People, Places & Racing News

ONLY 70 POINTS SEPARATE SIX TOP FUEL DRIVERS AND OTHER NHRA NEWSMAKERS

NEWS NUGGETS

NHRA POWERADE SERIES TELECONFERENCE TUESDAY, JULY 31, 1 P.M. EST/10 A.M. PST: The NHRA POWERade Series will be hosting the first in a series of teleconferences between now and the end of this inaugural Countdown to the Championship season on Tuesday, July 31, at 1 p.m. EST/10 a.m. PST. The drivers on the call will be able to provide a variety of perspectives, from what it’s like to have clinched early to what it’s like to be sitting on the bubble.

FORCE’S FOURTH SEAT IS FILLED: Mike Neff, longtime crew chief for Gary Scelzi, has been named the driver of the fourth John Force Racing Ford Mustang. Neff will finish the 2007 season as Scelzi’s crew chief, and he will move to JFR as the driver of the Castrol Syntec Ford in 2008. John Medlen will be the crew chief.

IT’S A MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD (ON THE TOP FUEL BUBBLE): The Countdown to the Championship bubble may not be any wilder than in Top Fuel where there are 70 points separating six drivers competing for what appears to be the eighth playoff berth. The driver who holds his own destiny is eighth-place Dave Grubnic (703 points), but it is a tenuous hold. When and if he slips up, it’ll be like the gold rush behind him with Melanie Troxel (-45), Doug Herbert (-53), Doug Kalitta and Hillary Will (-64) and Cory McClenathan (-70) all scrambling for that eighth-and-final playoff berth in Top Fuel.

A FITTING TRIBUTE TO ERIC MEDLEN: More than 2,000 fans attended the inaugural “Eric Medlen Ice Cream Social” at Infineon Raceway following the race on Sunday evening. There were more than 30 “scoopers” including Morgan Lucas and Eric’s mother Mimi, and the event raised $9,086—$4,543 from fans and a 100% match by Infineon Raceway—for the Eric Medlen Scholarship Fund. The money raised will be awarded to the winner of Infineon Raceway’s high school bracket drag division in Eric Medlen’s name.

SONOMA SENDS EIGHT MORE DRIVERS INTO THE COUNTDOWN PLAYOFFS: Sunday was a busy day for clinching Countdown playoff berths as eight more drivers secured spots. In all now, there are five drivers in Top Fuel (Rod Fuller, Tony Schumacher, Brandon Bernstein, Larry Dixon and J.R. Todd) and Pro Stock (Greg Anderson, Jeg Coughlin, Dave Connolly, Allen Johnson and Jason Line) who have clinched and two drivers in Funny Car (Ron Capps and Robert Hight) and Pro Stock Motorcycle (Matt Smith and Angelle Sampey) who have clinched. For more information on the Countdown, go to nhra.com and click on the Countdown to the Championship logo on the right-hand side of the front page.

A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH: It’s difficult to separate hyperbole from fact when John Force speaks, but when he pronounced himself back after his win at Bristol a month ago, it turns out he was spot on. The NHRA icon has added a semi, a runner-up and another win (yesterday at the FRAM-Autolite NHRA Nationals in Sonoma) to move from 15th place and championship afterthought to 7th place and legitimate championship threat. Force helped his own cause immensely en route to his win at Sonoma with a quarterfinal win over then-ninth-place Cruz Pedregon (who’s now in 10th and 105 points behind Force), a semifinal win over Tommy Johnson Jr. (11th place, 108 points behind Force) and a final-round win over ninth-place Del Worsham. With the win, Force ended up in 7th place and 89 points ahead of Worsham; if he’d lost, he would have been in eighth place and just 49 points ahead of Worsham.

COMING ATTRACTIONS

LUCAS OIL NHRA NATIONALS, BRAINERD INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY, AUGUST 9–12: Set in the lake surrounded area of Northern Minnesota, this event is the next-to-last race in the 17-race Countdown to the Championship regular season. Defending event winners include Brandon Bernstein, Tommy Johnson Jr., Dave Connolly and Antron Brown.

TOYO TIRES NHRA NATIONALS, MAPLE GROVE RACEWAY, AUGUST 16–19: The final race of the Countdown to the Championship regular season, this will be the last chance for drivers to either maintain or move into position to clinch a playoff berth. Defending event winners include J.R. Todd, Phil Burkart, Greg Anderson and Karen Stoffer.

MAC TOOLS U.S. NATIONALS, O’REILLY RACEWAY PARK, AUGUST 29–SEPTEMBER 3: Long known as the most prestigious race on the POWERade Series, the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals takes on an even more significant role in 2007 with the inception of the Countdown to the Championship. The Mac Tools U.S. Nationals is the first race in the four-race Countdown playoff that will halve the field of eligible championship teams from eight to four. The annual Skoal Showdown (Funny Car) and the Ringers Gloves (Pro Stock Motorcycle) races-within-a-race will also be contested during the popular Labor Day weekend event.

.INSIDE THE NUMBERS

50: Greg Anderson, who made it a perfect 7-for-7 in final rounds in 2007 with his win Sunday at the FRAM-Autolite NHRA Nationals at Sonoma, moved into sole possession of sixth place on the all-time NHRA POWERade Series wins list with 50. The Top five are: John Force (124), Warren Johnson (96), Bob Glidden (85), Kenny Bernstein (69) and Joe Amato (52).

DRIVERS TELL ALL

ANDERSON ON HIS 50TH WIN: “It’s quite an accomplishment (to reach 50 wins). I don’t know how to explain it. It’s fitting that we had a struggle between number 49 and number 50. Fifty should be tough to get. It should be hard. We were cruising right along, but then we got slapped in the face this summer. It’s a real reminder to never get too cocky.”

For more information, visit www.nhra.com.