SCHUMACHER FOCUSES ON NEW GOALS AFTER CLINCHING TITLE

After capturing the 2004 NHRA POWERade Top Fuel world championship two weeks ago, Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher will have a couple of new goals in mind when he takes to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway here this weekend for the ACDelco Las Vegas Nationals.

With a victory in Las Vegas, the driver of the United States Army Top Fuel dragster can set a new standard for most wins in a single season in Top Fuel. Additionally, he will be attempting to win his first Budweiser Shootout, which is a special all-star race that showcases eight of the best-performing Top Fuel teams in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

In winning the Lucas Oil Nationals two weeks ago, Schumacher pocketed his second Top Fuel world title in five years. He also recorded his ninth win of the year, which tied him with Gary Scelzi (2000) and Larry Dixon (2002) for most wins in a single season in Top Fuel.

"This has been an incredible year, no doubt about it," said the Chicago native. "Now that we have clinched the championship, we can set our sights on setting the new record. We've got two races to get it, so it's quite feasible. I'm confident this U.S. Army team is going to take its best shot."

On Saturday, Schumacher will also be trying to win the lucrative Budweiser Shootout which offers a first-place prize of $100,000. Last year, he lost in the finals to Doug Kalitta in one of the quickest side-by-side races in Top Fuel history.

"That was a whale of a race," he recalled. "If we both get to the finals again this year, I guess I owe him one."