By U.S. Army RacingMarch 19, 2007
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (Army News Service, March 19, 2007) - U.S. Army Top Fuel driver, Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher, won his first race of the 2007 season here Sunday in the ACDelco Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway.
In Pro Stock Motorcycles, U.S. Army pilots Angelle Sampey and Antron Brown both lost in the first round.
Schumacher, who had qualified third, beat Larry Dixon in the finals with a 4.542-second run at 325.14 mph. It was his second career Gatornationals victory.
"It means a lot to win this race again," said the Chicago native. "Without question, winning the U.S. Nationals is big, but the Gatornationals is definitely a close second."
The defending NHRA POWERade Top Fuel world champion rolled through a tough side of the eliminations ladder before his meeting with Dixon. He had to get by the likes of former teammates Melanie Troxel, Doug Kalitta and Rod Fuller.
"It was tough for sure," he said shaking his head. "There aren't any easy ones anymore in Top Fuel. When you win one of these races, you've earned it.
"What I'm most happy about is that we didn't take as long this year as last year to get a win for our Soldiers. As always, I hope we were able to put a smile on their faces."
Schumacher's 36th career victory moved him past the legendary "Big Daddy" Don Garlits, into fourth-place on the all-time Top Fuel win list.
"That's incredible to be on such a list with him," he added. "He's the man, bar none."
With his win in Gainesville, Schumacher also jumped four more spots in the standings to second-place and now trails Fuller by 39 points.
Pro Stock Motorcycles
Both Sampey and Brown were beaten on "hole shots," where one competitor posts a better elapsed time than his or her opponent, but leaves the starting later and gets to the finish line second.
In Sampey's case, she recorded a quicker pass than 16th-place qualifier Karen Stoffer (6.969 seconds at 185.05 mph) but her reaction time at the starting line was slower than Stoffer's - .119 seconds to .004 seconds.
"The numbers say it all," said a dejected Sampey, who had qualified number one on Saturday with a national record-setting run. "When you leave the line late that usually spells trouble."
Brown had a similar experience against 14th-place qualifier Tom Bradford. The New Jersey native posted a quicker 7.012-second quarter-mile trip at 185.64 mph, but his .109-second start was slower than Bradford's .042-second launch.
"I feel the same way as Angelle - horrible," said Brown. "The (crew) guys gave us great Suzukis and we just didn't get the job done today. After testing here in Gainesville tomorrow, we'll certainly look to make amends in two weeks out in Texas."
Schumacher, Sampey and Brown will next head to Houston Raceway Park, March 30-April 1, for the O'Reilly Spring Nationals.