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"COUNTDOWN TO ONE" CHAMPIONSHIP ROUNDS SET FOR VEGAS AND OTHER NHRA NEWSMAKERS

NEWS NUGGETS

SCELZI, CAPPS MAKE COUNTDOWN TO ONE WITH FINAL ROUND APPEARANCE: On a day when only the top four in the point standings would advance to the final two-race shootout for POWERade world championships, Funny Car teammates Ron Capps and Gary Scelzi, sitting fifth and sixth in the point standings, knew they had to have spectacular finishes at the second annual Torco Racing Fuels NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park in Richmond, Virginia. And that is exactly what they did. With both drivers facing off in the final round of Funny Car, Gary Scelzi grabbed the ‘Wally,’ but both drivers grabbed a spot in the Countdown to the Championship’s championship round, The Countdown to One. Top Fuel driver Doug Kalitta, though not in the championship hunt, also had the day he’d been hoping for, picking up his first win of the season in his first final round appearance since Memphis 2006. In Pro Stock, Dave Connolly continued his dominance in historic fashion, grabbing his fifth race win in a row and sweeping the Countdown to Four playoff round. Connolly ties Greg Anderson for the second-longest winning streak in class history. Bob Glidden holds the number one spot with nine wins in a row, set back in 1978–1979.

COUNTDOWN TO ONE CHAMPIONSHIP ROUNDS SET IN ALL PROFESSIONAL CATEGORIES: After an amazing playoff battle between the top eight drivers in the point standings in each professional category, the field was set for the next round in the Countdown to the Championship, the Countdown to One. After the amazing battles seen this past weekend at the second annual Torco Racing Fuels NHRA Nationals in Richmond, Virginia, the top four drivers in Pro Stock, Funny Car and Top Fuel were set and will advance to the two-race shootout for the POWERade world series championships starting October 25–28, at the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and finishing up the next week, November 1–4, at the Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, California. Please see the top four drivers below. For more information on the inaugural season of the Countdown to the Championship, click here. NOTE: The Pro Stock Motorcycle fields were set at the previous race, the 22nd annual O’Reilly NHRA Fall Nationals at Texas Motorplex in Dallas.

TOP FUEL

1. Larry Dixon SkyTel dragster 3,030
2. Rod Fuller Caterpillar dragster 3,020
3. Tony Schumacher U.S. Army dragster 3,010
4. Brandon Bernstein Budweiser/Lucas Oil dragster 3,000

FUNNY CAR

1. Tony Pedregon Q Horsepower Chevy Impala SS 3,030
2. Gary Scelzi Mopar/Oakley Dodge Charger R/T 3,020
3. Robert Hight Auto Club Ford Mustang 3,010
4. Ron Capps Brut Dodge Charger R/T 3,000

PRO STOCK

 1. Dave Connolly  Torco Fuels Chevy Cobalt   3,030
 2. Greg Anderson  Summit Racing Pontiac GTO  3,020
 3. Jeg Coughlin  Jegs.com Chevy Cobalt  3,010
 4. Allen Johnson  J&J Racing Dodge Stratus  3,000

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE

1. Andrew Hines Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson 3,030
2. Matt Smith Torco Race Fuels Buell 3,020
3. Chip Ellis Drag Specialties S&S Buell 3,010
4. Peggy Llewellyn Rush Racing Products Buell 3,000
 

PARKS FAMILY ANNOUNCES UPCOMING TRIBUTES TO LATE NHRA FOUNDER, WALLY PARKS: The family of the late NHRA founder, Wally Parks, who died September 28, announced the first of what is expected to be several tributes to the motorsports legend, beginning at the NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion and at the Automobile Club NHRA Finals. A short tribute will be held at the NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion at the Auto Club of Southern California Raceway in Bakersfield, California, October 12–14. NHRA also will have a special trackside ceremony honoring Parks on Sunday, November 4, prior to the final round of eliminations at the Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. For more information on these events, please view our website at www.nhra.com.

TOP FUEL RACERS READY FOR $100,000 BONUS IN TECHNICOAT SHOOTOUT: Tony Schumacher will start from the No. 1 position in the Technicoat Top Fuel Shootout on October 27 during the seventh annual ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The all-star race-within-a-race bonus event, which awards $100,000 to the winner, showcases the eight Top Fuel drivers who accumulated the most qualifying points during the 2007 Technicoat Top Fuel Shootout series. The series began with the 2006 ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas and ended at the 2007 Torco Racing Fuels NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park near Richmond, Virginia, this past weekend. Other racers who have earned a position in the Technicoat Shootout include three-time winner Larry Dixon, 2004 winner Dave Grunbic, three-time runner-up Cory McClenathan, 2002 runner-up Brandon Bernstein, 2006 runner-up Rod Fuller, Melanie Troxel and J.R. Todd.

FORCE EMBARKS IN A MORE INTENSE PHYSICAL THERAPY PROGRAM IN DALLAS: Funny Car legend John Force will remain at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas for an undetermined amount of time as he begins a more intense physical therapy program to recover from injuries suffered during a quarterfinal crash at the O’Reilly NHRA Fall Nationals in Dallas, September 23. Faced with the knowledge that he can’t put weight on a badly broken left ankle for at least 60 days and realizing that his severely damaged right knee and foot simply would not hold him up, Force decided to go with the wishes of orthopedic surgeon Dr. David Zehr and orthopedic traumatologist Dr. Alan Jones and remain at Baylor. Leading Auto Club 2007 Road to the Future rookie of the year candidate Ashley Force, who did not compete in this past weekends Torco Racing Fuels NHRA Nationals in Richmond, Virginia, because safety modifications to her Ford Mustang that were mandated by her father after his crash could not be completed in time, is expected to be back in the driver's seat for the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals.

CATERPILLAR NAMED OFFICIAL SPONSOR OF NHRA: NHRA announced this past weekend that one of the most recognizable names in the corporate world, Caterpillar Inc. (CAT), will become an official sponsor of NHRA beginning in 2008. As part of the official status with NHRA, CAT will have display space at all 23 events on the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series circuit. CAT also will participate in NHRA’s Youth & Education Services (YES) program, presented by the U.S. Army. “These races provide a venue for our dealers to meet one-on-one with these drag racing and engine enthusiasts who are also prospective employees,” said Bill Mayo, vice president of Caterpillar’s North American Commercial Division. 

GAINESVILLE RACEWAY TOWER-COMPLEX CONSTRUCTION CONTINUES: Construction on a new VIP tower is racing along at Gainesville Raceway, home of the annual ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals. The old tower was razed in June, and construction began shortly thereafter. A state-of-the-art control tower will house track offices, race-control operations and a spacious media center.

PERSONETT PICKS UP THIRD CONSECUTIVE CHAMPIONSHIP IN SPORT COMPACT FALLNATIONALS: Pro RWD Brad Personett picked up the win and his third consecutive championship in the process this past weekend at the NHRA Sport Compact Fallnationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey. Champions in three of the four East Region Sportsman classes (UrbanRacer.com, Sport FWD, Sport RWD and BFGoodrich Tires Street Stock) were also crowned at the event.

COMING ATTRACTIONS

NHRA SPORT COMPACT WORLD FINALS, AUTO CLUB RACEWAY AT POMONA, CALIFORNIA, OCTOBER 20–21: The best drivers in the NHRA Xplod Sport Compact Series will gather at the famous Auto Club Raceway in Pomona for the final event of the 2007 Sport Compact Season.

ACDELCO LAS VEGAS NHRA NATIONALS, THE STRIP AT LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY, OCTOBER 25–28: The Countdown to One begins with the Top four in each professional category battling it out for POWERade World Championships. The 2007 Technicoat Top Fuel Shootout also will take place at the event, pitting the top drivers in Top Fuel battling against each other for $100,000 and bragging rights.

AUTO CLUB NHRA FINALS, AUTO CLUB RACEWAY AT POMONA, NOVEMBER 1–4: In the final race of the season, the top four drivers in each professional category will all be fighting for the POWERade World Championship. Defending event winners include Tony Schumacher, John Force, Greg Anderson, and Craig Treble.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

113: The number of points 2005 Funny Car champion Gary Scelzi picked up with his win in Richmond, Virginia, which propelled him from sixth place, sitting out of the Countdown, to second place, secured in the Countdown to One and only 10 points behind first place Tony Pedregon. With the two-race shootout just three weeks away, Scelzi is in prime position to win his second POWERade Funny Car Championship.

DRIVERS TELL ALL

FUNNY CAR DRIVER JACK BECKMAN ON JUST MISSING THE FIELD FOR THE COUNTDOWN TO ONE: Heading into the second annual Torco Racing Fuels NHRA Nationals in Richmond, Virginia, this past weekend, Funny Car driver Jack Beckman was sitting in the third spot, one spot ahead of the cutoff point for the Countdown to One and 25 points ahead of fifth-place driver and teammate Ron Capps. But after a quarterfinal loss, Beckman could only watch as fellow teammates Capps and Gary Scelzi made it to the final round at Richmond, bumping him from third to fifth place in the standings, only 12 points out of the Countdown to One and his hopes of a POWERade world championship. “You always want to control your destiny,” Beckman said. “You always want it decided on the race track with you strapped in the car. To have to sit there for two rounds is agonizing. It’s tough to put a good spin on this right now. We’ll race for fifth now instead of first.”

For more information, visit www.nhra.com.