U.S. Army Top Fuel driver Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher secured the third starting position here Saturday during final qualifying for tomorrow's running of the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.
Schumacher put the wraps on qualifying with two quick, solid passes and thus set up a meeting with his former Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) teammate, Cory McClenathan, in the first round of final eliminations on Sunday beginning at 11 a.m. CT.
"I'm pretty pumped up right now," said Schumacher, a three-time Brainerd event winner. "We had two good days of qualifying which really gives us confidence going into the race. But, we have to cast that aside right now and concentrate on Cory Mac."
McClenathan, the 14th-place qualifier, has been running a part-time NHRA tour schedule since parting ways with DSR at the end of the 2010 season.
"Cory and I are good friends, but I guarantee you he would love to take me out tomorrow," said Schumacher. "Of course, I want to do likewise to him. Cory is a great driver and I have a ton of respect for him. I'm sure it will be like old times - we will battle it out fair and square."
After collecting three straight final round appearances during the NHRA's recent Western Swing through Denver, Sonoma, Calif. and Seattle, Schumacher and his U.S. Army team are eager to take the extra step into victory lane.
"I would say we are beyond the eager stage," he said. "We just need to go out there tomorrow and leave no stone unturned. We have to continue to believe a win is well within our reach."
While Schumacher finished up qualifying in the Gopher State on an up note, so did his U.S. Army Racing teammate, Antron Brown, who landed the fifth starting position.
Brown, who was 10th after day one, also put together a couple of nice runs on Saturday which earned him a match up with 12th-place qualifier, Terry McMillen, in the first round of action.
"I knew we would come back today and get the job done," he offered. "My guys know what it takes to make my car run fast. As always, tomorrow is another day and we'll just take it one round at a time. Terry will be a tough opponent, so we'll have to be ready to go."
Over on the U.S. Army NASCAR Racing side, driver Ryan Newman will come out of the third starting spot in Sunday's Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
Newman, who entered the weekend holding eighth in the Sprint Cup Series driver standings, was eighth fastest in Saturday's final practice.
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