News: Schumacher taken out in semifinals at Norwalk
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Scott Turner
NORWALK, Ohio - U.S. Army NHRA Racing Top Fuel drivers Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher and Antron Brown visited Summit Motorsports Park on Sunday for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals.
Schumacher, who entered the event sitting atop the points, departed holding second-place after absorbing a semifinal-round loss to pole sitter Steve Torrence, while Brown lost a tough race in the second round to his Don Schumacher Racing teammate and eventual race winner Spencer Massey.
"Just like our Army Strong soldiers do, we fought hard today," Schumacher said. "However, we just couldn't complete the mission this time around. We're certainly not going to accept this result, by any means. We'll be back at it in a couple of weeks with the same kind of grit and determination we always have. We're in this for the long haul, you can count on that."
After being upset in the first round last weekend at his home track in Joliet, Ill., Schumacher was seeking redemption in the Buckeye State. He was able to slide by Bob Vandergriff in the opening round of final eliminations and then Hillary Will in the second round, but the magic quickly disappeared against Torrence.
"To be perfectly honest, we were pretty lucky to win those rounds over Bob and Hillary," Schumacher said. "Bob was a car length ahead of me before he started smoking the tires and I was able to get on by. We were also fortunate with Hillary since she smoked the tires at the hit of the throttle. I guess our luck definitely ran out in the race with Torrence. You have to tip your hat to that team - they did what they had to do."
Without lane choice against Torrence, Schumacher was hoping his rear tires would hold traction given a slick, loose racing surface. But, it wasn't to be as his U.S. Army dragster went up in smoke shortly after leaving the starting line.
"For sure, not having lane choice hurt us," Schumacher said. "We knew we were going to have to push the car a bit to get it off the line. That's the way it goes at times. Drag racing is definitely a give and take kind of sport."
A New Jersey native, Brown easily handled 15th-place qualifier Morgan Lucas in the first round, but he couldn't duplicate the effort in his match-up with Massey as his Matco Tools/U.S. Army dragster began to haze the tires just past half track.
"We expected a real battle with Spencer and that's exactly what we got," said Brown. "Even with lane choice, we knew we had to be spot on with our tune-up. Unfortunately, we just couldn't make it stick all the way down the track."
Brown had a slight lead on Massey at the starting line and appeared headed towards a semifinal-round appearance, but his 8,000-horsepower machine just would not cooperate. Massey checked in with a 3.923-second pass at 306.40 mph to Brown's 4.038-second run at 273.00 mph.
"It's been a challenge all weekend long given the extreme weather and track conditions," Brown said. "We really wanted to parlay the win at Route 66 Raceway last weekend into another win here in Norwalk, but it didn't happen. We'll head home for a week or so and then get ready for the trip out west. I'm very confident my team will return to form in short order."
The NHRA's "Western Swing" will now travel to Bandimere Speedway outside Denver, Sonoma, Calif. Raceway and Pacific Raceways outside Seattle on successive weekends.
"Those three races are a real test for everyone," Schumacher said. "You have to adjust the racecar to accommodate all three venues. It's especially critical to get it right in the thin air of Denver."
"We'll be ready for anything that comes our way over those three weekends," Brown added. "Both Tony and I have posted sweeps out there in recent years, so we know what it takes to get the job done."
Going into round 13 of the 23-race NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, the MOPAR Mile-High Nationals July 20-22 at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Colo., following are the top-five in the Top Fuel standings:
1. Spencer Massey (984 points)
2. Tony Schumacher (955 points)
3. Antron Brown (941 points)
4. Steve Torrence (877 points)
5. Morgan Lucas (729 points)