People, Places & Racing News

NEFF OUT, OKUHARA IN AS SCELZI'S CREW CHIEF AND OTHER NHRA NEWSMAKERS

NEFF OUT AS CREW CHIEF ON SCELZI'S DODGE: One week after news broke that Mike Neff would join John Force Racing in 2008 as driver of its fourth Funny Car, Neff has been replaced as crew chief on Gary Scelzi's Don Schumacher Racing-owned Mopar/Oakley Dodge Charger R/T. Todd Okuhara, former co-tuner for Scelzi's teammate Jack Beckman, takes the lead on the Mopar car, while Phil Shuler stays with Beckman.

ASHLEY FORCE SPEAKS "PASSION AND PURPOSE" AT BEAUTY CONVENTION: Ashley Force spoke to more than 5,500 listeners at the BeautiControl Inc. "Ride of Your Life" rally, August 2, at the Gaylord Texas Resort Hotel in Dallas. Force shared a video that featured clips of her Castrol GTX Ford Mustang and followed it up with a speech urging those in attendance to pursue their own career goals with passion and purpose. She received a standing ovation. The company's top consultants can earn Ford Mustang GT convertibles like the one Ashley drives on the street by reaching certain performance goals.

TONY PEDREGON HOT AT ‘NIGHT UNDER FIRE’: While a few drivers enjoyed their first weekend off in months, Tony Pedregon defended his title at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park's 30th annual ACDelco/Ohio Lottery Night Under Fire presented by Amalie Oil in Norwalk. Pedregon, who with his brother Cruz owns and operates his own team, defeated Ohio native Jim Head in the final round with a 4.82-second pass at 301.20 mph in his Q Racing Chevy Impala SS. Ashley Force finished third in her Castrol GTX Ford Mustang at the popular exhibition event.

MEDLEN MEMORIAL TOURNAMENT SEEKS PLAYERS: Organizers of the inaugural Eric Medlen Memorial Golf Tournament are now accepting reservations for teams and individual players interested in competing in the event, scheduled for a shotgun start at 1 p.m. (PST), October 31, at the Mountain Meadows Golf Course in Pomona, California. Proceeds from the tournament will be shared by DRAW and Metro Ministries, a charity chosen by John Medlen. An entry fee of $95 per golfer covers half a cart, lunch, goodie bags and hors d'oeuvres that will be served during a short awards ceremony following the tournament, with honors going to the first and second-place teams, Longest Drive (men and ladies), Closest to the Pin, and the first Hole in One. The tournament is open to all NHRA team owners, drivers, crew members, manufacturers, fans and guests, but is limited to 128 players, so reservations are required. For more information, contact Rosalee Noble at 217/345-6537 or rnoble@consolidated.net.

COMING ATTRACTIONS

LUCAS OIL NHRA NATIONALS, BRAINERD INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY, AUG. 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, AUG. 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.

INDY NHRA SPORT COMPACT NATIONALS PRESENTED BY BP, O'REILLY RACEWAY PARK, AUG. 18–19: The NHRA Xplod Sport Compact Racing Series will be coming to O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis for the inaugural Indy NHRA Sport Compact Nationals presented by BP, August 18–19. This will mark the first time that the Xplod Series has come to Indianapolis as a stand-alone event. For more information log onto the NHRA Xplod Sport Compact Racing Series home page www.nhrasportcompact.com.
 
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.

O'REILLY NHRA MID-SOUTH NATIONALS, MEMPHIS MOTORSPORTS PARK, SEPT. 14–16: Doug Kalitta, John Force, Kurt Johnson and Andrew Hines look to defend their 2006 titles at this second event in the Countdown to Four.

.INSIDE THE NUMBERS

4: Times defending event winner Antron Brown—still three spots out of the Top Eight—has won the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd. This may be the perfect week for Brown to make up ground in the Countdown standings.

DRIVERS TELL ALL

ROD FULLER, DAVID POWERS MOTORSPORTS TOP FUEL DRAGSTER: "My goal (for Brainerd, Minn.) is to lock in the No.1 position in the Countdown. We have to put a stop to the (Tony) Schumacher freight train. We can do it because we're the little engine that could. We ran well there last year, so we need to go out and win the race. We put both the Valvoline and CAT cars in the winner's circle, so we need to do the same with the Great White (car) this weekend."