Topeka: Tony Schumacher preview

SCHUMACHER PLAYING THE NUMBERS GAME TOPEKA, Kan., May 26 - If U.S. Army Top Fuel driver Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher was a mathematics specialist, he surely would note the numbers zero, one and nine heading into this weekend's O'Reilly Summer ...

SCHUMACHER PLAYING THE NUMBERS GAME

TOPEKA, Kan., May 26 - If U.S. Army Top Fuel driver Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher was a mathematics specialist, he surely would note the numbers zero, one and nine heading into this weekend's O'Reilly Summer Nationals here at Heartland Park Topeka.

"For sure, each of those numbers has special meaning," said the defending world champion.

As it happens, the number one carries the most importance for Schumacher as he currently holds first-place in the standings, while the number nine (as in ninth race) represents the halfway point of the Countdown to 10 segment of the NHRA's Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship.

But, it's when the discussion turns to the number zero that pushes Schumacher's blood pressure into the abnormal range.

"That number is connected to me having never won a race at Heartland Park," offered the Chicago-area resident. "Along with Atlanta Dragway, Heartland Park has been a thorn in my side for a long time."

Unlike Atlanta Dragway where he has a couple of final rounds to his credit, Schumacher has never been past the semifinals in the Sunflower State.

"For some reason, it's been a tough track for me," he said. "And, I really can't explain why it's been that way for all of these years. Perhaps, this time around might be different."

With summer-like temperatures expected this weekend in Topeka, Schumacher knows a good hot weather tune up will be critical for his U.S. Army dragster if he's to hit victory lane for a fourth time in 2009.

"Mike Green (his crew chief) and the guys will be prepared," he added. "They've already proven how much they're like our Army Strong Soldiers. They have a never quit attitude and an intense drive to be successful."

Schumacher will enter the O'Reilly Summer Nationals looking to pad his 45- point lead on Antron Brown in the standings.

"The Top Fuel class is ultra competitive this year," he said. "We'll have to be on our toes every weekend if we're going to challenge for another title."

-credit: dsr

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Series NHRA
Drivers Antron Brown , Tony Schumacher