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NHRA Top Fuel - U.S. Army Racing Ready For Southern Nationals

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COMMERCE, May 4, 2012: U.S. Army NHRA Top Fuel drivers Tony “The Sarge” Schumacher and Antron Brown will head for Atlanta Dragway Friday through Sunday for the tradition-rich Summit Racing Equipment Southern Nationals.

Refusing to accept defeat, Schumacher will be looking to rebound from a second-round loss suffered last Sunday in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Spring Nationals outside Houston. The Chicago-area resident is fourth in the standings, 37 points removed from Brown, who reclaimed the top spot for the third time this season after advancing to his fourth final in six races.

Brown, a New Jersey native, is 14 points ahead of his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Spencer Massey in second and 32 points ahead of Morgan Lucas in third.

Schumacher, who is the winningest driver in Top Fuel history, has never won at Atlanta Dragway. It’s the only track on the NHRA tour where he has failed to win a race. He does have three runner-up finishes to his credit, the most recent coming last year when he lost to Brown in the final.

TONY “THE SARGE” SCHUMACHER, driver of the U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster:

You’re going to the only track where you have not won a race. Does that affect you in any way?

“I really don’t let those kinds of things bother me. As most people know, I focus on the job at hand and don’t get bogged down with history. This is a whole new season and what occurred previously doesn’t matter. We’re going to go down to Georgia with the attitude we will leave with a trophy. If that happens, then we can cross Atlanta Dragway off the ‘no wins’ list.”

You ran well last weekend but came up short in the quarterfinals. Despite the loss, you have to be encouraged.

“We continue to run well and that’s important. What I find interesting is that, even though we haven’t won a race, as yet, we are still very much in the hunt. We’re less than two rounds of racing behind Antron in first, which is pretty amazing. Wait until we start putting some victories in the bank.”

We’re about one-third of the way through the season. How would you assess your driving to this point?

“Like our Army Strong Soldiers, failure is never an option. So, I’m always seeking to improve no matter how many years I’ve been doing this. I try to be a machine every time I get in the racecar. If I can do that, then that’s one less thing for my crew chief (Mike Green) and team to be concerned with.”

While Antron holds first place, your other DSR teammate Spencer Massey is in second. With you not far back in fourth, your dad (team owner Don Schumacher) has to be one happy camper at the moment.

“I’m sure he’s happy, but he would probably be happier if we were 1-2-3 in the points. And, so would we. We all root for each other to have success, but when we face each other, it is definitely game on. We represent different sponsors and each expects its driver to win. That’s just the way it works.”

ANTRON BROWN, driver of the Matco Tools/U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster:

You are back in the points lead for the third time this year. Surely you will want to hang on to it for a while this time.

“Without question, that’s how we feel. But, the Top Fuel class is so crazy right now. You just don’t know which team is going to rise

up and win on a given weekend. We just have to stay focused, do our deal and the results will take care of themselves. So far, that’s been a good formula for us.”

Your formula has obviously been productive since you’ve been to four finals in six races so far this year.

“We have been pretty consistent. When you get to finals, you certainly rack up the points. But, in the end, you want to win races. The way we see it is that we’ve won one race, but there were three other opportunities when we didn’t win. You have to be your own worst critic. You never want to settle for being runner-up. As is often said, nobody ever remembers who came in second.”

How does it make you feel that you have denied Tony a win at Atlanta Dragway twice in the last four seasons?

“I just do my job like Tony does his. When we race, it’s always a straight-up deal. We go at it hard and it will be what it will be. I’m sure Tony’s time will come at Atlanta Dragway. Maybe it will be this weekend. Frankly, it’s incredible that there’s only one track on the schedule where he’s never won a race. Pardon the pun, but what a track record that is."

The Southern Nationals has such history attached to it and you have four of those trophies – two in Pro Stock Motorcycles and two in Top Fuel. Does winning that race have any greater value than others?

“Well, every race has importance. But, at some point, you want to win all of the so-called majors. I definitely put the Southern Nationals in that category.”