Topeka Qualifying Notes

Schumacher and Olson make history again. Rain and low 40-degree weather greeted competitors and fans as day two of the Advance Auto Parts Nationals in Topeka, Kansas got under way. Tony Schumacher and Team Exide looked to improve upon their...

Schumacher and Olson make history again.

Rain and low 40-degree weather greeted competitors and fans as day two of the Advance Auto Parts Nationals in Topeka, Kansas got under way. Tony Schumacher and Team Exide looked to improve upon their first day performance as they attempt to defend their Winston Championship points lead.

After a minor delay, qualifying was underway and Schumacher was scheduled to be the first car down the track based on the previous night's qualifying time. As the Exide dragster left the line, the car lifted the front wheels off the ground as it usually does. The only difference this time was that the front wheels continued to rise higher off the ground until Schumacher was forced to lift off the throttle to prevent the car from going over backwards.

"We would have definitely gone over if I wouldn't have lifted. It didn't seem like it was that high off the ground until I saw the video tape," commented Schumacher while trying to stay warm in the pit area.

"The car was really trying to run down the track. That would have been a great pass," he added. The car was undamaged except for a bent front wheel and was able to coast down the track at a 10.913 ET at 71.36 MPH.

The skies cleared and track conditions remained as solid as they were earlier in the day which allowed Crew Chief Dan Olson to have one more shot at the tune-up he had prepared for the earlier run. "The track is really good," said Olson, "it should hold some stout numbers."

Olson couldn't have been more correct in his tune-up and assessment of track conditions as the Exide car thrilled fans with the second fastest quarter-mile pass in NHRA history and an additional track record for their coffers. Schumacher's run of 4.555 at 327.90 MPH was second to his best and the sports only 330-MPH run in Phoenix earlier this season. Now owner's of the top 3 speeds in NHRA history, Schumacher and Olson agree that they still have bigger tasks to accomplish before this season ends.

"It's great for the fans," said Schumacher, "but we still need to win rounds. The big MPH also shows the other teams that we will make horsepower at the top end of the track, but we are here to run for a Winston championship."

Schumacher ended the day in the fifth qualifying position, which will match him against Jim Head in the first round. "Jim Head is capable at putting up some big numbers. We have no gimmee by any means," said Schumacher as he reviewed video of his historic pass down the track.

In order for Schumacher's pass to stand as an official record he must run at least a 324.63-MPH run to back up the 327 pass. "Records are nice, but we plan on leaving with the points lead," said Schumacher, "we like the view from this spot."

Final eliminations are scheduled for 11:00 am Sunday and with marginal weather forecasted, many teams may have to struggle with tune-ups.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jim Head