Points leader pleased with solid start Topeka, KS (Oct. 1): Qualifying for Tony Schumacher and the Exide team at the Advance Auto Parts Nationals in Topeka, KS started as any other event would, except for the fact that they were now being...
Points leader pleased with solid start
Topeka, KS (Oct. 1): Qualifying for Tony Schumacher and the Exide team at the Advance Auto Parts Nationals in Topeka, KS started as any other event would, except for the fact that they were now being pursued as the Winston Championship points leader for the second straight event rather than doing the pursuing.
"Preparation for this event was like any other, except I had a few more interviews than I normally have," commented driver Tony Schumacher before the first qualifying session for the day, "but that's part of the fun of NHRA drag racing."
As the leader in the point's chase, Team Exide would start the event in the last pair giving them the opportunity to see what the competition had to offer. With a track that seemed to allow cars to get down the track, the question was, would the top-end hold the tune-up crew chief Dan Olson had put into Schumacher's 330-mph missile?
As the Exide car left the line there was minor tire smoke, but the car hooked up immediately and thundered to a 4.623 ET at 319.14 MPH which was good enough for Top Speed of the session and the number three qualifying spot.
Temperatures cooled quickly as the sun fell below the horizon and teams began the second of four qualifying sessions of the event and the words to sum it up were "tire smoke." Only seven of the 20 Top Fuel cars made full passes down the track and the majority of cars smoked their Goodyear tires off of the starting line.
Schumacher and the Exide dragster were no exception as they smoked their tires immediately and coasted down the quarter mile to a 12.356 ET at 77.62 MPH. Their previous run was good enough to hold on to the fifth qualifying position.
"We thought we had the right combination for the temperature, but the delay before our pass allowed the track to get a little cooler and that changed our combination," explained crew chief Dan Olson as he looked at the computer data in his pit area.
"We are in the top half and we ran well this afternoon. It's nice to make a quick pass on Friday night, but the daytime sessions are always closer to race conditions," commented Schumacher, "and thats what we are here for."
"We have a good base to work from as long as there is no dramatic weather change," said Olson. Weather could be a major factor in the outcome of this event as local forecasters are predicting some sort of precipitation Saturday evening and possibly Sunday along with temperatures in the 40's.
Two remaining qualifying sessions are scheduled for Saturday and Team Exide will take full advantage to try to move up the ladder to capture additional Winston Championship points.