WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES; FORCE HOOD, McCLENATHAN HOPE TO CONTINUE FINAL ROUND TRENDS IN LAS VEGAS: When Ashley Force Hood met “Fast” Jack Beckman in the final round at last weekends O’Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway Park, it wasn’t a too unfamiliar site. Force Hood had been to the final round at that race the previous year and picked up her second career runner-up finish against Del Worsham.
In fact, it was at that same track that Force Hood began her 2008 Spring campaign, which included three consecutive final-round appearances, her move into the Funny Car points lead after Las Vegas (the first time a woman had ever done so in the category) and her first career win in Atlanta.
So Force Hood’s return to the final round in Houston wasn’t unfamiliar to the 2007 Rookie of the year, but her visit to winner’s circle after she was able to power her Castrol GTX Ford Mustang past Beckman gave Force Hood her second career win in just her sixth final-round appearance.
As the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series returns to Las Vegas this week for the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals, the biggest thing on Force Hood’s mind is whether she can repeat her final round appearance from last year’s event and even improve on her 2008 performance by picking up her second consecutive win of the season.
“Our team is really looking forward to going to Vegas this weekend and we have high hopes for a great finish. We just came off a win in Houston and have done really well at Vegas in the past but haven’t gotten a win there yet and are hoping to do it this weekend.”
Another driver who hopes to continue his final round success is Top Fuel pilot Cory McClenathan. Coming off his runner-up finish in Houston to teammate Tony Schumacher, McClenathan is ready to defend his 2008 win at Las Vegas—something that has never been accomplished in Top Fuel at that track. In Pro Stock, Defending world champion Jeg Coughlin hopes to rebound from his final round loss to Ron Krisher in Houston and grab his fifth Las Vegas win.
VEGAS ODDSMAKER CRESPI PICKS DIXON, WORSHAM, LINE FOR SUMMITRACING.COM NHRA NATIONALS WINNER’S CIRCLE: Oddsmaker for The Palms Resport & Casino sports book, Fred Crespi picked his three winner’s for this weekend’s SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the list includes two teammates and a defending event winner.
Top Fuel pilot Larry Dixon beat out defending world champion Tony Schumacher with the odds at 3/1 to win the event. Dixon’s Al-Anabi teammate, Del Worsham, is listed at 4/1, just ahead of Funny Car points leader Ron Capps and Ashley Force Hood (both 5/1).
In Pro Stock, defending event winner Jason Line is favord 5/2 to repeat his victory, just ahead of defending world champion Jeg Coughlin, who is listed as favored 3/1. To see how the odds favor your favorite driver, visit www.LVMS.com.
NHRA RACERS TO COMPETE IN UNITED STATES BOWLING CONGRESS OPEN CHAMPIONSHIPS IN LAS VEGAS: NHRA competitors will be pursuing a different kind of 300 performance this Thursday, April 2, when many of the world’s fastest drivers participate in the United States Bowling Congress Open Championship at the Cashman Center in Las Vegas. One of the oldest major competitions in U.S. history, the USBC Open Championships brings together the best bowlers from around the world to compete in a five-month tournament.
During that time, the USBC identifies and rewards the most elite pin smashers in a variety of classifications and different competitions. Three five-man NHRA teams made up of Top Fuel, Funny Car, and Pro Stock drivers will compete in the team event as special guests of USBC.
Those drivers include such drivers as John Force Racing Funny Car driver Robert Hight, Al-Anabi driver Del Worsham, Lucas Oil Top Fuel teammates Morgan Lucas and Shawn Langdon, and Summit Racing/Ken Black Pro Stock teammates Jason Line and Greg Anderson. For a complete roster of the three NHRA teams and for more information on this event, visit www.nhra.com.
IN THE NEWS…
THE WORLD’S FASTEST FAMILY: Coming off of her win this past weekend in Houston, Funny Car driver Ashley Force Hood, along with her father, team owner and NHRA legend, John Force, are featured in the April 6 edition of ESPN The Magazine with Manny Ramirez on the cover. The article, entilted “The Gravity of Speed” starts on page 84 and was written by Ryan McGee.
SUMMITRACING.COM NHRA NATIONALS, THE STRIP AT LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY, APRIL 2–5: NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing returns to Las Vegas for the annual spring event. Defending event winners include Cory McClenathan (Top Fuel); Tim Wilkerson (Funny Car); and Jason Line (Pro Stock).
SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT NHRA SOUTHERN NATIONALS, ATLANTA DRAGWAY, APRIL
16–19: NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing heads south for its annual stop in Georgia. Defending event winners include Antron Brown (Top Fuel); Ashley Force Hood (Funny Car); Mike Edwards (Pro Stock); and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
O’REILLY NHRA MIDWEST NATIONALS, GATEWAY INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY, MAY 1–3: NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing returns to the Gateway to the West in Madison, Illinois. Defending event winners include Rod Fuller (Top Fuel); Tim Wilkerson (Funny Car); Kurt Johnson (Pro Stock); and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
HE SAID, SHE SAID
A WIN FOR THE ‘NEW GUY’: Tony “The Sarge” Schumacher, on his first win of the season and first win with new crew chief, Mike Green.
“I feel so happy for Mike Green and the guys. They wanted to get this first one in the worst way for our Army Strong soldiers. I’m giving this trophy to Mike to put in his office.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
2: That’s the number of drivers who have won the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in consecutive years. The drivers are Greg Anderson (2003–2004) and Jeg Coughlin (2000–2001). Cory McClenathan, Tim Wilkerson and Jason Line will all try to become the third driver on that list.
DID YOU KNOW…
…that reigning NHRA Top Fuel world champion Tony Schumacher along with former NASCAR champion Tony Stewart toured Fort Knox in Kentucky, home of the U.S. Army’s Armor Center and School last week? The group participated in many of the training programs used by the U.S. Army as they toured the base.