Brainerd, Minn. (August 18): Tony Schumacher and the Exide Batteries team felt they had missed several opportunities while on the West coast swing. In order to defend their 1999 Winston Top Fuel title, they knew that had to react soon in order...
Brainerd, Minn. (August 18): Tony Schumacher and the Exide Batteries team felt they had missed several opportunities while on the West coast swing. In order to defend their 1999 Winston Top Fuel title, they knew that had to react soon in order to catch current points leader, Gary Scelzi.
Schumacher started the day as the No. 1 qualifier; the first of his career. In the first round, Schumacher faced fellow Chicago resident, Chris Karamesines. Schumacher easily defeated the 72 year old "Greek" with another impressive run of 4.597 seconds at 319.60 mph.
"That was a big statement for this team," said Schumacher, "we got our first No. 1 and we are the only car to run in the .50's all weekend."
"With Gary (Scelzi) and Team Winston losing in the first round, we have a chance to get some points back that we left on the West coast."
In the second round, Schumacher faced the No. 8 qualifier, Kenny Bernstein, who defeated David Grubnic in round one. Schumacher ran his third 319 mph run of the weekend as his 4.611 second run sent Bernstein packing.
The semifinals would pair Schumacher against No. 12, Andrew Cowin, who upset No. 5, Don Lampus and No. 4 Doug Herbert, in the first two rounds of the day. Cowin and Schumacher both smoked their tires and after the smoke had cleared, Schumacher's 6.086 second run nipped Cowin by only .005 seconds.
"That was way too close," said Schumacher, "as soon as I hit the parachutes, he went flying by me."
That win would set up a final round meeting with Doug Kalitta, who earlier this year defeated Schumacher in the final round of the Gatornationals.
Schumacher's car carried the front end and as it accelerated, it was obvious that if he had no mechanical problems, Kalitta wasn't going to catch the reigning Winston Champion.
Not only did Schumacher claim his third victory of the season (fourth career), he did so by eclipsing his qualifying e.t. with a stunning 4.585 second blast at 318.69 mph.
"This was a big win for Dan (Olson) and the guys on this team. They work so hard and to be able to put together a weekend like we had, shows all the long hours are paying off."
With only two weeks before the U.S. Nationals, this victory has given Team Exide tremendous confidence as they go back to the event where they took over the points lead a year ago in route to their first championship. Now only 24 points behind Gary Scelzi, Schumacher once again can leave Indy with the championship points leads.