Chicago: Disappointing homecoming for Tony Schumacher

Joliet, IL (June 4): Coming to the Prestone Route 66 Nationals in his hometown Chicago, Tony Schumacher made the statement that winning this race would be the biggest win that he could imagine. Unfortunately, he will have to wait until next year...

Joliet, IL (June 4): Coming to the Prestone Route 66 Nationals in his hometown Chicago, Tony Schumacher made the statement that winning this race would be the biggest win that he could imagine. Unfortunately, he will have to wait until next year to try to fulfill this dream.

In the first round of eliminations, Schumacher defeated Joe Hartley by running an impressive 4.580 e.t. at 320.13 mph. This was the fifth consecutive race that the Dan Olson-tuned Exide dragster ran a first round e.t. quicker than their qualifying effort. The run was the low e.t. of the first round and gave Schumacher lane choice in the second round against Bob Vandergriff.

In the second round, Schumacher again ran low e.t. with a 4.630 e.t. at 319.07 mph. Vandergriff had a .048 second reaction time advantage and with his 4.690 e.t., it was enough to give Schumacher a scare. The margin of victory was only .012 seconds. That win put Schumacher head-to-head with points leader, Gary Scelzi in the semifinals. Scelzi ran a 4.663 e.t. in his second round win over Andrew Cowin which gave Schumacher lane choice.

The Schumacher-Scelzi rivalry has been building with each race this season and has been the talk of the pits. Both drivers had similar reaction times, but Schumacher's car immediately smoked the tires. Schumacher tried to pedal the car when he saw a huge fireball trailing Scelzi's car, but he ran out of track and Scelzi claimed victory over the Exide team. Schumacher's car coasted to a 6.364 e.t..

"We were really pumped up for this race" said a dejected Schumacher, "we hate to give it away by smoking the tires. That's the worse way to lose, especially at home."

Crew chief Dan Olson was not able to find anything specific that caused the consistent Exide dragster to lose traction so early. "Scelzi's team is a good as any out here, but we gave them a gift today," commented Olson.

Schumacher falls to third in NHRA Championship points, 68 points behind Scelzi and 8 behind runner-up of the event, Larry Dixon.

With one week off before the Pontiac Excitement Nationals in Columbus, Ohio, Team Exide will travel to Norwalk, Ohio next Saturday to match race and test their dragster.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Tony Schumacher , Gary Scelzi , Andrew Cowin , Joe Hartley , Bob Vandergriff