Topeka Team Exide Keeps Championship Dream Alive

Team Exide keeps Championship dream alive Topeka, KS (October 4): Going into his second national event as the Winston Championship points leader, Tony Schumacher came to the Advance Auto Parts Nationals at Heartland Park knowing what he wanted...

Team Exide keeps Championship dream alive

Topeka, KS (October 4): Going into his second national event as the Winston Championship points leader, Tony Schumacher came to the Advance Auto Parts Nationals at Heartland Park knowing what he wanted to accomplish to keep that lead.

Many times this year, Schumacher and Team Exide have talked about needing consistency to win a Championship. This weekend was no exception as Dan Olson once again had the race day tune-up to beat. But as it has happened on several occasions, this young team was once again denied a trip to victory lane.

After showing the horsepower of the Exide dragster by running the second fastest speed in the history of the sport in qualifying (327.90 MPH) and defeating Jim Head in the first round of eliminations, Dan Olson and Schumacher showed they could run low ET's as they were the only car in the .50's during the weather delayed second day of eliminations. Team Exide posted a 4.527 ET at 317.19 MPH to defeat Doug Kalitta.

"Dan really has a handle on this track. The car should have run in the .40's and would have probably run 330 if it wouldn't have hurt parts," commented Schumacher.

Indeed the car may have run as quick as Schumacher suggested, as the crew was greeted with two large holes in the engine block as they picked up their driver and prepared for their third-round match-up with Doug Herbert.

"Looking at the computer, the engine let go at about 4.1 seconds and who knows what it would have run had it not hurt parts," said Dan Olson as he studied his computer data to prepare for the next round.

Making at least the semifinals is what Schumacher had hoped for the points Championship, but he would not be satisfied without defeating opponent Herbert to have a chance to go to the finals to meet Gary Scelzi or Joe Amato; other contenders in the points chase.

That chance was halted as Doug Herbert defeated Schumacher with a deep-staged 4.661 to Schumacher's 4.597 at 319.82 MPH with a margin of victory of .032 seconds. Amato defeated Scelzi for his second straight trip to the final round.

"I would have loved for a chance to run Joe (Amato) after what happened in Reading," said Schumacher referring to their finals match-up where Schumacher smoked his tires, "but it wasn't meant to be today."

"It was the drivers fault today," said Schumacher, "Dan (Olson-Crew Chief) had everyone covered with his tune-up."

Olson offered this to his driver Schumacher, "You have saved us several times when we haven't had the tune-up or you had to pedal the car. We need to move on to the next race."

With two strong performances and a fast car heading into the last four races, Team Exide will surely be one of the last standing as the Winston Championship points chase draws to a close. Schumacher now leads Amato by 14 points with Scelzi close behind. This pack of three was also able to stretch away from the remaining contenders in the 1999 Championship battle.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jim Head , Doug Herbert , Tony Schumacher , Gary Scelzi , Doug Kalitta