FORCE PICKS UP HISTORIC 1,000TH ROUND WIN: On the day he celebrated his 59th birthday, 14-time world champion and NHRA legend John Force reached a milestone many argue may never be broken. Competing in his 501st race, Force drove his Castrol GTX High-Mileage Ford Mustang past longtime rival Ron Capps in the first round of eliminations at the O’Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals Sunday, picking up his 1,000th round win in the process. He is the only driver in NHRA history to reach the impressive number.
“Five hundred races just means you showed up a lot,” said Force. “But winning a thousand rounds, that means that at a point in time, we were pretty good!”
For more on Force’s milestone, including photos of the event, click here.
WILKERSON GETS SECOND WIN OF 2008 AT HOME TRACK; FULLER, K.J., AND HINES ALSO WINNERS AT GATEWAY: Picking up his fourth No. 1 qualifier of the season, Funny Car driver Tim Wilkerson had one goal and one goal only heading into eliminations Sunday at the O’Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway International Raceway—to win at his home track. Wilkerson did just that, driving past Tony Bartone, Del Worsham, Cruz Pedregon and then Mike Neff in the final round to pick up his second win of the season and first at Gateway International Raceway.
“The emotions are out of control,” said Wilkerson. “It was all I could do at the other end of the track just to get out of the car.”
Wilkerson’s win in front of his “home” crowd also catapulted him past points leader Ashley Force to the top spot in the Funny Car standings. In Top Fuel, “Hot Rod” Fuller picked up his first win of the season, driving his Caterpillar dragster past defending world champion Tony Schumacher. Pro Stock’s Kurt Johnson grabbed his first win of the season, driving past defending event winner Dave Connolly to collect his third win at the track, while Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Andrew Hines picked up his second consecutive win of the season and first in St. Louis, setting the track record for speed and time in the process.
To view the race results from the O’Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals, click here.
IN THE NEWS…
DIVERSITY NOT A QUESTION IN NHRA POWERade SERIES: In an article written for ESPN The Magazine, writer Ryan McGee discusses how in a time when many motorsports are working to diversify their fans and driver base, women and minorities have always played a huge role in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. Click here to read more of McGee’s article.
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).
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).
TORCO RACING FUELS ROUTE 66 NHRA NATIONALS, ROUTE 66 RACEWAY, JUNE 5–8: The NHRA POWERade Series heads to “the Windy City” for the 10th race of the season and second half of the regular season Countdown to 10. Defending event winners include: Larry Dixon (Top Fuel); Gary Scelzi (Funny Car); Jeg Coughlin (Pro Stock); and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
HE SAID, SHE SAID
REVENGE IS A DISH BEST SERVED AT 300-PLUS MPH: Last year at the season-ending Auto Club NHRA Finals in Pomona, California, Top Fuel pilot Rod Fuller’s dreams of a world championship went up in smoke after a first-round loss in eliminations left him only able to watch as defending world champion Tony Schumacher drove past him in the point standings on the last pass of the day, winning the event and picking up his fifth world championship. Fuller got his revenge Sunday at the O’Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals, as he drove past Schumacher in the final round of eliminations.
“I kind of had a chip on my shoulder from what happened to me last year, leading the points all year long and losing to (Schumacher),” Fuller said. “It’s gratifying when you beat him.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS 6.708: The track record for time for Pro Stock at Bristol Dragway set by Jason Line in 2006. Line ran the table that year, setting the track record for both speed and time, picking up the No. 1 qualifier and winning the event.
DID YOU KNOW…
…that some of the top drivers in NHRA will compete in the NHRA Circle Track Challenge when the NHRA POWERade Series returns to Bristol for the O’Reilly NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals. Drivers will compete that Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway and fans visiting the track’s website can vote to determine the starting lineup for the event.
For more information, visit www.nhra.com.