Park Ridge, IL (June 12): One year ago at the Pontiac Excitement Nationals at National Trail Raceway in Kirkersville, Ohio, defending NHRA Winston Top Fuel champion, Tony Schumacher was upset in Round one by No. 13 qualifier, Paul Romine. ...
Park Ridge, IL (June 12): One year ago at the Pontiac Excitement Nationals at National Trail Raceway in Kirkersville, Ohio, defending NHRA Winston Top Fuel champion, Tony Schumacher was upset in Round one by No. 13 qualifier, Paul Romine. Since then, Schumacher has not lost in the first round of eliminations and looks to extend that streak at this years Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing, June 15-18.
"Consistency won us the Championship last year," said Schumacher, "and you have to win rounds to do that. The first round can be more important than the finals because if you lose, you're leaving 80 points on the table."
The key to Schumacher's success in the first round of eliminations is crew chief, Dan Olson. Olson's tune-up has produced a first round e.t. quicker than Schumacher's qualifying e.t. in six of the nine events this year and the last five events in a row. Schumacher's car has also been arguably the most consistent car in Top Fuel.
"Dan and the guys really know how to get ready for race day," said Schumacher, "we are usually the last team to leave on Saturday night because the guys spend so much time reviewing data from qualifying and the track conditions to get the right setup for Sunday."
In the last two events, the Exide Batteries team has also found the high mph that helped propel them to the 1999 Championship including a new track record of 322.58 mph at Route 66 Raceway.
"It great to get the mph back," said Schumacher, "it's good to know that if your out in front at half track, that it's a lot harder for someone to run you down."
"Dan is constantly trying to fine tune our setup. He has been trying some new things the past couple of weeks and they seem to be working at the top end of the track. The motor is making a huge amount of horsepower."
In addition to the race, Schumacher will participate on Thursday evening in the NHRA Corporate Challenge, where 8 VIP's from the Columbus area will face off on the quarter mile with the coaching of an NHRA professional driver. Schumacher and partner, Nick Rees, Consumer Affairs Manager, Kroger Company are the 1999 defending champions of this event.
Schumacher comes to the Pontiac Excitement Nationals third in Winston points, trailing Gary Scelzi by 68 points and Larry Dixon by 8 points. Qualifying is scheduled for 4pm and 8pm on Friday, June 16 and 12pm and 4pm on Saturday, June 17. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11am on Sunday, June 18.
ESPN2 will broadcast the Pontiac Excitement Nationals presented by Summit Racing. Check local listings for times.