BROWN MAKES HISTORY; SWEEPS WESTERN SWING: Top Fuel pilot Antron Brown’s run through the famed Western Swing was one for the history books. On the first stop of the swing, Bandimere Speedway in Denver, Colo., Brown not only took the No. 1 qualifying spot and win at the event, but also became the first Top Fuel driver of the season to clinch a spot in the Countdown to 1 playoffs.
He then followed his success in Denver with a win at Pacific Raceways in Seattle, the second leg on the Swing, and wrapped up his Western Swing success with a win at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, the final stop of the three-races-in-three-weeks marathon.
With that win, Brown became only the seventh driver in 20 years to sweep the Western Swing, joining the list of such names as Tony Schumacher, Larry Dixon, Cory McClenathan, Joe Amato, John Force and Greg Anderson.
“This doesn’t feel real, especially after we had so much turmoil in the off-season,” said Brown after his win in Sonoma. “We weren’t sure where we’d be, and Mike Ashley came in and he’s been a fantastic team owner. Back then, everybody was talking about (Tony) Schumacher and (Larry) Dixon, but not us. We wanted to run for a championship, and Mike knew we had a team that could do it. Now we’re proving it.”
Joining Brown in Winner’s Circle in Sonoma was Funny Car driver Tim Wilkerson, who won his second consecutive race of the season after driving past points leader Tony Pedregon in the final round, Pro Stock’s Jason Line and Pro Stock Motorcycle’s Andrew Hines. Both Line and Hines defeated fellow teammates Greg Anderson and Eddie Krawiec in the final round to grab their wins. For more results from the 22nd annual FRAM Autolite NHRA Nationals, visit www.NHRA.com.
MORE DRIVERS CLINCH COUNTDOWN SPOTS IN SONOMA: The list of drivers who have clinched spots in the Countdown to 1 playoff spots grew after Sunday’s FRAM Autolite NHRA Nationals in Sonoma. Joining the list of drivers with a secured spot in the playoffs in Sonoma were Top Fuel pilot Brandon Bernstein, Funny Car drivers Tony Pedregon, Ron Capps and Ashley Force Hood, Pro Stock’s Greg Anderson and Allen Johnson and Pro Stock Motorcycle rider and event winner Andrew Hines.
Below you’ll find a full list of drivers who have secured their spot in the Countdown to 1 playoffs, beginning at the second annual NHRA Carolinas Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C. To follow the points battle and see who the next drivers to clinch will be, visit www.NHRA.com.
- Antron Brown
- Tony Schumacher
- Larry Dixon
- Brandon Bernstein
- Tony Pedregon
- Ron Capps
- Ashley Force Hood
- Jeg Coughlin
- Mike Edwards
- Jason Line
- Greg Anderson
- Allen Johnson
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE
- Eddie Krawiec
- Andrew Hines
NHRA EXTENDS FAN-RELIEF INITIATIVES FOR INDY: NHRA has extended and added to the race-fan-relief initiatives announced earlier this year for the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil, September 2–7, at O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis. NHRA has partnered with Ticketmaster to eliminate service and convenience fees on Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil tickets purchased through Tickemaster.com or Ticketmaster phone lines or at Ticketmaster outlets.
Fans purchasing tickets through Ticketmaster may pick up their tickets at the will-call-window ticket office on race day or may have their tickets delivered for a fee. NHRA also will make available for advance purchase adult general-admission tickets for only $20, a savings of up to $29 per ticket.
A total of 1,500 tickets per professional qualifying and eliminations day are available at the $20 price, representing a total of 6,000 tickets for the event. To help families attend the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil, children 12 and younger will be admitted free to general-admission areas of the track when accompanied by a paying adult. Child tickets in reserved-seat sections start as low as $10 depending on the event day, seating location and age.
LUCAS OIL NHRA NATIONALS, BRAINERD INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY, AUGUST 13–16: Heading back to the Northern part of Minnesota, the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series prepares for this historical event. Defending event winners include Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel); Tony Pedregon (Funny Car); Kurt Johnson (Pro Stock); and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
TOYO TIRES NHRA NATIONALS, MAPLE GROVE RACEWAY, AUGUST 20–23: Making its second to last stop for the regular season, the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series heads to the rolling hills of central Pennsylvania. Defending event winners include Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel); Jack Beckman (Funny Car); Jeg Coughlin (Pro Stock); and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
MAC TOOLS U.S. NATIONALS PRESENTED BY LUCAS OIL, O’REILLY RACEWAY PARK, SEPTEMBER 2–7: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series heads back to the famed “Big Go”, the world’s most prestigious drag race. Defending event winners include Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel); Robert Hight (Funny Car); Dave Connolly (Pro Stock); and Steve Johnson (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
HE SAID, SHE SAID
HOOKED ON A SIX-SECOND RIDE: Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Andrew Hines, on both he and teammate Eddie Krawiec making it to three consecutive final rounds:
“This is the time when we’re starting to shine. We’re earning rounds because they’re giving them to us, and that’s something that didn’t happen before. I love the way the bikes are running. They are fun to ride.
Matt (Hines, crew chief) has them leaving good. I don’t worry about rattling the tire or bogging. I have faith in my bike, and that’s why Eddie has been to seven finals and I finally pulled my head out of somewhere it shouldn’t have been and started making a few finals myself.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
15: That’s the number of points that separates 12th-place Funny Car driver Robert Hight from 10th-place and Countdown cutoff spot driver, Cruz Pedregon. With only three races remaining on the regular season schedule, Pedregon, Hight and 11th-place driver, rookie Matt Hagan are in a tight battle for the final spot in the Countdown to 1 playoffs.
DID YOU KNOW…
…that NHRA legend John Force has 11 wins at Brainerd International Raceway, the most of any driver. That’s nine more than the closest active Funny Car driver, Ron Capps. Force is still looking for his first win of the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing season.