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Tony Schumacher on Bad Side of Good Drag Race at U.S. Nationals

Despite making steady progress all weekend, Tony Schumacher found himself on the bad side of a good drag race on Monday morning at the NHRA U.S. Nationals, the final event of NHRA’s regular season. Aboard the SCAG Power Equipment Top Fuel dragster, Schumacher secured a spot in the 16-car field by clocking three solid runs during qualifying with his best run, a 3.784 E.T. at 326.79 MPH, slotting him in the No. 12 seed out of 19 cars vying to get into the show.
 
The 10-time U.S. Nationals event champion drew No. 5 qualifier Mike Salinas as his first-round opponent on race day. Schumacher moved first to claim the holeshot advantage but his opponent had pulled ahead by the time they reached the 330-foot marker. The SCAG machine started creeping up on Salinas and had him almost reeled in by the time they approached the 1,000-foot beams, but Salinas powered across the finish line first to score the narrow victory, which saw Schumacher come up short by just five-thousandths of a second.
 
“That was a heartbreaker because five-thousandths of a second can win it so many different ways,” said the winningest Camping World Series driver in Indianapolis Raceway Park history. “We were off. We were trying to run a 72. It was nice early, but it was slow, and then (my car) went into pause mode. I could feel it, I could hear him next to me. It was a hell of a race but we’ve got to qualify much better so we’re not running the car in the No. 5 spot that’s going to make a decent run down the track. The guys have put so much effort in, and it’s about time we turn the tables. I think that one was extra painful just because Indy has been so good to me and we had a car that was capable of advancing. One foot in any direction and we could’ve won that round. These first-round losses are killing us but we’ll get through it. We’ll get to Reading (Pa.) and I expect we’ll do well because we’re getting better every day.”
 
The six-race Countdown to the Championship commences with the Pep Boys NHRA Nationals in Reading, Pa., Sept 15 – 17 where Schumacher will start from the No. 12 seed as he begins his battle for a ninth Top Fuel world championship.

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