News: Brown, Schumacher exit in quarterfinals
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Scott Turner
MOHNTON, Pa. - U.S. Army NHRA Racing Top Fuel drivers Antron Brown and Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher were both quarterfinal round losers here Oct. 2 in the Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway.
Brown, who had qualified number one, appeared to be on target for a win over David Grubnic but the engine on his Matco Tools/U.S. Army dragster expired just past half track and suddenly his race weekend was over.
"We were performing so well to that point," said a dejected Brown afterwards. "It goes to show you that anything can happen on race day. We have to forget about this race and keep our eyes on the big picture - trying to win the next three races and the Full Throttle world championship."
A New Jersey native who was racing in front of a large contingent of family and friends, Brown began final eliminations in impressive fashion with an opening round win over Bruce Litton via a 3.773-second pass at 321.58 mph.
"Up until we had the issue against Grubnic, the car was running flawlessly," said Brown. "Things just happen sometimes that you don't expect. We're still very much in the thick of the Countdown to the Championship, so we'll remain Army Strong and get after it again in two weeks."
Brown's position in the points will not be determined until the completion of the Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals which was postponed until Monday due to rain.
In his second round loss to Spencer Massey, a Don Schumacher Racing teammate, Schumacher had his dragster briefly lose traction just before half track which allowed Massey to slide on by for the victory.
"Like Antron, I felt we had a car quite capable of winning the race today," said Schumacher. "We were right there with Spencer, but then I felt the tires start to go up and I had to 'pedal' it to get it hooked up again. At that point, it was too late and Spencer went right down the track."
Schumacher, who remained winless for the season, will leave the Keystone State holding fifth-place in the standings.
"We truly needed to go rounds today as connected to the championship," said the seven-time world champion. "But, it didn't happen and we have to now look ahead to the race in Phoenix."
The NHRA tour will take a weekend off before traveling to Firebird International Raceway for the Arizona NHRA Nationals, Oct. 13-16. It will be the fourth of six races that comprise the NHRA playoffs.
"Antron and I need to block the Maple Grove race out of our minds and concentrate on the next one - that's the only approach to have," said Schumacher. "Our Army Strong soldiers never accept defeat and we won't either."
At press time, in the U.S. Army NASCAR Racing camp, driver Ryan Newman was competing in the AAA 400 Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway.
Piloting the No. 39 U.S. Army ROTC Chevrolet, Newman started from the 20th starting spot at the infamous "Monster Mile."