There's nothing like the U.S. Nationals

Updated: September 3, 2005, 10:29 AM ET
By Tony Schumacher | Special to ESPN.com

Tony Schumacher
Schumacher

There are 23 total races that dot the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series schedule, but among that group there's one that stands out head and shoulders above the rest -- this weekend's Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park.

The Mac Tools U.S. Nationals is clearly drag racing's version of the Daytona 500, Indy 500 and Super Bowl wrapped up into one package. Every team and every driver points to this event each year.

Any NHRA driver will tell you without hesitation that his or her career is not complete without winning a U.S. Nationals.

I've been fortunate to have won four U.S. Nationals in the last five years. The U.S. Army Top Fuel Drag Racing Team has actually won three straight, including last year's conquest of Doug Kalitta in the finals.

We have a chance at making a little history should we win our fourth consecutive Indy race. Only two drivers in NHRA history have ever won four-in-a-row -- Bob Glidden and Warren Johnson, of Pro Stock fame.

For sure, I would be in some elite company should we accomplish that task. But, you know, we really can't sit and dwell on statistics. We're in the middle of a very heated championship chase. We've got to keep our eye on that ball.

We head for Indy holding second-place in the standings, just four points behind Kalitta. I can tell you that this U.S. Army team has a lot of determination, just like our soldiers have. At the end of the season, nobody remembers who finished second. However, everyone remembers who won the world championship.

Before closing, I would be remiss in not offering up our collective prayers for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. What a terrible disaster. The devastation in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama is just unbelievable. When you see it on television, you don't want to believe that it happened here in the United States.

Interestingly enough, my U.S. Army Pro Stock Motorcycle teammate, Angelle Sampey, was one of the many who had to endure the storm given that she lives just south of New Orleans. I've heard that she and her family are fine and that her house suffered minimal damage. Thank goodness. I'll certainly look forward to seeing her come this weekend.

With that, it's off to the world's center of racing. "The Sarge" extends his usual group salute. We have a weekend off before traveling to Reading, Pa. for our next event, so until then, please stay well.

Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher drives the U.S. Army-sponsored Top Fuel dragster in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. He won the 2004 NHRA POWERade Top Fuel world championship.

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