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Sarge's world: Searching for a boost at Maple Grove

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The clock is quickly ticking down to the NHRA's playoffs — the Countdown to 1. It all starts at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte the middle of next month. We've already clinched a spot in the Countdown, which takes a little pressure off. Only the top 10 drivers in each of the four professional classes will be eligible to compete for the world championship. Of course, we want to be heading into that six-race part of the schedule running on all cylinders. We have just two races remaining — this weekend's Toyo Tires Nationals in Reading, Pa. and the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals over Labor Day weekend in Indianapolis — to get our act together for that ultra important stretch run. Unfortunately, over the last few races, we didn't pocket rounds like we needed to. In fact, in four of the last five races, we were eliminated in the quarterfinals. The good news is despite that less than glittering statistic we are running pretty well. We've just been coming out on the short end of a lot of close races. Last weekend at Brainerd International Raceway, my former U.S. Army Racing teammate, Antron Brown, beat me to the finish line by four-thousandths of a second. You can imagine how tough that one was to swallow. But, at least the fans got a great show, right? If we can start turning those close losses around in our favor, we should be good to go. It's definitely time to start building up a head of steam over these next couple of races so we're not going into the playoffs on a down note. That wouldn't be cool at all.

Drive for five weekend

I'm hoping my past history at Maple Grove Raceway will translate into success on Sunday. I have four career wins at the historic facility, which leads the Top Fuel class. It would be nice to make it number five, if you know what I mean. Presently, we're in a heated battle for second-place with Larry Dixon. We're a scant eight points ahead of him. We'd like to retain second going into the Countdown because when the points reset we'll be 30 points behind the leader instead of 40 points behind. I know my U.S. Army team will stay focused on the job at hand, just like our Army Strong Soldiers do every day. We're clearly going to Reading this weekend looking to get a trophy. As usual, we draw inspiration from the Hometown Heroes who visit with us each race. Last weekend, we had Staff Sergeant Shane Hill in our pit. A Bronze Star recipient, SSG Hill told me to go out and accomplish the mission and win another title. So, we better accommodate him, don't you think? With that, I better start re-packing my bags for the trip to the Keystone State. We'll be back with you next Tuesday prior to a welcomed weekend off. "The Sarge" extends his usual salute to y'all. As always, please don't forget our Soldiers in your thoughts and prayers. Until next time, y'all stay well.


Six-time world champion Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher pilots the U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. He will be providing a blog throughout the 2009 season.

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