By Don Schumacher Racing
Schumacher Knows His Time Will Come
As U.S. Army Top Fuel driver Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher watched defending world champion Larry Dixon beat his U.S. Army Racing teammate Antron Brown in the finals at Bristol (Tenn.) Dragway last Sunday, he arrived at a very quick conclusion.
"I envisioned I was going to be in Larry's shoes real soon," said the seven-time world champion. "Leading up to Bristol, all you heard about was how he and I had not won as yet this year. Here you had two guys who had dominated the class the last decade and neither of us had been to victory lane. Well, he's done his part and now it's time for us to do our part."
Coming off a semifinal-round appearance in the Ford Thunder Valley Nationals, Schumacher understands he's not suffering through what would be considered a slump. To the contrary, his team's performance has been solid but not quite to the consistent standards they are used to.
"Presently, that's where we are at," said Schumacher as he prepped for this weekend's Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park.
"Once we start putting up the kind of numbers we want, we're going to start piling up the final rounds and wins. We're just about there."
To be sure, Schumacher is hopeful he can get "over the hump" in the Buckeye State. He lost to Dixon in the semis at Norwalk last year.
"Like I said, I feel we're very close to knocking the door down," said the Chicago-area resident. "Mike Green (his crew chief) is working extremely hard to get the Army car running in perfect form. And, I have the utmost confidence it will happen.
"Every time we are on the track, the U.S. Army team demonstrates the same attributes the Army looks for in its Soldiers - putting the mission first, a never quit attitude and a refusal to accept defeat. We definitely know what we need to do."
Since the NHRA made Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park an annual tour stop in 2007, Schumacher has enjoyed his trip east.
"It's a very nice facility," he said. "We won the first (NHRA) race in '07, so we've had some success there. The track owners certainly know how to put on a show and that is what it's all about in the end. You want the fans to enjoy their experience so they keep coming back. They understand what customer service is all about."
Heading to Norwalk, Schumacher is fifth in the Top Fuel standings, but is just a little over three rounds of racing out of second.
"The competition is very tight at the moment," he said. "It only takes one good race and you can suddenly be at or near the top of the pack. I suspect we are going to see this kind of action right up to and through the Countdown to 1 (which starts in mid-September at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte, N.C.)."