and Del Worsham (fifth) rounded out the top five.