FORCE MAKES NAME FOR HERSELF WITH WIN IN ATLANTA: Like the pages of a Hollywood screenplay, the rain delayed final round of the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals in Commerce, Ga. was filled with high drama and intrigue. In a race that pitted father against daughter, NHRA legend against NHRA sophomore, John and Ashley Force climbed into their 7,000 horsepower vehicles and, perhaps, into the pages of history itself. If John won, it would mark his 1,000th career win, more than any other driver in the history of the sport. If Ashley won, she would become the first woman in NHRA history to win a national event in Funny Car. It seemed only necessary that Force would have to face Force to achieve either of the landmark wins. As the dust and smoke settled on that cloudy day in northern Georgia it was the younger Force that came out victorious, cementing her place in drag racing history and showing that she was a ‘Force’ of her own. “I’m just happy to win an event,” Force told the media after the race. “That was the main thing. Being a female, that’s exciting for the record books and everything, but my team, we just wanted to get our first win.”
In Top Fuel, Antron Brown beat points leader Tony Schumacher, driving his Matco Tools dragster past the defending champ and winning on a holeshot. It was Brown’s second win in three races. Mike Edwards was able to hold off Pro Stock points leader Jason Line, cutting a .009 light and picking up his first win in over two years, while former Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion Andrew Hines proved he had the bike to beat all weekend, picking up the No. 1 Qualifier award Saturday, then following it up with a win Sunday against Chip Ellis. It’s Hines’ first win of the season and 14th of his career. Visit NHRA.com for more on the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals.
FULL THROTTLE TO BECOME TITLE SPONSOR OF NHRA PRO SERIES IN 2009: Beginning in 2009, the phrase “Go Full Throttle or Go Home!” will be recognized among drag racing fans and drivers alike, as Coca-Cola North America’s Full Throttle energy drink succeeds POWERade as the title sponsor of the NHRA’s professional series. The new series title will be the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. The association between Coca-Cola and NHRA, which includes a two-year partnership extension through the 2013 season, represents one of the longest running series sponsorships in motorsports. To learn more about the NHRA Full Throttle Series, visit NHRA.com.
zMAX DRAGWAY @ CONCORD NAMED FOR 2008 INAUGURAL SEASON: After a review that saw 4,365 entries received by fans, the Lowe’s Motor Speedway’s new dragway has been officially named zMAX Dragway @ Concord. Fans had the opportunity to submit entries for the name of the dragway and it was Wanda Exum of Greensboro, N.C., and Carl Hackley, of Charlotte who won, each receiving two VIP tickets for the inaugural NHRA Carolinas Nationals Sept. 11-14. To learn more about the naming of the track, visit NHRA.com.
O’REILLY NHRA MIDWEST NATIONALS, GATEWAY INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY, MAY 2–4: Traveling back to Madison, Ill., 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, Tenn. for the eighth running of the event. Defending event winners include Brandon Bernstein (Top Fuel); John Force (Funny Car); and Jeg Coughlin (Pro Stock).
O’REILLY NHRA SUMMER NATIONALS, HEARTLAND PARK TOPEKA, MAY 30–JUNE 1: Entering the ninth race of the NHRA POWERade Series, drivers will look to gain precious points in their quest to qualify for the Countdown to 1. Defending event winners include: Brandon Bernstein (Top Fuel); Mike Ashley (Funny Car); and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock).
HE SAID, SHE SAID
AN EMOTIONAL WIN IN ATLANTA FOR ANOTHER DRIVER: It had been nearly two years (St. Louis 2006) since Pro Stock driver Mike Edwards had last visited the winner’s circle. During those two years he had only been to the final round once. But all that waiting, all that preparing seemed evident in Edwards’ words as he visited with the media in Atlanta following his win Sunday. “You just can’t describe the feeling of winning one of these races in this class,” said Edwards. “There are so many good teams and it’s been so long since I last won, and I was wondering if I was ever going to do it again to be honest with you. It’s just an unbelievable feeling to win one of these races.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
59: The point lead Ashley Force has over the Funny Car competition heading into this weekend’s O’Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals.
DID YOU KNOW…
…that NHRA top drivers Cruz Pedregon, Gary Scelzi, Ron Capps, Allen Johnson, Doug Kalitta, Dave Grubnic, Antron Brown, and Alan Bradshaw will compete in the U.M.P. DIRTcar Pro Late Models at Tri-City Speedway this Thursday, May 1, in Pontoon Beach, Ill.? Additional NHRA drivers are also expected to participate in the event.
For more information, visit www.nhra.com.