People, Places & Racing News

PEDREGON GRABS GAINESVILLE VICTORY AND OTHER NHRA NEWSMAKERS

PEDREGON SCORES FIRST 2008 VICTORY AT ACDELCO NHRA GATORNATIONALS; SCHUMACHER, COUGHLIN AND GUIDERA ALSO WIN IN GAINESVILLE: Battling back from a horrific crash that left him with minor burns to one hand, defending POWERade Series world champion Tony Pedregon picked up his first win of the season at the 39th annual ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida. Pedregon, who qualified No.1 for the event, was able to hold off surprise runner-up Gary Densham en route to his 37th career win and first in Gainesville.
    “Winning is definitely the best medicine for this team right now,” Pedregon said. “A little more than a month ago I was in the hospital with a burned hand. Today we were able to win the race and get this season turned around.”
    Defending Top Fuel world champion Tony Schumacher was also victorious Sunday, powering his U.S. Army dragster over Brandon Bernstein’s Budweiser/Lucas Oil dragster to pick up his second win of the season and third at the historic event.
    In Pro Stock, Jeg Coughlin found his way to the winner’s circle in just the third race of his world championship defending season, defeating 2006 world champion Jason Line and picking up his second win at the famed Gainesville Raceway, while Matt Guidera was able to ride past three-time world champion Andrew Hines to win the first event of the 2008 season for Pro Stock Motorcycle.
    To see the results from the 39th annual ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals, visit www.nhra.com.
 
NHRA DRIVERS VISIT SHANDS PEDIATRIC SPECIALTY CLINIC: Top Fuel drivers Morgan Lucas and J.R. Todd, Funny Car driver Tony Bartone and Pro Stock drivers Jim Yates, Kurt Johnson and Tom Hammonds made their annual stop at the Shands Pediatric Specialty clinic on the campus of the University of Florida. It was the fifth consecutive year that drivers have visited the children and staff at the clinic.

    During the visit, drivers passed out die-cast race cars, signed posters and autograph cards and posed for photos with the kids. They also presented the hospital staff with an autographed racing helmet signed by 47 NHRA competitors, which will be auctioned during an April fundraiser to raise money for “STOP! Children’s Cancer,” a Gainesville-based non-profit organization. “Being able to spread cheer at Shands Hospital means a great deal to me,” Hammonds said. “I’m a Floridian so I know all about the good work they do at Shands, and for me to be able to come in for one day and bring a little cheer and light to these kids’ lives is just great.”
 
HERBERT’S PAIN SLOWS WITH BRAKES: The greatest pain a parent can have is to bury their own children. Doug Herbert, driver of the SnapOnFranchise.com Top Fuel dragster, had to do just that in January. His two sons, Jon, 17, and James, 12, were killed in an auto accident in North Carolina.
    To help Herbert with the pain he founded BRAKES—Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe. The boys’ friends at SouthLake Christian Academy are helping Herbert spread the news of driving safely with this “drive safe” initiative tailored for teens. To learn more about BRAKES, visit www.putonthebrakes.com. To read more about Herbert’s story, visit www.nhra.com.

COMING ATTRACTIONS

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 Nevada 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). 

SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT NHRA SOUTHERN NATIONALS, ATLANTA DRAGWAY, APRIL 24–27: The NHRA POWERade series heads back down south, as drivers in four categories will compete at the sixth event of the season. Defending event winners include Brandon Bernstein (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Karen Stoffer (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

HE SAID, SHE SAID
 
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON: While Top Fuel driver Doug Foley was working to drive his FX Caprara Kia dragster into the field at the ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals, his 10-year-old son Joseph was doing some racing of his own, competing against drag racing fans from around the country in the POWERade Fan Nationals.
    While the older Foley qualified 13th and lost to Antron Brown in the first round, the younger qualified in the No. 6 spot and battled his way through the field to take home the win and a trip to the Auto Club NHRA Finals for the POWERade Fan Nationals championship event.
    “At least someone in the family knows how to win,” wife and proud mother Shelagh said with a laugh. Father Doug was not as excited. “I asked why he was trying to show his old man up,” Foley said.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

4.480: The track E.T. record at Houston Raceway Park set by Gary Scelzi in 1999. Scelzi has since moved from Top Fuel to Funny Car, but the record has yet to be broken.

DRIVERS TELL ALL

WHETHER RAIN, OR SLEET OR SNOW: Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Matt Guidera picked up his first win of the 2008 season and second career win at the ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals. His first win came in 2007 at the rain-delayed Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals in Reading, Pennsylvania, which saw the finals take place on a Wednesday to a smaller remaining crowd.
    Rain shortened the qualifying sessions from four to two at the Gatornationals, a recipe that seems to work well for Guidera.
    “We ran consistent all day, but it was a lot different doing it in front of the packed grandstands,” Guidera said. “I was feeling it and trying to relax and stay calm with everyone waving at you and looking at you."