SCHUMACHER CLAIMS THIRD WIN OF THE SEASON
BRISTOL, Tenn., May 17 - U.S. Army Top Fuel driver Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher banked his third victory of the season here Sunday in the Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.
The six-time world champion pushed aside Doug Kalitta in the finals with a 3.857-second pass at 310.91 mph. It was Schumacher's 59th career win.
"This was a terrific day for the U.S. Army team," offered a jubilant Schumacher. "I think Mike Green (his crew chief) and the guys felt like they had something to prove after we dropped out early in St. Louis a couple of weeks ago. Like our Army Strong Soldiers, we went out and completed the mission that was placed in front of us." After recording his third career win in Bristol, Schumacher reclaimed the Top Fuel points lead over Antron Brown. He now holds a 45-point advantage over Brown and is 65 points ahead of Brandon Bernstein in third.
"Obviously, we had a real good day as far as the standings go," he added. "But, understand that we're not going to lay back and relax. We're going to keep looking for ways to improve."
In fact, Schumacher and his U.S. Army crew will be staying over an extra day in Bristol to test some new parts and pieces.
"We need to do that," he said. "A lot of teams are going to be testing over the next few days, so you don't want to get left behind. We also want to make sure we're prepared for the upcoming hot weather months. That's typically the time period when you see some shuffling in the standings."
Competing in his 276th race, Schumacher had to dispose of Terry Haddock, Morgan Lucas and Bernstein on the way to his meeting with Kalitta.
"I've said this before and I will say it again - there are no easy rounds out here," he said. "As usual, we had to dig down deep against all of those guys."
Schumacher will now have a weekend off before the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series moves through Topeka, Kan., Joliet, Ill. and Englishtown, N.J. on successive weekends.
The Chicago-area resident is especially looking forward to the O'Reilly Summer Nationals, May 29-31, since he's never won at Heartland Park Topeka.
"Along with Atlanta Dragway, we definitely want to cross that track off the non- win list," he added.