PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE FIELD TIGHTEST IN YEARS HEADING INTO FINALS IN POMONA: With the final race of the 2008 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing season this weekend and five riders still mathematically in the fight, the POWERade Pro Stock Motorcycle world championship could very well come down to the final pass of the season at the Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California.
Defending world champion and current points leader Matt Smith knows this scenario all too well. Last year at the same race, Smith claimed his first world championship on the final pass of the season after he drove past runner-up Chip Ellis to claim his prize. Current fifth-place driver and three-time world champion Andrew Hines also remembers that pass. After posting a red light in the second round of eliminations, Hines was left to watch as his hopes of a fourth consecutive title disappeared.
This year, Hines is a very, very long shot to win the world championship, but fellow Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson teammate Eddie Krawiec appears to be the strongest contender to knock off the first-place Smith. Krawiec is currently 19 points behind leader Smith and is not only looking for the first world championship of his career, but also his first win in the category.
Don’t count out third-place driver Chris Rivas either, who is coming off a win in Las Vegas just a few weeks ago, or fourth-place driver Angelle Sampey, currently second on the all-time wins list in Pro Stock Motorcycle (41) with three world championships of her own (2000, 2001, 2002).
FUNNY CAR DRIVER HAGAN TO DRIVE FOR DON SCHUMACHER RACING IN 2009: Funny Car racer Matt Hagan will drive a Dodge Charger Funny Car for Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) in the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. Hagan, who raced in four NHRA POWERade events this season, will climb behind the wheel of the BrakeSafe Rear-End Collision Avoidance System Dodge Charger R/T fielded by DSR and tuned by veteran crew chief Tommy DeLago. Hagan will also compete for the Auto Club Road to the Future Rookie of the Year Award for the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Series.
“I’m really excited,” Hagan said. “Being involved with a team such as DSR, which has so much knowledge, experience and great equipment, is going to be very rewarding. It’s one of those opportunities that doesn’t come around but once in a lifetime.”
NHRA DRIVERS TO AGAIN VISIT TROOPS IN KUWAIT AND GERMANY: For the fourth consecutive year, a group of NHRA drivers will take part in a post-season, United Service Organizations (USO)-sponsored trip to visit Army and Air Force personnel stationed at the Kaiserslautern Military Community in Germany as well as a stop in Kuwait.
Six-time NHRA Pro Stock world champion Warren Johnson, Two-time Pro Stock world champion Jim Yates, 2006 Pro Stock world champion Jason Line and Top Fuel driver Cory McClenathan will participate in the late-November trip to visit troops stationed overseas.
“It’s an honor for me to be able to do this,” said Johnson. “We owe so much to those that serve in the military, and this is just a small way for me to say thank you for all that they do for each and every one of us.”
NHRA SOFTBALL CLASSIC; TEAMS SET AND READY FOR BATTLE: After months of anticipation which included a player draft, many practices, a rained-out event and plenty of trash talking, Funny Car driver Gary Scelzi’s Superchargers and Top Fuel pilot Antron Brown’s Burn Down Bombers will finally meet on the field Wednesday for the NHRA Softball Classic.
The game will be held at Arrowhead Credit Union Park in San Bernardino, California, with the proceeds from ticket sales going towards the Drag Racing Association of Women (DRAW). Some of the biggest names in NHRA POWERade Drag Racing will participate and tickets are still on sale for this event. Visit www.ticketmaster.com or www.ie66ers.com for more ticket information.
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: sunny California. 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
BATTLING TOUGH WEATHER CONDITIONS, IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE: At the annual NHRA Breakfast held during the SEMA Show in Las Vegas last week, five of NHRA’s most compelling and successful female racers fielded questions from SEMA show attendees on the different aspects of their racing careers.
Asked what her least favorite track to race at was, Funny Car driver Ashley Force said that though she didn’t feel there was a particular track she didn’t like to compete at. Weather conditions not only play a huge part in tuning her 7,000hp Funny Car, but also her enjoyment at certain tracks and venues on the NHRA POWERade Series schedule.
“I know that all of the gals up here can relate to this, but I don’t like the tracks that have weather that gives you a bad hair day,” said Force. “That’s just a really tough thing. It’s hard to get all the frizzy hair stuffed into a helmet.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
5: The number of Funny Car drivers who, entering the final race of the NHRA POWERade season, the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals, have a shot at the POWERade world championship. Cruz Pedregon, Tim Wilkerson, Robert Hight, Tony Pedregon and Jack Beckman will battle it out at the final stop of 2008 starting Thursday at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona.
DID YOU KNOW…
…that for the past 24 years, the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series has always started and ended at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona. This week’s 44th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals will actually be the 24th time the event has capped off the NHRA POWERade season.