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NHRA Top Fuel - Brown Beats Schumacher Takes Point Lead

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Las Vegas, Apr. 2, 2012: U.S. Army Racing NHRA Top Fuel drivers Tony “The Sarge” Schumacher and Antron Brown visited The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Sunday for the NHRA Nationals.

Refusing to accept defeat like the Army Strong Soldiers they support, Schumacher and Brown took on a highly competitive 16-car field in round four of the 23-race NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.

Brown, who had qualified 12th, carried the U.S. Army banner right into the final after disposing of Schumacher in the quarterfinals with a sizzling 3.779-second pass at 326.08 mph to the former’s 3.816-second run at 324.98 mph.

Unfortunately for Brown, the march to his second win of the season ended abruptly in the final courtesy of his other Don Schumacher Racing teammate Spencer Massey. The New Jersey native put up a respectable 3.849-second trip at 315.86 mph, but it wasn’t enough to overtake Massey’s 3.830-second pass at 323.89 mph.

“We tried to bring home another win for our Soldiers but I guess it just wasn’t in the cards today,” Brown said. “We still had a good weekend here in Vegas. We were definitely Army Strong in overcoming what was a not-so-great qualifying performance. The guys never got down and knew we could turn things around on race day.”

It was Brown’s third final round in four races this year and his eighth in the last 14 races dating back to the 2011 season. After losing the points lead to Schumacher coming out of the Tire Kingdom Gatornationals two weeks ago, he has regained the top spot in the standings over second-place Morgan Lucas, who had qualified number one.

“I always say it’s nice to be the top dog,” Brown said. “Of course, you do have to keep everything in perspective – it’s still very early in the season. We just want to take it a race at a time and try to give it 150 percent each time. Hopefully, by the time we get to those last six races in the Countdown to the Championship, we’ll be totally prepared to make that final run to the title. In the end, we want that big trophy to bring back to the shop.”

For Schumacher, it was another race that he departed without an event trophy. His winless streak now stands at 27 straight races dating back to the 2010 fall Las Vegas event.

“Man, I thought we were going to put one away here in Vegas this weekend,” Schumacher said. “Once again, Antron and his team took us deep, if I may use a baseball line. We’ve met three times this year in final eliminations and each race has been a tough battle. I’m sure it will be that way throughout the season.”

On the way to the meeting with his U.S. Army Racing teammate, Schumacher clearly used a little luck in sliding by Troy Buff in the first round. Shortly after Buff smoked the tires at the hit of the throttle, Schumacher’s rear tires also lost traction and he had to “pedal” the car to the finish line and the win light.

“It happens like that, at times,” Schumacher said. “As a driver, you have to be ready for anything the car throws at you and that includes when it doesn’t want to go down the track. Fortunately, we got by that round to set up facing Antron.”

With his early round exit, Schumacher forfeited the points lead he brought into the NHRA Nationals and now resides in fourth. He and Brown will have the forthcoming Easter weekend off before traveling to zMAX Dragway in Charlotte, N.C., April 13-15 for the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals.

“We’ll just tee it up again down there and give it our best shot,” Schumacher said. “At some point or another, the stars are going to align for my U.S. Army team. We’ll definitely be trying to make that happen in Charlotte.”