By Lt. Col Dean ThurmondSeptember 25, 2006
ENNIS, Texas (Army News Service, Sept. 25, 2006) - U.S. Army Top Fuel pilot, Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher, lost in the semifinals of the O'Reilly Fall Nationals here Sunday at the Texas Motorplex, but still cut into Doug Kalitta's lead for the Top Fuel world championship.
While Schumacher dropped a close race to Rod Fuller in round three, he managed to slice 21 points off the leader's advantage after Kalitta lost in the second round.
"That's the upside of this weekend," said Schumacher, who holds second-place in the standings and is now just 33 points behind Kalitta. "You definitely don't want to take any steps backward at this stage of the game, so to gain a little over a round on him here in Texas was important."
After posting his 10th number-one qualifying effort of the season, Schumacher took out Joe Hartley and Morgan Lucas in the opening two rounds before being clipped by Fuller.
"We had lane choice against both Hartley and Lucas, but then we lost it to Fuller," added the Chicago native. "Being pushed over into the right lane (for the semifinals) made it a bit tougher. We had to take it a little easier since a lot of cars were smoking the tires over there. But, that's not to take anything away from Fuller and his team.
They did what they had to do to get the win light."
Schumacher went down the track in 4.601 seconds at 325.85 mph, but Fuller's 4.562-second pass at 320.51 mph was a tad quicker.
"We're continuing to move forward in this title chase," said the defending NHRA POWERade Top Fuel world champ. "And, our mission will not be complete until we're holding that big trophy at season's end."
Four races remain in the 2006 season, including next weekend's re-scheduled Toyo Tires Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway outside of Reading, Pa. Schumacher is a three-time winner at Maple Grove Raceway.
Re-joining Schumacher in Pennsylvania will be his U.S. Army Pro Stock Motorcycle teammates, Antron Brown and Angelle Sampey. Brown sits in second-place in the world title standings, eight points removed from first, while Sampey is entrenched in third, 98 points behind."