Chandler, AZ (February 25): Defending NHRA Winston Top Fuel champion, Tony Schumacher and his Exide Batteries dragster finished the first day of qualifying for the CSK Nationals in the No. 5 qualifying spot. A bizarre incident in the first...
Chandler, AZ (February 25): Defending NHRA Winston Top Fuel champion, Tony Schumacher and his Exide Batteries dragster finished the first day of qualifying for the CSK Nationals in the No. 5 qualifying spot.
A bizarre incident in the first run when Team Winston driver, Gary Scelzi had a red light causing Schumacher to hesitate and not accelerate immediately. This miscue created a mediocre first run attempt for Team Exide. "It really through off my concentration," said Schumacher, "if you watch the video replay, Gary left almost before the tree even came on and I just didn't leave hard."
Schumacher's pass of 4.682 seconds at 315.56 mph was good enough for the third spot after the first round of qualifying. At that time, Joe Amato sat atop the field with his 4.671 second pass.
As the defending championship team was in the last pair to stage for the day, they had just seen Scelzi through down the gauntlet with a 4.579 et at 317.05 mph. Schumacher knew his Dan Olson-tuned dragster had plenty of horsepower to match that of Scelzi. Unfortunately, about 300 feet down track the Exide dragster lost all traction, forcing Schumacher to abort his qualifying attempt.
"I was really ready to put a mid 50 number up there," said a frustrated Schumacher, "it was right on the edge of making an awesome pass."
"We have two more runs tomorrow and we still have some cards to show. Dan's got it under control."
Schumacher's first attempt of the day was still good enough to keep Team Exide in the top half of the field. There could be much shuffling as only .077 seconds separates No. 3 qualifier Joe Amato from No. 13, Bob Vandergriff. The weather forecast is good for the weekend and look for Team Exide to put on a championship performance.