Sarge's world: Tough weekend ends Western Swing

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The NHRA's tough Western Swing is now complete. We put a lot of miles on the old odometer having moved through Denver, Seattle and Sonoma, Calif., over three straight weekends. This past Sunday at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, the U.S. Army team was beaten in the quarterfinals by J.R. Todd. That certainly wasn't the kind of finish we had in mind for the Western Swing. After advancing to the finals at Pacific Raceways the previous week, we had high hopes of taking an extra step down in Wine Country, but it just wasn't to be. We were able to post a solid win over Brandon Bernstein in the opening round of eliminations but apparently just couldn't handle a hot, challenging track against Todd in round two. It's not easy to accept when your day has an abrupt ending. Even though we were taken out early in Sonoma, we still managed to hang on to second-place in the standings. We now trail Antron Brown by 199 points, so the goal over the next three races prior to the playoffs starting will be to solidify our spot. Once the Countdown to One begins at zMax Dragway in Charlotte, Antron's lead will be reduced to just 30 points. At that point, it will be show time for one and all. We're looking forward to that moment. I must offer congratulations to Antron and his team for sweeping the Western Swing. Given that the U.S. Army team did it in 2008, I can tell you it's not an easy thing to do. Aside from having to deal with the intense competition, you have to set your car up in three different ways — for the thin, mountain air at Bandimere Speedway, for the power-inducing air at Pacific Raceways, and for the hot, dry air at Infineon Raceway. It's definitely a challenge for all of the crew chiefs. Obviously, Antron and his co-crew chiefs, Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald, got the job done this year. It's that kind of consistency that has them at the top of the standings right now. As we've had all year long, we had another special guest from the U.S. Army with us out in Sonoma: Major General Howard Bromberg, who is the senior commander at Fort Bliss in Texas. We certainly enjoyed his support throughout the weekend. So we're now through 15 races of a 24-race season. The good news is we have a two-week break before we have to head out to Brainerd, Minn. and Reading, Pa. on successive weekends. I'm looking forward to spending time with my family during that time while focusing on the job ahead. As a result of those two weeks off, we won't connect for a bit. So The Sarge would like to extend multiple salutes to y'all. We'll be back with you right after the Lucas Oil Nationals. Until then, y'all stay well and please don't forget our Army Strong Soldiers who are out there working to keep us safe and free. 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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