Like the rest of the NHRA family, the U.S. Army Top Fuel team is having a hard time focusing on this weekend's Summit Racing Equipment Nationals at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio.
Personally, I continue to be filled with emotion following the death of Funny Car driver Scott Kalitta last Saturday at Old Bridge Township (N.J.) Raceway Park.
I still can't believe Scott's no longer with us. We all miss him dearly, and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and the entire Kalitta Motorsports team.
After capturing my first career victory at Raceway Park on Sunday, I made sure that the event trophy quickly got into the hands of the Kalitta team in honor of its fallen driver. That's where it belonged, plain and simple. Scott meant so much to so many people. We had some great battles on the track when he was running Top Fuel. In fact, I got my first win back in 1999 over Scott down at the Texas Motorplex. I always respected the intensity that he brought to the track.
We're all fully aware that life must move on to include the upcoming race weekend in the Buckeye State. That's what Scott would want us to do, I can guarantee you. He wouldn't want us to dwell on his passing. He will definitely be with us in spirit from this point forward and we will never, ever forget him.
As for this weekend's race, we're the defending Summit Racing Equipment Nationals champs. We hold a 244-point lead over Antron Brown in the Top Fuel standings, which is pretty amazing.
This weekend's event also marks the halfway point on the 24-race NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series schedule. Though it's rewarding for us to be sitting on top of the mountain right now, we'd much rather end up there come November at the end of the season.
To be perfectly honest, given Scott's death a few days ago, points and wins are really not on my radar screen right now. We need to keep everything in perspective. Come Friday when qualifying begins, we can get back to the business at hand. But at the moment we need to support the Kalitta family during this tough period.
With that, "The Sarge" salutes you all. I'd like to ask that you also keep the Kalitta family in mind when you hit your knees tonight to pray.
We'll have July Fourth weekend off before heading out to Denver for the start of the annual three-race Western Swing. So, until then, stay well.
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 is providing a diary for ESPN.com throughout the 2008 season.