REPEAT WINNERS CROWNED AT MAC TOOLS U.S. NATIONALS: Making his third straight final round appearance at O’Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis, Funny Car driver Robert Hight grabbed his second win at the historic track, driving his Auto Club Ford Mustang past runner-up Jack Beckman to pick up his third win of the season at the 54th running of the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals. Tony Schumacher, Dave Connolly and Steve Johnson also won in their respective categories.
Hight drove past the likes of NHRA legend Frank Hawley, teammate Mike Neff and points leader Tim Wilkerson before facing Beckman, who was making his third straight final round appearance. It was Hight’s 11th career win in his 11th final round appearance. For Schumacher, the win was his seventh at the famed U.S. Nationals, more than any other active driver in the POWERade Drag Racing Series, and 52nd of his career, which tied him with Joe Amato on the all-time wins list in Top Fuel.
Pro Stock’s Dave Connolly picked up his second consecutive win at the "Big Go," becoming only the fifth driver in the class to win back-to-back events at the historic track. Pro Stock Motorcycle’s Steve Johnson also picked up his second win at the legendary event, riding his Snap-on Tools Suzuki past runner up Andrew Hines. Johnson’s last win at O’Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis came in 2005.
PEDREGON; KRAWIEC GET FIRST WINS AT SHOWDOWN AND PRO BIKE BATTLE: Funny Car driver Cruz Pedregon and Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Eddie Krawiec picked up their first wins in the U.S. Smokeless Showdown and Ringers Gloves Pro Bike Battle at the 54th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis. Pedregon was able to hold off current points leader Tim Wilkerson en route to his first career $100,000 payoff. It was Pedregon’s 10th appearance in the bonus event and his fifth final round appearance in the Showdown.
Krawiec rode his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson past teammate and defending bonus event winner Andrew Hines to pick up his first even win in the event and the $25,000 check that accompanies that. It was the fifth straight year that a Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson has won the event and Krawiec’s first appearance in the Pro Bike Battle.
FAMED TUNER ALAN JOHNSON TO FIELD TWO-CAR TEAM IN 2009: Seven-time NHRA Top Fuel champion and current crew chief for the U.S. Army dragster Alan Johnson announced plans to field a two-car team in 2009 through a partnership with Qatar-based Al-Anabi Racing. The team will field a Top Fuel dragster and Funny Car team beginning at the 49th annual CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals, February 5–8, at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona.
“It’s widely known that my goal for quite some time now has been to become a team owner again, and this is my best opportunity to achieve that goal,” said Johnson. "I have enjoyed a wonderful experience with the U.S. Army race team. I wouldn’t change the past five years for anything. My focus for the remainder of the season will be to put forth my best effort to win the fifth-consecutive championship for the U.S. Army, Tony Schumacher, and DSR.”
Johnson has 11 championships in his career, four in Top Alcohol and seven in Top Fuel.
NHRA DEDICATES ORP SUITES TO FORREST AND CHARLOTTE LUCAS: For their ongoing dedication and commitment to NHRA Drag Racing, Forrest and Charlotte Lucas were honored during Funny Car qualifying Friday at the 54th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis. NHRA president Tom Compton led the on-track presentation dedication in the west grandstand suite complex in their honor.
Besides being the title rights sponsor of the NHRA’s sportsman series, Lucas Oil is also the Official Motor Oil of NHRA and holds the title rights to POWERade Series races in Brainerd (Lucas Oil Nationals) and Englishtown (Lucas Oil SuperNationals).
NHRA CAROLINAS NATIONALS, zMAX DRAGWAY @ CONCORD, SEPTEMBER 11–14: In the first race of the Countdown to 1, the NHRA POWERade Series heads to the newly constructed zMAX Dragway @ Concord and its first visit to the state of North Carolina. All four professional categories (Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, Pro Stock Motorcycle) will compete in this inaugural event.
O’REILLY SUPER START BATTERIES FALL NATIONALS, TEXAS MOTORPLEX, SEPTEMBER 18–21: Making its second stop of the season in the Lone Star State, drivers in all four professional categories will fight it out in the second race of the Countdown to 1. Defending event winners include Larry Dixon (Top Fuel); Tony Pedregon (Funny Car); Dave Connolly (Pro Stock); and Peggy Llewellyn (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
O’REILLY NHRA MID-SOUTH NATIONALS, MEMPHIS MOTORSPORTS PARK, SEPTEMBER 26–28: The NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series heads to the south for its third stop in the Countdown to 1 playoffs. Defending event winners include Melanie Troxel (Top Fuel); Gary Scelzi (Funny Car); Dave Connolly (Pro Stock); and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
HE SAID, SHE SAID
LOOKING OVER THEIR SHOULDERS: Heading into the famed Western Swing with only six races remaining in the Countdown to 10 regular season, Funny Car driver Jack Beckman was sitting in the 13th spot, 56 points behind then 10th-place driver Bob Tasca. Since then Beckman has made four final-round appearances, has won one race and hasn’t posted anything lower than a second round finish.
“We’re 15 and 5 since Denver,” said Beckman. “Now we leave in sixth place, we tighten up the points deal, and I think everybody ahead of us is going to be looking over their shoulder.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
110: The number of points separating first place from 10th place in the POWERade Series point standings in all four categories. The Top 10 drivers in each category now have six races remaining to battle it out for NHRA POWERade Series world championships.
DID YOU KNOW…
…that the next event in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, the inaugural NHRA Carolinas Nationals at zMAX Dragway @ Concord, will mark the first time in history that an NHRA national event has been held in the state of North Carolina.
For more information, visit www.nhra.com.