News: Schumacher leads standings despite loss in final
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Scott Turner
COMMERCE, Ga. - U.S. Army NHRA Top Fuel driver Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher has heard the line many times from the Army Strong soldiers he interacts with every race weekend - never accept defeat.
Hence, after dropping his fourth final-round loss of the season to Steve Torrence in the Summit Racing Equipment Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway, Schumacher will hold to form and once again take the advice to heart.
"Without question, that's exactly what we will do," the Chicago-area resident said. "We will stay at it, you can count on that. There's a lot of racing left and we're not going to settle for being runner-up all of the time. We will bring home some trophies this year."
With the track temperature at almost 135 degrees, Schumacher ended up smoking the tires against Torrence, who posted a 3.893-second pass at 320.66 mph. It was Torrence's first career win.
Despite the loss, Schumacher, the seven-time world champion, was able to wrestle away the top spot in the standings from his U.S. Army Racing/Don Schumacher Racing teammate Antron Brown, who dropped a first-round race to Doug Kalitta. Schumacher, with 604 points, leads a top-five that includes Spencer Massey, Brown, Morgan Lucas and Torrence, respectively.
"It's always a good thing to be leading the points," Schumacher said. "But, to be honest, it would have been better to be leaving here with the points lead and a win. People say you can't have your cake and eat it, too, but I'm one person who wants that in the worst way."
Schumacher's winless streak has now reached 30 consecutive races dating back to his last victory at the 2010 fall Las Vegas event. He also remains winless at Atlanta Dragway, the only track on the NHRA tour where has failed to claim a title.
"We're going to keep fighting," Schumacher said. "This is not over by a long shot. We're staying over here to test a new car tomorrow and, if all goes well, we will roll it out in Topeka [Kan.] in two weeks. I have full confidence that wins are right around the corner for the U.S. Army team."
While Schumacher was stockpiling points on a hot, sunny day in Georgia, Brown was forced to the sidelines early after an opening-round final eliminations loss to Kalitta. It was the first time in 33 starts he lost in the first round.
"We were just too aggressive and puffed the tires," Brown said. "For some reason, the clutch just didn't wear like it should have. It was the same thing that happened last weekend in Houston when we lost in the final [to Lucas]. We'll get it all figured out and be ready for the next race."
The New Jersey native arrived at Atlanta Dragway as the standings leader but left holding third behind Schumacher and Massey. He's only five points out of second and 30 behind Schumacher.
"I think everyone continues to see that the Top Fuel class is an unbelievable battle right now," Brown said. "Today, you had a first-time winner in Torrence. Given what he's been through in life, having to beat cancer, it was nice to see him get a trophy. Of course, it was at the expense of my teammate, who is trying to break a long winless streak."
"The parity in the class is just incredible. You never know which driver and team is going to rise to the occasion. My Matco Tools/U.S. Army team will go back to the shop, work hard this week, and then head for Topeka just as determined and focused as ever. We want to return to victory lane sooner rather than later."
Going into round eight of the 23-race NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, the Dollar General SummerNationals May 18-20 at Heartland Park Topeka (Kan.), following are the top-five in the Top Fuel standings:
1. Tony Schumacher (604 points)
2. Spencer Massey (579 points)
3. Antron Brown (574 points)
4. Morgan Lucas (536 points)
5. Steve Torrence (467 points)