News: Brown loses in finals at Firebird Raceway; captures points lead, Schumacher exits in semifinals
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Scott Turner
CHANDLER, Ariz. - U.S. Army Racing Top Fuel driver Antron Brown lost in the finals to Larry Dixon here Sunday in the Arizona NHRA Nationals at Firebird Raceway.
With his final round effort in the Valley of the Sun, Brown jumped into the Top Fuel points lead as the NHRA's Countdown to the Championship now winds down to the last two races of the season at Las Vegas (in two weeks) and Pomona, Calif.
"We had a terrific weekend for sure," said Brown, a New Jersey native. "We caught a break when Spencer Massey [his Don Schumacher Racing teammate who came into the Arizona NHRA Nationals leading the standings] didn't qualify for the race. But, it was up to us to take advantage of the situation. Fortunately, we got the job done."
En route to the finals against Dixon, Brown had to slide by David Grubnic, former points leader, Del Worsham, and his U.S. Army Racing teammate, Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher, in the semifinals.
Against Schumacher, he needed a quick reaction time at the starting line to take care of the seven-time world champion. Schumacher's U.S. Army dragster actually posted a better run - 3.970-seconds at 299.46 mph versus 3.985-seconds at 298.60 mph - but Brown was off the starting line with a .054-second reaction time as compared to Schumacher's .083-second reaction time.
"That was an incredibly close race," said Brown. "Of course, I wouldn't expect anything less than that against Tony and the Army team. They are a great team - I just wish we could have been on opposite sides of the [final eliminations] ladder and met in the finals."
While Brown was enjoying his rise to the top of the standings, Schumacher was making up some ground in the Countdown as well.
With his semifinal round advancement, the Chicago-area resident was able to slice 49 points off the lead with the tour stops in Las Vegas and Pomona forthcoming over the next month.
"Obviously, we would have loved to have won our first race of the year and drawn even closer to the leader, but it didn't happen," said Schumacher. "The loss to Antron is on me - we had a fast race car today but he just got me at the starting line. That's the way it goes sometimes."
Schumacher beat Mike Strasburg in the opening round and Shawn Langdon in the quarterfinals before suffering the close loss to Brown in the semis.
"We'll just pick up the pieces here in Phoenix and move on to Vegas," said Schumacher. "We're still in the hunt and that's all you can ask for at this point. Like I've stated for the last few weeks, we're not giving up by any means."
In the U.S. Army NASCAR Racing camp, driver Ryan Newman finished 10th in Saturday night's Bank of America 500 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
Newman is now 10th in the Chase for the Sprint Cup driver standings as the Sprint Cup Series moves to Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway next Sunday.
This work, Brown loses in finals at Firebird Raceway; captures points lead, Schumacher exits in semifinals, by SFC Scott Turner, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.