Schumacher completes biggest comeback in history
November 17, 2006
POMONA, Calif. (Army News Service, Nov. 12, 2006) - U.S. Army Top Fuel driver Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher completed the biggest point comeback in NHRA history last Sunday by capturing the Auto Club Finals and setting the new national elapsed time record at Auto Club Raceway.
U.S. Army Pro Stock Motorcycle pilot, Antron Brown, was beaten in the second round of eliminations and thus lost his shot at the 2006 NHRA POWERade world championship. In other action, Brown's Pro Stock Motorcycle teammate, Angelle Sampey, dropped a first-round match-up to Matt Smith.
Schumacher came into the season finale 46 points behind leader Doug Kalitta. To win his fourth career world championship, he had to advance three rounds more than Kalitta or go two rounds further and set the new national elapsed time record for an extra 20 bonus points. He did the latter.
"Well, I guess we did it the hard way given the two options," offered the Chicago native who came from 336 points down to win the crown. "But, it was incredibly exciting, I can tell you that. It came down to the last round at the last race. Is there anything better than that'"
Schumacher took out David Baca, Rod Fuller and Brandon Bernstein before his historic run in the finals against teammate Melanie Troxel. He needed to beat Troxel and go beneath the elapsed time record that he previously held - 4.437-seconds - to win the championship. He won with a 4.428-second pass at 327.98 mph.
"That was a prime example of being Army Strong," he added. "It was also nice to accomplish what we did today on Veteran's Day weekend. We can't forget all of those men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country."
By winning his third straight world title, Schumacher became the second driver in Top Fuel history to turn that trick. The other was Joe Amato in the early 1990's.
"As I've stated before, I'm in pretty good company right there," he said.
<b>Pro Stock Motorcycles</b>
Brown, who came into race day having to advance three rounds further than point leader Andrew Hines to win his first world championship, beat Ryan Schnitz in the opening round of eliminations before dropping a match-up with Craig Treble in round two.
With Hines losing in the first round, the door was actually open for Brown to claim the 2006 crown, but he couldn't get by Treble and as a result was taken out of contention.
"I'm disappointed for sure," said Brown. "We had destiny in our own hands, but we couldn't quite finish the mission. I can't thank my U.S. Army team enough for putting me in the position that I was in today.
"We'll go back to the shop next week and immediately start to prepare for 2007. To get as close as we did this year, we obviously want to take that next step."
Sampey posted a solid run in her confrontation with Smith, but she was tardy leaving the starting line and it cost her at the finish line.
"That's definitely not the way I wanted to end the season," said the three-time world champion who finished third in the final standings behind Brown. "My U.S. Army Suzuki ran well enough to win, but I just didn't do my part.
"I'm already looking forward to next year. With any kind of luck, Antron and I will be the only ones battling it out for the championship."