Ennis, TX (May 26): With temperatures well into the 90's and humidity levels soaring, racers at the Castrol Nationals presented by O'Reilly Auto Parts knew they had a tough task ahead of them tuning for the all-concrete surface of the Texas ...
Ennis, TX (May 26): With temperatures well into the 90's and humidity levels soaring, racers at the Castrol Nationals presented by O'Reilly Auto Parts knew they had a tough task ahead of them tuning for the all-concrete surface of the Texas Motorplex.
Defending NHRA Top Fuel Champion, Tony Schumacher spent most of the day trying to escape the sweltering temperatures. "I am just trying to stay cool, I'll probably lose 10 pounds being in my firesuit today," Schumacher joked.
Schumacher's Exide Batteries dragster was again paired with rival, Gary Scelzi in the first qualifying session of the day. Scelzi smoked his tires and Schumacher appeared to be on a good pass until he lost traction about half track. Schumacher immediately shut the car down and coasted to a 5.304 e.t. at 189.83 mph, which was good enough to qualify No. 8 out of the 14 cars entered in the field.
"The car was hauling," said Schumacher, "the guys knew we might have trouble with that part of the track and tried to compensate for it. I guess it just wasn't enough."
In the last session of the evening, Team Exide went to the lanes knowing they needed to step up their performance. After watching Scelzi run a 4.577 e.t. at 322.81 mph and Joe Amato go 4.604 at 317.68 mph, they knew track conditions would hold the tune-up they had prepared.
Schumacher left the starting line hard and ran a 4.624 e.t. at 322.11 mph, just missing Scelzi's top speed of qualifying. "We really wanted top speed to win the Dr. Pepper award for fastest Friday night qualifier," said Schumacher, "we put out a cylinder at about 4.2 seconds, otherwise we might have nipped Gary."
Schumacher ended the first day as No. 4 qualifier which would put him pair him with No. 11 qualifier, Don Lampus, if there are no changes on Saturday. Since there are only 14 Top Fuel dragsters entered in the field, there will be a revised format where No. 1 will race No. 14 and the winner of that race will have a second round bye run.
Top Fuel qualifying is scheduled for noon and 4pm on Saturday.