Schumacher gets ready for western swing

I know it's been a while since we have connected on this site. I'm very sorry for not staying in better touch. But I truly have been a bit busy lately.

The U.S. Army Top Fuel team recently ended a four-week stretch that took us through the cities of Chicago, Englishtown, N.J., Bristol, Tenn. and Norwalk, Ohio. And then throw in the July 4th holiday weekend and you can see where my head has been.

With the above said, we've managed to once again put fingers to keyboard in an effort to keep you up to speed (no pun intended) on our progress.

I guess the best way to describe our performance in the last few weeks is to say we've been on a roller coaster of sorts. We started off with a final round appearance in Chicago, but then lost in the second round of eliminations in N.J. We did go on to grab a win in Bristol before losing in the semifinals in Norwalk.

It's hard to explain why we have not been consistent. Of course, that's something you have to establish if you want to contend for a world championship. I do know we've faced some big-time weather challenges and that can be a real issue with a car like mine that produces huge horsepower.

My crew chief, Mike Green, and the guys are working extremely hard to get my U.S. Army dragster fine tuned for the upcoming Countdown to 1, which begins at the U.S. Nationals during Labor Day weekend in Indianapolis.

We still have four races remaining before the playoffs start, so we're going to get after it so we can see just what we have for the rest of the field.

This weekend we take off for the NHRA's infamous Western Swing, which will take us through Seattle, Sonoma, Calif. and Denver, respectively. This little three-race stint can be quite a grind for teams and cars.

Fortunately, I've had success at all three venues – Pacific Raceways (Seattle), Infineon Raceway (Sonoma) and Bandimere Speedway (Denver). As a result, I always look forward to the Western Swing.

We're hoping we can kick it all off with a win this Sunday in the NHRA Northwest Nationals. It'd hard to believe I've won four times at Pacific Raceways in six straight final round appearances. I guess you could say it's one of my favorite tracks, right?

If we can get another win in Seattle, it could certainly set the tone for the other two tour stops on The Swing.

Lest we forget, I was able to sweep the Western Swing in 2008. While it's a tough chore to do, I'm confident we can do it again this time around. Frankly, we need to sweep once again so we can make our Army Strong Soldiers happy.

Heading into the Western Swing, we hold second-place in the standings, 176 points removed from Larry Dixon. While that's a big deficit to be sure, we want to make sure we keep second so when the Countdown to 1 starts and the points are reset, we'll be just 30 points behind. At that point, it will be a sprint to the finish to see who goes home with the big trophy in November.

With that, "The Sarge" better quickly get his gear together for the trip west. As always, I salute you all. We'll try our best to be timelier with these columns in the coming weeks.

Until that next time, y'all stay well and please keep our Army Strong Soldiers in your thoughts and prayers.