Phoenix Tony Schumacher Race Report

Chandler, AZ (February 27): After losing in the final round of the Winternationals, Tony Schumacher and Team Exide looked to show everyone at the CSK Nationals why they are the reigning NHRA Winston champions. Schumacher opened the day with a ...

Chandler, AZ (February 27): After losing in the final round of the Winternationals, Tony Schumacher and Team Exide looked to show everyone at the CSK Nationals why they are the reigning NHRA Winston champions.

Schumacher opened the day with a 4.662 et at 310.55 mph as he ousted the reigning IHRA champion, Don Lampus. "None of these rounds are easy anymore," said Schumacher as he looked to face Melanie Troxel in round two, "anyone can step up and beat you. The competition is closer than ever."

Team Exide again triumphed in round two as they beat Troxel's 4.726 et with a 4.689 et at 310.48 mph. That victory set the stage for a semifinal round rematch of the final round of the Winternationals with Team Exide pairing up against former champion and MATCO Tools teammate, Gary Scelzi.

Schumacher got out early on Scelzi and ran another consistant 4.681 et at 312.93 mph while Scelzi slowed from previous rounds to a 4.739 et.

"Gary beat us last time, it was our turn to beat up on him a little," said Schumacher as he looked forward to his second final round appearance in as many races.

The finals would pair Schumacher against Bob Vandergriff, who had earlier defeated the No. 2 and No. 3 qualifiers, Joe Amato and Larry Dixon.

The cars left together and both experienced problems early. Schumacher was able to get his tire spin under control and looked to be headed down the track when he smoked the tires once again. Crossing the finish line first, Schumacher's 5.095 et at 289.57 gave him his second career victory.

"Like John Force has told me before, a win is a win," Schumacher told a packed press room.

When asked about his driving in the final round, Schumacher responded, "I would not want to drive for any other crew chief or team. Dan Olson and the guys are always giving me a great car. It may have been a driving job this time, but there are plenty of times that Dan's (Olson) tune-up has made me look good. It's really a team effort."

With this victory Schumacher claims the Winston Championship points lead. "It way too early to even be thinking about that," Schumacher told a reporter after the race.

The next stop on the NHRA Tour takes Team Exide to Gainesville, Florida, March 16-19. Check local listings for television replay dates and times.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Joe Amato , Gary Scelzi , Melanie Troxel , Don Lampus , Bob Vandergriff