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NHRA: Force's 22-Season Win Streak in Jeopardy

 John Force With Wally Trophy
 John Force


HISTORY IN BRAINERD COULD TURN THE TIDE FOR LEGENDARY FORCE: It’s one of the most impressive records in all of motorsports: 22 consecutive seasons with at least one win—the most in NHRA history. The closest driver to that mark, Pro Stock’s Kurt Johnson, is still eight seasons short of matching that record.

Since 1987, NHRA legend John Force has never had a season in which he didn’t collect at least one win. In fact, during that 22-year span, there have been only three seasons that he scored less than two wins, the first in 1987, the second in 1989, and the third, just this past season in 2008.

Now with only nine events left in the 2009 Full Throttle Drag Racing season, the reality begins to set in for arguably the most famous driver in all of drag racing. The record could be coming to an end. But history may have a different story to tell as the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series heads to northern Minnesota for the 28th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.

To say that the legendary Force has been successful in Brainerd would be a huge understatement. Not only does he have 11 wins, the most of any driver at a single event, but history would say that Force has as good a chance as any of breaking his winless streak in Brainerd, where his last win came in 2007. Though Force isn’t the only driver on that list looking to continue his winning streak (second-place driver Kurt Johnson has yet to win this season, while Greg Anderson, currently tied for third-place with Tony Schumacher, is also winless so far in 2009), he is definitely the one with possibly the most to lose.

A win would continue the streak, but even more than that, it would push Force further up in the point standings. Further away from his current eighth spot, where he, teammates Mike Neff and Robert Hight, Cruz Pedregon and Matt Hagan, are all battling to get those final few spots in the Top 10 before the cutoff point in less than a month at the historic Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil.

Though only time will tell when or if this record will fall, one thing is for sure: The 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing season will be one that many, including Force, may never forget.

Red Line Oil Dragster
Red Line Oil continues its sponsorship of Top Fuel's Doug Kalitta.  

RED LINE OIL TO CONTINUE SPONSORSHIP OF KALITTA IN BRAINERD AND BEYOND: Top Fuel racer Doug Kalitta will once again carry the banner for Red Line Oil on his dragster at this weekend’s Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway and for the two following NHRA events. Red Line Oil, who previously sponsored Kalitta’s dragster at the FRAM Autolite NHRA Nationals in Sonoma, California, two weeks ago, decided to extend their partnership with Kalitta Motorsports for Brainerd, as well as the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals, August 20–23 at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pennsylvania, and the most prestigious drag racing event in the world, the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, September 2–7, at historic O’Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis.

“We’re really pleased that Red Line will continue as our primary partner for the next three events,” said crew chief Jim Oberhofer. “Our partnership with Red Line has been and continues to be exceptionally beneficial to both of us. Red Line has been great to us over the years and having their extra support for these next three events will be a big boost for the team. Plus the race car does look awesome going down the race track.”

L.A.’S WESTSIDE NEW HOME FOR NHRA FULL THROTTLE AWARDS CEREMONY: The 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Awards Ceremony will be held at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles’ posh Westside on Monday, November 16. NHRA also announced that the entire NHRA Full Throttle Awards Ceremony will be broadcast on the Web at on Wednesday, November 18, at 6:00 p.m. ET/3:00 p.m. PT. It marks the first time the full event will be available to fans via the Internet.

Perfectly situated on the fashionable Westside, adjacent to Beverly Hills, the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza sits on seven acres with 726 newly renovated spacious guest rooms and a world-class spa and fitness center, making the property a luxury resort hotel situated in the heart of the city. The invitation-only, black-tie event, where NHRA will crown its Full Throttle Drag Racing Series world champions in all four Professional categories, will feature a pre-event cocktail reception at 5:00 p.m., followed by a formal sit-down banquet and an after party. The property also will play host to the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Awards Ceremony, scheduled earlier in the day.

MAPLE GROVE RACEWAY, DSR, READING EAGLE TEAM UP ON A SUITE CONTEST: Maple Grove Raceway, Don Schumacher Racing and the Reading Eagle are teaming up to offer fans a chance to win four suite tickets for the 25th annual Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals, August 20–23 in Reading, Pennsylvania. The grand prize includes four suite tickets and lunch in the DSR hospitality area each day. Second prize is two reserved tickets for Sunday’s eliminations. Third prize is two reserved seats for Saturday qualifying, while fourth and fifth prizes are two general-admission tickets for Friday’s qualifying.

To win, contestants must cut out and fill their contest entry form with game pieces featuring different DSR drivers. Entries are due, via mail, by August 12, and a random drawing will be held August 13. Winners will then pick up tickets at the Reading Eagle’s office in downtown Reading.

For more information, call Maple Grove Raceway, 610/856-9200, or visit


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).

 Tim Wilkerson
 Tim Wilkerson


THE FINAL COUNTDOWN: Funny Car driver Tim Wilkerson on using the final three races in the regular season to prepare for the Countdown to 1 playoffs: “Everything we do right now is tied to the Countdown. Every spot on the qualifying ladder is important, because those single points could move you up or down in the Countdown.

"Every round is bigger than ever, because you’ve got a pretty good chance of racing against another Countdown car and those head-to-head match-ups are like a 40-point swing to whoever wins them, if you know what I mean. The goal was to get in, and it looks like we’ve done that, and now the next goal is to stay as high up in the standings as possible, to give ourselves the best possible shot.”


3: That’s the number of wins six-time world champion Tony Schumacher has at Brainerd International Raceway. That’s also the number of wins Schumacher needs to tie Top Fuel legend Joe Amato for the most wins in the Top Fuel category at Brainerd.


…that Brainerd International Raceway has a three-mile, 10-turn road course? The drag strip also serves as the main straightaway during road course events.