Schuck's Auto Supply NHRA Nationals
Schumacher takes provisional pole
Seattle, Friday: Tony "the Sarge" Schumacher today drove his U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster to the number one position following the first day of qualifying for the 21st Annual Schuck's Auto Supply NHRA Nationals here at Pacific Raceway.
Schumacher, who came into this weekend leading the NHRA POWERade Top Fuel championship race, recorded low elapsed time in both qualifying sessions as well as posting the day's top speed. He traversed the 1,000-foot course in 3.802 seconds at 316.9 miles per hour during the second round, bettering his first lap of 3.821 seconds at 314.97 mph.
"The air was great, the track was terrific and (crew chief) Alan (Johnson) really had a handle on the setup," said the Chicago-area resident. "But Alan understands this track. We have gone to the finals here the last four years - winning three, including last year."
Last year, the team had to cope with adverse weather throughout the race weekend; this year's challenge is the new race distance.
"Racing to 1,000 feet instead of a quarter mile-means tighter, more competitive fields, but this U.S. Army Racing Team is up to the challenge. We succeed as a team the same way our soldiers do regardless of their challenges - by staying cool and calm in the face of adversity."
The approach has paid off through the first 13 (of 24) races of the 2008 season with Schumacher winning six, while going to eight final rounds. Tomorrow he hopes to hold onto his qualifying spot which would be his fourth pole position of the year.
"This hot rod is just running great," said the reigning and five-time NHRA POWERade Top Fuel Champion. "Last year in the first half of the season we would run great in qualifying and then have some issues on Sunday. This year everything seems to be working."
And he does not think the change from quarter-mile racing to 1,000-foot runs will make a difference. (The NHRA instituted the track distance rule change beginning with last week's Denver race in response to the ongoing investigation into the crash that took the life of Funny Car driver Scott Kalitta last month at Englishtown, N.J.)
"Actually, the faster cars are benefiting by the shorter runs," he explained. "Cars like ours which make a lot of power were hitting the rev limiter at the 1,000-foot mark which effectively slowed us down. Now, it's full power to the end of the race.
"And the racing, at least during the first two weeks of the new distance, has been great."
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