INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 2, 2003) - The NHRA U.S. Nationals have been postponed to Sept. 5-7 after only two of five Nitro qualifying rounds were completed this Labor Day weekend because of rain. The event will pick up again on Friday, Sept. 5, with one...
INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 2, 2003) - The NHRA U.S. Nationals have been postponed to Sept. 5-7 after only two of five Nitro qualifying rounds were completed this Labor Day weekend because of rain. The event will pick up again on Friday, Sept. 5, with one qualifying round scheduled that day. Two more qualifying sessions plus the Budweiser Shootout will take place on Saturday, Sept. 6, with final eliminations on tap for Sunday, Sept. 7.
A rain postponement such as this is always costly and disruptive, but the teams and drivers are prepared for these eventualities and accept them as part of the job.
Following are comments from the Don Schumacher Racing Funny Car team members. Schumacher Racing is based in Indianapolis.
GARY SCELZI, OAKLEY TIME BOMB DODGE STRATUS (qualified No. 1), lives in Fresno, Calif.: "It's tough. I had to go back to California, spend three days there, then I have to come back to Indy and then be gone for four weeks. It's just part of the deal. We can't control Mother Nature. We'll get to make more qualifying runs, which is good for us. It's like a test mode for us and we'll get ready for the big race."
WHIT BAZEMORE, driver, MATCO TOOLS IRON EAGLE DODGE STRATUS (qualified No. 2), lives in Indianapolis: "It's just part of the sport and the circumstances that we're faced with sometimes. Sometimes you're looking forward to a weekend off and you don't get it. This means five weekends of racing in a row for the team, which is hard. It's really hard to maintain our inventory and keep our engines rebuilt the right way. It's five in a row and that's what it is. It's the same for everybody.
"If you're going to have a rainout this is the best one, obviously for me, because I live here. I got to go home and relax. It was kind of weird having Labor Day off because that's the first time in a long time.
"This is the first NHRA race I came to as a kid, when I was 16, back in 1979. I've come to this race every year since then, except for 1988, when I was match-racing an Alcohol Funny Car in the Southeast. So I've been here every year but one. Believe me, next weekend we will have the same intensity, the same feelings and the same emotions as we would have had on Sunday and Monday."
LEE BEARD, BAZEMORE'S CREW CHIEF: "The only thing that kind of throws us out of synch is that now we'll have to be prepared to run four weeks in a row: Indy rainout, Reading (Pa.), Memphis (Tenn.), Chicago. In the past we hadn't been confronted with that. So we're going to have to scrutinize what we have for inventory and supplies to make sure we're good to go for four weeks in a row. We left our transporters here at the track and took some key pieces of equipment that we wanted to work on and do some research on back at the shop."
SCOTTY CANNON, OAKLEY FUNNY CAR (qualified No. 13), lives in Lyman, S.C.: "It gives me one more shot to try to move up in the field. I think it's great."
DON SCHUMACHER, team owner: "It's a negative for everybody, every team owner, every team. It's going to cost us additional dollars to come out and do this again. It's affecting NHRA tremendously, the income at the race track tremendously - souvenirs, the food sales. It's a negative for everybody. But the weather is part of what we have to deal with. You look at it from an overall yearly basis and the only thing you can do is smile and come out to Indy next Friday and run as fast as you can. Same thing on Saturday, with two qualifying runs, then go out and race and win the U.S. Nationals on Sunday."
For the revised schedule of events, check nhra.com. For revised ESPN television schedule, check nhra .com and/or espn.com.