News: US Army NHRA racing report AAA Texas NHRA fall nationals advance
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Scott Turner
ENNIS, Texas - Former New York Mets pitcher Tug McGraw may not be a recognizable name to U.S. Army Top Fuel driver Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher, but he is certainly quick to recall McGraw's famous battle cry during the Mets' world championship march in the early 1970's.
"Absolutely - it was 'Ya Gotta Believe,'" said Schumacher. "And, that is something we are going to keep doing for the next five races."
After advancing to the semifinals of the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at zMAX Dragway last Sunday, Schumacher now heads to the Texas Motorplex outside of Dallas this weekend for the AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals.
The Chicago-area resident, who qualified number one in Charlotte, knows he needs to continue to go rounds in the Lone Star State while slicing into Antron Brown's lead at the top of the standings.
"We need to keep going deep into race day," said the seven-time world champion. "We can only control what we do. If you have help along the way, that's always welcomed, but the first order of business is dealing with what's right in front of you."
What is right in front of Schumacher is the second race of the NHRA's Countdown to the Championship. It is also the second of three consecutive NHRA tour events, which culminates at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa., the weekend of Sept. 30-Oct. 2.
"I said this when we departed Indianapolis - this three-race stretch will go a long way in deciding the champion," said Schumacher.
"We're less than three rounds of racing [55 points] behind Antron [his U.S. Army Racing/Don Schumacher Racing teammate] in fifth-place. That can be made up in a hurry. We know we have a very fast hot rod which is capable of winning every race the rest of the way."
Unfortunately, victories have been hard to come by for Schumacher since the fall Las Vegas race last year. He has six final rounds to his credit in 2011, but no trophies have been awarded as yet.
"Those are the key words - as yet," he said. "We feel a win is right at our fingertips. We'll just get after it again in Dallas. If we can win down there, who knows what may happen going forward from a momentum standpoint."
"Our Army strong soldiers are always there to support us, so we are intent on giving back to them in a big way. We're hoping a handful of wins and then another world title will be the best gift of all."
Schumacher would like to begin creating that "gift" at the Texas Motorplex. Having captured the last two races there, he leads the Top Fuel class with five overall victories.
"Let's not forget, that track will always be special to me," he said. "It's where I got my first Top Fuel win [in 1999]. You always keep that particular trophy front and center on your shelf."