News: Schumacher loses in finals, Brown ousted in quarterfinals
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Scott Turner
POMONA, Calif. - U.S. Army NHRA Racing Top Fuel driver Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher lost in the finals here Sunday in the 47th annual Auto Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway.
Schumacher's U.S. Army Racing teammate, Antron Brown, was beaten in the quarterfinals by Larry Dixon and thus had his bid for the 2011 Full Throttle world championship cut short.
"It's disappointing for sure," said Brown. "We were right there to the very end and that's nice, but we really wanted to get the big trophy today. That's what you set your sights on when you start the season in February."
When Schumacher lined up against eventual world champ Del Worsham in the final round, he was seeking his first victory of the season. Unfortunately, his 3.799-second pass at 321.50 mph was just a tick slower than Worsham's 3.796-second trip at 318.02 mph.
"It was a close race and I thought we just may have finally gotten one there," said Schumacher. "We really wanted to win bad this weekend for the Vietnam Veterans. We had a terrific paint scheme to honor those brave soldiers and it would have been nice to get a trophy for them."
This is the first time since 2001 Schumacher has gone winless for a season. However, he chooses to stress the positive by noting the U.S. Army team's seven final round appearances and six poles this year.
"We may not have won a race, but that's not to say we didn't have a good season," said the seven-time world champion, who finished fifth in the standings. "I wouldn't trade my crew chief [Mike Green] and team for anyone. We are going to work hard these next couple of months and come out swinging again in February. That's the way we roll."
Brown entered race day holding third-place in the points and departed Auto Club Raceway in the same position despite his early round exit.
"We have nothing to be ashamed of - we had a good year," said the New Jersey native. "The guys now have the experience of being in an intense championship battle, so that should benefit us going forward. I'm already looking forward to getting the 2012 season underway."
Over on the U.S. Army NASCAR Racing side, driver Ryan Newman came from the rear of the field to claim a fifth-place finish in Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500k Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway.
Newman, whose No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet was also sporting a Vietnam Veterans special paint scheme, started the 312-lap race from the 30th spot, but then went on to secure his ninth top-five finish of the season and 17th top-10.
Sitting ninth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup standings, Newman will travel to Homestead, Fla., next weekend for the Sprint Cup series season finale.