SCHUMACHER LOOKS TO SECURE WINSTON CHAMPIONSHIP AT POMONA POMONA, Calif. - It has been a season of firsts for Tony Schumacher. In February at Phoenix the Park Ridge, Ill. racer became the first Top Fuel driver to exceed 330 miles per ...
SCHUMACHER LOOKS TO SECURE WINSTON CHAMPIONSHIP AT POMONA
POMONA, Calif. - It has been a season of firsts for Tony Schumacher. In February at Phoenix the Park Ridge, Ill. racer became the first Top Fuel driver to exceed 330 miles per hour. In October at Dallas he ended several years of frustration by winning his first national event. In November at Pomona, Calif., he wants to complete the cycle by claiming his first NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series championship. Schumacher, 29, has emerged from the Top Fuel pack in one of the most competitive seasons in the history of the sport. The consistency of his Exide Batteries dragster has been superb throughout the 22 event, $40 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series, and he holds a 109 point advantage over closest challenger Gary Scelzi entering the 35th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals, Nov. 11-14 at Pomona Raceway. And now, just as every driver competing for the title has predicted all season long, the quest for the championship comes down to one race. In a season that saw Mike Dunn lead for over half the year, being pursued by as many as 10 drivers at times, Schumacher feels fortunate to be in the driver's seat going into the final race. "We haven't had any room to breathe," Schumacher said. "This has been quite a battle and each round has been more important than the last." All Schumacher needs to do is qualify. And that shouldn't be any problem. He's qualified for every race this season, guided by the tuning wizardry of crew chief Dan Olson. "Dan's got this car running great," Schumacher said. "We're happy with the way the car has performed all year. The guys have worked so hard and they really deserve to win this championship." While Schumacher has the advantage, it is still possible for Scelzi to create some Finals magic in his Team Winston dragster and earn his third straight Winston championship. The scenario that two-time defending Winston champ Scelzi needs to see unfold includes Schumacher suffering his first DNQ of the season. If that happens, Scelzi would then need to qualify No. 1, win the race and set a national elapsed time record, earning the maximum 138 points available in order to clinch the championship. Scelzi recently lowered the national elapsed time record to 4.480 seconds at Houston Raceway Park. If Schumacher fails to qualify and Scelzi wins from the No. 1 qualifying position but doesn't reset the national e.t. mark, Schumacher would claim the Winston championship by one point. "We feel pretty confident that the championship is ours," Schumacher said. "By the numbers, Gary still has a chance, but the possibility to run an e.t. record in Pomona isn't that great."
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