Tony Schumacher, Top Fuel's provisional No.1 qualifier in the U.S. Army Dragster, made a couple of bold predictions. "Speeds are going to get better later. We're going to go through the whole year, through the hot season. And at the end of the year is when it's going to get really good. All these guys," he said, referring to his competitors, "are using different clutch systems and the setback blower system like we ran last year. It's going to take a little bit of time, then they're going to start running real fast." He noted that the record elapsed times and speeds came toward the end of last year and added, "Given another year and no real rule changes, I still
think you're going to see 335 (miles an hour). A few cars may hit a 4.30(second pass). That's like warp speed. I ran a 4.441 and Doug Kalitta 4.428, and that's just a very impressive run. Being a driver, being in that car and feeling how good it feels and how perfect . . . we're going to see some excellent racing."

Schumacher owns the national elapsed-time record with his 4.441 seconds on the Maple Grove Raceway quarter-mile near Reading, Pa. Kalitta's 4.428, set eight days earlier at Joliet, Ill., was faster but not official. Scott Kalitta beat cousin Doug in the second round at Dallas last October with a speed of 333.95 that is the fastest in NHRA history.

Schumacher sloughed off talk that he's the driver to beat. "Everybody keeps on [telling] me, 'You're the frontrunner.' Yes, we're a good team," Schumacher said, "but the Kalittas [Doug and cousin/teammate Scott] are good, (Darrell) Russell is excellent, Bernstein's great, Dixon's the two-time world champ, Millican's good. It's one of those great years when you wake up in the morning and you can't wait to race." He said the U.S. Army Dragster "is consistently fast. The Kalittas run faster than we do, faster and quicker. But every now and then, he'll blow the tires off it. We've avoided that to this point, knock on wood. He'll log those numbers -- but not every time. The next round, he'll go out and smoke the tires. You can't do that to win the races."

Shaun Carlson (photo), who drives a Mopar Dodge SRT-4 in the Pro Front Wheel Drive class of the NHRA Summit Sport Compact Drag Racing Series, stepped up to the Pro Stock class for the weekend. He was substituting for ailing team regular Darrell Alderman, who was resting his back following an off-season, work-related injury. "It's an honor to fill in for D.A., who's been known for many years as a great Mopar driver," Carlson said of his time in the Mopar Dodge Stratus R/T for Johnson & Johnson Racing. "Mopar needed help in this situation, and I'm more than happy to do what I can to help."

J&J driver and co-owner Allen Johnson supervised Carlson as the 29-year-old from nearby Ontario, Calif., earned his license the previous Tuesday and stayed in Las Vegas for limited testing. Johnson said, "Shaun is a natural. He has made some really nice burnouts and good launches. He continued to get a little smoother and quicker every run. We're looking forward to seeing what he can do in competition. It's unfortunate that D.A. can't be here for the first event, but it's a great opportunity for Shaun." Alderman was the Winternationals champion in 1991 and 1995.


Cover | Table of Contents | DROstore | Classifieds | Archive | Contact
Copyright 1999-2004, Drag Racing Online and Racing Net Source