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NHRA: Drivers Prepare for 2009 Winternationals Season Opener

NHRA DRIVERS PREPARE FOR POMONA WITH TESTS IN PHOENIX: With the official start to the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle season, the Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals, just a week away, many teams took advantage of their last weekend before the season by brushing up on their tuning and driving skills during time trials this past weekend at Firebird International Raceway in Phoenix.

Matco Tools dragster pilot Antron Brown and newly crowned co-crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald showed that crew changes in the off-season hadn’t had a huge affect on their efforts. The Matco Tools dragster posted the quickest time of the weekend at 3.781 seconds. Top Fuel pilot Larry Dixon, backed by team owner Alan Johnson, didn’t take long to show the strength of the Jason McCulloch-led, world-championship-winning team.

Dixon posted the third quickest time in Top Fuel with a run of 3.817, while Dixon’s replacement at Don Prudhomme Racing, Spencer Massey, held on to the fifth quickest time in the field at 3.899. Top Fuel rookie Shawn Langdon completed the necessary passes to obtain his Top Fuel license for the 2009 season in his Lucas Oil/Dixie Choppers dragster.

In Funny Car, Del Worsham proved his worth to new team owner Alan Johnson, posting the quickest time in the Funny Car class at 4.049 seconds. John Force Racing driver and 2008 Auto Club Road to the Future award winner Mike Neff was a close second with a 4.071 second pass, while rookie Don Schumacher Racing driver Matt Hagan held on to the third quickest spot of the weekend with a 4.091-second run.

NHRA’S YES PROGRAM CELEBRATES 20TH ANNIVERSARY IN 2009: NHRA’s Youth & Education Services program presented by the U.S. Army, the first and only program of its kind in the world of motorsports, is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2009 and continues to inspire and provide career guidance to thousands of high school students across the United States. Created in 1989 as a way to connect education and drag racing, the YES program is a one-day event held at 16 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series events each season.

It is motorsports’ first and only full-time program devoted exclusively to educational programming. The YES program demonstrates to young men and women the variety of career opportunities in motorsports, the U.S. Army and the automotive industry.

Joining the U.S. Army as key partners in the YES program are WyoTech, Universal Technical Institute, Mercedes-Benz, Beat the Heat, AAA, Skills USA, Lincoln Technical Institute, Lincoln Electric, and BRAKES.

FIREBIRD; NHRA TEAM UP FOR NHRA ARIZONA NATIONALS FANS: Firebird International Raceway, along with NHRA and NAPA Auto Parts, have announced the availability of discount coupons and a special day for military members during the upcoming NHRA Arizona Nationals, February 20–22. To help ensure that all fans can enjoy the action, a discount coupon will be available starting February 2 at all Valley NAPA Auto Parts locations as well as other yet-to-be-determined locations throughout the Valley.

With the coupon, race fans will get $5 off the price of a ticket during Friday and Saturday qualifying sessions and $10 off Sunday finals. In addition to the discount coupons, all active military members with a valid military ID can receive one free reserved ticket for Friday qualifying.

To purchase tickets for the NHRA Arizona Nationals, call 602/268-0200 or visit

IMPROVEMENTS AT HOUSTON RACEWAY PARK BIG FOR BOTH RACERS AND FANS: In preparation for the 22nd annual O’Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals, March 27–29, Houston Raceway Park has begun improvements on the facility that will benefit both driver and fan. Items addressed in recent weeks include the track surface, Sportsman pit area, luxury suites, spectator parking, ticket offers and permanent safety components.

Penhall Co., a private paving company, spent hundreds of hours smoothing the track from the start of the launchpad to the eighth-mile mark. Permanent lighting throughout the parking lots, modeling improvements in the tower suites, media center and race control, and improvements to the sportsman pits have also taken place during the off season.

Fans who purchase advance tickets will receive a $10 voucher to Houston Raceway Park’s official merchandise and active military members with proper identification will receive free reserved seating for Friday qualifying. For tickets to the O’Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals, call 281/383-RACE or visit


KRAGEN O’REILLY NHRA WINTERNATIONALS, AUTO CLUB RACEWAY AT POMONA, FEBRUARY 5–8: The 2009 NHRA Full Throttle season gets underway in sunny Southern California as drivers in three professional categories begin their bid for the NHRA Full Throttle world championship. Defending event winners include Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel); Robert Hight (Funny Car); and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock).

For tickets, call 800/884-6472 or visit To request credentials for the event, contact Director of Public Relations Michael Padian at

NHRA ARIZONA NATIONALS, FIREBIRD RACEWAY, FEBRUARY 20–22: The 2009 NHRA Full Throttle series makes its second stop of the season in the warm desert of Phoenix, Arizona. Defending event winners include Larry Dixon (Top Fuel); Jack Beckman (Funny Car); and V Gaines (Pro Stock). For tickets, call 602/268-0200 or visit at

ACDELCO NHRA GATORNATIONALS, GAINESVILLE RACEWAY, MARCH 12–15: The Pro Stock Motorcycle category opens its 2009 season at the Gatornationals, annually one of the most popular stops on the NHRA Full Throttle Series tour. Defending event winners include Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel); Tony Pedregon (Funny Car); Jeg Coughlin (Pro Stock); and Matt Guidera (Pro Stock Motorcycle. For tickets, call 800/884-6472 or visit


GETTING RID OF THE PRE-SEASON JITTERS: Top Fuel rookie and reigning Super Comp Champion Shawn Langdon had every reason to be just a bit nervous heading into the time trials in Phoenix this past weekend, where the rookie needed to make the proper passes to earn his Top Fuel license.

“I was really nervous coming into the weekend for a number of reasons,” Langdon said. “There were a lot of scenarios I had in my head, and most of them happened this weekend, like what it feels like to have tire shake, drop a cylinder, or smoke the tires, but now I’ve experienced them firsthand, so I know what it’s like. I’ve got a lot to learn, but I do feel like I can go to Pomona and race this car now.”


6.527: That’s the quickest time during 2009 pre-season testing for the Pro Stock category set by three-time world champion Greg Anderson at Palm Beach International Raceway in Florida. The Pro Stock category will hold one more test session this weekend at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway before the start of the season, the Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, California.


…that six-time and defending Top Fuel world champion Tony Schumacher and NHRA president Tom Compton met with more than 200 members of the media last Thursday during an NHRA press luncheon as part of the annual NASCAR Media Tour at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina.

For more information, visit