SCHUMACHER EVALUATES SEASON TO DATE SONOMA, Calif., July 29 - In pursuit of his sixth consecutive world championship, U.S. Army Top Fuel driver Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher sat down to discuss his 2009 season to date following the 15th round of...
SCHUMACHER EVALUATES SEASON TO DATE
SONOMA, Calif., July 29 - In pursuit of his sixth consecutive world championship, U.S. Army Top Fuel driver Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher sat down to discuss his 2009 season to date following the 15th round of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series here at Infineon Raceway.
Q: Presently, you're holding second-place in the standings, 199 points removed from Antron Brown. How do you assess your team's performance to this point?
A: Despite being as far back as we are right now, I think we've run pretty well so far. Sure, we could've been better in spots, but for the most part we've been competitive at almost every race and that's all you can ask for. The racing has been extremely tight all year long.
Q: You've already clinched a berth in the Countdown to One - what will your team be working on the next three races before the playoffs start in Charlotte?
A: Let me stress, we're going to try to win all three races. However, I'm sure we'll be testing a few things during that time so we're totally prepared for that first playoff race. We want to be sharp when it all starts for real.
Q: You began 2009 with a new crew chief in Mike Green and a whole new group of crew guys. As a result, most observers assumed it would take a while before you would win races and contend for another title. Are you surprised at how far you've traveled performance wise in such a short time period?
A: Absolutely not! Mike Green is as good as they come. He's very experienced and knows how to make a dragster run. As for the crew, they were hand picked for their talent and experience. So, I'm not at all surprised at how they have performed. We have a terrific team that stacks up nicely against any other team out there. There's no question in my mind we can win a championship this year. If we can stay in second going into the Countdown to One, Antron's lead is going to be reduced to just 30 points. At that point, it will be game on.
Q: You had a hand in helping Antron make the transition from Pro Stock Motorcycles to Top Fuel. Given his success this year, are you now regretting that decision?
A: No way - he's a great guy and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I had a lot of help from different people when I first started, so it's natural I would do likewise for someone like Antron.
Q: Are you surprised by Antron's success since he's only been competing in Top Fuel for less than two seasons?
A: Not really. Antron is a gifted athlete who can adjust and adapt to most anything that's thrown at him. He's also an excellent listener, which is very important. In this business, you have to be able to absorb things and then process everything. Antron does that very well.
Q: With nine races remaining in the season, do you now consider your friendly rivalry with Antron as teacher versus pupil?
A: I guess in a way it's like that. I just hope the teacher ends up being the victor. But, at the moment, the pupil is whipping everyone out there. Having just swept the Western Swing, he's definitely on a roll.
Q: You've had a number of U.S. Army VIPs in your pit area throughout the season. Can you describe how inspirational those moments can be for you and your team?
A: They're unbelievably inspirational for all of us. We've had Generals and Hometown Heroes visit with us at almost every race. The stories we've heard motivate us in so many different ways. Plain and simple, we want to win races and championships for all of them. We follow our Army Strong Soldiers in that we'll never accept defeat.
Q: I have one last question, if I might. On Christmas Day, you'll be turning 40. You've also been a professional drag racer for almost 13 years. During that time, you've accomplished just about everything there is to accomplish in the form of world titles and records. Any thoughts as to how long you might want to keep doing this?
A: To be honest, I really don't know. I'm still having fun and truly enjoy the challenge. I guess as long as that fire continues to burn, I'll be around. When it goes out, I'll know it's time to move on and do something else.