Reading: Tony Schumacher, Angelle Sampey - NHRA interview

NHRA Q & A: U.S. ARMY TEAMMATES TOP FUEL DRIVER TONY SCHUMACHER AND PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE RIDER ANGELLE SAMPEY ARE PROVEN WINNERS AT MAPLE GROVE RACEWAY MOHNTON, Pa. -- U.S. Army teammates Tony Schumacher and Angelle Sampey have had great ...

NHRA Q & A: U.S. ARMY TEAMMATES TOP FUEL DRIVER TONY SCHUMACHER AND PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE RIDER ANGELLE SAMPEY ARE PROVEN WINNERS AT MAPLE GROVE RACEWAY

MOHNTON, Pa. -- U.S. Army teammates Tony Schumacher and Angelle Sampey have had great success at Maple Grove Raceway. Top Fuel driver Schumacher has won the upcoming Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals three times, all in the past three years (2003-2005). He is looking to continue that winning formula going for a track-record four wins in a row. Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Sampey has won the event six times to tie her with Funny Car driver John Force with the most wins at the track. In advance of the $1.5 million Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals, Sept. 14-17, Schumacher and Sampey answered some questions about their success at Maple Grove, the points championship, and their relationship with the U.S. Army.

Q: You have had great success at Maple Grove Raceway, what do you attribute that to?

SCHUMACHER: "To be honest, I don't know why some tracks are better for some drivers and crew chiefs than others. The only factors that I can point towards are possibly comfort and confidence. When you have success at a particular facility, it usually breeds success."

SAMPEY: "I agree with Tony on all fronts. Maple Grove just happens to be one track that I do well at. Of course, there are some tracks I wish weren't on the schedule. Frankly, I wouldn't mind if all of the Pro Stock Motorcycle races were in Reading. I'd be a happy camper."

Q: Tony, you are going for four wins in a row at Maple Grove, just like at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis. Do you feel good about your chances and do you have that in the back of your mind as you come to the event?

SCHUMACHER: "We're certainly optimistic going into Maple Grove given our win in Indy. With that said, no matter where the next race happened to be, that would simply be the next important race. We're in the middle of a heated championship chase right now and every round is extremely important. We're hopeful that the positive numbers we've put up in Reading in the past will be there again next weekend."

Q: Angelle, eight of the last 10 years you have been to the final round, only missing in 1997 and 1999. You could be going for your fifth win in a row, but you lost to Michael Phillips in 2003. Do you wish you could have that race back?

SAMPEY: "You always want to get any race that you lost back. I'd love to replay that final round in Indy from last weekend. Any time you have an opportunity to win a race, you have to close the deal regardless of the venue. At this point in time with where I'm at in the standings (98 points back in third), I have to win in Reading to keep pace with (U.S. Army teammate) Antron (Brown) and (leader) Andrew Hines."

Q: Angelle, you are tied with John Force with six wins at Maple Grove, who is going to get No. 7 first?

SAMPEY: "I certainly hope it's me," she said with a laugh. "Seriously, I'm not thinking of things like that, to be honest. I just need a win real bad to remain in championship contention."

Q: The area is steeped in military history. Since both of you represent the U.S. Army, do you think about that and do you visit a lot of troops when you come here?

SCHUMACHER: "The area is definitely full of military history. Specific to the U.S. Army, we're constantly in contact with our troops be it in the Reading area or otherwise. Personally, I can't have enough contact with those men and women. They're the ones who are allowing us to do what we do every day. I like the freedom that they provide us."

SAMPEY: "I'm always thinking about our troops no matter where we're racing. It's nice to have them at the races. In Reading, the U.S. Army team is actually going to be hosting a group of students from West Point. I'm looking forward to that."

Q: Both of you hold track records in your respective categories (Tony -- time and speed, Angelle -- time), yet nothing has changed in any category since 2004. Any ideas why?

SCHUMACHER: "It's hard to say. Weather plays so much of a factor when we get to Reading. Of course, now, all of the fuel teams have to deal with the rev limiter rules. That's a huge deal right there."

SAMPEY: "I'm pretty confident, if the weather is right, my e.t. track record will fall this year. We've had some sub-seven second runs already this year, one which just happened in Indy."

Q: Reading will be the last event in August 2007 for the Countdown to the Championship before being pared down to eight. Any thoughts?

SCHUMACHER: "Well, I'll certainly be hoping that we're locked into the top eight by that time. Then, we can use the Reading race as a stepping stone to bigger and better things later."

SAMPEY: "We'll have less races before cut down day (11 for Pro Stock Motorcycle, 17 for Top Fuel) than Tony will have, so every race, including Reading, will be critical. Next year will be a little more pressure-packed than previous years, that's for sure."

Q: The race for the championship is extremely close right now in Top Fuel. Only 54 points separate you and Doug Kalitta, with Brandon Bernstein in third only 96 points away. What should we look for from Tony Schumacher in the final five events?

SCHUMACHER: "Hopefully, many more wins -- like, maybe, five? One can figure out pretty quickly what's necessary for us to win our third straight NHRA POWERade title -- we have to make up at least a round a race on Doug, while staying a round up on Brandon as well. If you throw in some good qualifying performances, then that should do the trick for us. It's going to be exciting and fun the next couple of months. I'm looking forward to the challenge."

-credit: nhra

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Tony Schumacher , Doug Kalitta , Michael Phillips , Angelle Sampey