ESPN2 ANNOUNCES NEW TV SCHEDULE FOR O’REILLY THUNDER VALLEY NATIONALS: ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will provide same-day coverage of qualifying and eliminations for the rescheduled O'Reilly NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals presented by Q at Bristol Dragway, July 6–8. Qualifying will be televised from 4 to 6 p.m. (ET) Saturday, July 7, and final eliminations will air from 7 to 9 p.m. (ET) Sunday, July 8. NHRA Race Day will air at 11 a.m. (ET) on July 8, to set the stage for that day's eliminations.
KING DEMON CROWN FIELD TO BE SET AT TOPEKA: With the rescheduling of the O'Reilly NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway to July 6–8, points accumulation for the 2007 NHRA King Demon Crown bonus event for Pro Stock drivers has been shortened to 22 events. The O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals at Heartland Park, in Topeka, Kansas, June 1–3, is the last event where Pro Stock drivers can earn points for the lucrative event.
The King Demon Crown, which features the eight best Pro Stock teams from the last year, pays $50,000 to the winner. The popular race-within-a-race bonus event will be contested June 9 at the Torco Racing Fuels NHRA Route 66 Nationals at spectacular Route 66 Raceway near Chicago. The current top eight drivers include: Greg Anderson, Jason Line, Allen Johnson, Dave Connolly, Kurt Johnson, Mike Edwards, Greg Stanfield and V Gaines. Jim Yates and Richie Stevens, ninth and 10th respectively, need quick qualifying performances at Heartland Park, in Topeka, Kansas, to have a shot at making the eight-car lineup.
NHRA ANNOUNCES BUELL WEIGHT ADJUSTMENT IN PSM: Following a review of recent performances in the Pro Stock Motorcycle category, NHRA has announced that the minimum weight for all Buell-powered motorcycles will be increased by 10 pounds, from 615 to 625 (minimum weights include the rider). The increase is part of NHRA's ongoing efforts at maintaining competition within the category. The change is effective June 7, 2007, at the Torco Racing Fuels Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway, which is the next stop on the POWERade tour for Pro Stock Motorcycle. Harley Davidson V-Rod (160 CID) and Suzuki (101 CID) remain at 615 pounds.
JON OBERHOFER NAMED CREW CHIEF FOR DOUG KALITTA: Longtime Team Kalitta co-crew chief Jon Oberhofer will take over the reins as crew chief of the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster driven by veteran Doug Kalitta. Oberhofer has relinquished his duties as co-crew chief of the Zantrex-3 Top Fuel dragster driven by Dave Grubnic. Connie Kalitta will retain his title as crew chief on the Zantrex-3 entry.
Oberhofer, a 38-year-old resident of Ypsilanti, Michigan, began his tenure at Kalitta Motorsports in 1991 working as a crewmember on the Top Fueler driven by Connie's son and two-time Top Fuel world champion (1994-1995), Scott. He worked his way up through the Team Kalitta organization to take over as clutch specialist in 1998 on the dragster driven by then rookie and soon thereafter Auto Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award winner Doug, Connie's nephew. He was promoted to crew chief of the Grubnic-driven rail in 2004, where he has served in that position since, guiding the team to two NHRA national event victories (2005, Topeka, Kansas; and 2006, Gainesville, Florida).
“This is a great opportunity for me and hopefully for our whole team,” Oberhofer said. “I'm going to miss working with the guys over on Grubnic's car, but they're in good hands. I've learned so much from Connie already, and I know that will continue in my new position. “I'm very grateful to him for everything he has done for me and my career in drag racing. More than anything right now, the Mac Tools car needs leadership, just like the Zantrex-3 car needs focus. I think the way we've approached this change will provide those things. I'm looking forward to working with Doug again and with all the guys on the Mac Tools team.”
O’REILLY NHRA SUMMER NATIONALS (AND NHRA SPORT COMPACT NATIONALS), TOPEKA, KANSAS, HEARTLAND PARK TOPEKA, JUNE 1–3: The ninth race of the NHRA POWERade season, this marks the beginning of the turn for home in the 17-event “regular season” portion of the NHRA POWERade Countdown to the Championship. Drivers will begin jockeying for one of the top eight spots that will guarantee them a place in the second stage, the Countdown to 4.
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).
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. This race also features the eight best Pro Stock cars from the last year, racing for the $50,000 winner’s share in the NHRA King Demon Crown bonus event.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
1: One time behind the wheel of a Funny Car was all it took for NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle competitor Eddie Krawiec to know that being enclosed in front of a 7,000-horsepower engine was not for him. Instead, he decided to go with the wide open spaces that his 190-mph Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson gives him.
“I have always known that a Funny Car is something I would never drive,” Krawiec said. “I don't do well in tight spaces. I sat in a Funny Car once, and the second they put the body down, I wanted out.”
DRIVERS TELL ALL
MUCH-NEEDED VICTORY FOR TROXEL: Melanie Troxel ended a 13-month absence from the winner’s circle by winning the Top Fuel title at the O’Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis. Troxel, one of eight women to earn a professional category victory in NHRA history, and one of six females to win in Top Fuel, says the victory couldn’t have come at a better time.
She moved to fifth in the points standings, and bettered her chances of holding on to one of the top eight spots as the NHRA POWERade Countdown to the Championship moves closer to the Countdown to Eight cut-off point (August 19, Reading, Pennsylvania).
“It takes a huge amount of pressure off of us to make it to that winner's circle again,” said Troxel of her third career Top Fuel win. “We moved up four spots in the points and are less than a round out of third [four points], so we're definitely in the hunt. With Bristol being rescheduled, we ended up with an extra couple of weeks before our next event. The way I look at it, that's a couple more weeks for me to enjoy being the most recent NHRA race winner.”