Bristol: Tony Schumacher preview

SCHUMACHER APPROACHING 400 CAREER ROUND WINS BRISTOL, Tenn., May 13 - Having recently surpassed the 250th career race mark, U.S. Army Top Fuel driver Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher will now focus on another milestone here this weekend in the...

SCHUMACHER APPROACHING 400 CAREER ROUND WINS

BRISTOL, Tenn., May 13 - Having recently surpassed the 250th career race mark, U.S. Army Top Fuel driver Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher will now focus on another milestone here this weekend in the O'Reilly Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.

Schumacher, who is the defending NHRA POWERade world champion, needs just three more elimination round wins to reach the coveted 400 level.

"Given that John Force just got his 1,000th round win, I'm not so sure that 400 round wins is that big of a deal," he offered. "But, just the same, I'm happy that my career has led me to this juncture. I've been fortunate to have been surrounded by a lot of great people over the years, including my crew chief, Alan Johnson.

"Without Alan calling the shots the last few years, I certainly would not be in the position that I'm in right now. He's the best in the business and I'm blessed that he's on my side."

Johnson's value clearly lies in the numbers. From the beginning of the 2004 season through the O'Reilly Midwest Nationals two weeks ago, Schumacher has compiled 207 round wins. That represents more than half of his current 397 round wins.

"That's pretty amazing that we've totaled that many round wins in such a short amount of time," added Schumacher, the current Top Fuel point leader. "Of course, we want to keep adding to that number. In fact, the plan is to tack on four more this weekend in Bristol."

Schumacher will have some extra incentive to capture his 44th career victory down in Thunder Valley. He will be carrying a special Salute the Troops paint scheme on his record-setting U.S. Army dragster.

The NHRA effort is part of an overall USO Salute the Troops Memorial Day tribute to the armed forces, which will also take place during NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 weekend in Charlotte.

"It will be an exciting moment when we pull the cover off the U.S. Army dragster before our first qualifying run," he said. "I'm happy that we'll have the opportunity to show our Soldiers just how much we care about them. They all mean so much to us and this is a terrific way to express our support."

The Chicago-area resident, who has one win to his credit at Bristol Dragway, is off to his best start since the '04 campaign when he won a record 10 races.

"We've been running pretty well thus far, but we're going to have to step it up even more if we're going to compete for another world title," he added. "The Top Fuel class has become so competitive that you don't want to get caught running in place. You better keep moving forward or else you'll definitely be left behind."

-credit: dsr

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Tony Schumacher