People, Places & Racing News

DEFENDING CHAMP PEDREGON OK AFTER CRASH AND OTHER NHRA NEWSMAKERS

NEWS NUGGETS
SCHUMACHER, HIGHT START 2008 SEASON WHERE THEY LEFT OFF WITH A WIN IN POMONA; ANDERSON COLLECTS 52ND WIN: Defending Top Fuel world champion Tony Schumacher began his 2008 campaign for a championship where he left off last season, picking up his 42nd career victory Sunday at the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. Schumacher ran a 4.499 at 331.28 past new teammate Cory McClenathan to pick up his sixth win at the historic track.
    Funny Car driver Robert Hight also started his season where he left off just three months previous, picking up his ninth career win and second at this race. Hight’s run of 4.879 seconds at 284.39 mph was just enough to beat runner-up Cruz Pedregon.
    In Pro Stock, defending event winner Greg Anderson not only picked up his seventh win at the track, he also collected his 52nd career victory, which ties him for fifth-place on the all-time POWERade Series wins with Top Fuel legend Joe Amato. The 2007 world champion runner-up knocked off defending world champion Jeg Coughlin in the final round, driving his Summit Racing Pontiac GXP to a track-record of 6.616 seconds at 209.23.
    For results from the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals, click on www.NHRA.com.

PEDREGON READY FOR RETURN AFTER FIERY CRASH IN POMONA: After experiencing one of the scariest wrecks in his Funny Car career in the first round of the CARQUEST Auto Parts Winternationals, defending NHRA POWERade world champion Tony Pedregon is ready to return to the track for his world championship defense.
    Pedregon returned to the track late Sunday after being evaluated at a local hospital. Sporting a bandage on the fingers of his right hand, Pedregon had returned to cheer on brother Cruz in the final round.
    “I feel fine,” Pedregon said. “I’m anxious to get back in the seat at Phoenix."

WORLD CHAMPION SMITH FINDS FULL-TIME SPONSOR FOR 2008 WITH NITRO FISH: After months of worrying about sponsorship for his S&S Buell, Defending Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion Matt Smith will be back for the 2008 season, riding the Nitro Fish Buell sponsored by Pro Stock driver Kenny Koretsky.
    “I’m so relieved,” Smith said. “You have no idea how excited I am to be back racing. At this point last week, all I was going to race were the first few races, and now I am fully backed and can go out there and try and win this (championship) again.”
    Smith, along with the rest of the Pro Stock Motorcycle field, will begin their 2008 season at the 39th annual ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals, March 13-16, at Gainesville Raceway.

LINE FLIES HIGH, GETS CHANCE OF A LIFETIME WITH USAF THUNDERBIRDS: Pro Stock driver and 2006 POWERade series world champion Jason Line jumped out of the car and into the cockpit, as he was invited to fly with the USAF Thunderbirds this past week. After a pre-flight medical exam of his heart and lungs, Line was in the air flying at Mach 2 speeds and experiencing nine G-force turns.
    “This was the ride of my life,” Line said. “That’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and even when I was in the Air Force, I never had the opportunity to go up in a fighter jet. That was incredible.”
    For pictures of Line’s ride of a lifetime, visit www.nhra.com.

SPICED UP’ FOR THE SEASON—OLD SPICE TO SPONSOR JFR AND NEFF FOR 2008: Funny Car driver and “Road to the Future” rookie of the year candidate Mike Neff will sport the Old Spice “buoy bottle” on the sides of his Ford Mustang for the 2008 season. Old Spice was introduced during the CARQUEST Auto Parts Winternationals as the newest major sponsor for the John Force Racing Funny Car teams.
 
COMING ATTRACTIONS
CHECKER SCHUCK’S KRAGEN NHRA NATIONALS, FIREBIRD RACEWAY, FEB. 22-24: This second race in the regular season features two defending event winners who eventually launched serious attacks for 2007 POWERade Series titles: Tony Pedregon, the season world champion in Funny Car, and Rod Fuller, who earned runner-up honors in Top Fuel after the best season of his career. Kurt Johnson (Pro Stock) also reached the winner’s circle in Phoenix last year.
    To request credentials for the event, contact NHRA Media Relations Manager Zak Elcock at zelcock@nhra.com, or click here.

ACDELCO NHRA GATORNATIONALS, GAINESVILLE RACEWAY, MARCH 13-16: The Pro Stock Motorcycle category opens its 2008 season at the Gatornationals, annually one of the most popular stops on the NHRA POWERade Series tour. Defending event winners include Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock), and Karen Stoffer (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
    To request credentials for the event, contact Media Relations Manager Lachelle Seymour at lseymour@nhra.com.

O’REILLY NHRA SPRING NATIONALS, HOUSTON RACEWAY PARK, MARCH 28-30: The fourth race in the regular season, drivers in all four categories in the POWERade Drag Racing Series will duel it out for a Texas win. Defending event winners include J.R. Todd (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Angelle Sampey (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

    To request credentials for the event, contact Public Relations Manager Michael Padian at mpadian@nhra.com

HE SAID, SHE SAID
EASING THE PAIN: After picking up his first Wally of the season, defending Top Fuel world champion Tony Schumacher decided that this Wally belonged in the hands of someone else.
    “We’re all part of a family when something like that happens,” Schumacher said, referring to fellow competitor Doug Herbert, whose two young sons were killed in a traffic accident in North Carolina two weeks ago. “I really wanted Doug to have this trophy. It was bittersweet having to race him in the second round. We were able to go on and get the win so this trophy is going to Doug.”

INSIDE THE NUMBERS
334.65: The top speed in Top Fuel at the Winternationals, set by Hillary Will. Will surpassed Melanie Troxel’s speed of 332.51 mph to become the fastest woman in NHRA history. Will also tied fellow Top Fuel driver Tony Schumacher for 5th-place for the fastest speeds in NHRA history.

DRIVERS TELL ALL
ONE BIG BOOM: After experiencing an engine explosion in the first round that not only blew apart the carbon fiber body of his Q Horsepower Chevy Impala, but also left his right hand in a bandage, defending Funny Car world champion Tony Pedregon describes what it was like behind the wheel of a 330-mph fireball.
    “There was no warning,” Pedregon said. “A lot of times when something happens to your car, like when you drop a cylinder, you feel it, and I would have reacted. But it blew up and I had instant flames, and the scary part was I didn’t even know where I was. I hit the wall very hard and I feel very lucky."