U.S. Army Top Fuel driver Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher will be looking to plot a new course here this weekend when he hits The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals.

Schumacher, who is the defending world champion, was recently eliminated in the second round and first round, respectively, at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte and Houston Raceway Park in Baytown, Tex.

"For sure, the last couple of weeks were not good for us," said the Chicago-area resident. "We're not used to those early departures. We're used to staying at the track late on Sundays."

Schumacher has recorded one late Sunday thus far in 2010 after he captured the Tire Kingdom Gatornationals at Gainesville (Fla.) Raceway last month. The win briefly pushed him into the points lead.

"We enjoyed being on top of the standings," he said. "We want to get back up there as quickly as possible. We owe that to our Army Strong Soldiers. They strive for perfection every day, so that's our goal as well."

Following his opening round loss to Brandon Bernstein at HRP last Sunday, Schumacher dropped from second in the standings to fifth. It was the first time in 19 races he had been taken out in the first round of eliminations.

"That's also something we don't typically do," he added. "I'm not sure what happened. We looked at the data and there wasn't any one thing that told us why we smoked the tires at the hit of the throttle. I guess it's just something that happens every once in a while. We're going to put that one out of our minds and just move on."

Perhaps, the trip to Las Vegas will put a smile back on Schumacher's face. He has five career wins to his credit at The Strip, two of which came in the spring race. He won last year's SummitRacing.com Nationals.

"I love racing at The Strip," he said. "It's a state-of-the-art drag strip which usually produces some terrific side-by-side racing. I really can't wait to get out there. We want to return to our winning ways and forget about Charlotte and Houston. Those races are history and we all know you can't change history."

Note: On Wednesday night, Tony will serve as keynote speaker at the Mel Larson Night of Champions at The Palms Hotel & Casino. This year's honoree is 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kurt Busch.