SEMA eNews Vol. 10, No. 23, June 7, 2007

BRANDON BERNSTEIN MOVES INTO FIRST IN TOP FUEL AND OTHER NHRA NEWSMAKERS

NEWS NUGGETS

HD PARTNERS ANNOUNCES PROPOSED ACQUISITION OF NHRA PRO RACING: HD Partners Acquisition Corporation and the NHRA announced last Wednesday, May 30, the signing of a definitive agreement under which HD Partners will acquire all of NHRA’s Professional racing assets, including the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, together with a broad set of rights to commercialize the NHRA brand.  Details can be found on the web at http://www.nhra.com/content/news/20723.htm.

COUNTDOWN UPDATE: The Pro Stock class is renowned for its razor-thin margins of victory at the quarter-mile pole, and it’s no different at the halfway mark of the inaugural Countdown to the Championship. If the 17-race regular season ended today, it’d be a sad, sad day for Mike Edwards who finds himself one point below the cutline. Vieri Gaines currently holds the eighth position with 360 points and Edwards has 359. Fortunately for Edwards, there are still nine more races between now and August 19, when the field of eligible championship contenders will be set at eight (following the Toyo Tires Nationals in Reading, Pennsylvania). Whit Bazemore also moved into the Top eight  this week, replacing Bob Vandergriff’s UPS team, which dropped from 7th to 10th place after a first-round loss. 

THERE’S A NEW LEADER IN TOWN: Brandon Bernstein’s torrid 2007 continued in Topeka, Sunday, as the pilot of the Budweiser/Lucas Oil dragster claimed his third win of the season to move into first place in the Top Fuel standings. He also improved to 15-5 in final rounds in his career, an impressive .750 winning percentage. 

I WANNA BE LIKE MIKE: The power of positive thinking has long been one of Mike Ashley’s trademarks, and after knocking on the door for a season and a half, the New Yorker knocked down the door to the winner’s circle Sunday at the O’Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals. The driver of the Skull Gear/Torco Racing Fuels Dodge Charger Funny Car earned the first win of his 35-race POWERade Series career in his third trip to the finals. 

NHRA DRIVERS GET DOWN AND ‘DIRT’Y: Ron Capps and Cruz Pedregon will be testing their dirt-racing skills against some of the best NASCAR drivers this Wednesday, June 6, at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. They will be participating in the Nextel Prelude to the Dream charity race, which raises money for the Victory Junction Gang Camp and the Tony Stewart Foundation. Said Capps: “I know our NHRA POWERade Drag Racing fans are all going to be tuning in to see how well we do.” Added Pedregon: “I know that Capps and I will try to turn a few fans our way. I hope, when the dust settles, they’ll say, ‘Hey, those NHRA drag racers sure can turn left on dirt’.”  This is the third time that Capps will be participating in the race, which will be telecast by HBO for Pay-Per-View. In the previous two events, he has finished ninth and fourth while driving the dirt late-model stock cars for 30 laps. Pedregon is a veteran of the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals in Tulsa, but he’s never raced in the Nextel Prelude to the dream. 

COMING ATTRACTIONS

TORCO RACING FUELS NHRA ROUTE 66 NATIONALS, JOLIET, ILLINOIS, ROUTE 66 RACEWAY, JUNE 7–10: NHRA legend John Force holds the track record here (4.665 seconds) and he has won three of his NHRA-record 122 races at the spectacular raceway, which hosted its first NHRA POWERade Series race in 1998.
 

NORTHEAST NHRA SPORT COMPACT NATIONALS, ATCO, NEW JERSEY, ATCO RACEWAY, JUNE 9–10: Defending champions at the popular stop on the Sport Compact circuit are: Brad Personett (Pro RWD), Bryan Jimenez (Pro FWD), Jorge Lazcano (Modified), Ron Lummus (Hot Rod) and Norris Prayoonto (Honda Tuning Magazine All Motor). 

PROCARE RX NHRA SUPERNATIONALS, ENGLISHTOWN, NEW JERSEY, OLD BRIDGE TOWNSHIP RACEWAY PARK, JUNE 21-24: The legendary dragstrip will host its 38th NHRA POWERade Series race and this one will carry more meaning than ever as the first-ever Countdown to the Championship nears the final stages of the regular season and drivers on the bubble scurry for every last point needed to secure a spot in the Top 8. 

.INSIDE THE NUMBERS

56: Much has been made of John Force’s DNQ at Las Vegas that broke a string of 396 consecutive races of successfully qualifying into the Field of 16. To put in perspective just how impressive that was, consider that this past weekend, arguably the most consistent team in Funny Car over the past couple of years had its own streak end when Ron Capps’ Brut Dodge Funny Car failed to qualify. His streak, the next-longest at the time in Funny Car at 56, was one-eighth that of Force's; he was 15 years away from catching Force’s mark.

DRIVERS TELL ALL

NHRA FOUNDER WALLY PARKS (A FORMER DRIVER): In an open letter from the NHRA founder about the proposed acquisition of NHRA Pro Racing by HD Partners: “We now have an exceptional opportunity to do something that will open up new vistas of potential for all of drag racing. As it has been structured, NHRA could find it difficult to secure the resources essential to taking the professional side of our sport to the next level. The transaction we have announced today enables the POWERade Drag Racing Series and all related activities to be appropriately funded for unlimited growth.”

For more information, visit www.nhra.com.