Things played out much more favorably for his U.S. Army teammate Antron Brown. The 2012 Top Fuel champion made it a memorable day by not only scoring his 500th career NHRA round win, but also earning consecutive wins for U.S. Army drivers at Route 66 Raceway. Brown charged to his fourth victory of the season storming through the competition with wins in the Matco Tools/U.S. Army Dragster for DSR over Billy Torrence, Richie Crampton, Millican and Brittany Force in the final.
Throughout the weekend, both drivers and their respective crew members showed why only the strongest wear the U.S. Army colors in platform where Americans could experience the speed, power, teamwork and technology that drives that strength.
Schumacher, driver of the U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster for Don Schumacher Racing (DSR), was seeking to become the only five-time winner in Top Fuel at Route 66 Raceway, but his run of 3.868 seconds at 323.97 mph wasn't enough to defeat Clay Millican's pass of 3.842 seconds at 312.21 mph.
"It's disappointing because we were really looking forward to the opportunity we had today," said Schumacher, a four-time Route 66 Raceway Top Fuel winner. "We're here in Chicago. My hometown. A track where we won last year. We came in with a lot of momentum after winning last week and the place was filled with a ton of great fans, including a lot of my family and personal friends. The reality is this class is so tough from top to bottom that every round is a huge challenge. We raced Clay last week in the semifinals and this week we're battling in the first round. Looking at the data, it wore a ton of clutch so I'm not sure exactly what happened. Seeing some of the other cars smoking tires and not getting down the track proves that our run was one that would have gotten us to the second round in a lot of other scenarios, but today it didn't. Despite today's outcome, we feel good about the U.S. Army Dragster. We have a good handle on it and the car is really doing its job. These guys on this team demonstrate the same attributes the Army looks for in its Soldiers - putting the mission first, a never quit attitude and a refusal to accept defeat. We'll get back after next week in Norwalk."
For Brown, the goal heading into the weekend was returning to his winning ways after going five events since his Houston victory. He opened the event by taking out Billy Torrence with a pass of at 3.803 seconds at 319.07 mph. In the second round, he raced past Richie Crampton in the heat with a lap of 4.813 seconds at 221.85 mph. The semifinal triumph over Millican was his 500 career round win in NHRA, including both Pro Stock Motorcycle and Top Fuel. With the win, Brown now has four Chicago wins (2 - Pro Stock Motorcycle, 2 - Top Fuel).
"It's amazing to have four wins in Chicago," said Brown. "We always love coming here because the way the weather can swing. That's why they call it the 'Windy City.' It can change so quickly. We had some great runs in the qualifying sessions and knew what we were capable of. We made a good run in the first round, and the track got tricky on us after that. Being able to overcome the changing conditions was a huge advantage and credit to (co-crew chiefs) Brian (Corradi) and Mark (Oswold) and the entire Matco Tools/U.S. Army team. They figured out a way to where we have the car happy again. We seem to bring out the best in our opponents, and that's what you want. It felt really good to stay poised this weekend. We had some things go our way and to run that great in the final felt really good. I feel doubly good for Don Schumacher. This is his hometown and to go out and follow Matt Hagan's win in Funny Car with a Top Fuel win for a DSR double was great. Tremendous pride for everyone at Don Schumacher Racing."