Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals
Schumacher grabs fifth starting spot
Pomona, Saturday: With only one qualifying pass at his disposal due to rain, U.S. Army Top Fuel driver Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher made it count by pocketing the fifth starting position for Sunday's Kragen O'Reilly Winternationals here at Auto Club Raceway.
In between rain storms on Saturday, Schumacher posted a 3.897-second pass at 311.99 mph and thus ended up in the top half of the 16-car field.
"That was a great example of digging down deep and getting the job done when it counted the most," said the six-time world champion. "We had one chance to get in the show and there was no room for error. We went straight down the track without any issue."
Schumacher, who is the defending Winternationals event champ, will confront 12th-place qualifier, Del Cox, in the opening round of eliminations beginning at 11 a.m. PT. This will be the first career meeting between Schumacher and Cox.
"My new U.S. Army team is excited about starting the season tomorrow," added the Chicago-area resident. "Like I've stated before, we want to get off on the right foot.
The first objective is to get by Del Cox in the first round. Even though he's a rookie, we'll get after him as if he's been around for years. We will not take him for granted."
Schumacher, who is attempting to collect his sixth straight crown in 2009, knows every round of racing will be intense from this point forward.
"There are a bunch of good teams and drivers that we'll have to deal with throughout the season," he said. "It seems like every year it gets tougher. But, I know we'll be right there in the thick of the fight. I'm going get a good night's sleep tonight and come back tomorrow primed for action."
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