With the 2008 NHRA season finale looming this weekend at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif., I find myself in a surprisingly less-than-celebratory mood.
Despite clinching my fifth consecutive POWERade world championship in Las Vegas two weeks ago, I'm also aware that my existing U.S. Army team will be disbanding at the conclusion of the Auto Club of Southern California Finals.
My crew chief, Alan Johnson, is leaving the organization to start his own Top Fuel and Funny Car operation in 2009, and most of the U.S. Army crew will be joining him.
I'm certainly happy that we captured another world title, but at the same time I'm a little sad knowing this will be our last race together. I've known these guys for so long, they're like family to me. After we're done on Sunday, I'm confident there will be plenty of handshakes and hugs to go around.
Prior to the big farewell, we do have some unfinished business to deal with in the form of collecting two additional NHRA records. Having already set a plethora of records in '08, we can break Greg Anderson's 2004 single-season victory mark (15) with a win in Pomona, while shattering Anderson's 2004 single-season round win total (76).
We're going after both of those records. I said it before and I will say it again: We want to put an exclamation point on what's been an incredible year. Perhaps we can set the bar so high that no other team will ever be able to reach it.
With Veterans Day occurring just prior to our trip to California, we would also like to honor the soldiers, who have given the ultimate sacrifice, with a victory. We can't forget those brave men and women. They're forever etched in our hearts.
With that, it's off to the 24th event of the year. It's hard to believe another season is coming to a close. "The Sarge" would like to extend one last salute to you for 2008.
Yet again, I've enjoyed writing this column over the past 10 months, and with any kind of hope, ESPN.com will want me back next year. I hope y'all enjoy a safe and healthy holiday season, and as always please remember to keep our soldiers in your hearts and prayers. They deserve that, especially with the holidays forthcoming.
I hope to see you in 2009. Hooah!
Five-time world champion Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher drives the U.S. Army-sponsored Top Fuel dragster in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series and has provided a diary for ESPN.com throughout the 2008 season.