'The Sarge' Readies for NHRA Top Fuel Season
January 24, 2008
By Chris Dirato
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Jan. 24, 2008) - With the 2008 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series campaign less than a month away, Army Top Fuel driver Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher is already figuring on another edge-of-your-seat type of season.
After securing two straight world championships at the last race and in the final round each time, Schumacher assumes the script will remain the same for some fortunate Top Fuel team.
"There's no reason to think anything will change given the Countdown to the Championship format," he offered. "Frankly, I hope we do have a finish like we've had
the last two years. It's really terrific for the fans."
Of course, Schumacher will be counting on his Army team to be right in the middle of the action leading up to the season finale in November. But, between now and then, there's plenty of work to do beginning with this weekend's pre-season National Time Trials at Firebird International Raceway outside of Phoenix.
"Pre-season testing sets the table for what's to come," said Schumacher. "We'll go out to Firebird with a list of items we want to work on. We'll shake the car down as much as we can so by the time we get to Pomona two weeks later for the season opener, we're as prepared as we're going to be."
In 2007, Schumacher won a fourth straight world title and in the process set the record for most consecutive Top Fuel championships. Having banked five career crowns (he also captured the 1999 championship), he's now taking aim at Joe Amato's record for most Top Fuel series titles.
"As an individual statistic, it would be great to achieve that goal," he said. "But, as most people know, I'm all about the team and what we can do as a group. That's what I'm most concerned with. We want the magic carpet ride to continue in '08." Except for a couple of new crew guys, Schumacher's team returns including his crew chief, Alan Johnson.
"That's huge when you can keep the same guys around every year," Schumacher said. "Needless to say, having Alan back is ultra huge. Some of the guys involved with the U.S. Army have given Alan the nickname, 'Dr. Nitro.' I'm not going to argue with that. Is there anyone better'
"I'm definitely excited about the forthcoming season," he added. "We're going to try our best to deliver another championship to our Soldiers. That's who we race for, plain and simple."
<b>Schumacher Career Stats</b>
Wins: 41 (tied for 17th on all-time list; tied for second on Top Fuel list)
Poles: 47 (eighth on all-time list)
Qualifying Streak: 107 races (fourth on all-time list)
Consecutive Top 10 Point Finishes: 9 (tied for ninth on all-time list)
Best Elapsed Time Run: 4.428-seconds (national record)
Best Speed Run: 337.58 mph (also holds national record at 336.15 mph)
(Chris Dirato writes for the U.S. Army Racing Team.)