Memphis: Schumacher takes charge

Memphis, Tenn. (Oct. 6): Reigning NHRA Winston Top Fuel champion, Tony Schumacher knows that time is running out on the 2000 season and he needs to make up points to over take Gary Scelzi. Schumacher took the first step toward reclaiming the...

Memphis, Tenn. (Oct. 6): Reigning NHRA Winston Top Fuel champion, Tony Schumacher knows that time is running out on the 2000 season and he needs to make up points to over take Gary Scelzi. Schumacher took the first step toward reclaiming the points lead by taking the No. 1 qualifying spot at the AutoZone Nationals after the first day of qualifying.

Schumacher's day started with an easy 4.668 e.t. at 305 mph to put him No. 4 with one more run for the day. "That was a good baseline pass for us," said Schumacher. "We'll get after it tonight when the temperature drops even more."

During the night session, teams had to battle much colder temperatures and a strong headwind. Schumacher driving his Dan Olson-tuned dragster showed why they were are the reigning champion. Olson's tune-up propelled Schumacher to the No. 1 spot with an incredible 4.593 e.t. at 315.19 mph.

"That's what this team needed to do, but it's not over yet," said Schumacher. "Tomorrow will be cool again and there should be 4 or 5 teams that can also run in the 4.50's."

Schumacher's pass was .040 seconds better than No. 2 qualifier, David Grubnic. Many teams battled tire smoke in the final session.

"I slide around on the track a little," added Schumacher, "but was never out of shape enough to have to lift."

Teams will be given two more qualifying runs on Saturday to try to improve before Sunday's final eliminations.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Gary Scelzi