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updated: 9/1/2011 6:01 PM

Long Grove's Schumacher seeks first win at U.S. Nationals

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  • In this photo provided by NHRA, Tony Schumacher sets a track record for speed in his U.S. Army dragster and takes the top spot in Top Fuel at the NHRA Las Vegas Nationals auto race at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Friday, Oct. 29, 2010. (AP Photo/NHRA, Jerry Foss) ** NO SALES **

      In this photo provided by NHRA, Tony Schumacher sets a track record for speed in his U.S. Army dragster and takes the top spot in Top Fuel at the NHRA Las Vegas Nationals auto race at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Friday, Oct. 29, 2010. (AP Photo/NHRA, Jerry Foss) ** NO SALES **

  • In this photo provided by NHRA, Tony Schumacher, driver of the U.S. Army dragster, earns the provisional No. 1 with a 3.798-second pass at a track-record 324.12 mph during the 23rd NHRA Summer Nationals drag race on Friday, May 20, 2011, in Topeka, Kan.

      In this photo provided by NHRA, Tony Schumacher, driver of the U.S. Army dragster, earns the provisional No. 1 with a 3.798-second pass at a track-record 324.12 mph during the 23rd NHRA Summer Nationals drag race on Friday, May 20, 2011, in Topeka, Kan.
    (AP Photo/NHRA, Teresa Long)

  • Tony Schumacher

      Tony Schumacher

  • Video: Schumacher ready for U.S. Nationals

 
Special to the Daily Herald

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- If there was ever a better time to collect his first victory of the season, U.S. Army Top Fuel driver Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher figures this weekend would be most appropriate.

"It is the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals -- I don't have to say any more than that," said the seven-time world champion as he packed his bags for the trip to Lucas Oil Raceway. "Every driver wants to collect an Indy trophy at some point during their career. It's the biggest, oldest, richest and most prestigious race on the schedule.

"We would definitely love to break through on Labor Day, especially, since we are going to be honoring the 75 U.S. Army personnel killed during the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon."

The Long Grove resident, the son of racing legend Don Schumacher, feels he's well overdue for his first win of 2011. Having been to four straight final rounds (the most recent in Brainerd, Minn. two weeks ago), he's clearly champing at the bit for a visit to victory lane.

"We haven't forgotten what it's like to make that trip," said Schumacher. "It has been a little while since we took home the big prize (16 consecutive races counting last year's season finale), but we still know how to get the job done."

Schumacher has gotten the job done over the years in Indianapolis. He goes into the 57th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals with eight career event wins, which has him tied with Don Garlits for the most U.S. Nationals Top Fuel victories.

"I've been involved with a lot of records in recent years, but if I were able to move past Garlits with another Indy win, that would be unbelievable," said Schumacher. "People know how much respect I have for 'Big Daddy.' He helped make this sport and the U.S. Nationals what it is today."

Schumacher's U.S. Nationals resume is already one for the history books. Since making his professional debut at Indy in 1996 (he went to the finals that year and lost to Cory McClenathan), he has totaled three poles and 10 final rounds, which includes his eight wins.

Twice Schumacher has produced U.S. Nationals win streaks -- he captured three straight from 2002 through 2004 and then four straight between 2006 and 2009. The latter race was his first U.S. Nationals victory with his then new crew chief, Mike Green.

"The win two years ago was very special given it was Mike's first Indy win and the first one for the majority of the crew guys," Schumacher said. "I can't explain why I have had so much success in Indianapolis. It's just one of those tracks where I feel very comfortable. Let's hope that feeling carries over into this weekend."

Almost lost in the hoopla surrounding the U.S. Nationals is the fact the Countdown to 1 has just about arrived. After Indy, the top-10 drivers in the standings will have their points reset and then will compete for the Full Throttle world championship beginning in Charlotte next month.

Schumacher currently holds fourth-place in the standings, but is a mere six points in back of his Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) teammate, Spencer Massey, in third and 35 points behind his DSR/U.S. Army Racing teammate, Antron Brown, in second.

"If we can have a successful Indy weekend, we could move up two spots," said Schumacher. "It would be much better to start the playoffs 30 points behind the leader."

Remembering Sept. 11

As the nation observes the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the U.S. Army announced that both its NHRA and NASCAR teams will honor the victims of the Pentagon attack with special paint schemes at upcoming races.

At this weekend's Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, Tony Schumacher's U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster will carry the names of the 75 U.S. Army personnel killed at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.

One week later, on Sept. 10, Stewart-Haas Racing driver Ryan Newman also will carry the names of the 75 U.S. Army Pentagon victims on his No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet in the Wonderful Pistachios 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.

In addition, both race cars will carry an inscription "We Will Never Forget" and sport a specially-designed logo featuring the World Trade Center twin towers, Pentagon and the American Flag.

"It will be a moving experience when we unveil the race car in Indy," said Schumacher. "Many years later, all of us still remember that horrible day which affected so many innocent people, including those at the Pentagon. Our hearts and prayers clearly remain with the families of the victims. We will never, ever forget that terrible tragedy."

Here are the names of U.S. Army Personnel killed in the attack on the Pentagon:

SPC Craig S. Amundson

MSG (RET) Max J. Beilke

Carrie R. Blagburn

Col. Canfield D. Boone

Donna M. Bowen

SFC Jose O. Calderon-Olmedo

Angelene C. Carter

Sharon A. Carver

SFC (RET) John J. Chada

Ada M. Davis

LTC Jerry D. Dickerson

Amelia V. Fields

Gerald P. Fisher

Cortez Ghee

Brenda C. Gibson

COL (RET) Ronald F. Golinski

Diane Hale-McKinzy

Carolyn B. Halmon

Sheila M.S. Hein

Maj. Wallace Cole Hogan Jr.

SSG (RET) Jimmie I. Holley

Peggie M. Hurt

LTC Stephen Neil Hyland Jr.

SGM Lacey B. Ivory

LTC Dennis M. Johnson

Brenda Kegler

David W. Laychak

Samantha L. Lightbourn-Allen

Maj. Stephen V. Long

Terence M. Lynch

Teresa M. Martin

Ada L. Mason-Acker

LTC Dean E. Mattson

LTG Timothy J. Maude

Robert J. Maxwell

Molly L. McKenzie

MAJ Ronald D. Milam

Odessa V. Morris

Teddington H. Moy

Diana B. Padro

Maj. Clifford L. Patterson Jr.

Scott Powell

Deborah A. Ramsaur

Rhonda S. Rasmussen

Martha M. Reszke

Cecelia E. Richard

Edward V. Rowenhorst

Judy Rowlett

Robert E. Russell

CW4 William R. Ruth

Marjorie C. Salamone

COL David M Scales

Janice M. Scott

Michael L. Selves

Marian H. Serva

Antionette M. Sherman

Donald D. Simmons

Cheryle D. Sincock

Gary F. Smith

Patricia J. Statz

Edna L. Stephens

SGM Larry L. Strickland

LTC Kip P. Taylor

Sandra C. Taylor

SGT Tamara C. Thurman

Willie Q. Troy

LTC Karen J. Wagner

Meta L. Waller

SPC Chin Sun Pak Wells

SSG Maudlyn A. White

Sandra L. White

Ernest M. Willcher

Maj. Dwayne Williams

Edmond G. Young Jr.

Lisa L. Young

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