Las Vegas, NV (April 9, 2000): Starting from their lowest qualifying position of the 2000 NHRA season, Tony Schumacher and Team Exide knew they would have their hands full as they tried to win their second race of the year and go to their fourth...
Las Vegas, NV (April 9, 2000): Starting from their lowest qualifying position of the 2000 NHRA season, Tony Schumacher and Team Exide knew they would have their hands full as they tried to win their second race of the year and go to their fourth consecutive final round appearance.
Starting from the No. 8 qualifying spot, Schumacher's first round opponent was Tim Gibson in the Bill Miller Engineering dragster. Schumacher smoked his tires early, pedaled the car and headed down the track with a 5.087 et at 254.09 mph. In an apparent loss to Gibson's 4.774 et, Team Exide thought their day was over as they headed back to the pits.
Then with a stroke of luck, citing a violation of the new 90 percent nitro rule, Gibson was disqualified when his fuel tested above the 90 percent maximum level. Schumacher was given the win and moved on to round number two to face Kenny Bernstein.
"We all got our fuel checked before the first round and I guess his was a little over and they tried to fix it by adding more methanol," explained Schumacher as he prepared to suit up for his run against Bernstein, "then they checked it again at the top end of the track and in the pits and found the percentage was over."
"It's not like they were trying to pull anything over, it's one of those things that we all have to be careful of because we all mix our own fuel."
With a new lease on life, Schumacher had to sit and wait to get his chance to run Bernstein because of a long oil cleanup on the track. Strapped back into his Exide dragster, he did a normal burnout and staged the car. Then disaster struck as Schumacher hit the throttle before the tree was activated and the red light told the story; Schumacher's day was over. Schumacher was .022 seconds early on the tree.
"I just left early," said a disappointed driver, "I would love to say that I was on time and Rick (Stewart - official starter) was late, but that's not the case."
Schumacher added, "At least we don't have to wait two weeks to get back at it in Houston and we have had pretty good luck in Houston."
Team Exide will leave Las Vegas and head to Houston Raceway Park where they will start qualifying again in five days for O'Reilly Nationals.