SCHUMACHER NUMBER ONE, BROWN 16TH
POMONA, Calif., November 10, 2011 - U.S. Army NHRA Racing Top Fuel drivers Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher and Antron Brown collected the number one and 16th starting positions, respectively, here Thursday during the first day of qualifying for the Auto Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway.
Schumacher, who is carrying a Vietnam Veterans special paint scheme this weekend on his U.S. Army dragster, posted a 3.827-second pass at 321.19 mph in the lone qualifying session of the day and thus placed himself in contention for his seventh pole of the season.
"That was an excellent performance right there," said Schumacher. "We really needed to start the weekend off on the right foot. Now, we have to put forth this kind of effort the rest of the weekend."
The Chicago-area resident is hoping to close the 2011 campaign with a trip to victory lane, something he has been unable to accomplish through 21 races.
"It's hard to believe we have not hoisted a trophy so far," he offered. "But, maybe we'll get it done this Sunday. It would be nice to properly honor our Vietnam Veterans with a win."
Schumacher's dragster is adorned with more than 350 faces of Army Vietnam Veterans which is part of an overall Veterans Day tribute. His team is honoring the Veterans for their service and sacrifice during the Vietnam conflict that started 50 years ago.
"It's truly inspiring to represent our Soldiers who served in Vietnam," said Schumacher. "We see many Vietnam Veterans at our races and that's why this paint scheme carries a special meaning for the U.S. Army team."
While Schumacher was holding the spotlight following the opening day of qualifying, Brown had to settle for a "not in the show" spot in the lineup.
The New Jersey native's tire-smoking 4.380-second run at 183.47 mph relegated him to the 16th position and out of the field (only the top-12 elapsed times carry over into the second day of action).
"That certainly wasn't what we were looking for," said Brown. "The good news is we have three more qualifying attempts. We will try to move up as far as we can before race day. Every point is so valuable at this stage."
Brown arrived in Pomona holding third-place in the standings, 14 points removed from his Don Schumacher Racing teammate, Spencer Massey, at the top.
"We definitely want to do well in qualifying, but taking care of business on Sunday is when it will count the most," he said. "We don't want to leave any stones unturned. We're going to get after it the rest of the weekend and try to walk out of here on Sunday night as the world champions."