News: Schumacher, Brown exit in quarterfinals
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 soon want to forget their weekend stay at Heartland Park Topeka in Topeka, Kan.
Both Schumacher and Brown were eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Dollar General NHRA Summer Nationals, with the latter loss coming via a red-light foul at the starting line.
"It's disappointing for sure," Schumacher said. "We came here with high expectations and were looking to get our first victory of the year. But, once again, I guess it just wasn't in the cards for us. Like our Army Strong soldiers, we won't let adversity affect our mission. We're going to have success and we will continue to contend for the world championship."
Schumacher, who arrived in Kansas with the points lead, qualified a solid fifth and then came out swinging on race day. He quickly disposed of 12th-place qualifier Clay Millican (who fouled out) with a 3.799-second pass at 326.32 mph, before squaring off in the second round with his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Spencer Massey.
With a rapidly warming drag strip, Schumacher and Massey each had tire traction issues, but it was Massey who edged the Chicago-area resident at the finish line by approximately three inches. Massey posted a 4.112-second run at 268.06 mph to Schumacher's 4.114-second trip at 264.03 mph.
"Beyond the fact it was pretty ugly with the tire smoke, it was an exciting race," Schumacher said. "I thought I might have gotten him right at the finish line, but the clocks said otherwise. We're definitely not going to dwell on this result. We have plenty of racing left this season to make things happen."
Just prior to Schumacher heading for the exit, Brown brought the curtain down on his day with a red-light foul at the start against Doug Kalitta. It was the second time in three years he fouled out at Heartland Park.
"Man, it's so frustrating to go out that way," the New Jersey native said. "I'm not really sure what happened. I guess something distracted me when the lights came down. But, that's no excuse. I have to do my job and I didn't do it today. I feel bad for my Matco Tools/U.S. Army team. I had a great racecar this weekend."
After recording a rare first-round loss at Atlanta Dragway two weeks ago, Brown moved into round eight of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series seeking to make amends.
In qualifying, Brown immediately went to work and seized his first pole of the season before leveling veteran Cory McClenathan in the opening round of final eliminations. However, the comeback story abruptly ended at the starting line against Kalitta, who beat him in an early final eliminations round for the second straight race.
"I can sit here and beat myself up, but that's not going to change the result," Brown said. "I just have to go home, re-focus and get ready for the next race in couple of weeks. I'm very confident we'll get back to the level we all expect to be on."
While Schumacher and Brown will not return to the NHRA tour for two weeks - at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J. - they will be visiting NASCAR country next weekend in Charlotte, N.C. The U.S. Army Racing drivers will perform twin burnouts as part of the pre-race ceremonies for the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
"Given that it's Memorial Day weekend, the twin burnouts will be Don Schumacher Racing's salute to all of our soldiers," Schumacher said. "Of course, I will also be rooting for Ryan Newman and the No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet to get to victory lane."
"I'm looking forward to putting on a terrific show for all of the race fans and, most importantly, our soldiers," Brown said. "With the result I had here in Topeka, the trip will be a nice diversion."
Going into round nine of the 23-race NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, the Toyota NHRA Supernationals May 31 to June 3 at Old Bridge Township (N.J.) Raceway Park, following are the top-five in the Top Fuel standings:
1. Spencer Massey (670 points)
2. Tony Schumacher (658 points)
3. Antron Brown (638 points)
4. Morgan Lucas (598 points)
5. Steve Torrence (527 points)