'Sarge' wins NHRA championship, pledges trophy to Hood families
November 16, 2009
By Chris Dirato
POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 15, 2009) -- Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher, who pilots the U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster, captured his sixth straight NHRA Full Throttle world championship here Sunday in the Auto Club Finals at Auto Club Raceway.
After Larry Dixon was eliminated in the semifinals by Spencer Massey, Schumacher clinched his seventh career crown despite his loss to teammate, Antron Brown, also in the semis.
Upon receiving his championship trophy, Schumacher quickly announced it was heading for Fort Hood, Texas, where 13 people were killed more than a week ago.
"We're going to give this trophy to the families of the victims," Schumacher said.
"Hopefully, they'll know how much we're thinking of them when they see it on display. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with them."
Schumacher's march to the 2009 title on Sunday was actually put into place after he grabbed the pole position on Saturday following a near record 3.772-second 1,000-foot pass. It enabled him to go into race day with a two-point advantage over Dixon.
"That was definitely huge," he said. "We ended up putting a round of racing between us. I can't say enough about my crew chief (Mike Green) and my team. They stepped up and got the job done just like our Army Strong Soldiers do all of the time.
"It was a classic example of a bases loaded, bottom of the ninth situation. We needed to come up with the big hit and that's exactly what happened."
For Green, who replaced Alan Johnson at the end of the record-setting 2008 season, it was his first title as a crew chief.
"I'm so happy for him, you just can't imagine," said Schumacher. "It was great to see his big smile when I got back from the top end of the track. I'm pretty sure he'll have that smile permanently displayed for quite some time."
During the '09 season, Schumacher recorded five wins in seven final- round appearances. He now has 61 career victories to his credit.
"Of all of the championships, this one ranks pretty far up there," he said. "Nobody expected us to win a race no less a title. Boy, did we prove them all wrong. I'm already looking forward to the 2010 season."
Schumacher will officially take delivery of his championship trophy as well as a $500,000 check at the NHRA's awards banquet Monday night in Los Angeles, Calif.