Schumacher started the day with an ultra-solid run of 3.781 seconds at 324.05 mph behind the wheel of his U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster for Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) in search of his first career event title at Atlanta Dragway - the only facility on the current schedule where the winner of a record 73 event titles has yet to visit victory lane. It was the day's very first run for the Top Fuel competitors, whose opening round of eliminations was suspended late Sunday after the first five pairs of competitors encountered myriad issues getting down the Atlanta Dragway circuit that was rained on for almost 12 consecutive hours.
That set up a second-round meeting with Steve Torrance, who narrowly clipped the U.S. Army Dragster at the finish line with a run of 3.781 seconds at 323.58 mph to Schumacher's 3.798 seconds at 312.50 mph.
"We broke a spark plug, but had I had the same light I had in the first round, we would've won both of our first two races today," said Schumacher, referring to his first-round reaction time of .059 of a second versus his second-round time of .099 of a second. "We lost that on more than one level there and that doesn't feel too good. In the big picture, you can say that we had a couple of really solid runs today, but right now I don't care. I'm not happy. Yeah, we're getting it, we're getting down the track more and more consistently each week. But the here-and-now of it is that I don't feel this would have been a difficult event for us to win. We had the best car in the first round, and we were on the same page to win that second round and we're breaking stuff. On the other hand, you've got guys out there laying down really ugly runs and winning and that is frustrating. The luck is still not in our corner right now, but we'll get it. We'll get it at the right time. That's what we need. We'll go on to Topeka with the mental, emotional and physical strength like no other that is displayed by our Soldiers and that is what is constantly inspiring us and playing a huge part in our drive to be successful."
Brown and his Matco Tools/U.S. Army Dragster advance one round further before being eliminated in the semifinals by his DSR teammate Spencer Massey, who went on to score his first event title of the season with a final-round win over new points leader Doug Kalitta. Brown acknowledged a mechanical issue was what helped bring his two-event win streak to an abrupt end as he could manage a run of just 4.520 seconds at 188.60 mph to Massey's 3.816 seconds at 322.65 mph in the semifinals. Brown disposed of Ike Maier and Pat Dakin, respectively, in his first- and second-round matchups today.
"Actually, something malfunctioned with our clutch controller - they'll figure it out - it had a leak or something," said Brown, who had to switch to his backup racecar after a fiery accident Friday in second-round qualifying, from which he emerged unhurt. "We had a great rebound from what happened Friday night but, the thing about it is, we wanted this race badly. It would have been awesome to get this race. Still, we're not upset about it. We came back, we brought another car out and it performed just like we wanted it to. The second-round win was exactly what (engineers) Brian (Corradi) and Mark (Oswald) and the Matco Tools/U.S. Army boys wanted. Now, we're going to Topeka and we've got our game faces on. Sometimes you take a step backward but we're all about going forward, so we're going to go there with a full head of steam and be on point, be focused and ready. We're definitely hungry. We've got a lot of work cut out for us but we're looking forward to it and we're just going to make things even better."