People, Places & Racing News

LUCAS FINISHES SECOND, COUGHLIN THIRD IN CHEVY BODINE BOBSLED CHALLENGE

NEWS NUGGETS

COUNTDOWN TO 2008; CARQUEST AUTO PARTS NHRA WINTERNATIONALS A MONTH AWAY: With only 31 days standing between now and the opening race of the 2008 season, many teams and drivers are making their final preparations for the 48th annual CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals, February 7–10 at the historic Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California. For the latest news on team preparations, visit www.nhra.com.

LUCAS FINISHES SECOND; COUGHLIN THIRD OVERALL IN CHEVY BODINE BOBSLED CHALLENGE: Top Fuel driver Morgan Lucas finished second to NASCAR road course specialist Boris Said by a mere 1.07 seconds in the final round of the NHRA vs. NASCAR driver shootout at the third annual Chevy Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge, presented by Whelen Engineering in Lake Placid, New York. Drivers from NHRA and NASCAR competed in both a NHRA vs. NASCAR event, and individual overall competition during the three-day challenge. Lucas was forced to share sleds with Said after the back axle broke through the fiberglass body of his Lucas Oil-sponsored bobsled before the final round. Pro Stock Champion Jeg Coughlin was the only NHRA driver to advance to the final round in the overall event contested by all 15 drivers, picking up the bronze medal with his third-place finish. NHRA pro racers Bob Vandergriff, Phil Burkart and J.R. Todd also competed in the event.

THREE-TIME PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE CHAMPION SAMPEY FINDS RIDE WITH KLEMENT RACING: After weeks of speculation and rumors, Pro Stock Motorcycle team owners Karl and Kim Klement announced that three-time NHRA POWERade champion Angelle Sampey will pilot their Rush Racing Products Buell in 2008. The move will put Sampey, a part owner of Performance Suzuki in her hometown of Houma, Louisiana, on a S&S-powered Buell for the first time in her 11-year career. “I’m excited about it, and I can’t wait to see what we can do,” Sampey said. “After 11 years in the sport, that will be a big change, and it should make for a very interesting year.”

WORSHAM AND TUTTLE JOIN FORCES FOR 2008 SEASON: Del Worsham, owner/driver/tuner of the Checker Schuck’s Kragen Funny Car, and Dexter Tuttle, owner/tuner of the Top Fuel dragster that will be driven by Alan Bradshaw during the 2008 POWERade season, will work together in 2008 under a new racing alliance. The combined effort will feature a mutual pit area, shared resources and combined tuning approaches to give each team more information as they compete in NHRA’s two fastest categories.

GAINESVILLE TOWER TAKING SHAPE: Construction on the exterior of the new tower complex at Gainesville Raceway is almost complete and work on the interior of the new structure, future home of the Norm Froscher media center, is expected to be complete in time for the 39th annual ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals, March 13–16. For pictures of the tower construction, click here.  

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. For more information, contact John Bisci with the Las Vegas Motor Speedway at jbisci@lvms.com.

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. For more information, contact Dwayne Harksell with Firebird International Raceway at dharksell@firebirdraceway.com.

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. For more information, contact John Bisci with the Las Vegas Motor Speedway at jbisci@lvms.com.

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. To request credential for the event, contact NHRA Public Relations Manger Michael Padian at mpadian@nhra.com or click here

HE SAID, SHE SAID

MOVING FROM BIKES TO BELTS: One of the newest drivers in the class, Top Fuel driver Antron Brown, looks to get his first taste of competition in the 7,000-horsepower, 330-mph class in February at the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals. But Brown began his journey towards the Top Fuel class last year before the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals, making his first run during testing at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. In his latest blog on www.nhra.com, Brown discusses what it’s like to move from Pro Stock Motorcycle to Top Fuel dragsters. “I was in the staging lanes before the run and I got strapped in tight by my right-hand man Rip Reynolds, and it felt like I almost couldn’t breathe,” Brown said. “On the bike, I’m not used to being strapped in and confined to a cockpit. Once I got the car staged and the tree came down, I hit the throttle and I felt the coolest sensation ever. It’s hard to describe unless you do it. I shut off around 150-feet out. My eyes perked up, and in my mind I was hooked like a big mouth bass.”

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

10: The number of months this year that the NHRA POWERade series 24-race season will consist of, beginning February 7–10 with the season opener CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California.

DRIVERS TELL ALL

NEWEST MEMBER OF JOHN FORCE RACING, MIKE NEFF, DISCUSSES OFFER OF A LIFETIME: Auto Club “Road to the Future” rookie of the year candidate for 2008 and newest member of John Force Racing, Mike Neff, discussed his conversation with 14-time POWERade Funny Car champion, John Force, about the possibilities of Neff become the fourth driver at JFR. “I never said a word to John about wanting the job,” Neff said. “I think one time way back he came up to me when I was walking the track before a race and said, ‘Hey, I heard you drove [Gary] Scelzi’s car in testing. I didn’t know you wanted to drive.’ And I just said, ‘Yeah, I wanted to have some fun to see what it was like.’ The next time we talked about me driving a car was when he offered me the job.”

For more information, visit www.nhra.com.