Schumacher seeks seventh victory at prestigious Mac Tools U.S. Nationals


If one wanted to put an immediate smile on the faces of all of the U.S. Army Top Fuel team members, one would have to utter only a few choice words -- Mac Tools U.S. Nationals.

Having claimed six victories since 2000 in the NHRA's most prestigious race, we've pretty much made O'Reilly Raceway Park our personal playground.

But, as the 2008 version of "The Big Go" looms this weekend, we know this is a different year. We're not a team that believes history will dictate the future.

It will be hard for most observers not to consider us the favorite to win another U.S. Nationals title. Particularly noteworthy is the fact that we're riding a five-race win streak.

Entering Indy, I'm told that we're on the verge of breaking or tying a group of NHRA records. Personally, after capturing the Reading, Pa., event two weeks ago, I'm now one win short of tying Joe Amato's Top Fuel career victories mark, which stands at 52.

It would be terrific if I could tie the record at the biggest race of the year. It's special enough when you win Indy, no less tying a record that seemed so unreachable when we started the season.

While we're eager to deliver another U.S. Nationals victory to soldiers around the world, we're also fully aware that the Countdown to 1 phase of the Countdown to the Championship is about to begin in Charlotte, N.C., the middle of next month.

After pocketing 10 wins, we've compiled a 526-point lead in the standings. However, we'll watch that huge advantage decrease to a mere 30 points in a few short weeks.

We know that's the deal, so we just need to keep taking care of our own business and everything will fall into place. There's no reason to stress out about anything. We have a great team that can handle pressure, so we're looking forward to these last seven races.

In '08, we're attempting to take a fifth straight crown and, for me, a sixth career title. The latter would be a Top Fuel record. We've clearly put ourselves in a good position to take home another POWERade trophy, but we're going to have to keep performing well in the next three months if we're going to finish the job.

With that, it's off to O'Reilly Raceway Park. "The Sarge" extends his usual group salute to y'all. We'll take a weekend off before diving into the Countdown to 1 playoffs down in Charlotte. So, until then, please stay well.

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.