Commentary

Losing was a letdown, but focus always was on title, not records

Was finally losing a letdown to Top Fuel leader Tony Schumacher? Of course it was. But he writes in his diary that it also put the focus back on the most important thing to him, winning a title.

Updated: September 25, 2008, 7:04 PM ET
By Tony Schumacher | Special to ESPN.com

As you are probably aware by now, our seven-race winning streak came to a halt Sunday in Texas, courtesy of J.R. Todd.

While that final-round loss was disappointing enough at the time, I had a déjà vu moment all over again when I opened the sports section of my local newspaper on Monday.

Low and behold, right there on the front page, was the story about the New England Patriots having their 21-game regular-season winning streak snapped by the Miami Dolphins. Needless to say, I could immediately relate to how the Pats must be feeling.

Of course, it's been said time heals all wounds and, to be sure, I have already moved well beyond the loss to J.R. In a bizarre way, it was sort of a relief. For the last couple of months, all we've heard about are the records that we've set and the winning streak. I think the pressure is off of us. We can now intently focus on the real prize, which is earning another POWERade trophy.

Lest anyone think winning a fifth consecutive world title was just a blip on my radar screen. In fact, as we head for the O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals at Memphis Motorsports Park this weekend, we continue to lead the standings, which is a spot we've been in since the season opener in February.

Currently, we hold a 97-point advantage over Antron Brown, while Cory McClenathan is 104 points behind in third and Larry Dixon is 129 points back in fourth.

Let me be clear: Winning the championship has always been the priority for the U.S. Army team. The fact that we set some records along the way and had the streak is secondary in my book. We're all about winning titles for our hard-working soldiers.

Four races remain in the NHRA's Countdown to 1 and we're hoping we can stay consistent the rest of the way. That will definitely be the key. Certainly, we want to win them all, but we really need to keep taking rounds away from those guys every race. There are only 16 rounds of racing left, so you want to pocket as many of them as you can.

Of the four tracks remaining on the schedule, I've failed to win at only one of them -- Virginia Motorsports Park outside of Richmond. I know it's an overused expression, but we truly are going to take it one race at a time. At the moment, we're only concerned with the race this weekend in Memphis.

With that, it's off in search of Elvis. I'll let you know if there's a sighting. "The Sarge" would like to extend his usual group salute. We'll have a highly anticipated weekend off before traveling to Richmond. So, until then, y'all stay well and please don't forget about our soldiers who are protecting us every day.

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.

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