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Keeping Pace

Schumacher ready to go four-wide holding points lead

For the first time in modern drag racing history, four cars will compete side-by-side-by-side-by-side at what’s been labeled as the “Bellagio” of drag strips.

Courtesy: NHRA Media Relations

Charlotte, NC-After taking over the top spot in the standings two weeks ago, U.S. Army Top Fuel driver Tony “The Sarge” Schumacher is now set to tackle the inaugural Four-Wide Nationals here this weekend at zMax Dragway.

For the first time in modern drag racing history, four cars will compete side-by-side-by-side-by-side at what’s been labeled as the “Bellagio” of drag strips.

“It’s going to be very interesting to see how it all plays out,” said the seven-time world champion. “I watched the (four-wide) exhibition last September down there and I was amazed at how smoothly everything went. We’ll see if that holds true for this weekend when it counts for real.”

According to Schumacher, the biggest challenge could be getting four drivers to act in concert when it comes to the staging process.

“You just don’t know what’s going to happen,” said the Chicago-area resident. “Of course, I’m hopeful there won’t be any issues. I’m just going to go out and do my usual thing. I’m going to stay focused on my car and my lane. That’s really all you can do.”

Heading into the fourth race of the year, Schumacher clearly knows he has one fast hot rod. On the way to his first victory of the year at Gainesville (Fla.) Raceway, he set the national speed record for 1,000 feet – 324.98 mph.

“The car is performing brilliantly, just like our Army Strong Soldiers do every day,” he offered. “It’s very comforting to know I have a race car that can win every time out. As long as I do my job, we should once again be a serious player for the world title.”

Despite having taken over the points lead following his 62nd career win, Schumacher knows he there’s a long season ahead which can provide plenty of peaks and valleys.

“No doubt about that,” he said. “The idea is to be as consistent as possible leading up to the Countdown to 1. At that point, you can turn it loose. Obviously, it’s our intention to collect our seventh straight crown.”

But, it will be first things first for Schumacher at zMax Dragway this Sunday. He captured the first event there in 2008.

“It was special to win the first ever race, but to go out and win the inaugural Four-Wide Nationals would be even more special,” he said. “It should be exciting for both the fans and the participants.”

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Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.

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