News: Schumacher, Brown to keep up the fight
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Scott Turner
CHANDLER, Ariz. - With three races remaining in the NHRA's Countdown to the Championship, U.S. Army Racing Top Fuel pilots Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher and Antron Brown are clearly not in a quitting mode.
As the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series prepares for a rare fall visit to Firebird International Raceway here this weekend for the Arizona NHRA Nationals, both Schumacher and Brown are focused on tracking down Don Schumacher Racing teammate, Spencer Massey, who holds first-place in the standings.
"We're not caving in by any means," said Schumacher, fifth in the standings and 140 points in back of Massey. "Giving up is definitely not an option with the U.S. Army team. We always look to our Army Strong soldiers for inspiration. They all play a huge part in our drive to be successful."
Being seven rounds of racing behind with only 12 rounds of competition left on the table, Schumacher knows it's time to begin a quick climb up the ladder. To that end, he would welcome his first win of the season this Sunday at the track located outside of Phoenix, Oct. 9.
"Without question, we need to get that first trophy to stay in contention," offered the Chicago-area resident, who has six final rounds to his credit in 2011. "If we can get to victory lane on Sunday and some of the guys in front of us have problems, we can rise up in a hurry. Ultimately, the goal would be to go into the season finale next month (in Pomona, Calif.) with a serious shot at the title."
Brown, who resides in second-place and is 65 points behind Massey, agrees with Schumacher's logic.
"We want to go into the final race with a chance," said the New Jersey native. "We want to be either in the points lead or within 20 points (one round). It's going to be a tough deal down to the finish.
"As we've seen, you can lose or pick up three rounds (60 points) in one race, so Spencer's lead is not insurmountable. We're still right there. We've freshened all of our stuff since the Reading (Pa.) race and put on some new equipment, so we're ready to rock and roll."
Both Army drivers are keenly aware this weekend's race at Firebird will be far different than previous races contested in the Valley of the Sun. An October date versus a February date, along with a re-surfaced track, will likely level the playing field for the Countdown participants.
"In addition to the calendar change and the track improvements, you can throw in what will be some very hot temperatures," said Schumacher in reference to the weather forecast of 95 degree-plus days. "It may take a couple of qualifying sessions before the tuners get a handle on things. I certainly have one of the best in the business in Mike Green, so I know we'll be ready come race day."
"We'll have a 'green' surface, so this is anybody's race," said Brown. "I'm sure we'll attack it like we do all other tracks and I have nothing but confidence in our ability to figure it out."