GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Coming off a healthy dose of quality family time that was thoroughly enjoyed, U.S. Army NHRA Top Fuel drivers Tony “The Sarge” Schumacher and Antron Brown are eager to get back on the track this weekend in the famed Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals at Auto-Plus Raceway.
It’s been more than two weeks since Brown squeezed by Schumacher in the final round of the Arizona NHRA Nationals at Firebird International Raceway outside of Phoenix. The victory sent Brown into the Top Fuel points lead while Schumacher moved into second, 32 points behind his teammate.
Both drivers head for the Sunshine State looking to build on some early season momentum. Brown has already banked two final-round appearances (one of which produced the aforementioned win) and Schumacher has advanced to a semifinal and a final through two rounds of the 23-race NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.
Like the Army Strong soldiers who frequent their pit area on any given race weekend, both Brown and Schumacher understand they will need to put the mission first and possess a never quit attitude as they challenge for the 2012 world championship.
Having recorded four wins there since 2004, Schumacher has certainly enjoyed the NHRA’s annual visit to Gainesville. Last year, he qualified No.1 but lost to eventual world champion Del Worsham in the finals.
Since beginning his Top Fuel career in 2008, Brown has one runner-up Gatornationals finish to his credit and a pole - both during the 2010 campaign.
Tony “The Sarge” Schumacher, driver of the U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster:
How would you grade your team’s performance coming out of the first two races?
“I’d say we’ve done pretty well for ourselves. Obviously, we would like to be talking about two wins but we’re getting closer to where we need to be. We had an outstanding car in Phoenix all weekend. We just ended up on the short end against Antron in the finals. I’m happy with where we’re at right now and confident it will get even better.”
Given the results in the first two races, it appears your two DSR teammates (Antron and Spencer Massey) are going to be just as tough on you as they were last season. Do you agree?
“I’m not surprised, by any means. It was to be expected. All of us at DSR have what we need to go out and win races and championships - my dad [team owner Don Schumacher] definitely sees to that. Of course, he expects us to perform at a high level as a result. When we don’t, we’re all disappointed, for sure.”
Having now gone 25 consecutive races without collecting a victory, there must be some extra pressure on you and the team to get to victory lane sooner rather than later, right?
“We go out to win every race we compete in. Nobody is dwelling on the fact we haven’t won in 25 races. Understand something - we will take home some trophies this year and contend for the title. To a person, we all believe that. I have a talented bunch of guys on my team who I wouldn’t trade for anyone.”
Since you have been pretty successful in Gainesville throughout your career, might that translate into a positive result this weekend for the Army team?
“Like our Army Strong soldiers, we will put forth our best effort and not accept defeat. We’ve had some good outings down there. We’re hoping that means we will be working very late come Sunday.”
Antron Brown, driver of the Matco Tools/U.S. Army dragster:
You have been to two finals, grabbed a win in the process and hold the points lead. Could you be any happier after two races?
“Well, I could say we should have two wins, right? But, seriously, I feel blessed that we have performed like we have to this point. I have a top-notch team. We proved that last year right to the end and haven’t missed a beat starting out this year. There’s no reason to think we can’t continue to have these types of results going forward.”
Despite your solid start to the season, it definitely hasn’t been a walk in the park, by any means, has it?
“It hasn’t been easy and it won’t be easy. Beating Tony in Phoenix was quite the chore, let me tell you. It was a very close race. That Army team is going to be extremely tough all season, as will so many other teams.”
Do you feel like Tony when it comes to competing in the Gatornationals?
“You have to remember, I came into Top Fuel from Pro Stock Motorcycles. The Gatornationals is the traditional season opener for the motorcycles, so I was always excited about going down there. I still am excited about that race since there’s so much history attached to it. I’ve never won a Gators trophy, so I’m looking forward to getting that first one.”
During the recent two-week break, you celebrated your 36th birthday. Do you feel you are now one of the so-called veterans in the Top Fuel class?
“No way - not when Tony has me beat by six years. I’d like to think he’s the senior citizen in the DSR Top Fuel driver camp.”
|Date Posted:||03.06.2012 14:30|
|Location:||GAINESVILLE, FL, US|
This work, Brown, Schumacher atop standings, anxious To tackle tradition-rich Gatornationals, by SFC Scott Turner, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.