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Mon, 21 Nov 2005, 09:25 AM

Schumacher Already has Eye on 2006 Season
Courtesy of Chris Dirato
Photo copyright 2005 Auto Imagery, Inc.


Tony Schumacher
It's been only two weeks since the 2005 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series season ended, but U.S. Army Top Fuel driver Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher has already begun thinking about the 2006 campaign.

"I guess that's what happens when you're coming off the kind of season that we had," said the Chicago native. "You don't want the ride to stop - you just want to keep going."

Given the recently completed season, one could understand why Schumacher might want to rush the calendar along just a bit.

On the way to his second straight NHRA POWERade Top Fuel world championship and the third of his career, Schumacher and his U.S. Army team re-wrote a number of NHRA national records including the national elapsed time mark (4.437-seconds), the national speed record (336.15 mph), the most Top Fuel poles in a single season (11) and the most consecutive Top Fuel victories in a single season (5).

Additionally, he ended the year with a 415-point spread over second-place, Larry Dixon, which now ranks as the largest margin of victory for a Top Fuel world championship.

"Without hesitation, I can say that this was a magical season," said Schumacher. "The U.S. Army team performed with precision and professionalism from start to finish - just like our soldiers do every day.

Alan Johnson
You know, Thanksgiving is coming up this week. I definitely know what I'll be giving thanks for as the turkey gets carved. I have the best team in the world led by the best crew chief - Alan Johnson. There's nothing more one could ask for."

With his accomplishments in '05, Schumacher is being considered for a handful of post-season awards.

Having been named a first team All-America by the American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association, he's also up for that organization's prestigious Jerry Titus Award. In addition, he's also a nominee for Speed Channel's Fourth Quarter Driver of the Year as well as the Eastern Motorsports Press Association's Al Holbert Memorial Driver of the Year Award.

"If I should be lucky enough to win one of those awards, I'll present it to the team because they deserve the recognition," said Schumacher. "Without them, I'm not in the position that I'm in today."

So, with 2006 on the horizon, can Schumacher become only the second Top Fuel driver in NHRA history to win three consecutive world titles?

"I will guarantee you, the U.S. Army team will be gunning for that," he added. "We'll be going 150 percent by the time we get to Pomona, Calif. in February."

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