HOPING VEGAS LIGHTS LEAD TO CALIFORNIA DREAMS, TEAMS PREPARE FOR FINAL TWO RACES OF 2008: With only two races remaining in the 2008 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing series and Countdown to 1 playoffs, teams are scrambling to grab as many points as they can before the final runs are made and champions are crowned at the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals in Pomona, California.
Though U.S. Army dragster pilot and five-time POWERade world champion Tony Schumacher has all but secured his fifth consecutive title, the hunt for the second spot in the point standings remains, and KB Racing’s Hillary Will, Matco Tools dragster pilot Antron Brown and FRAM dragster driver Cory McClenathan all have a legitimate shot at that runner-up spot for the season.
In Funny Car, on the other hand, Valvoline/MTS Dodge Charger driver Jack Beckman could still knock off front-runner Tim Wilkerson to collect his first world championship in just his third season in the category. Former world champion Cruz Pedregon looks stout in the third spot in the Funny Car standings and, coming off his win in Richmond, could shake things up in the ultra-competitive class.
The big question in Pro Stock is whether Kurt Johnson will be able to find success at his title sponsor’s event and knock off current points leader and defending world champion Jeg Coughlin to pick up his first POWERade title in an already impressive 15-year career. Third- and fourth-place drivers Dave Connolly and Greg Anderson are also in range of that top spot should any bad luck befall Coughlin or Johnson.
With nearly a month off since they last raced in Memphis, the Pro Stock Motorcycle category proves to be the most exciting of the four, as all Top 10 drivers battle it out for the POWERade world championship. Sophomore rider Eddie Krawiec has yet to find the winner’s circle aboard his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson, and a first win for him in Las Vegas may just be enough to move him around current points leader and defending world champion Matt Smith for the top spot among the bikes.
MOPAR EXTENDS ITS LONG-RUNNING SPONSORSHIP OF MILE-HIGH NATIONALS: Mopar, longtime sponsor of NHRA Drag Racing, has renewed its multi-year entitlement agreement through 2011 with the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Mile-High Nationals race held annually at Bandimere Speedway near Denver. The 30th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals, which represents the traditional launching point for the three-races-in-three-weeks Western Swing through Denver, Seattle, and Sonoma (California), will be held July 10–12, 2009, at Bandimere Speedway. This will mark the 21st consecutive year that Mopar has been the title sponsor of the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals, which first raised the Mopar flag in 1989.
TECHNICOAT, KALITTA MOTORSPORTS EXTEND PARTNERSHIP THROUGH 2013: Technicoat Companies and Kalitta Motorsports will extend their long-running and greatly successful partnership for an additional five years. Technicoat will continue its support as a major associate sponsor on the Top Fuel dragsters driven by Doug Kalitta and Dave Grubnic and on the Ken Black-owned, Kalitta Motorsports-managed Top Fueler driven by Hillary Will.
Technicoat will also continue to have major associate signage on the Team Kalitta Funny Car driven by Jeff Arend. Technicoat President Bob Coffman and COO Glen Williams, aka “the Cowboys,” are fixtures in the Team Kalitta pit area at most NHRA national events with their trademark cowboy hats. Technicoat Companies is a worldwide leader in industrial waterproofing and flooring based in Las Vegas and Westminster, California.
GANN TO RIDE X-TREME REBELLION/XXX RACING FUEL BUELL FOR REMAINDER OF SEASON AND INTO 2009: Pro stock Motorcycle racer Shawn Gann will ride a new S&S-powered Buell owned by Lister Harrell for the remainder of the 2008 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series season and into the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. Gann will climb aboard the X-Treme Rebellion/XXX Racing Fuel Buell, tuned by Gann’s father Blake. The new team will compete at the last two NHRA events of the season, the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals and Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals and plans to run the entire 2009 season.
ACDELCO LAS VEGAS NHRA NATIONALS, OCTOBER 30–NOVEMBER 2: The NHRA POWERade Series makes its second stop of the season in Las Vegas where drivers in all four professional categories will fight it out at the next-to-last race of the Countdown to 1. Defending event winners include Rod Fuller (Top Fuel); Tony Pedregon (Funny Car); Greg Anderson (Pro Stock); and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
AUTOMOBILE CLUB OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA NHRA FINALS, AUTO CLUB RACEWAY AT POMONA, NOVEMBER 13–16: The 2008 season comes to an end where it started in sunny California, and the Countdown to 1 comes to an end as POWERade world champions are determined in this final race. Defending event winners include Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel); Robert Hight (Funny Car); Jeg Coughlin (Pro Stock); and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
HE SAID, SHE SAID
GIANT KILLER?: Current Funny Car points leader Tim Wilkerson has made a career this season out of knocking off multi-car teams. In a teleconference this week, Wilkerson discussed being a single-car team owner in a multi-car team world.
“I don’t really know what the answer is totally,” Wilkerson said. “But I believe that having a single-car team, sometimes you can focus on your car and the few sponsors that you have, and you can take better care of them because you don’t have all the politics. You know what I mean? I know sometimes with multi-car teams, there’s some clashing that goes on in the different crew chiefs. It’s just the way it is. That’s the way it happens.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
3: The number of wins Pro Stock driver and three-time POWERade world champion Greg Anderson has at the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals, the most of any professional driver at that race. Anderson, who has five wins this season but none in the Countdown to 1 playoffs, is currently 82 points behind first place driver Jeg Coughlin and could use a win this weekend to stay in the hunt for his fourth world championship.
DID YOU KNOW…
…that current Pro Stock Motorcycle points leader Matt Smith, second-place rider Eddie Krawiec, and third-place rider Chris Rivas have never won a race at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. In fact, out of the Top 10 drivers in the Pro Stock Motorcycle point standings, only four (Angelle Sampey, Chip Ellis, Andrew Hines and Craig Treble) have ever walked away from Las Vegas with a coveted Wally.