News: Schumacher posts early exit in Indy
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Scott Turner
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., Sept. 5, 2011 - For only the second time in his career, U.S. Army Top Fuel driver Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher was ousted in the first round of the NHRA's most prestigious race - the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway.
An eight-time winner of the annual Labor Day event, Schumacher had his parachutes deploy prematurely shortly after hitting the throttle in his match up with Bob Vandergriff and as a result his day ended quickly.
"It's disappointing for so many reasons," said the Chicago-area resident. "You always want to win because it's Indy, but we also wanted to win for the people we were honoring on our car - the 75 U.S. Army personnel who were killed on 9/11 at the Pentagon.
"We're not sure what happened to cause the chutes to come out. I'm confident Mike Green (his crew chief) will decipher what exactly went wrong and make sure it doesn't happen again. We still have a lot of work to do over the next three months."
Schumacher, who remained winless in 2011, will now focus his attention on the beginning of the Countdown to 1 in two weeks at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte, N.C.
He will head for the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals holding fifth-place in the standings, which means he will start the playoffs 60 points in back of the leader, Del Worsham.
"After Indy, the points are reset for the top-10 and then it starts for real," said Schumacher. "We'll be three rounds of racing in back of Del, which is very manageable. Despite the problems we had this weekend I firmly believe we'll be a serious player in the Countdown. Trust me, we'll be very much Army Strong when we roll into Charlotte."
While Schumacher departed Lucas Oil Raceway early, his U.S. Army Racing teammate, Antron Brown, captured his fifth victory of the season.
The New Jersey native took out Worsham in the finals with a 3.813-second pass at 321.73 miles per hour. It was his first U.S. Nationals win in Top Fuel to go along with his two Pro Stock Motorcycle wins.
"I'm speechless," said Brown afterwards. "This is huge right here. Winning in motorcycles was great, but this is so special to do it in Top Fuel and on the biggest stage there is in drag racing."
With his 30th career win (Top Fuel and Pro Stock Motorcycles combined), Brown locked up second-place in the standings going into the Countdown to 1. He will start the six-race playoff 30 points behind Worsham.
On the U.S. Army NASCAR Racing side, driver Ryan Newman will wait until Tuesday, Sept. 6, for the start of the AdvoCare 500 Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway after rain forced a postponement of the scheduled Sunday night event.
In his No. 39 U.S. Army Reserve Chevrolet, Newman will come out of the ninth starting position. With a top-20 finish, he will clinch a spot in NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup.