By Chris DiratoJuly 3, 2007
NORWALK, Ohio (Army News Service, July 2, 2007) - U.S. Army Top Fuel Driver Tony Schumacher captured his second victory of the season Sunday July 1 in the inaugural Summit Racing Equipment Nationals here, while U.S. Army Pro Stock Motorcycle Pilots Angelle Sampey and Antron Brown lost in the semifinals and first round, respectively.
Mr. Schumacher, who came into the race following his worst qualifying performance of the year and in the 14th starting spot, took out Rod Fuller in the finals with an impressive 4.537-second pass at 322.04 mph.
Prior to meeting with Mr. Fuller, the Top Fuel point leader, Mr. Schumacher disposed of Brandon Bernstein, J.R. Todd and Whit Bazemore.
"What a day for everyone associated with this U.S. Army team," said the defending National Hot Rod Association POWERade world champion. "As always, I feel especially happy that we got another win for our hard-working Soldiers.
"We definitely had a tough road to negotiate before we met up with Fuller," Mr. Schumacher said. "And, against Mr. Fuller we went out and posted the quickest pass of the day. That was certainly a great way to end the afternoon."
Mr. Schumacher will now head for the Bristol, Tenn., Dragway for the rescheduled O'Reilly Thunder Valley Nationals July 6-8. He will enter the race fifth-place in the standings, but only 33 points out of second.
"We're all about winning races right now and securing a solid position in the countdown to the championship," he said. "We'll worry about the points when the countdown starts in Indianapolis Labor Day weekend."
Ms. Sampey's day ended due to a late start in her semifinal motorcycle match up with Matt Smith. The three-time world champion recorded a 7.041-second run to Smith's 7.060-second trip, but her .128-second start was slower than Smith's .048-second launch.
"It's another case of a lost opportunity," said Ms. Sampey, who retains a second-place ranking.
"It seems like I'm either too quick or too late these days. I have to find a happy medium if I'm going to contend for the title. We'll just have to get back after it out at Denver in two weeks."
Mr. Brown had a scary ride during his first-round loss to Steve Johnson when his Suzuki started to quickly drift towards the wall while traveling about 170 mph.
"That was real wild," said Mr. Brown. " I got awfully close to making contact. It really was a miracle that I was able to hang on to it. I probably should have tried to save it sooner than I did and just shut it down. I guess you live and learn every day in this business."
While Brown dropped from ninth in the standings to 10th, he's still within two rounds of racing (22 points) of the all-important eighth spot for the countdown to the championship.
"We'll be fine," he offered. "As I've said all weekend, my Suzuki is getting better and better and I feel very confident that we'll move up in the order before too long."
(Chris Dirato is a writer for U.S. Army NHRA Racing.)