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NHRA: 'The Sarge' Looks to Wrap Seventh Title in Vegas

 Tony Schumacher
 Tony Schumacher


EYES SET ON VEGAS: SCHUMACHER, EDWARDS LOOK FOR STRONG ‘SIN CITY’ PERFORMANCES AND POSSIBLE CHAMPIONSHIPS: It was just one year ago that Top Fuel pilot Tony Schumacher entered Las Vegas with a 212-point lead over the rest of the competition. Schumacher needed only to qualify for the event to secure his fifth-consecutive and sixth overall NHRA Full Throttle world championship, and after taking the No. 1 qualifier of the event, he had done so. He went on to win the event and finish the season in Pomona with a second-round finish.

Now, one year later, ‘The Sarge’ enters the ninth annual NHRA Las Vegas Nationals, October 29–November 1, at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with the points lead yet again in the Top Fuel category, but he needs a lot more help and needs to go a lot further than just simply qualifying to lock up his seventh world championship.

Second-place driver Larry Dixon is 47 points behind the defending world champion and hopes his Countdown to 1 playoff success will continue in Las Vegas and into Pomona for the season-ending 45th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals, November 12–15, at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.

One driver that is looking to secure his first world championship in Las Vegas is Pro Stock’s Mike Edwards. Similar to Schumacher's campaign in 2008, Edwards enters the Las Vegas event with a 128-point lead over the competition. For Edwards, the dream of earning his first NHRA Full Throttle world championship could become a reality if Lady Luck shines down on him in Las Vegas. Edwards definitely has the stats to prove it. Since the Countdown to 1 playoffs began, Edwards has won two of the last four events, and earned the No. 1 qualifier at every Countdown race. The two races that he didn’t win, he walked away with nothing lower than a semifinal appearance at each one.

He’s got the numbers, but second-place driver Greg Anderson has the experience at Las Vegas that just might be enough to keep the first-place driver from clinching. Anderson has six wins at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, with three of those being at this event. For the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, a season of competition all comes down to the final two races, the NHRA Las Vegas Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.

NHRA VEGAS STYLE FAN FEST OCTOBER 29 ON FREMONT STREET: NHRA Vegas Style Fan Fest, the official kickoff to the 2009 NHRA Las Vegas Nationals, will take place Thursday, October 29, from 6:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m. on Fremont Street in Las Vegas. NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series stars Antron Brown, Larry Dixon, Tony Pedregon, Tim Wilkerson, Bob Tasca, Jeff Arend, Jeg Coughlin, Allen Johnson, Michael Phillips, Bob Bode, David Hope and others will participate in the autograph session. The first 500 fans in the autograph line will receive a free special-edition poster featuring select drivers in the NHRA’s Countdown to 1 playoffs. The Fan Fest will take place on the 3rd Street section of Fremont Street near the Four Queens Hotel & Casino, Fitzgeralds Casino & Hotel and the Fremont Hotel & Casino. For more information, visit

NHRA ANNOUNCES FAN RELIEF PROGRAM FOR AUTO CLUB FINALS: NHRA has announced that a limited number of $20 Race Fan Relief tickets—a savings of up to $29 per ticket—will be made available for the November 12–15 Auto Club NHRA Finals, the climactic race in NHRA’s six-race playoff, the Countdown to 1. The offer is available for advance purchase only on a first-come, first-served basis and is limited to 1,500 tickets for each day of the four-day event. To purchase fan-relief tickets, enter the password “relief” on the appropriate Ticketmaster page, or call 800/884-NHRA (6472) and mention “fan-relief offer.”

NHRA has also partnered with Ticketmaster to eliminate service and convenience fees on tickets purchased through, via Ticketmaster phone lines or at Ticketmaster outlets. Fans purchasing tickets through Ticketmaster may pick up their tickets at the ticket office will-call window on race day or they may have their tickets delivered for a fee.

NHRA is also reaching out to families and fans in the military: Children 12 and younger accompanied by a paying adult will be admitted free on any of the four days of the event to general-admission areas, and NHRA is offering any active U.S. military personnel a free reserved-seat ticket on-site Friday, November 13. For tickets to the 45th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals, call 800/884-NHRA (6472) or visit


NHRA LAS VEGAS NATIONALS, THE STRIP AT LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY, OCTOBER 29–NOVEMBER 1: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series heads back to ‘Sin City’ for the penultimate race in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. Defending event winners include Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel); Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car); Jeg Coughlin (Pro Stock); and Chris Rivas (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

AUTOMOBILE CLUB OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA NHRA FINALS, AUTO CLUB RACEWAY AT POMONA, NOVEMBER 12–15: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series and Countdown to 1 playoffs come to an end at this historical event in sunny Southern California. Defending event winners include Larry Dixon (Top Fuel); Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car); Greg Anderson (Pro Stock); and Chris Rivas (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

 Mike Edwards
 Mike Edwards


KEEPING FOCUSED: Pro Stock driver Mike Edwards on the possibility of clinching his first NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing world championship in Las Vegas:

“I’m thinking [championship], but I don’t have it yet. It’s close, but you’ve still got to stay focused. You’ve still got to keep your goals ahead. Those two Summit (drivers) are going to be burning the midnight oil to try and get back up there with me. I’m not going to count my chickens yet before they hatch. But I’m living my dream right now, and I’m real close to it.”


13: That’s the number of drivers who, after winning the NHRA Las Vegas Nationals, have gone on to win the world championship, since the addition of the race to the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing schedule in 2001.


…that Pro Stock Motorcycle riders Matt Smith and Angie McBride were married in Greensboro, North Carolina, Friday, October 16. The two have known each other for seven years, after meeting while they were both competing on motorcycles and were engaged last year at the 2008 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series awards ceremony. Smith will be competing in the upcoming NHRA Las Vegas Nationals, October 29–November 1 at The Strip At Las Vegas Motor Speedway.