Maybe he just needed to go into Sunday’s final eliminations as the No. 1 qualifier.
Tony Schumacher, a seven-time NHRA Top Fuel series champion and 67-time race winner will look to kill two birds with one stone during Sunday’s eliminations at the NHRA Summit Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway.
Schumacher is winless dating back to October of 2010 and winless at the Commerce, Ga. facility since – forever.
On Saturday, he took a major leap towards breaking part of the hold the facility has held over him courtesy of a track record 3.815-second elapsed time during Friday’s qualifying. Saturday’s 130-plus track temperature made beating the mark impossible.
Headed into Sunday’s final eliminations with the No. 1 seed provides the U.S. Army-sponsored driver with a measure of momentum he believes he’ll need to get the elusive victory.
“When you’re the number one qualifier you get to choose when and which lane you want to run,” Schumacher said. “If you’re that eight or nine guy, you get to run that No. 1 qualifier in the second round. It’s one of thse things where I need to get a little bit of track experience on race day before I go and hit those big cars. That’s good for us.
“Last weekend, we were first pair and that kind of stuff kills you. There are no easy rounds, but at least we can have a choice when and where we run from. This is not an easy sport.”
No sooner than Schumacher made his point, Mike Neff, Funny Car winner in Houston, made his words prophetic by missing the qualifying cut.
“You can go from winning one week and missing the cut the next – these guys are tough out here,” said Schumacher. “These cars are fast out here and capable of winning. I promise you I won’t take Pat Dakin lightly in the first round, and everyone we race after him is going to have to be like a machine. We want to win this race and kick off a winning streak.”
Schumacher has become accustomed to the questions of when he will break out of the streak. The inability to procure victory doesn’t play on his mind as much as some might think.
“I don’t think about the losing streak any more than I do about winning 15 in a row,” said Schumacher. “You put your nose to the grindstone, push the pedal down and the light comes on. As a driver, that’s (as much as) you can do. I know there are those who think otherwise. It’s probably more difficult going for your seventh (win) when you’ve won six in a row. You have in the back of your mind all of the mistakes you can make. We are a great team with terrible luck.
“I used to get frustrated by not winning 15 in a season. You get used to doing it one way. It doesn’t change the way we work on or race the car. We know what the race track will take and we give it everything the car has. We leave nothing on the table. If someone beats us, it’s because they did a helluva job and they have. We ran good, they just ran better.”
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