By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster pilot Tony Schumacher is the No. 1 qualifier at the 37th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway. This is The Sarge’s 82nd career No. 1 qualifier.
Schumacher picked up his second No. 1 qualifier this season following a 3.736 at 325.45 mph pass. Atlanta Dragway is the only race track that he has not won a Wally at yet.
“Couldn’t be happier going into racing as No. 1,” Schumacher stated. “This is the only race the trophy doesn’t sit on my shelf. I want to win this one. You go in No. 1 and we’ve got every chance in the world to win.”
He’ll face Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster pilot Brittany Force in the first round of eliminations. She went 9.391 at 70.68 and smoked the tires both times.
“It’s definitely been a tough day, a tough few weekends,” Force said. “But this Monster Energy team has put everything in this car. After Charlotte, these guys have not stopped. They drove the car back to Indy, put a new front-half on it, drove to Atlanta, and we only got two qualifying passes. It’s not a whole new car, but it’s a new front half, and you need some runs on it to work with that.
“To have to go into race day the No. 16 qualifier, it’s tough for us. We were all super excited about this new change, but we didn’t have enough time to make it work yet. The only place we can go is up. We’re No. 16, but we’re going to fight through and push and claw until we get to where we want – and that’s the winner’s circle.”
Steve Torrence — who won the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals last weekend — is the No. 2 qualifier. Torrence went 3.738 at 322.04, and he’ll face Smax Smith, who had an 8.526 at 62.13.
Antron Brown — the back-to-back reigning Top Fuel champion and three-time Top Fuel champion overall — is the No. 3 qualifier with a 3.741 at 326.08 mph. He’ll face rookie SealMaster Top Fuel dragster Troy Coughlin Jr., who went 4.083 at 199.58.
Clay Millican — who was the No. 1 qualifier the past two weekends — qualified No. 4 with a 3.763 at 318.77 mph. He’ll face Terry Haddock in the first-round, as he went 4.075 at 251.53 mph.
Doug Kalitta is the No. 5 qualifier following a 3.764 at 324.67 mph. He’ll face “The Greak” Chris Karamesines, who went 4.048 at 286.50 mph.
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