Gainesville, FL (March 17, 2000): Reigning NHRA Winston Champion Tony Schumacher finished in a familiar position as day one of the Mac Tools Gatornationals came to an end. The Exide team used their second qualifying attempt to propel them to the...
Gainesville, FL (March 17, 2000): Reigning NHRA Winston Champion Tony Schumacher finished in a familiar position as day one of the Mac Tools Gatornationals came to an end. The Exide team used their second qualifying attempt to propel them to the No. 4 qualifying position.
Schumacher's first qualifying attempt ended abruptly as he smoked his tires before he got to the 1/8 mile mark. "We just had too much clutch for that lane," said Schumacher, "we'll be all right though, I am not worried. This team is as good as any out here."
The Team Exide car coasted down the track with 8.653 et at 87.65 mph which still was good enough for the No. 15 spot, since there are only 17 cars attempting to qualify. The frustrating part for Schumacher was that he was paired against rival Gary Scelzi, who also had trouble in the early session.
"I know we are going to see a lot of that red car," stated Schumacher referring to Scelzi's Team Winston dragster.
Schumacher was right, as the second qualifying session once again paired the current champion, Schumacher, against the former champion, Scelzi. This time they did not disappoint anyone as they thundered down the 1320 feet side-by-side with Scelzi nipping Schumacher at the top end of the track. Schumacher's pass of 4.651 seconds at 317.64 mph held up for the No. 4 position and Scelzi is currently the No. 1 qualifier with a 4.619 et.
Being in the No. 4 qualifying position for Schumacher is nothing new, as he qualified in that spot for the first two races of the year. Both of those starts netted Team Exide two final round appearances, including their first win of the year.
"We hope to step up tomorrow and gun for Gary (Scelzi) even though No. 4 has been good to us this year," joked Schumacher.
Two additional qualifying sessions are scheduled for Saturday, with final eliminations scheduled for Sunday.