People, Places & Racing News

DRIVERS SCRAMBLE FOR POINTS AS POWERade SERIES HITS MID-SEASON AND OTHER NHRA NEWSMAKERS

NEWS NUGGETS

HEADING TO THE ‘HEARTLAND’; POWERade SERIES AT HALFWAY POINT IN COUNTDOWN TO 10: As the NHRA POWERade Series heads to Heartland Park Topeka this weekend for the 20th annual O’Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals, it also enters the second-half of the regular season, or Countdown to 10. This means that only 10 races remain for drivers in all four categories to solidify their spots in the top 10 before the Countdown to 1 begins at the inaugural NHRA Carolinas Nationals at zMAX Dragway @ Concord.
    For many drivers sitting on the outside looking in, a few points lost or gained at this point of the season can mean the difference between hoisting the world championship trophy in Pomona in November or getting an early start on the off-season. This couldn’t be more obvious than in Funny Car, where Phoenix winner Jack Beckman, Bristol winner Melanie Troxel and former world champion Gary Scelzi all sit within a few points of 10th-place Del Worsham.

NHRA STARS GET FIRST TASTE OF zMAX DRAGWAY @ CONCORD: NHRA drivers John Force, Mike Neff, Jeg Coughlin and Matt Smith got their first taste of zMAX Dragway @ Concord this week, though, it was behind the wheels of 112,000-lb. dump trucks down the unpaved quarter-mile. Mike Neff, with the help of temporary crew chief Jeg Coughlin, held off John Force and Pro Stock Bike world-champion-turned-engine-tuner-for-the-day Matt Smith, with the help of teammate Angie McBride, to pick up their first wins at the new track, though the vehicles were anything but speed machines. Top Fuel driver Antron Brown stood at the finish line to wave the checkered flag in favor of Neff. Below you’ll find the comparison between Mike Neff’s dump truck and Funny Car.

NHRA DRIVERS VISIT INDY 500: NHRA Funny Car drivers Melanie Troxel, Tommy Johnson and Tony Pedregon all stopped by the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the 92nd running of the Indy 500. Troxel and Johnson were special guests during the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association’s annual Indy 500 Breakfast held that Saturday, while defending world champion Pedregon spent some time meeting with the media during the race on Sunday. For more on all the events that occurred for many NHRA drivers this past week, please visit NHRA.com.

MASKIN REJOINS YATES TEAM FOR REMAINDER OF THE SEASON: Three-time Pro Stock champion engine builder Richard Maskin will rejoin two-time Pro Stock world champion Jim Yates and the WileyX Eyewear Pontiac GXP team starting at this week's O’Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals in Heartland Park Topeka. Yates and Maskins first teamed up in 1994 and went on to win an NHRA Pro Stock world championship two years later.

COMING ATTRACTIONS

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).  

LUCAS OIL NHRA SUPERNATIONALS, OLD BRIDGE TOWNSHIP RACEWAY PARK, JUNE 19–22: The drivers of the NHRA POWERade Series return to this historic track in New Jersey. Defending event winners include Larry Dixon (Top Fuel); Tommy Johnson Jr. (Funny Car); Greg Anderson (Pro Stock); and Craig Treble (Pro Stock Motorcycle).  

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

4: The number of different drivers to win in Funny Car at Heartland Park Topeka in as many years. Defending world champion Tony Pedregon was the last driver to get back-to-back wins at the track in 2002-2003.

DID YOU KNOW…

…that Funny Car driver Robert Hight has earned the No. 1 qualifier at Heartland Park Topeka for every year he has competed there (2005, 2006, 2007) but has never made it to the final round. Last year, Hight’s hopes for his first win in Topeka burst into flames, along with his car, during a fiery explosion after a second-round win over Scott Kalitta.

For more information, visit www.nhra.com.