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NHRA Top Fuel - New Points Leader Schumacher, Brown Targeting NHRA Nationals

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LAS VEGAS, March 28, 2012: With failure never an option, U.S. Army NHRA Top Fuel drivers Tony “The Sarge” Schumacher and Antron Brown travel to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Friday through Sunday for the NHRA Nationals.

Coming off a second straight final-round appearance in Gainesville, Fla., two weeks ago, Schumacher vaulted into the points lead over Brown, who dropped to third behind his Don Schumacher Racing teammate and Morgan Lucas, respectively.

Going into the famed Tire Kingdom Gatornationals, Brown led the Top Fuel standings. But a loss to Schumacher in the quarterfinals pushed him down two spots. It was the first time in three races the New Jersey native did not advance to the finals.

Entering round four of the 23-race NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, both Schumacher and Brown are anxious to keep moving in a positive direction at a facility each has enjoyed over the years.

A Chicago-area resident, Schumacher has posted six career wins at The Strip, two of which came in the spring race in 2004 and 2009. He also has a whopping eight career poles there.

Brown has recorded only one career victory in Las Vegas, but it came in last year’s spring race courtesy of a final-round pasting of Brandon Bernstein.

Tony “The Sarge” Schumacher, driver of the U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster:

How does it feel to be leading the points again?

“Believe me, it’s great. We know it’s early in the season, but it’s nice to be the team that’s being chased rather than being one of the teams doing the chasing. Mentally, it’s definitely good for the guys. Thanks to the motivation our Army Strong Soldiers provide us, we’re always striving for more and that’s exactly what we’ll be looking to do when we get to Las Vegas.”

Are you referencing a victory when you say, ‘Striving for more?’

“That’s exactly what I mean. We’ve been to two consecutive final rounds but have not been able to close the deal. We need to get the job done this Sunday. There’s no question we’ve been real consistent so far this season, but we still have to clear that one last hurdle by getting our first win.”

You went winless in seven final rounds last year and are winless in two more this year. Are you getting frustrated in any way?

“Absolutely not – I know what kind of team I have. They know how to win races and we will do that very thing this year. You have to understand that winning in Top Fuel is not an easy task at all. Just getting to finals is a tremendous feat in itself.”

As it happens, you’re returning to the track where you last won a race – in the fall of 2010. Does that help your mindset?

“Sure it does. Any time you race at a track where you’ve won multiple times, you feel good about going there. We just want to do what we’ve been doing to date – qualify well and then go rounds on race day. Of course, my biggest wish is to see that fourth win light come on this time around.”

Antron Brown, driver of the Matco Tools/U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster:

How disappointing was it to lose the points lead coming out of Gainesville?

“Well, let’s just say you always want to be the top dog. But, with all of the great teams in Top Fuel, now, who knows how many different times this year we’ll have a new leader. It’s an unbelievable battle at the moment and I don’t see it changing the rest of the season.”

Despite dropping a close race to Tony in the quarterfinals at the Gatornationals, your car was still quick and fast.

“For sure, that was the deal. Every weekend, I know I have a racecar that can go out and win the race. I just have to make sure I’m on my game. Against Tony, he got me a little bit at the starting line and it cost us. That happens, at times. We just got beat by a great driver and a great team on that particular day.”

You are the defending Las Vegas spring race Top Fuel champ. What are your thoughts as the tour prepares to make the first of two stops at The Strip this year?

“I definitely love racing out there. It’s a spectacular place – one of the best venues we go to all year. The weather is usually perfect to make a bunch of power, so I know my guys will be trying to take a healthy cut at it with each lap we make.”

You had two weeks off after the Gainesville race. Are you looking forward to when the races start to bunch up on the schedule?

“When you are running as we all as we have, you just want to keep the season rolling along and not have a lot of down time. We know business is going to pick up for all of us here real soon. The races will start to come fast and furious. We’ll certainly be prepared as best we can for that stretch.”