U.S. Army NHRA Racing Top Fuel drivers Antron Brown and Tony “The Sarge” Schumacher were in Wine Country on Sunday for the NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway.
Refusing to accept defeat like the Army Strong Soldiers he represents, Brown rolled to his second straight win after leveling his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Spencer Massey in the final. Brown laid down a 3.814-second pass at 318.02 mph to Massey’s 3.826-second trip at 323.50 mph.
“We have yet another trophy for our Army Strong Soldiers,” Brown said. “I’m ecstatic we’re back in victory lane for the second straight week and the third time in the last four races. This was such a great effort by my guys. We had to really dig deep to get this win.”
On the way to his meeting with Massey, Brown had to get around Steve Torrence, Schumacher (in the quarterfinals) and Brandon Bernstein, who he beat in the final at Bandimere Speedway last weekend.
“Those are three tough customers who are all serious contenders for the world championship,” Brown said. “There were no easy races today. We had to work very hard and stay focused all day long.”
With his win at Sonoma, Brown is now in position to sweep the “Western Swing” for the second time in four years. However, with the final stop of the three-race tour looming next weekend outside Seattle, he’s not willing to discuss the topic.
“I’d rather not,” Brown said. “The first order of business we have to attend to when we get up there is to qualify for the race. Then, we have to get to the final to have a chance. There are just way too many steps that still have to be taken before we can think about a sweep.”
The “Western Swing” sweep possibility aside, Brown was eager to speak about the fact that he’s now tied for the point lead with Massey.
“It continues to be an unbelievable battle out there,” Brown said. “Of course, we want to be the only one at the top by the time the playoffs start in Charlotte. We want those extra bonus points.”
As for Schumacher, Brown quickly ended his day in round two. The New Jersey native eliminated the seven-time world champion with a 3.825-second pass at 321.12 mph to the latter’s tire-smoking 4.465-second trip at 192.60 mph.
“Obviously, we’re disappointed,” Schumacher said. “I’m not really sure what caused the tires to kick loose against Antron. I’m sure my guys will take a good look at the data to see what happened. We truly thought we had a solid shot at winning today. We’ll just have to put this one away and start over when we get up to Seattle in a few days.”
Schumacher is diligently trying to gain some momentum as the NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship draws closer. Heading to Pacific Raceways for the O’Reilly Auto Parts Northwest Nationals next Sunday, he holds third-place in the standings behind Massey and Brown.
“There’s no question that we need to improve,” Schumacher said. “There are only three races remaining before the Countdown begins. We certainly don’t want to go into the playoffs struggling. We need to get to some finals and even get a win or two or three before Charlotte comes up. It’s always better to be on a roll in advance of those last six races of the season.”
The Chicago-area resident has been to victory lane just once this year – at Bristol (Tenn.) Dragway last month. That win broke a 32-race losing streak.
“This U.S. Army team did not forget how to win races,” Schumacher offered. “I’m very confident we’ll get the ship pointed in the right direction and the results will be there. We’re not going away by any means. We’re in this for the long haul and we’ll keep punching right on through the last race.”
Going into round 15 of the 23-race NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, the O’Reilly Auto Parts Northwest Nationals August 3 to August 5 at Pacific Raceways in Kent, Wash., following are the top-five in the Top Fuel standings:
1. Antron Brown (1,174 points)
Spencer Massey (1,174 points)
3. Tony Schumacher (1,048 points)
4. Steve Torrence (984 points)
5. Doug Kalitta (828 points)
Thank you for signing up to receive Shoe’s News.