Richmond, VA (April 30): Final eliminations for the Moto1.net Nationals in Richmond, Virginia began right on schedule without a hint on any bad weather. Tony Schumacher and his Exide teammates started from a lower than expected, No. 7...
Richmond, VA (April 30): Final eliminations for the Moto1.net Nationals in Richmond, Virginia began right on schedule without a hint on any bad weather. Tony Schumacher and his Exide teammates started from a lower than expected, No. 7 qualifying spot.
Schumacher's first round opponent was veteran driver, Bob Vandergriff. Schumacher and Vandergriff had almost identical reaction times, but Schumacher's Dan Olson tune-up propelled him to victory in the right lane with a 4.616 ET at 309.63 MPH. That run was the quickest under the new rules for the Exide Batteries team and the quickest of the first round of eliminations.
"That car was hauling," exclaimed Schumacher, "it was quite a ride. We have about 200 Gates Belts guests in our pit today and we wanted to put on a good show for them."
"Even though we struggled a little in qualifying, I knew Dan (Olson) and the guys would have an awesome ride waiting for me today. These guys are the best in the business."
The first round victory would setup a rematch of Schumacher's second round opponent in Las Vegas, Kenny Bernstein; where Schumacher lost with a red light foul. Bernstein staged his car first and Schumacher actually had a slight reaction time advantage. "The numbers don't show it, but looking on the video, Kenny was a little deep and it looks like I actually left first," said Schumacher.
Both cars thundered down the track side by side with Bernstein nipping Schumacher in the lights. Schumacher's 4.617 ET at 318.62 MPH was not good enough to beat Bernstein's 4.610 ET. The margin of victory for Bernstein was only .035 seconds, which is less than a car length.
"I thought I would catch him in the lights, but we just ran out of race track."
Schumacher's 318.62 MPH speed was Top Speed of the event. "It looks like if we can get past the second round, we go to the finals," joked Schumacher referring to his only two finishes where he did not make the finals in the first six races of the year.
Schumacher still maintains his points lead by 24 points over Larry Dixon and 43 points over third place, Gary Scelzi. The next stop for the reigning NHRA Winston Top Fuel champions is Atlanta, Georgia, May 4-7 for the Advance Auto Part NHRA Southern Nationals.