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NHRA Top Fuel - Brown Wins Phoenix

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Phoenix, Feb. 20, 2012: U.S. Army NHRA Racing Top Fuel drivers Tony “The Sarge” Schumacher and Antron Brown continued their strong start to the 2012 drag racing season with a final-round meeting Sunday in the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway outside of Phoenix.

Brown, aboard his Matco Tools/U.S. Army dragster, edged the seven-time world champion with a 3.793-second pass at 319.82 mph to Schumacher’s 3.813-second run at 318.17 mph in his U.S. Army dragster. It was the second consecutive race Brown had advanced to the final against a Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) teammate. Last weekend at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif., Brown finished runner-up to Spencer Massey.

“After not finishing the job in the season opener, we wanted to make sure we sealed the deal here at Firebird,” said Brown, who claimed his second NHRA Arizona Nationals trophy in four years. “We knew it was going to be a tough race against Tony and the Army team. We had some terrific battles last year and it certainly wasn’t any different this time.”

Schumacher, who hails from the Chicago area, agreed with his teammate’s assessment.

“Clearly, it was a good, close race,” Schumacher said. “When you face either of my DSR teammates, you know you are in for a real fight. We gave it our best shot but, unfortunately, we just came up on the short end once again.”

In 2011, Schumacher and Brown squared off three times in final rounds with the latter securing tight wins on each occasion.

“The fans definitely get their money’s worth when we face each other,” Schumacher said. “But, we’re definitely not going to hang our heads after this loss. We know we have one great racecar and we are going to win our share of races this season. Our Army Strong soldiers continually stay focused on the mission and that’s exactly what we’re going to do moving forward.”

Schumacher’s road to his 111th career final included round wins over Mike Strasburg, Doug Kalitta and Clay Millican, while Brown had to dispose of Terry McMillen, Massey and Shawn Langdon before catching up with Schumacher.

“There aren’t any easy draws in Top Fuel anymore,” Brown said. “You have to bring your best against everyone or your day is going to end very quickly.”

“That is definitely the case,” Schumacher said. “In all my years of racing, I’ve never seen the playing field so level from a competition standpoint. We’re in the entertainment business, so that’s a good thing.”

The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series will now take a couple of weekends off before traveling to Gainesville (Fla.) Raceway for the history-laden Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals March 9-11.

Schumacher has three Gatornationals wins to his credit while Brown has two final-round appearances in the bank – one each in Top Fuel and Pro Stock Motorcycles. Schumacher beat Brown in the 2010 Gatornationals final.

“The Gatornationals is one of the majors on the tour, so we want to go down there and get us a trophy to take home for sure,” Brown said.

“We’ve been fortunate to win in Gainesville,” Schumacher said. “The way we’re running right now, I like our chances to contend for another event title.”