News: Schumacher wants more at Heartland Park Topeka
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Scott Turner
TOPEKA, Kan. - U.S. Army NHRA Racing Top Fuel drivers Tony “The Sarge” Schumacher and Antron Brown will travel to Heartland Park Topeka Friday through Sunday for the Dollar General NHRA Summer Nationals.
Following the lead of the Army Strong soldiers he represents, Schumacher will carry a “refusal to accept defeat” attitude to the Sunflower State for round eight of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.
A Chicago-area resident, Schumacher is the current Top Fuel standings leader. However, he remains in hot pursuit of his first victory of the season. A four-time finalist thus far in 2012, he would also like to end a 30-race winless streak that dates back to the 2010 fall Las Vegas event.
It’s only in recent years Schumacher has experienced success at Topeka. He qualified on the pole last year and claimed his first career win in 2010 at the facility that caters to a wide array of motorsports.
After posting his first opening-round loss in 33 starts at Atlanta Dragway two weeks ago, Brown is clearly in rally mode. Having led the points three times already this year, the New Jersey native would like to take back the top spot from Schumacher with a good outing this weekend.
Brown has two poles to his credit at Topeka (2009 and 2010) but has yet to record a win or final-round appearance.
Tony “The Sarge” Schumacher, driver of the U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster:
While you seem quite happy to be leading the points, it’s also very apparent a win is what you desire the most right now.
“You can say that again. We have come so close this season. It’s really amazing that we have not been able to get over the hump. It’s something I don’t think anyone can explain. To be 0-11 in finals the last couple of years is unbelievable to me. But, I still hold to the belief we will break through in the near term. If anything, the percentages have to eventually swing our way.”
It seems we ask the same question before every race, but it is newsworthy. Are you tired of hearing about the overall winless streak?
“Yes, yes and yes, again. But, I do understand it’s sort of headline-grabbing because of the kind of team we are. We’ve won numerous world championships and now, suddenly, that same team is being shut out. Once we get that first win, we all can move on from there. Like I’ve said over and over, it’s not a question of if, but rather when it will happen.”
You stayed over an extra day at Atlanta Dragway to test a new Don Schumacher Racing-built chassis. How did it go?
“I thought really well. We only made three laps because it rained in the morning, but the numbers were good each time. So, it’s my understanding we will roll that new chassis out this weekend in Topeka. As one of my crew guys said, it’s time to mothball the old chassis since it only gets to finals and doesn’t win. Maybe, the new chassis will find the way to victory lane.”
Recently, it was announced you and Antron would be doing twin burnouts during the pre-race ceremonies prior to the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race in Charlotte over Memorial Day weekend. That should be pretty exciting.
“I’m looking forward to it, for sure. We hope to put on a good show for the NASCAR fans. Also, it will be Don Schumacher Racing’s salute to the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Every day we should keep our soldiers, both past and present, in our thoughts and prayers.”
Antron Brown, driver of the Matco Tools/U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster:
How difficult has the last two weeks been since that first-round loss at Atlanta Dragway?
“We’re not used to packing up so early on race day, so the disappointment has kind of stuck around, to be honest. Actually, you want to remember how bad a taste that left so you don’t have it happen again. The good news is we know why we smoked the tires and lost. We’ll definitely be ready to go this weekend.”
The points race continues to be hotly contested and you are right there in the middle of the action with both of your teammates - Tony and Spencer Massey. What’s the pressure like on race day knowing you can’t take anyone lightly?
“That kind of sums it up - you can’t overlook anyone in Top Fuel. Any driver who makes the show can win, whether he or she is 16th or number one. It is that crazy right now in the class. I think most of the veterans like Tony will say that Top Fuel is as competitive as it has been in a long time. I think the days of one team dominating are over. Nobody is going to run away and hide from the rest of the field.”
What’s your opinion of Heartland Park Topeka?
“It’s nice. The owners have put a lot of money into the place the last few years to spruce it up. That shows they are committed to the fans and the sport, which is great. Hopefully, this year I can go out and get my first career win there.”
Same question as Tony regarding the twin burnouts in Charlotte over Memorial Day weekend - are you eagerly awaiting the trip?
“Absolutely - I can’t wait. We should have a lot of fun. We’re only going to be there one day, but I guess the schedule is pretty jam-packed with activities. Ultimately, we want to give a little something back for what all of our soldiers have done for us. It’s all about honoring and remembering our brave men and women.”