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The Sarge Will March On

Nick Bromberg | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 22 2010

Tony Schumacher says there is no timetable for retirement. (Photo courtesy of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series)

By Nick Bromberg | Senior Correspondent
RacinToday.com

Topeka, Kan. – Unlike another seven time world champion driver with the same surname, when Tony Schumacher retires from driving, he’s retiring for good. But according to Schumacher – the seven time NHRA Top Fuel one – not even he knows when that time will come.

“I will not set a date, it may be five years, I don’t know, I really don’t know, maybe two years,” Schumacher said at Heartland Park Topeka, site of this weekend’s O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Summer Nationals. “I don’t know those dates until I have a plan for what I want to do, but I’ll tell you this, when the date’s set, I don’t care if I go out in 10th place or first place, I won’t let the outcome of a season sway my decision because if you go out on top, people go ‘Oh man’ and if you go out after getting beat and they’re like ‘oh, he can’t handle getting beat.’

“I’m not going to let anyone – never have, couldn’t care less what people say about it, I’ll pick a date and it’s for one reason: to hang out with my kids and my wife. That’s it. Live the greatest moments in racing history with never anything to be ashamed of or look back and say we left anything on the table. We have lived the American Dream right here on this race team and when it’s time to be done, it ain’t the results that will dictate that it will be the time.”

That other Schumacher, Michael Schumacher, returned to Formula 1 this year after a three-year retirement. And while he’s ruling out returning to the cockpit, it certainly sounds like Tony Schumacher wants to stay involved in racing after he’s done driving.

“I will never come back and drive again,” Tony Schumacher said. “I may come back as a team owner and I may just work towards running a team. I know how to win, I have a great team, but more than that I know how to read a team and I’d hate to give that up and use that to build other good drivers so, it’s hard to say. You go away and miss it more than you’ve ever dreamt you’d miss it. I don’t know. Again, nobody will dictate what I do except me and my family. We’ll talk about that and make those decisions.”

And don’t necessarily rule out a venture into another form of motorsports either. Schumacher and Tony Stewart have become friends as their teams are sponsored by the U.S. Army.

“I haven’t talked to him about that at all (but) I haven’t ruled that out either,” Schumacher said. “I talked the other day about going over and owning something with Tony Stewart just to do something different and see a different perspective. But it’s not my specialty. It’s real hard to say how I would be of use over there other than being able to connect with sponsors and stuff like that where I have a lot of connections. In reality, it’s not about money but making things happen, and I can make it happen here. I know how to teach and train and work with drivers.”

But enough about the future. Even though he’s currently in fourth place in the Top Fuel point standings, – 157 points behind Larry Dixon – Schumacher is confident that he can make something happen this year for his seventh straight title and eighth overall.

To some, it may seem like Schumacher is slumping a bit. But he’s got two wins in the season’s first eight races.

“It’s a great time to learn parts and systems. I joke about it, we’ve always come from behind. You never hear of anyone coming from ahead. I’m the come from behind guy, I’m going to sneak up and beat you when you’re not paying attention when you’re starting to look at the guys in second and third, I’ll be in fourth just sitting there. And we know how to win on any given day, and that’s the key,” Schumacher said.

In 2006, Schumacher came from 336 points back midway through the season to win, and that was without the current Countdown to One format that seeds the top 10 drivers with six races to go, much like the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

“One hundred and fifty-seven or 757, it doesn’t matter,” Schumacher said. “We wouldn’t be in that spot if there wasn’t a Countdown. We’d be racing every race trying to get in the lead, not trying to figure stuff out for the countdown… Those points don’t mean anything. At the end of the day they’re 30 points. So let them all go out and use their good stuff and parts and pieces while we’re figuring out how to make it work and we’ll come out at the end like we do every year and history repeats itself. Man, we’ll go out and battle.”

– Nick Bromberg is a frequent contributor to RacinToday.com

Nick Bromberg | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 22 2010
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