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NHRA Top Fuel - Schumacher Makes The Final, Brown Doesn't

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Las Vegas, Oct. 29, 2012: A good weekend in Las Vegas can sometimes be defined as getting out while you are ahead. For U.S. Army Top Fuel drivers Tony “The Sarge” Schumacher and Antron Brown, getting out of town ahead following the Big O Tires NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was made possible because of their ability to display the characteristics of the more than 1 million U.S. Army Soldiers they represent, who possess the mental, emotional and physical strength like no other.

Schumacher continued his success in Las Vegas by making a run to the final round in the U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster. His bid to earn his 70th career Top Fuel victory and lucky number seven at The Strip came up just short Sunday when he smoked his tires just 100 feet from the starting line, allowing Bob Vandergriff to claim his first victory of 2012 with a run of 3.832 seconds at 324.75 mph. Schumacher’s pass was clocked at 5.543 seconds at 124.25 mph. More importantly, however, Schumacher’s final-round appearance moved him from third to second in the Countdown to the Championship standings and closed his deficit to the championship-leading Brown from 136 to 65 points.

“I really want to thank the U.S. Army for all their support and strength they give us,” Schumacher said after his eighth final-round appearance in 22 events this season. “We really wanted to win today for all the Army Strong Soldiers who are stationed around the world, serving this great country of ours. I also was really wanting this one for my son Michael, who turned 9 today. In the final, we got aggressive and ended up spinning the tires. I pedaled it, but by then it was too late. My hat goes off to Bob and his team on their victory.”

Schumacher, the seven-time champion, started the weekend by earning his fourth No. 1 qualifier spot of 2012, the 71st of his career and his ninth overall at The Strip. Sunday, Schumacher leaned on every member of his nine-man team, which is vital to the success of his mission of winning the 2012 championship, just like each and every Soldier is vital to the success of our Army. Schumacher and the U.S. Army Racing team sliced through the field during the first three rounds of eliminations today, posting a pair of runs in the 3.7-second range en route to the final. He beat Terry McMillen, Steve Torrence and Khalid alBalooshi and, by doing so, enhanced his opportunity to earn an eighth Top Fuel title two weeks from now at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif.

“Our chances are a lot better now than they were coming into this race,” Schumacher said. “We knew we had to come in here and make up some ground on Antron. We cut his lead basically in half but, any time you have a chance to get 20 more points, you want to get them. The U.S. Army guys will not give up in our fight to become champions again. Pomona has been a special place for us and we can’t wait to get back there.”

Meanwhile, Brown failed to advance past the first round today for only the third time in 2012. He wasn’t able to make a clean pass down the track driving the special pink Matco “Tools for the Cause”/ U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster. The only driver to beat Brown during the countdown this season has been alBalooshi, who did so at Charlotte, Reading and today at Las Vegas. But alBalooshi didn’t make a perfect run today, either. His pass of 4.470 seconds at 241.07 mph, however, was just fast enough to take out Brown, who posted a run of 4.591 seconds at 239.27 mph.

“It felt good off the line but it started coming loose real quick,” Brown said. “I just stuck with it too long. I saw the finish line coming up and I kept my foot in it. I should have slapped the throttle one more time because, when it was spinning, it kept on spinning and popped the supercharger. After that, my car was just coasting to the finish line. When I saw alBalooshi come around us at the stripe, that was the worst feeling.”

Despite the first-round exit, Brown heads to the final event of the season in the best position to complete his ultimate mission of winning the Top Fuel championship.

“It is what it is and that’s drag racing,” said Brown, who started the 2012 season by racing to the final round in the opening event at Auto Club Raceway. “It’s the Countdown to the Championship. We’re going to regroup and get ready for Pomona. I’ve got the best team in the business, led by (crew chiefs) Brian (Corradi) and Mark (Oswald). They do an incredible job. We’re going to give it our best shot with all we’ve got.”