The drivers and their nine-man Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) teams continue to play a vital role in the success of the Army Racing program similar to how every Soldier, no matter which of the more than 150 career options he or she chooses in the Army, is vital to the success of the mission.
Schumacher, a three-time winner in 2013, was narrowly defeated in the second round by his DSR teammate Spencer Massey. "The Sarge" raced the U.S. Army Dragster for DSR down the track in 3.813 seconds at 320.36 mph, but was beat by Massey's pass of 3.799 seconds at 322.04 mph. Schumacher's lap versus Massey was his second-best of the weekend following his run of 3.796 seconds at 325.22 mph in his first-round victory over Brandon Bernstein.
"The U.S. Army car brings out the best in everyone," Schumacher said. "That comes with the territory. Everyone shoots to take down the Army car. Today, the Schumacher Electric car made a miracle run to beat us, and that's what it takes. It doesn't matter what we did. When the guy next to you goes up there and runs a 3.79 with a .49 light, you aren't going to win. I'm proud of my U.S. Army team. They continued to give me a car that got better and better all weekend. Our victory in the first round was our best run of the weekend. The 3.81 we ran against Spencer wins two of the other three quarterfinal races. That's the tough part. We got beat, but we'll continue working to make this car even stronger for Indy and the Countdown. I can tell you that we are a lot closer to where we need to be heading into the biggest event of the year."
Brown, the reigning Top Fuel champion, made four consistent passes during qualifying, but lost traction during his opening round matchup with Doug Kalitta. The 2011 Brainerd winner hustled the Matco Tools/U.S. Army Dragster for DSR down the track in 4.290 seconds at 200.14 mph, but it wasn't enough to advance. By qualifying for the event, Brown punched his ticket into the Countdown and will begin his title defense in Charlotte in mid-September.
"I went up there and the Matco Tools/U.S. Army dragster marched right down the track," Brown said. "We were just a little too aggressive for what the track was. We lost the race, but we've still got a smile on our face. That's because we feel like we've got our racecar back. It's been a learning curve with this new combination. We're happy that the car did the same thing off the starting line three times in a row. We're definitely making progress, but we really want to win races right now. I'm happy we are making strides in the right direction, and I honestly feel like we're going to peak at exactly the right time."
After defeating Schumacher, Massey went on to beat Khalid alBalooshi in the semifinal and Clay Millican in the final to earn his fourth victory of 2013. By doing so, he moved past Schumacher in the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Top Fuel standings. Schumacher ranks third and trails leader Shawn Langdon by 171 points. The seven-time champion is already locked into the Countdown to the Championship, while Brown ranks sixth with 994 points.
The next event is the 59th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals Aug. 29 - Sept. 2 at Lucas Oil Raceway near Indianapolis.