HIGHT MOVES TO THIRD IN POINTS; McCLENATHAN, EDWARDS, ARANA TAKE POINTS LEAD AFTER WINS AT zMAX DRAGWAY: Nearly two weeks after barely squeezing into the Countdown to 1 playoffs with his runner-up finish in Indianapolis, Robert Hight raced to his first win of the season and shot from 10th to third in the Funny Car point standings as racing came to an end at the second annual NHRA Carolinas Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Concord, North Carolina. Hight held off runner-up and rookie driver Matt Hagan in the final round to move within 28 points of leader Tony Pedregon.
“It’s unbelievable the timing we’ve got right now because the first part of the year, we stunk this place up; it was terrible,” said Hight. “You start to begin to wonder if you can even win. You look at all these racers out here, and it’s not that easy to win. Every round, I had someone in the other lane clear to the finish line. If you’re a little late or something happens to your car, any little thing, you’re going to lose.”
In Top Fuel, Cory McClenathan took over the No. 1 spot in the point standings with his win over rookie Shawn Langdon in the final round. McClenathan has just a 10-point lead over second-place drivers Antron Brown and Tony Schumacher heading into this weekend’s O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec at Texas Motorplex in Dallas.
In Pro Stock, Mike Edwards once again was the man to beat, taking the No. 1 qualifying position Friday and Saturday and then the win on Sunday over runner-up Greg Stanfield. Edwards also moved from third in the point standings to the No. 1 spot—56 points ahead of second-place driver Jeg Coughlin, who has led the point standings almost the entire season.
Pro Stock Motorcycle’s Hector Arana followed his first U.S. Nationals win up with a win at zMAX Dragway. Arana’s win over Karen Stoffer also moved him to the top of the point standings in the category, just nine points ahead of defending world champion Eddie Krawiec. The NHRA Full Throttle Series will make its second stop in the Countdown to 1 playoffs this weekend in Dallas for the 24th annual O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals.
MASSEY, NEFF WIN FOUR-LANE, FOUR-WIDE EXHIBITION EVENT AT zMAX DRAGWAY: In the first-ever modern day four-lane, four-wide Top Fuel and Funny Car exhibition events, it was Top Fuel pilot Spencer Massey and Funny Car driver Mike Neff who came out with the wins Sunday at zMAX Dragway. Both Massey and Neff picked up the wins on a holeshot over the three competitors competing in the other lanes. All drivers participating in the event had lost in the first round of eliminations of the NHRA Carolinas Nationals that day and were invited to participate.
In Top Fuel, Massey was able to drive his U.S. Smokeless Tobacco dragster to a 3.889-second time at 310.70 mph, which was enough to hold off fellow competitors Antron Brown, Brandon Bernstein and Morgan Lucas. In Funny Car, Neff drove his Ford Drive One Mustang to a 4.136-second run at 307.58 mph past team owner John Force, Del Worsham and Tim Wilkerson.
“On the burnout, when you see cars on both sides of you, that’s not something you’re used to seeing, and it was actually pretty cool,” said Neff. “I actually saw all of these guys because they all did really long burnouts.”
“To have an opportunity to be a part of something like this and a part of history, it’s just unbelievable,” said Massey. “It’s something that I’m proud to be a part of, and everybody sitting up on this stage should be very proud of going down the track with one another at the same time.”
For more information on this event, visit www.NHRA.com.
LUCAS OIL SIGNS MULTIYEAR EXTENSION AS SPONSOR OF NHRA SPORTSMAN SERIES: Lucas Oil Products, the industry leader in lubricants and fuel treatments and a longtime friend of the sport of NHRA Drag racing, has signed a multiyear agreement that renews its title sponsorship of the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series through 2012. Significantly, at that time, it will represent an 11-year partnership dating back to the 2002 season.
In addition, Lucas Oil will continue its designation as the official oil of NHRA and its presenting sponsorship of NHRA’s weekly magazine show on ESPN2, NHRA Race Day presented by Lucas Oil. Lucas Oil’s relationship with NHRA extends across all platforms of the business: Sportsman series entitlement; official-product status; on-site presence; national event sponsorship; television, print and online advertising; presenting sponsorship of NHRA Race Day, and race team sponsorship.
For more on this, visit www.NHRA.com.
MOTORCRAFT, QUICK LANE ANNOUNCE CONTRACT EXTENSION WITH TASCA: Motorcraft and Ford’s growing national network of Quick Lane Tire & Auto Centers announced they have extended their sponsorship of Bob Tasca and Tasca Racing’s Shelby Mustang Nitro Funny Car. For the past two years, Ford Customer Service Division (FCSD) brands Motorcraft and Quick Lane have been the primary sponsors of Tasca’s Shelby Mustang in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. This multiyear extension ensures that the two primary brands will remain on the car for years to come.
For more on this extension, visit www.NHRA.com.
O’REILLY SUPER START BATTERIES NHRA FALL NATIONALS, TEXAS MOTORPLEX, SEPTEMBER 24–27: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes its second stop of the season in the Lone Star State for the second race of the Countdown to 1 playoffs. Defending event winners are J.R. Todd (Top Fuel); Tim Wilkerson (Funny Car); Greg Stanfield (Pro Stock); and Chris Rivas (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
O’REILLY NHRA MID-SOUTH NATIONALS, MEMPHIS MOTORSPORTS PARK, OCTOBER 2–4: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series returns to the land of the Delta Blues for its third stop in the NHRA Countdown to 1 playoffs. Defending event winners include Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel); Tim Wilkerson (Funny Car); Mike Edwards (Pro Stock); and Craig Treble (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
NHRA VIRGINIA NATIONALS, VIRGINIA MOTORSPORTS PARK, OCTOBER 9–11: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series heads back toward the East Coast for its fourth race in four weeks and fourth stop in the Countdown to 1 playoffs. Defending event winners include Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel); Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car); and Dave Connolly (Pro Stock).
HE SAID, SHE SAID
THREE IN A ROW?: Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Hector Arana after picking up his second-consecutive win of the season Sunday at the NHRA Carolinas Nationals: “I’d like to make three in a row now. I need to stay focused so I can have a shot at the title. I think I have the motorcycle to win this championship. It hasn’t sunk in yet, but this is the best time of my life. For many years, I have struggled and worked hard. I had opportunities to win before, but I didn’t. Many years went by, and I started doubting myself, but now, this is my moment.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
10: That’s the number of points Pro Stock driver Mike Edwards earned this past week just for running the third quickest time in first session of qualifying and then posting the quickest times in the following three sessions of qualifying for the NHRA Carolinas Nationals at zMAX Dragway. NHRA announced that starting in Concord, N.C. this past weekend, the first, second and third quickest drivers in each qualifying session earn three, two, and 1 points, respectively.
DID YOU KNOW…
…that only 103 points separate Funny Car 10th-place driver Mike Neff from Funny Car Points leader Tony Pedregon with one race complete in the Countdown to 1 playoffs. With the max availability of 150 points per event that a driver can earn, the Funny Car class is one of the tightest in the Countdown to 1.