People, Places & Racing News

DIXON CLAIMS FIRST WIN OF THE SEASON AND OTHER NHRA NEWSMAKERS

NEWS NUGGETS

DIXON PICKS UP FIRST WIN OF THE SEASON IN PHOENIX; BECKMAN, GAINES ALSO FIND WINNERS CIRCLE AT CHECKER SCHUCK’S KRAGEN NHRA NATIONALS: Returning to the spot of his first career win in 1995, Top Fuel pilot Larry Dixon picked up his first win of the season, second at Firebird International Raceway and 42nd career win Sunday at the Checker Schuck’s Kragen NHRA Nationals in Phoenix, Arizona. Dixon drove his U.S. Smokeless Tobacco dragster past runner-up Dave Grubnic to secure the win, which ties him with Tony Schumacher for ninth place on the NHRA all-time wins list and second on the all-time Top Fuel wins list (both trail Joe Amato with 52 wins).
    Jack Beckman, battling a bad case of the flu all weekend, drove his Valvoline/MTS Dodge Charger R/T to the win in Funny Car after runner-up finisher and current points leader Robert Hight smoked the tires in the other lane. In Pro Stock, V Gaines picked up his first win in seven years, driving his Kendall Oil Dodge Stratus R/T past Jason Line, whose Summit Racing Pontiac GTO broke shortly after the green light. Gaines’ last win came in 2001 in Dallas against Tom Hammonds. To find the results from last week’s Checker Schuck’s Kragen NHRA Nationals, visit www.nhra.com.

O’REILLY EXTENDS SPONSORSHIP OF SUMMER NATIONALS: Continuing their title-rights sponsorship that began in 2002, O’Reilly Auto Parts has signed a multi-year extension as the title-rights sponsor of the O’Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals held in Topeka, Kansas through 2010. O’Reilly Auto Parts’ commitment to NHRA includes not only the sponsorship of the Summer Nationals, but also the title-rights sponsorships of NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series events in Houston, Madison, Bristol, Memphis and Dallas.
    O’Reilly Auto Parts also recently signed a long-term naming-rights deal to historic O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis and is the series sponsor of the successful NHRA O’Reilly Auto Parts Jr. Drag Racing League.

FORCE WINS JUSTICE BROTHERS-SHAV GLICK AWARD: Though competing in the Checker Schuck’s Kragen NHRA Nationals in Phoenix, 14-time POWERade Series world champion John Force was still able to accept the Justice Brothers-Shav Glick Award nearly 326 miles away in California, thanks to his daughters Brittany, Courtney and Adria, who accepted the award on his behalf. The annual award recognizes those who have made distinguished contributions to motorsports in California.
    “Being nominated for an award with Shav’s name on it is an honor by itself,” Force said, “but to be with people like Robert (E.) Petersen, Chris Pook and Jimmie Johnson, the NASCAR champ, makes it even more special. I wish I could have been there myself, but I’m just glad my girls were able to accept it for me. It’ll go right in my museum.”
    Glick was a longtime motorsports writer for the Los Angeles Times. He covered the sport of drag racing for more than 30 years, and NHRA’s pressroom at the Auto Club Raceway in Pomona bears his name.

FINISHING TOUCHES IN PROGRESS ON GAINESVILLE TOWER: After months of construction and preparation, the new tower at Gainesville Raceway is in the final stages of completion just in time for the ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals, March 13–16 in Gainesville, Florida. To view current pictures of the state-of-the-art tower, click on www.NHRA.com.

COMING ATTRACTIONS
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).

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

SUMMITRACING.COM NHRA NATIONALS, THE STRIP AT LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY, APRIL 10–13: The NHRA POWERade series travels to the city that never sleeps for the fifth event of the 2008 season. Defending event winners include: Brandon Bernstein (Top Fuel); Robert Hight (Funny Car);  and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock).

HE SAID, SHE SAID

SEEN ANY GOOD MOVIES LATELY?: During the rain-delayed Friday qualifying sessions at the Checker Schuck’s Kragen NHRA Nationals, Funny Car driver John Force had a chance to reflect on the Academy Awards, occurring that week, and some of the movies he’d seen. Surprisingly, the 14-time POWERade Series world champion-turned movie critic made a few good predictions.
    “Best supporting actor will be Javier Bardem from 'No Country for Old Men,' and the Best Actor will be Daniel Day Lewis,” Force said. “Nobody else stands a chance. I’ll bet you $1,000 and take a bet with anybody.”

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

10: The number of wins Top Fuel drivers Larry Dixon and Tony Schumacher need to tie NHRA legend Joe Amato for the No. 1 spot in all-time Top Fuel wins. Both Dixon and Schumacher are tied for second with 42 wins each, while Amato holds the top spot with 52.

DRIVERS TELL ALL

TAKE TWO OF THESE AND CALL ME IN THE MORNING: Competing at the Checker Schuck’s Kragen NHRA Nationals with a bad case of the flu, Funny Car driver Jack Beckman battled through a sore throat and aching body to pick up his first win of the season. Beckman, who avoided taking any medication while competing Sunday, remarked on the instructions found on a common flu medicine.
    “You get up in the morning and you just feel bad and you look at the back of the cold medicine and it says ‘do not operate heavy machinery,’ and I’m not sure if that counts as a nitro Funny Car,” Beckman said.

For more information, visit www.nhra.com.