NATIONAL ELAPSED TIME RECORD WITHIN REACH FOR ILLINOIS NATIVE

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Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher, who handles the controls of the U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster, banked his sixth straight pole here Saturday after the final day of qualifying for tomorrow's Ameriquest Mortgage NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway.

While the Chicago native set an NHRA single season record for six consecutive poles, he also put himself in a position to pocket 20 bonus points for setting a new national elapsed time record.

After posting a 4.437-second pass last night, Schumacher returned to back up that effort in the opening session on Saturday with a 4.473-second trip. Should no other driver establish a new mark and back it up within one percent during Sunday's action, the 20 bonus points will be Schumacher's.

"The pole is great, but those 20 extra points are so important to us right now," he offered. "Of course, we also have to take care of our race day business. You certainly don't want to give back those points as quickly as you collected them."

Schumacher will square off with 16th-place qualifier, Bobby Lagana, Jr., in the first round of eliminations beginning at 11 a.m. CT. The last time they met was in the first round at Memphis last month.

"It's one round at a time, plain and simple," added the 2004 NHRA POWERade Top Fuel world champion. "Our goal is quite clear -- we have to take away rounds from our closest competition, Larry Dixon and Doug Kalitta."

Schumacher entered the Ameriquest Mortgage NHRA Nationals holding a100-point advantage on Dixon and a 105-point edge on Kalitta.

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