Schumacher clinches 1999 Winston Championship Pomona, CA (November 13): It's official! Tony Schumacher and Team Exide are the 1999 NHRA Winston Top Fuel Champions. After defeating Larry Dixon in the first round of the Big Bud Shootout by...
Schumacher clinches 1999 Winston Championship
Pomona, CA (November 13): It's official! Tony Schumacher and Team Exide are the 1999 NHRA Winston Top Fuel Champions. After defeating Larry Dixon in the first round of the Big Bud Shootout by running a 4.636 e.t. at 314.90 mph, Schumacher faced defending champion, Gary Scelzi in the second round, which was also the final round of qualifying for Sunday's eliminations. Schumacher was able to run a 4.670 e.t. at 317.19 mph, but was not able to beat Scelzi's 4.626 e.t.. Schumacher's Friday night qualifying effort held for the No. 2 qualifying spot and he will face the young Aussie, Andrew Cowin in the first round.
By making the 16-car field for Sunday eliminations for the Auto Club NHRA Finals, Schumacher officially earned enough points to clinch the 1999 NHRA Winston Top Fuel Championship. For the young driver from Park Ridge, IL, who has driven everything from street cars to formula cars to jet dragsters, this is the beginning of a very promising NHRA Winston drag racing career.
"What a year we have had," said an exhausted Schumacher, "330 mph in Phoenix; our first win in Dallas; so many close round wins and now a Winston championship. This is a year to remember for this team."
"Since we took the points lead in Indy, there has been a lot of pressure on this team. My guys handled it fantastically, Dan Olson handled it unbelievably and here we are with the championship."
"I have dreamed of this moment for a long time and next year we will try to do it all again, knowing it will be harder."
In addition to this being Schumacher's first NHRA championship, it is also the first for car owner, Don Schumacher and crew chief Dan Olson. Don Schumacher, who was a Funny Car pioneer, retired from competitive drag racing the year before the NHRA Winston Championship was first contested.
Team owner, Don Schumacher commented, "Dan Olson and all the guys have worked so very hard for this championship. They deserve every bit of it. Tony has done a marvelous job driving this year. It is incredible what this team has accomplished in such a short period of time."
The Exide Batteries team proved that consistency wins championships by qualifying for every event this year and having only three first-round losses. "Dan (Olson) runs this car like a bracket car," said driver Schumacher, "he has been doing this for a long time and knows how to get a car down the track time after time without hurting parts. That puts a lot of pressure on your opponents and forces them to make mistakes."
With the biggest battle in history for a NHRA championship behind them, Tony Schumacher and his Exide Batteries race team can concentrate on winning the Auto Club NHRA Finals. "What a treat it would be for our sponsors," said Schumacher, "if we could hand them our second win along with the championship trophy."