People, Places & Racing News

McCLENATHAN, DUNN LIGHT IT UP DOWN UNDER AND OTHER NHRA NEWSMAKERS

NEWS NUGGETS

NHRA POWERADE SERIES AMBASSADORS RISE UP DOWN UNDER: NHRA POWERade Series ambassadors Cory McClenathan and Mike Dunn traveled to Australia this past weekend and acquitted themselves quite well and may have been in an all-NHRA final if not for Phil Read. The Aussie dragster beat McClenathan in the semis and then he topped ESPN analyst and 22-time winner Mike Dunn in the final round of the race held at Western Sydney International Dragway. A full recap of the final round, which included a hail storm and temps in excess of 140-degrees F, can be found by clicking here.

POWERade SERIES CHAMPS TOP AARWBA ALL-AMERICA TEAM: Top Fuel and Funny Car world champions Tony Schumacher and Tony Pedregon were named to the American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters (AARWBA) All-America First Team. Pro Stock world champion Jeg Coughlin and runner-up Greg Anderson were named to the AARWBA All-America Second Team. Schumacher was the leading vote-getter among the drag racers, and he is one of five finalists for the Jerry Titus Award, which is given to the top vote-getter regardless of category. Schumacher won the award last year and if he repeats, he would become just the third driver in history to win the Jerry Titus Award in back-to-back years (Mario Andretti, 1977–1978 and John Force, 1999–2000). For more information on the AARWBA All-America team, please click here

TOMMY JOHNSON JR. FILLS MONSTER SEAT IN FUNNY CAR: One year into his return, NHRA legend Kenny Bernstein announced that he will be returning to full-time ownership and replacing himself in the Monster Energy Dodge Charger with accomplished driver Tommy Johnson Jr., who was released from his contract by Don “Snake” Prudhomme. Johnson Jr. had driven the Skoal Chevy for Prudhomme. For more on this story, click here

NHRA 2007 YEAR IN REVIEW DVD’S AVAILABLE: The NHRA Countdown to the Championship 2007 Year in Review, featuring 120 minutes of highlights and bonus features on Wally Parks and Eric Medlen, is available for pre-order at www.nhradvd.com. For more about the DVD and the just announced shipping options, visit www.nhra.com/content/news/25860.htm.  

POWERade SERIES ROOKIE OF THE YEAR FORCE A YAHOO! TRENDSETTER: Yahoo! released a series of Top 10 lists covering a variety of categories tracking “trends in Search” and Ashley Force was No. 10 in the “sports news” category. The 2007 Auto Club Road to the Future winner was joined by international A-list athletes Maria Sharapova and David Beckham on the list, and she was the only motorsports personality included on the list. Force was featured in January on the Yahoo! front page when she announced she was turning pro; she was joined by Melanie Troxel and Angelle Sampey on "Good Morning America" in June, she was featured in Men’s Journal in August 2007, and in September she was named AOL’s Hottest Athlete and the guest of Jay Leno on "The Tonight Show."

COMING ATTRACTIONS

NITRO BLAST OFF, LAS VEGAS, THE STRIP AT LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY, JANUARY 18–20: The elite teams of the NHRA POWERade Series will begin making preparations for competition in 2008 at this first of three optional showcase pre-season test sessions.

NATIONAL TIME TRIALS, PHOENIX, FIREBIRD INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY, JANUARY 25–27: Pre-season action moves from Nevada to Arizona as the professional teams continue to tweak off-season changes at this second of three optional test sessions.

LAST-CHANCE TEST SESSION AND PONTIAC PRO STOCK SHOWDOWN, LAS VEGAS, THE STRIP AT LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY, FEBRUARY 1–3: This aptly named test session is the final of three optional events that allow professional drivers to test their machines before formal competition opens for 2008. The 200-mph NHRA Pro Stock cars also will race for bragging rights in the annual Pontiac Pro Stock Showdown.

CARQUEST AUTO PARTS WINTERNATIONALS, AUTO CLUB RACEWAY AT POMONA, FEBRUARY 7–10: Kick-off the 2008 NHRA POWERade Series Countdown to the Championship at the historic track where last year’s winners included J.R. Todd, Gary Scelzi and Greg Anderson.

HE SAID, SHE SAID

SHE’S OFF THE MARKET: Ashley Force celebrated her 25th birthday by getting engaged to boyfriend Danny Hood and she broke the news to her famous father thusly, as told by longtime Force publicist Dave Densmore: "She called John to let him know the news when he was going through one of his physical therapy sessions. He said that was a good thing because they had him hooked up to all the monitors at the time so they’d be able to tell if he was actually having a heart attack or not.”

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

90%: That’s the new maximum nitro-methane content (up from 85%) for Funny Cars and Top Fuel dragsters in 2008. For a complete list of rules updates, click here.  

DRIVERS TELL ALL

THREE-TIME CHAMP REFLECTS ON HIS NEW HARDWARE: The ultra-successful Summit Racing team of Greg Anderson and Jason Line will be rolling out brand-new vehicles in 2008: the Pontiac G6 GXP. “Every change GM has made in the past has been a big step forward and from what I can see on paper; that will once again be the case with the G6s.”

For more information, visit www.nhra.com.