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Fri, 15 Sep 2000, 11:12 PM

Schumacher, Force, Alderman and Hines Leaders After the First Day of
Courtesy of NHRA Communications

MOHNTON, Pa. -- Qualifying Tony Schumacher led Top Fuel qualifying Friday at the 16th annual Keystone Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway. John Force, Darrell Alderman and Matt Hines also led their respective categories at the $1.9 million race, the 18th of 23 races in the $45 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.

Tony Scumacher

Lake Forest, Ill.'s Schumacher established a track record for speed when he covered the quarter-mile in 4.535 seconds at 324.67 mph in the U.S. Army dragster to lead the pack after the first day of professional action. Schumacher's elapsed time is the quickest of the season and the lowest since the NHRA implemented the 90 percent nitro-methane rule.

"That pass was awesome, outstanding," said Schumacher. "I have (crew chief Dan) Olson and now I have the Army, so watch it. We haven't even seen all their technology yet. When we start using some of their stuff, I'm not sure I am going to want to get in the car. I will be driving with my eyes close.

"When the NHRA started the new 90 percent rule, we wondered if we were going to like it. It is proving to be one heck of a rule. (The rule) is saving parts, saving racecars and saving drivers. You don't even know." Force, from Yorba Linda, Calif. powered his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang to the top of the Funny Car order and set track records for time and speed with his pass of 4.865 at 312.50.

"We saw some cars getting loose in front of us so (crew chief Austin) Coil tamed her down a little bit," said Force. "I have to tell you that I'm pretty impressed myself. I'm actually flabbergasted and I don't know what to say.

Alderman, from Morehead, Ky., paced the Pro Stock field with his pass of 6.874 at 198.55 in his Team Mopar Dodge Avenger.

Hines of Trinidad, Colo., used a run of 7.195 at 185.54 atop his Eagle One Suzuki to lead all competitors in the two-wheel category.

Professional qualifying continues tomorrow at 11:15 a.m.

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