|It was a waiting game all day for competitors and fans attending the NHRA Midwest Nationals, but for Tony Schumacher and the Okuma/Sandvik Coromant/Toyota Top Fuel team, the chance to make a run in prime conditions under the World Wide Technology Raceway lights was worth the wait. Schumacher put down an impressive blast of 3.680 seconds at 332.92 mph during Saturday’s lone qualifying session to reset the St. Louis Top Fuel speed record, and earn the 88th No. 1 qualifier of his long and storied career.|
“It was a strange day altogether. We were in the car, did the burnout and backed up and then got shut off because of rain,” said Schumacher, referring to the persistent showers which initially delayed the first session, and then further delayed Q1 after two pairs of Top Fuelers made a run before Schumacher got shut off on the line due to more rain.
“I talked to (crew chief) Mike Green after we re-warmed the car up and we knew we’d be out first and we didn’t think the conditions would be any better. Then you go out and run a great number like that and it tends to set off the crew chiefs in the back and they start turning screws and knobs. It was a great run. I probably drove it further than I should have. It was by far not a straight run, but for Sandvik and Okuma and Toyota and our new, old team, everyone did a heck of a job.”
Starting from the top of the ladder, Schumacher will face No. 16 qualifier Kebin Kinsley in round one of eliminations on Sunday morning. Schumacher, a two-time St. Louis winner, and five-time finalist, will be seeking to capture his first win since rejoining the NHRA driving ranks back in July.
“We’re proud to go into race day No. 1,” added Schumacher, who with 84 triumphs, is the winningest NHRA Top Fuel driver of all time. “Great job by the whole team. We have a good car. We needed to get down the track. Now we have data and we’ll be racing in similar conditions. We’re going to try and win this race.”
|Qualified: No. 1 (lane choice)|
The Competition: No. 16 Kebin Kinsley
Q1: 3.680 E.T. at 332.92 MPH (Three bonus points for making the quickest pass of the session)
Bonus Points: Three