|THE SARGE| PLACES U.S. ARMY DRAGSTER IN EIGHTH SPOT FOR SUNDAY'S CARQUEST AUTO PARTS NATIONALS

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Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher secured the eighth qualifying spot here today for Sunday?s CARQUEST Auto Parts Nationals at Route 66 Raceway. Driving the U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster, Schumacher posted a pass of 4.555-seconds at 320.97 mph in the early qualifying session of the day to end up in the top half of the Top Fuel field for the third straight race. Schumacher will face ninth-place qualifier, Scott Kalitta, in the first round of eliminations beginning at 11 a.m. CT. "We had some engine issues in both of our runs today, so it hurt our performance quite a bit," said the Chicago native. "Tomorrow is another day. We all know that anything can happen on race day." The former 1999 Top Fuel world champion carried plenty of momentum coming into his second hometown race of the 2003 season. Having captured two straight wins at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals and the recent O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals, optimism was flowing in the Army camp. "We'll be fine," added Schumacher. "Alan Johnson (his crew chief) will find a way to get the job done. He always does. Schumacher will be hoping Route 66 Raceway remains kind to him. In June, he won his first race of the season - the Lucas Oil Nationals - at the track situated about an hour from his home. "We're hopeful of that happening," he said. "But, we're three months removed from that race weekend. It's a brand new chapter."
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