Bristol, Tenn. (April 29): After struggling early in the 2001 season, Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher used the Inaugural Mac Tools Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol, Tennessee to prove to fellow Top Fuel competitors that the Army dragster would be a...
Bristol, Tenn. (April 29): After struggling early in the 2001 season, Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher used the Inaugural Mac Tools Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol, Tennessee to prove to fellow Top Fuel competitors that the Army dragster would be a contender in the championship battle.
In the opening round of eliminations, "The Sarge" defeated the higher qualified Doug Herbert with an impressive 4.687 et at 307.44 mph despite being forced to run in the less favored left lane.
"That was a big one for this team," said Schumacher. "We have been doing as much testing as we can and we still struggled in qualifying. It looks like we are getting it turned around."
For the second week in a row, Schumacher's Quarterfinals opponent was Mike Dunn. Schumacher's Dan Olson-tuned dragster ran another solid 4.714 at 305.08 mph to a losing 5.279 et after Dunn experienced tire smoke at half track.
Still without lane choice, "The Sarge" faced No. 1 qualifier, Kenny Bernstein in the Semifinals, where Bernstein put Schumacher in the right lane after several cars experienced tire smoking problems. This time both drivers had traction problems. Bernstein smoked his tires first, then "The Sarge" boiled his Goodyear's. Schumacher was able to pedal the car to regain control and cruise on to victory with a 5.270 et at 268.44 mph. Bernstein coasted across the line to a 8.587.
"That's racing at its best right there," said an excited Schumacher. "The No. 12 qualifier taking out No. 1 in a pedaling contest."
"We are taking the Army to the finals for the first time this year and would love to get one for them."
In his first final of the 2001 season, Schumacher faced Doug Kalitta. Both cars seemed to be on good passes, but Schumacher's car wasn't able to go the full quarter mile under power. Doug Kalitta's 4.690 beat "The Sarge's" 5.056 et.
"This whole U.S. Army team did a heck of a job," said Schumacher. "We have been struggling and the guys pulled together to get the job done today."
"We are disappointed not to have won, but everyone has the spring back in their step and we are ready to go to Atlanta."
Though Schumacher remains No. 7 in Winston Championship points, he is only 137 points behind leader, Larry Dixon as the tour continues next weekend to Commerce, Georgia.
1. Larry Dixon, 475; 2. Mike Dunn, 459; 3. Doug Kalitta, 449; 4. Kenny Bernstein, 429; 5. Darrell Russell, 377; 6. Gary Scelzi, 376; 7. Tony Schumacher, 338; 8. Doug Herbert, 265; 9. Andrew Cowin, 258; 10. David Grubnic, 256.