Subscribe to Drag Racing Edge

5.17.17 TSTOPEKA, Kansas (May 17, 2017) – The U.S. Army Top Fuel driver duo of Tony “The Sarge” Schumacher and Antron Brown look to double their number of combined event titles at Heartland Park Topeka during this weekend’s 29th annual Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals at the Kansas dragstrip.


Schumacher outdueled Cory McLenathan in the Top Fuel final to score his third of six event titles in 2010. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the lone Heartland Park event title in a combined 27 tries for the eight-time Top Fuel world champion Schumacher and the three-time overall and two-time-defending-champion Brown. And each has just one other appearance in the Top Fuel final there.

But while it may not be their most successful track in terms of event titles, both Schumacher and Brown have plenty of reasons for optimism headed back to Kansas this weekend.

Schumacher and the U.S. Army Dragster team for Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) are coming off their second consecutive final-round appearance and fourth in the last five events, and they’re in second place, just 14 points behind third DSR Top Fuel driver Leah Pritchett, a two-time event titlist this season.

After splitting a pair of back-to-back final-round meetings with Brown and the Matco Tools/U.S. Army team for DSR at Gainesville, Florida and Las Vegas in the season’s third and fourth events, Schumacher has come up just short to a red-hot Steve Torrence in back-to-back final rounds at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway near Charlotte, North Carolina, and two weekends ago at Atlanta Dragway.

Still, consistency has been the key for Schumacher and the U.S. Army team, who also have a pair of No. 1 qualifying efforts this season – at Gainesville and Atlanta – and semifinal runs at Pomona, California and the outskirts of Phoenix. Safe to say “The Sarge” has rebounded quite nicely from last year’s struggles to record a 17-6 won-loss record in elimination rounds this season.

Brown, meanwhile, was leapfrogged by Torrence for the No. 3 spot in the Top Fuel standings after a second-round loss to Pritchett at Atlanta. He trails Pritchett by 81 points, Schumacher by 67, and Torrence by 32 but, with the lion’s share of the regular season still to be contested, Brown and the Matco Tools/U.S. Army team have proven in recent years they are more than capable of making up huge chunks of ground in the standings by winning event titles in bunches.

Brown’s first career Heartland Park victory almost finally came a year ago this weekend in a wild pedalfest against Doug Kalitta. Both drivers smoked their tires at the start and were on and off the gas en route to the finish, both even saving their sideways racecars along the way. Kalitta crossed the line first in 5.452 seconds at 238.85 mph, Brown in 5.687 seconds at 298.60 mph. It was the third event title in as many events for Kalitta, who was last year’s red-hot driver the early part of the season.

Qualifying for the 29th annual Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals begins Friday with FS1 providing one hour delayed qualifying at 11 p.m. EDT Friday, and one hour of live qualifying at 3 p.m. Saturday. FS1’s live, three-hour broadcast of Sunday’s elimination rounds is set for 2 p.m.

TONY “THE SARGE” SCHUMACHER, driver of the U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster for Don Schumacher Racing

You’re returning to the Heartland of America this weekend wearing the U.S. Army colors during the month of May. How special is it to be representing the Army at Topeka this weekend?

“It’s an incredible feeling to be representing the U.S. Army every single day of the year, there is absolutely no doubt about that. There’s something about going to the Heartland Nationals that makes it all the more special to be wearing the Army colors. I think it would be entirely fitting for us to be hoisting the Wally wearing those colors in the Heartland, once again. We had a solid weekend at Topeka a few years ago and came close to winning our third race of the year that year. I’m really looking forward, as always, to hitting the track. Topeka is a really fun place to race. It’s the Heartland of America. There are great people there, great race fans, and they always get a good crowd. I enjoy being there. I’d not run well there early in my career, but we have a win and a top qualifying effort in recent years there and I feel we’re poised to get back to the winner’s circle. I really like our chances with where we are with our Army racecar.”

Your overall thoughts as we head to Topeka for this weekend’s Heartland Nationals?

“Well, the U.S. Army Dragster has been a great racecar so far this year. We’ve been beaten at the last two events by a very hot driver and team, so our job this weekend will be to get back in the win column. To win, we always assume everybody is trying to beat the Army car by doing things they’ve never done before. It’s been proven time and time again. We’ve had the target on our backs for a decade and a half. A lot of times when people beat us, they celebrate like they’ve won the championship. We really appreciate the effort people put in to beat our car. But, to keep things in perspective, we’ve won more of those than not. We’ve won championship after championship like that. It’s a long season and we’re almost just one-third of the way through. Things ebb and flow, so it’s our job to maintain the excellence we’ve been showing with this U.S. Army team so far and do everything we can to be hottest when it matters most, during the Countdown.”

5.17.17 ABANTRON BROWN, driver of the Matco Tools/U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster for Don Schumacher Racing

Your thoughts about heading to Heartland Park Topeka in search of your first career win there?

“Topeka is still on our to-do list. We haven’t got a win there yet and we’d like to change that. I’m excited to get back on track. Topeka is a race that we always want to do well at. We always qualify well there. We haven’t won there, yet, but we’re working hard to try and bring a win home from there this year. It’s one of the few racetracks that we haven’t won at. We’re looking for wins at Topeka, Epping and Bristol because I haven’t won at those, yet, so those are definitely on the top of my list.”

You’ve always had a certain fondness for Topeka. Why is that?

“There’s a lot of history at that racetrack. Gary Ormsby, one of my heroes and mentors, you see his name on the property when you pull in. That’s one of the things that really stands out to me when we go there. He was very innovative. He didn’t just bring out a Dragster with an enclosed canopy, like we now use at DSR, but he brought a fully streamlined car that covered the engine and everything that made it so aerodynamic. I got to see him at races when I was a little kid. I never met him or knew him other than as a fan getting his autograph. He was just a cool, soft-spoken, laid-back guy, yet he still was a serious racer. He was well-respected and a genuine, genuine nice guy and he was a hard-core racer. That’s something I’ve always tried to be – I’m very approachable, very nice, but you don’t want to line up against me on the starting line. So, the game plan is to go there and try to do the best that we can do and try to bring a win home.”


Contact Bill Klingbeil or Laz Denes with True Speed Communication
Klingbeil: (704) 875-3388, ext. 804 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Denes: (704) 875-3388, ext. 806 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ● Online Media Kit Available at

Latest Video

Social Media