Commentary

Making the race, then winning a fifth straight are goals in that order

Tony Schumacher is gearing up for his fifth win in a row. He writes in his diary there can be no letup in qualifying ... or else.

Updated: August 14, 2008, 12:53 AM ET
By Tony Schumacher | Special to ESPN.com

The U.S. Army Top Fuel team will attempt to pocket its fifth straight victory this weekend in the Toyo Tires Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway.

After recording wins in Denver; Seattle; Sonoma, Calif.; and Brainerd, Minn., we're now focused on tying our own 2005 record for the most consecutive Top Fuel wins in a single season.

We're definitely going to give it our best shot. Of course, first, we have to qualify for the race. That's our only priority at the moment. If you don't make the show, quite obviously, nothing else matters.

Assuming we get into the field for Sunday's race, we should have a legitimate shot at making history given our résumé at Maple Grove Raceway. We have five poles to our credit to go along with three wins and a runner-up finish.

Maple Grove has been very kind to us. But every year is different no matter what track it is. We have to make sure we adjust to the conditions that are presented to us.

Clearly, we adjusted quite well to what Brainerd International Raceway offered up last weekend. After qualifying No. 1, we marched through the likes of Rod Fuller, Doug Kalitta and Cory McClenathan to gain win No. 9 on the year.

While it's been a magical season so far, don't think for a second that we're satisfied with where we're at. We've got plenty of work to do over the next few months.

Specifically, we want to keep rolling right into and through the Countdown to 1 phase of the NHRA's Countdown to the Championship.

You can never let up and give the competition reason to believe. Our soldiers never do that, I can guarantee you that. They keep the pressure on in a relentless fashion. That's what we want to do the rest of the way.

With the annual Pennsylvania tour stop looming, I have been continually reminded about the prospect of my tying Joe Amato's Top Fuel career victories mark. I'm two short of Amato's record, which stands at 52.

Lately, there's not a day that goes by without me hearing about it from someone. Being a team guy, I'm not really consumed by all that talk. We're trying to win another world championship, so that's where we're concentrating our efforts.

With that, we're headed for the Keystone State. "The Sarge" extends his usual group salute. We'll have a weekend off before traveling to Indianapolis for the biggest race of the year -- the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals -- on Labor Day weekend.

So, until then, y'all stay well and please don't forget about our hardworking troops.

Five-time world champion Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher drives the U.S. Army-sponsored Top Fuel dragster in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series and is providing a diary for ESPN.com throughout the 2008 season.