People, Places & Racing News

McCLENATHAN AND WILKERSON BREAK WINLESS STREAKS IN VEGAS AND OTHER NHRA NEWSMAKERS

MAC IS BACK! McCLENATHAN AND WILKERSON BREAK WINLESS STREAKS IN VEGAS; LINE GETS FIRST WIN OF 2008: Continuing the role of winless streaks being broken in 2008, Top Fuel pilot Cory McClenathan and Funny Car driver Tim Wilkerson both found the winner’s circle Sunday at the ninth annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. For McClenathan, it had been nearly a year and a half since his last victory, dating back to Richmond in 2006. Wilkerson’s last win came three years earlier, when he beat John Force in Sonoma in 2004. Pro Stock driver Jason Line left Las Vegas with not only his first win in 2008, but also tied with defending world champion Jeg Coughlin for the points lead. Funny Car driver Ashley Force may have finished runner-up for the second straight race but she made history of her own, becoming the first woman in NHRA history to lead the points in Funny Car. To view more storylines from the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals, or to get results from all of the POWERade Series drivers, visit www.nhra.com.

NHRA AND IMG JOIN FORCES TO ENHANCE SPONSORSHIP EFFORTS: In a move to enhance sponsorship efforts in NHRA Drag Racing, the premier drag racing sanctioning body has entered into a strategic alliance with global sports and entertainment company IMG to assist as NHRA’s exclusive outside sponsorship marketing agent. IMG will work alongside the current sales team at NHRA in developing and securing non-endemic sponsorship to NHRA. “IMG brings with it more than 50 years of leadership and innovation in the world of sports,” said NHRA Senior Vice President-Sales & Marketing Gary Darcy. “With strong relationships within corporate America and abroad, we believe IMG will be able to help deliver NHRA’s unique attributes to key decision makers in the sports sponsorship arena.”

NASCAR DRIVER HARVICK EXPLORING OPTION WITH VANDERGRIFF: NASCAR racer and team owner Kevin Harvick, along with his wife DeLana, are working with Top Fuel driver Bob Vandergriff to explore the option of fielding a Top Fuel dragster team in the POWERade Series. The proposed Harvick-Vandergriff Motorsports would field an additional Top Fuel dragster to run alongside Vandergriff’s UPS dragster in the series. Vandergriff and Harvick plan to begin assembling a race team within the next two months in hopes of preparing for a 2009 debut.

DRAGWAY @ LOWE’S MOTOR SPEEDWAY RISING FROM THE GROUND: Just a few months into construction, the Dragway @ Lowe’s Motor Speedway is beginning to take shape in anticipation of the upcoming NHRA Carolinas Nationals, Sept. 11–14. To view some of the latest photo’s, including shots of the stands, strip and skeleton of the tower, visit www.nhra.com.

COMING ATTRACTIONS

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).

O’REILLY NHRA MIDWEST NATIONALS, GATEWAY INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY, MAY 2–4: Traveling back to Madison, Illinois, which sits just outside of St. Louis in view of the archway, drivers from the NHRA POWERade Series will look to gain some advantage in the Countdown to the Championship just before the start of the summer months. Defending event champions include Melanie Troxel (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), Dave Connolly (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

O’REILLY NHRA THUNDER VALLEY NATIONALS, BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY, MAY 16–18: The NHRA POWERade Series heads back to the Thunder Valley of Bristol, Tennessee for the eighth running of the event. Defending event winners include Brandon Bernstein (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car) and Jeg Coughlin (Pro Stock).

HE SAID, SHE SAID

A WIN FOR THE ‘LITTLE GUYS’: Tim Wilkerson’s win this Sunday at the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals marked the second event in a row that a Funny Car driver broke a winless streak that covered the span of a few years. Wilkerson felt it showed the work NHRA has done to make sure that the professional fields are competitive not just for multiple car teams, but single car teams as well. “This is kind of cool to see the single-car teams right in the deal, don’t you think?” said Wilkerson. “Del (Worsham) won in Houston, and I won here. This is good for the little guys.”

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

5: The number of points in Funny Car that separate first-place Ashley Force from second-place driver Tim Wilkerson. With her runner-up finish in Las Vegas, Force became the first woman in NHRA history to lead the Funny Car point standings.

DID YOU KNOW…

…that Funny Car world champion Tony Pedregon, along with NHRA drivers Whit Bazemore and Marty Nothstein will join racers and celebrities alike this Saturday, April 19, to compete in the 34th annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach? The 10-lap race on a 1.97-mile street circuit through downtown Long Beach will pit professional drivers against famed celebrities to help raise money for local charities.

For more information, visit www.nhra.com.