Tony Schumacher Shows Championship Form Headed for St. Louis

Park Ridge, IL (June 20): Coming off an overdue victory in Columbus last week, Tony Schumacher and his Exide Batteries teammates look to be gaining momentum as they head into the hot summer months where last year, they made their move towards ...

Park Ridge, IL (June 20): Coming off an overdue victory in Columbus last week, Tony Schumacher and his Exide Batteries teammates look to be gaining momentum as they head into the hot summer months where last year, they made their move towards winning the 1999 NHRA Winston championship.

Team Exide's next stop is the Sears Craftsman Nationals at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Illinois. The Sears Craftsman Nationals is a unique venue where all Top Fuel and Funny Cars race at night. It also starts on Thursday, June 22 and continues to Saturday, June 24.

"I love this race because of all the night runs," said Schumacher, "it's like the old days where most of the events were run under the lights."

"Also, with cooler temperatures, it makes performance much better."

At last years event, Schumacher was runner-up to Gary Scelzi. This year, the two rivals come to the St. Louis area, number one and two in points, with Schumacher trailing Scelzi by 32 points.

Team Exide has again been one of the most consistent teams in Top Fuel. Of the ten races run, the Exide dragster has been to six final rounds and has won two races. Another impressive statistic is that the Exide team has not lost in the first round of eliminations in over a year. That kind of performance is what clinched the 1999 title for this team.

"We would like to have won another race or two by now, but that's how competitive NHRA drag racing is," said Schumacher, "as long as we are part of the front group of four or five teams the next few races, we should be able to challenge for the title."

Another important factor as teams face the hot summer schedule is Exide crew chief, Dan Olson. Olson's tune-up has been able to get Schumacher down very tricky track conditions, where others have had great difficulties.

"Dan's a master in the hot weather," said Schumacher, "he knows when to make horsepower and when to hold back, as you go down track."

"We couldn't have won (the Championship) last year without him."

ESPN2 will televise Qualifying highlights and final round coverage. Check local listings for dates and times.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Schumacher , Gary Scelzi