Gainesville, FL (March 19, 2000): For the third time in three races, Tony Schumacher and his Exide teammates have gone to the final round. Even though they weren't able to capture their second win of the season at the Mac Tools Gatornationals,...
Gainesville, FL (March 19, 2000): For the third time in three races, Tony Schumacher and his Exide teammates have gone to the final round. Even though they weren't able to capture their second win of the season at the Mac Tools Gatornationals, they leave the event continuing to hold onto the NHRA Winston Championship points lead.
Starting from the No. 5 qualifying position Team Exide had a single pass in the first round, as David Grubnic was a no show due to the crash he had during the final qualifying session on Saturday afternoon. Schumacher ran a 4.672 et at 313.44 mph, which was good enough to have lane choice against Joe Amato who defeated Bob Vandergriff in the first round.
In the second round, Schumacher defeated Amato with a 4.688 et at 310.70 mph.
Amato had a starting line advantage on the Exide dragster, but his 4.865 et wasn't good enough to hold off the Winston Champion.
That set up a semifinal rematch from Phoenix, with Gary Scelzi who was the No. 1 qualifier of the event. Schumacher had lane choice and cruised down the quarter mile with a 4.632 et at 316.30 mph, which was his quickest et of the event. That set up Team Exide's third final round in as many events. Team Exide would face Doug Kalitta, who beat Kenny Bernstein to get to his first final of the new year.
Schumacher again had lane choice, but his 4.679 et at 314.97 mph wasn't good enough to keep Kalitta from winning his first event of the short 2000 season.
Kalitta ran a 4.614 et.
"I didn't see him the whole way then he got out in front about a car and I started to catch him again," said Schumacher.
"He was having some problems at the top end of the track. I think he lost a blower belt and I was hoping to catch him. We just ran out of track."
Team Exide heads to the next event still holding the Championship points lead by 31 points over Gary Scelzi, with Larry Dixon trailing by 98 points.
"We aren't disappointed at all. We still have the points lead. We have three final rounds in three races and we didn't beat ourselves. They just came out and beat us."
"Our guys have done one heck of a job. We ran (Gary) Scelzi fours times in qualifying and again in the semi's and we beat him again to go to the finals.
This team is for real if there were any doubters."
After two weeks off, the NHRA Winston Drag Racing tour heads to Las Vegas for the inaugural Summit Racing.com Nationals at the new Las Vegas Motor Speedway, April 6-9.