SCHUMACHER THIRD AFTER OPENING DAY
POMONA, Calif., February 24, 2011 - Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher, aboard his U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster, dropped into the third starting spot here Thursday following the first day of qualifying for the 51st annual Kragen O'Reilly Auto Parts Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway.
After banking a 3.804-second pass at 316.38 mph, the seven-time world champion moved in behind his Don Schumacher Racing teammates, Antron Brown and Spencer Massey, respectively, in the order.
Interestingly enough Brown, in his Matco Tools/U.S. Army dragster, as well as Massey and Schumacher all stopped the clock with the same elapsed time. The deadlock was broken via speed with Brown claiming the provisional pole at 319.98 mph.
"How about that?" said Schumacher with a chuckle. "It's really something that we all went out and posted identical times. But, that's the kind of teamwork we have at DSR. It's all about the data sharing."
Rounding out the top five heading into the second day of qualifying on Friday (another single run is scheduled) was the Al Anabi team of Del Worsham and Larry Dixon, who is the defending world champ. Worsham is making his return to Top Fuel racing after competing for a number of years in Funny Car.
"You really can throw a blanket over us," offered Schumacher. "I believe the racing is going to be this close all year long. I can't see anyone running away from the pack at any given point in the season."
Schumacher, who won six straight world titles before finishing second to Dixon last year, is eager to return to the top of the charts.
"That's for certain," he said. "We need to come out of the box here in Pomona with a good performance. Of course, a win is always the preference."
Schumacher is tied with Don Garlits for the most Top Fuel victories at Auto Club Raceway - six.