|TONY “THE SARGE” SCHUMACHER, driver of the U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster:|
Last year at Indy was an historic weekend for you and the U.S. Army team. What do you remember about doubling up, getting career Nationals win No. 10, and how do you try to top that this year?
“It was certainly an incredible weekend for the U.S. Army team and, honestly, I’m not sure we can top it. We have the opportunity to match it, but going out last year and being a machine Saturday and winning the Traxxas Shootout and then coming back Monday and winning our 10th U.S. Nationals. It was a complete team effort and the result of a tremendous amount of work. We had been hearing about winning the 10th one since 2012, when we were able to win our ninth. Winning that many U.S. Nationals just shows we have success because of the people around us. After winning the first eight with (crew chiefs) Dan Olson (2000) and Alan Johnson (2002-2004, 2006-2009), we’ve won the last two with Mike Green, who has been a terrific leader of this team and he’s surrounded himself with a very talented group. The weekend in Indy last year was great and you remember the little things the most. The look in the eyes of the guys who won Indy for the first time. Everyone works so hard to have that feeling and to be able to experience it with them is something that’s very hard to describe. It’s just one of the many things that makes Indy so special. We’re excited to get out there and see if we can do it again.”
You’ve always raced so well in big events. What is it about moments like Indy that you enjoy and brings out the best in you?
“This U.S. Army team lives for the big moments. The times when your back is against the wall and you absolutely have to perform. That’s what it’s all about. The U.S. Nationals brings out the best in all of us because it’s the event everyone points to. I want to be the guy standing at the plate in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and I have to get a hit. I have to deliver if we are going to win. I have been extremely fortunate during my career not only to be in big moments, especially at Indy, but to be surrounded by a team capable of that moment. We always have positive feelings when we come here, and we’ve had so much luck here. And there’s no better feeling, than being the last one standing on Monday afternoon knowing you just won Indy. That’s what motivates us. That’s what drives us to be as good as we can be.”
The focus is obviously on this weekend, but there still is a championship out there to be won. Indy is your last chance to make a final move heading into the Countdown. What gives you confidence that this team will be at its best in Indy and the playoffs?
“The U.S. Army team is a pressure driven team. We’ve been through so many battles together. We know what it takes to win and, right now, winning Indy is the most important thing. If you can win Indy, chances are you have a car and team capable of doing some damage in the Countdown. It’s been proven that you have to win in the Countdown to be the champion. It’s that simple. We brought out a new car in Brainerd and knew we wouldn’t miss a beat because of the quality work of our DSR fab shop. We’re ready to come out with our best showing Friday night and be prepared to make a run at the Traxxas Shootout Saturday. If things go well Friday and Saturday, we should position ourselves to be in the mix Monday for the biggest trophy of the season.”
|ANTRON BROWN, driver of the Matco Tools/U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster:|
|With a season that includes 24 weekends of racing all across the country, what makes the U.S. Nationals special to you?
“This is one of the most exciting weekends of our season. Living here (in Brownsburg, Ind.), it’s something people talk about all year. If you can win this race, you get to have that special feeling for a whole year. It’s a big deal and having my family being able to be there just adds to it. We attack it a little different. First, we start with doing well Saturday in the (Traxxas) Shootout and hopefully at the same time get a good qualifying spot for Monday. Sunday is typically a chance to work on things forMonday and really zero in on what we want to do Monday. When we get to Monday, we want to win our fourth Indy Wally. We know how tough the competition is and that starts right here at DSR with Tony (Schumacher) and his Army team that has been so good at Indy over the years. And Leah (Pritchett) and that Papa John’s team just took us out in the final at Brainerd. That’s just the start of it. This entire Top Fuel class is stacked top to bottom. It’s going to be a great battle in Indy, for sure.”
The U.S. Nationals ends the 18-event regular season. What are you trying to accomplish before the playoffs start in Charlotte?
“Our goal all season was to get into the Countdown as the No. 1 seed. That’s been our game plan. Those extra points for being first in the regular season can be crucial. We see the U.S. Nationals as the first race in the Countdown. Resetting the points will make the points tighter but it already is pretty tight. It will make it even more exciting and fun for fans. I’m just pumped up because, the tighter it gets, the harder our Matco Tools/U.S. Army team digs.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!