Date: June 2, 2017
Event: Fifth annual NHRA New England Nationals (Round 9 of 24)
Series: NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series
Location: New England Dragway in Epping, New Hampshire
Provisional Top Qualifier: Brittany Force (3.686 seconds at 331.36 mph)
U.S. Army Racing Lineup: Antron Brown 4th (3.744 seconds at 309.98 mph)
Tony Schumacher 11th (4.956 seconds at 142.70 mph)
The U.S. Army Racing duo of Tony “The Sarge” Schumacher and Antron Brown kicked off their mission to continue the U.S. Army winning streak in the NHRA New England Nationals Friday with a pair of qualifying passes at the historic New England Dragway in Epping, New Hampshire. Schumacher, winner of the 2014 and 2015 New Hampshire events, and Brown, last year’s New England champion, rank 11th and fourth, respectively, with half of the four qualifying sessions complete. Both will return Saturday looking to improve their positions on the ladder for Sunday’s eliminations.
Schumacher, driver of the U.S. Army Dragster for Don Schumacher Racing (DSR), who entered the event with consecutive No. 1 qualifying efforts at Atlanta Dragway and Heartland Park Topeka, is seeking his second career pole at the track. In today’s opening session, the eight-time Top Fuel champion launched smoothly off the line, but lost traction early in the run. He was able to regain traction midway through the pass and post a lap of 4.956 seconds at 142.70 mph. With improved conditions in the second session, crew chief Mike Green and assistant crew chief Phil Shuler were looking to make the most of the opportunity. Unfortunately, the run was short-lived after another good launch at the start. Schumacher again lost traction and the car shook hard before coasting to the finish with a time and speed of 7.434 seconds at 83.93 mph.
“We almost made it in that second run,” said Schumacher. “I really feel like we were on the brink of it before it shook loose. We’ve got another golden opportunity tomorrow. We have a great U.S. Army car and that’s what makes this sport fun. Being able to overcome adversity. I’m surrounded by a great team led Mike Green. He and Phil will analyze all of the data we acquired today and get us ready for tomorrow. The conditions will be just as good in those final two sessions. This team relishes the opportunity to come up big when they absolutely have to. This has been a good place for us and I know we’ll come back tomorrow and put ourselves in a good position for Sunday.”
Brown, the three-time and reigning Top Fuel world champion, carried the momentum of his Topeka triumph into the first of four consecutive weekends of action. He had a similar outcome during his first pass in the Matco Tools/U.S. Army Dragster for DSR as Schumacher with the two simultaneously losing traction. In the second session, Brown and his team led by co-crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald made a big statement by posting an impressive run of 3.744 seconds at 309.98 mph early in the order. The pass equaled that of Leah Pritchett’s top run in the first session, but was eclipsed by Brittany Force, who established a new track record, Pritchett’s second pass and Terry McMillen’s career-best qualifying run.
“We were running really good there in that second lap,” said Brown. “The Matco Tools/U.S. Army car was on a run in the ballpark of 3.67 seconds, but we had a little glitch. A malfunction that threw the parachute out prematurely. Tomorrow is going to be a new day. The cool part about tonight is that we got to see how good this car can run. It’s a new car and it’s working great. That was a great run there and we’re looking forward to tomorrow and the two runs to get after it.”
Qualifying continues Saturday with sessions at 2 and 4:30 p.m. Elimination rounds are set for at 11 a.m. Sunday with FS1 providing three hours of delayed coverage beginning at 4:30 p.m.
Contact Bill Klingbeil or Laz Denes with True Speed Communication
Klingbeil: (704) 875-3388, ext. 804 or Bill.Klingbeil@TrueSpeedCommunication.com
Denes: (704) 875-3388, ext. 806 or Laz.Denes@TrueSpeedCommunication.com
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