Don Schumacher Racing press release
SCHUMACHER LOOKING TO BAG FIRST WIN OF YEAR AT NHRA'S MOST PRESTIGIOUS RACE
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., August 31, 2011 - If there was ever a better time to collect his first victory of the season, U.S. Army Top Fuel driver Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher figures this weekend would be most appropriate.
"It is the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals - I don't have to say any more than that," said the seven-time world champion as he packed his bags for the trip to Lucas Oil Raceway. "Every driver wants to collect an Indy trophy at some point during their career. It's the biggest, oldest, richest and most prestigious race on the schedule.
"We would definitely love to break through on Labor Day, especially, since we are going to be honoring the 75 U.S. Army personnel killed during the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon."
The Chicago-area resident feels he's well overdue for his first win of 2011. Having been to four straight final rounds (the most recent in Brainerd, Minn. two weeks ago), he's clearly chomping at the bit for a visit to victory lane.
"We haven't forgotten what it's like to make that trip," said Schumacher. "It has been a little while since we took home the big prize (16 consecutive races counting last year's season finale), but we still know how to get the job done."
To be sure, Schumacher has gotten the job done over the years in Indianapolis. He goes into the 57th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals with eight career event wins, which has him tied with Don Garlits for the most U.S. Nationals Top Fuel victories.
"I've been involved with a lot of records in recent years, but if I were able to move past Garlits with another Indy win, that would be unbelievable," said Schumacher. "People know how much respect I have for 'Big Daddy.' He helped make this sport and the U.S. Nationals what it is today."
Schumacher's U.S. Nationals resume is already one for the history books. Since making his professional debut at Indy in 1996 (he went to the finals that year and lost to Cory McClenathan), he has totaled three poles and 10 final rounds, which includes his eight wins.
Twice Schumacher has produced U.S. Nationals win streaks - he captured three straight from 2002 through 2004 and then four straight between 2006 and 2009. The latter race was his first U.S. Nationals victory with his then new crew chief, Mike Green.
"The win two years ago was very special given it was Mike's first Indy win and the first one for the majority of the crew guys," offered Schumacher. "I can't explain why I have had so much success in Indianapolis. It's just one of those tracks where I feel very comfortable. Let's hope that feeling carries over into this weekend."
Almost lost in the hoopla surrounding the U.S. Nationals is the fact the Countdown to 1 has just about arrived. After Indy, the top-10 drivers in the standings will have their points reset and then will compete for the Full Throttle world championship beginning in Charlotte next month.
Schumacher currently holds fourth-place in the standings, but is a mere six points in back of his Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) teammate, Spencer Massey, in third and 35 points behind his DSR/U.S. Army Racing teammate, Antron Brown, in second.
"Quite obviously, if we can have a successful Indy weekend, we could move up two spots," said Schumacher. "It would be much better to start the playoffs 30 points behind the leader."