Despite suffering through extreme heat for the second straight day, U.S. Army NHRA Racing Top Fuel drivers Antron Brown and Tony “The Sarge” Schumacher secured top half of the field starting positions during final qualifying for Sunday’s Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals.
With the air temperature hovering around 100 degrees and the track temperature checking in at more than 140 degrees, Brown and Schumacher had to ease their 8,000-horsepower dragsters down an ultra-slick 1,000-foot track at Bandimere Speedway.
“Adverse conditions like hot temperatures don’t bother our Army Strong Soldiers, so we’re certainly not going to complain,” Schumacher said after qualifying eighth with a 4.013-second pass at 297.42 mph. “We did what we had to do in that last session to climb up the ladder. It was a good effort all around.”
Schumacher entered round four holding 12th in the order and was in danger of starting in the bottom half of the field for the first time this season. But, a clean lap quickly ended the suspense.
“We got down the track without any issue,” Schumacher said. “It was very important to get into the top half of the field so we could have lane choice.”
The Chicago-area resident will take on ninth-place qualifier Khalid alBalooshi in the opening round of final eliminations beginning at 11 a.m. MDT.
“Khalid is part of the Al-Anabi team and we know what they’re capable of,” Schumacher said. “We will have to be on our game to advance. We’ll go get some rest tonight and be ready to do battle tomorrow.”
While Schumacher improved, Brown held serve with his second-place showing on Saturday. His 3.923-second run at 305.98 mph from Friday evening was never challenged.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t get down the track in either session today,” Brown said. “Like I said yesterday, this is a tough deal up here on the mountain. It clearly takes a special kind of tune up to get the job done.”
The New Jersey native will definitely be looking to get the job done when he faces 15th-place qualifier Rob Passey in the first round of action.
“It’s going to be hot again tomorrow, so we’ll have to have everything in place when we face Rob,” Brown said. “I’m sure he’s going to try and get down the track any way he can and hope we make a mistake. It’s on us to not make a mistake.”
Schumacher will be bidding for his second win of the year in his 350th professional race, while Brown will be seeking his third victory of the season.
ESPN2 will provide two hours of tape-delayed coverage of the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals beginning at 7 p.m. EDT.
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