By Chris DiratoOctober 9, 2007
DINWIDDIE, Va. (Army News Service, Oct. 7, 2007) - For the fifth time in six races, U.S. Army Top Fuel driver, Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher, could not escape the first round of eliminations here Sunday in the Torco Racing Fuels Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park.
After qualifying number one on Saturday, Schumacher was leveled by 16th-place qualifier, Morgan Lucas, in the opening round of action. Lucas posted a 4.575-second run to Schumacher's slower 4.622-second pass.
"I don't really know what happened, but it seemed that we were down on power almost right from the start," said a dejected Mr. Schumacher afterward. "The car I had today was definitely not the one I had yesterday."
For the season, the Sarge has now totaled 12 first-round losses, three of which came in the second phase of the NHRA's playoffs, the Countdown to Four.
If not for a big victory at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis over Labor Day weekend and some stellar qualifying efforts, Schumacher could have been on the outside looking in for the final round of the playoffs, which is the Countdown to One.
"That's for sure," he said shaking his head. "We were pretty fortunate that we were able to stay in the top four despite our struggles. But, the reality is that luck plays into a world championship chase. That goes for any sport, particularly, in racing."
Mr. Schumacher and his U.S. Army team will now turn their attention to the ACDelco Las Vegas Nationals, October 25-28, at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. In preparation for same, the team will test for two days in Las Vegas, October 16-17.
The ACDelco Las Vegas Nationals will be the first of two races that will help determine the 2007 POWERade world champion.
Mr. Schumacher will start the Countdown to One holding third-place in the standings, 20 points behind leader, Larry Dixon.
"It's sort of the start of a new season," said the four-time world champion. "As a result, we need to be as prepared as we can be for these final two races. We're on a mission to get our fourth straight title."
Joining Schumacher in Las Vegas at the end of the month will be his U.S. Army Pro Stock Motorcycle teammates, Angelle Sampey and Antron Brown.
Ms. Sampey, who was eliminated from the Countdown to One two weeks ago, will be seeking her second victory of the season, while Brown will be looking to break into the victory column for the first time in '07.