Commentary

Five-time champ Schumacher still winless at Topeka's Heartland Park

The Scarecrow wanted a brain. Tony Schumacher just wants a win in the O'Reilly Summer Nationals at Topeka's Heartland Park, he writes in his diary.

Updated: May 29, 2008, 7:18 PM ET
By Tony Schumacher | Special to ESPN.com

Tony Schumacher
Schumacher

After 44 victories and five world championships over a 13-year professional career, one would think I've conquered every racetrack I've ever come across, right? As the old saying goes, wrong answer -- please try again.

You might be interested to know that excluding the new Charlotte venue, I haven't won at four tracks that are currently on the schedule. And, lo and behold, one of those tracks is coming up this weekend.

This weekend's NHRA tour stop is Heartland Park in Topeka, Kan., where the 19th annual O'Reilly Summer Nationals will be contested. Surprisingly enough, I have yet to qualify No. 1 or advance to a final round in the Sunflower State.

For some reason, it's been a really tough track for us over the years. It appeared like we made some progress last year by qualifying second and getting to the semifinals. Perhaps we'll break down the door this year and win the race.

Hot temperatures and a slick track usually greet the NHRA contingent in the late May/early June time period out in Topeka. As a result, crew chiefs have to walk a fine line when it comes to setting up a 7,000-horsepower race car. They clearly earn their money when it comes to dealing with those conditions. Of course, I have the best in the business in Alan Johnson. I know AJ will find a way to get the job done.

The U.S. Army Top Fuel team has certainly gotten the job done the last three events in particular. After getting to the final round at both Atlanta Dragway and Gateway International Raceway, we took home the trophy from Bristol Dragway two weeks ago with a win over Larry Dixon.

After coming up short in Atlanta and St. Louis, that was a nice win for us. We've been running pretty well of late, so, hopefully, we can keep it going this weekend.

By the way, if you end up at Heartland Park sometime this weekend, please come by our pit area to say hello to Spc. Erika Foster. Stationed at nearby Fort Riley, she's one of the U.S. Army's Hometown Heroes. She recently returned from Iraq with a Purple Heart, so need I say any more than that?

We head into the ninth event of the 2008 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series holding first place in the standings, 131 points up on second-place Antron Brown.

Although we have a decent cushion right now, we still can't afford to just sit around waiting for things to happen. We have to make things happen on our own. This Sunday, I want to get my first career win at Heartland Park.

With that, it's off to the land of Dorothy and Toto. As always, "The Sarge" extends his usual group salute. We'll be right back at it again next weekend at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill., for the Torco Racing Fuels Route 66 Nationals. So, until then, y'all 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.

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