News: Schumacher, Brown depart garden state early
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Scott Turner
ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. - For the second straight race, U.S. Army NHRA Racing Top Fuel drivers Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher and Antron Brown failed to advance beyond the quarterfinals Sunday in the Toyota NHRA SuperNationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J.
Schumacher, who was seeking his first win of the year, lost to Steve Torrence in the second round, while Brown was taken out in the opening round by Doug Kalitta for the second time in three events.
A Chicago-area resident, Schumacher actually posted a better run than Torrence (3.809 seconds at 320.89 mph to 3.838 seconds at 319.75 mph), but the former left the starting line last and thus hit the finish line behind the latter.
"It's always tough to lose on what's called a 'hole shot,'" Schumacher said. "I feel really bad for my U.S. Army team - they gave me a great racecar this weekend and it ended up that I didn't do what I needed to do. They deserved a better fate today. Our Army Strong soldiers always talk about overcoming adversity and successfully completing the mission. That's exactly what we will do as we target the next race in two weeks."
The seven-time world champion recorded a solid reaction time at the start (.076 of a second), but Torrence was that much better at .046 of a second.
"You have to tip your hat to Steve," Schumacher said. "He was spot on when the green light came on and I was a little late. It happens that way sometimes. You just have to take your lumps and move on. I've been doing this a long time and you can't get bogged down with one race - be it a good result or bad result."
After disposing of Terry McMillen in the first round via a 3.783-second pass at 311.99 mph, Schumacher was hoping for a little revenge against Torrence, who had beaten him in the final round at Atlanta Dragway last month.
"We felt we owed him one for sure," Schumacher added. "But, he got the job done and I didn't - it's that simple. Again, we'll pick up the pieces and quickly forget about this one."
Brown, a Chesterfield, N.J., native who lists Old Bridge Township Raceway Park as his home track, was clearly looking to carry his large group of family and friends into victory lane. However, a tire-smoking effort against Kalitta ruined those plans.
"I'm not going to lie - I'm pretty disappointed," Brown said. "I thought we might have something for everyone today. I guess losing lane choice after qualifying proved to be a factor. We were put in a lane which was quite challenging right before the 60-foot mark. And, that's exactly where we lost traction."
It was the third straight race Kalitta had eliminated Brown, who has led the points three times so far this season. Like Schumacher, he will now try to forget his visit to New Jersey and focus on what's forthcoming.
"That's all you can do," Brown said. "You can't let this carry over into the next race. There are so many peaks and valleys through the course of a season. At the moment, we're in a bit of a valley given our three consecutive early round losses. That said, we can just as easily rip off three consecutive wins. So, that's what we're going to concentrate on."
Despite heading for the exit earlier than planned, both Schumacher and Brown can take solace in the fact they held onto second and third, respectively, behind Spencer Massey in the Top Fuel standings.
"We have a long, long way to go in the season," Schumacher offered. "Like I've been saying from the very start, we're all pointing toward getting prepared for the six-race Countdown to the Championship. That's when it will count for real."
"We will also keep plugging along and try to be running at our best once the playoffs come around," Brown said. "In the end, we want the world championship trophy to be on display in our camp."
Going into round 10 of the 23-race NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, the Ford Thunder Valley Nationals June 15-17 at Bristol (Tenn.) Dragway, following are the top-five in the Top Fuel standings:
1. Spencer Massey (753 points)
2. Tony Schumacher (719 points)
3. Antron Brown (671 points)
4. Morgan Lucas (657 points)
5. Steve Torrence (644 points)