Madison, Ill. (June 24): After using all his qualifying attempts to get into the Sears Craftsman Nationals, Tony Schumacher and his Exide Batteries teammates had an earlier than anticipated exit from the Gateway International Raceway ...
Madison, Ill. (June 24): After using all his qualifying attempts to get into the Sears Craftsman Nationals, Tony Schumacher and his Exide Batteries teammates had an earlier than anticipated exit from the Gateway International Raceway event.
Schumacher started as the No. 11 qualifier and was paired against No. 6, Doug Kalitta in the first round of final eliminations. Kalitta had a red light start, giving Schumacher the instant win light. Schumacher ran a 4.767 e.t. at 307.86 mph, giving him lane choice over Kenny Bernstein, who defeated Steve Smith with a 4.79 e.t..
"That was an exciting first round," said Schumacher, "two red lights and the No. 1 and No. 2 qualifiers getting beat. I'm glad we survived."
After a slight delay for rain showers in the area, Top Fuel eliminations continued. Schumacher put Bernstein in the left lane, thinking they would have a better surface in the right lane. Schumacher left the line first, but Bernstein quickly caught him and it was very apparent that the Exide Batteries team could not chase down the Budweiser dragster.
Schumacher ran a 4.822 e.t. at 306.67 mph to Bernstein's 4.663 e.t.. "We just missed the tune-up," said a disappointed Schumacher, "we didn't think the track would hold at that time and we wanted to make sure we got down the track without smoking the tires."
Despite his second round loss, Schumacher remains second in NHRA Winston points, 95 behind Gary Scelzi and 32 points ahead of Larry Dixon.
"We struggled this weekend," said Schumacher, "after winning last week, we would have liked to pick up another victory before going to Bristol, but that's how tough NHRA Winston drag racing is."
Team Exide will have one weekend off before heading to Bristol, TN for the Winston Showdown where Top Fuel dragsters will face-off against Funny Cars.