People Places & Racing News

NHRA: Dixon, McClenathan, Schumacher Head for Top Fuel Showdown in Pomona

Larry Dixon
Cory McClenathan
Tony Schumacher
Larry Dixon Cory McClenathan Tony Schumacher


ONE RACE, THREE DRIVERS, ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP—TOP FUEL CHAMPIONSHIP COMES DOWN TO POMONA: With the final race of the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing season two days away, for three Top Fuel drivers and their many fans the excitement and tension could not be stronger. As the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series descends on the historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona for the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals, only 48 points separate the top three spots in the Top Fuel category. And those spots are filled with three of the most competitive drivers to ever climb into a dragster.

The first, Tony Schumacher, is a six-time NHRA world champion looking to earn his seventh overall and sixth straight championship at a track where he has all but dominated throughout his career. The second, Larry Dixon, is a two-time NHRA world champion who enters the event with a five-race No. 1 qualifying streak and is tied for the most wins in the Top Fuel category this season. The third and final driver, Cory McClenathan, hopes to win his first NHRA world championship in an impressive 18-year career. The drag racing world couldn’t ask for a better show entering the final race of the season.

“This race is an opportunity to win a championship,” said Dixon. “For all practical purposes, Tony and I are tied, and Cory’s right there too. So it’s really winner take all; whoever does better at this race is gonna win it. I feel great because I have Alan Johnson (team owner/crew chief) and Jason McCulloch (crew chief) on my side, and with their record at Pomona, I’m excited about the weekend.”

But Top Fuel isn’t the only class looking to crown a champion at season’s end, as all four professional categories will see their world championships come down to this final race in Southern California.

In Funny Car, Robert Hight is close to securing his first world championship after barely sneaking into the Countdown to 1 playoffs in the 10th-place spot. Pro Stock’s Mike Edwards has had a record-setting season and looks to finish it with his first world championship at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, while Pro Stock Motorcycle’s Hector Arana hopes his late-season success continues as he also looks to gain his first world championship. All the stars of the NHRA Full Throttle Series will be out for the 45th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals, November 12–15, at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.

LIMITED NUMBER OF $20 RACE FAN RELIEF TICKETS AVAILABLE FOR AUTO CLUB NHRA FINALS: A limited number of $20 Race Fan Relief tickets are available for this weekend’s Auto Club NHRA Finals (November 12–15), the season finale for the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. A limited number of the $20 Race Fan Relief tickets remain for Thursday's and Friday’s racing at famed Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, where the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle world champions will be crowned in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle categories. Saturday's and Sunday’s allotments of the $20 Race Fan Relief tickets are sold out.

To take advantage of the NHRA Race Fan Relief ticket program, call 800/884-NHRA and reference “RELIEF” or visit and enter the password, “RELIEF.” The Race Fan Relief $20 ticket offer is only valid on advance purchase tickets. As announced previously, NHRA and Ticketmaster have partnered to eliminate service fees on Auto Club NHRA Finals tickets purchased through Ticketmaster.

2010 NHRA FULL THROTTLE DRAG RACING SERIES SCHEDULE CHANGE: Affording fans in the greater Phoenix area a chance to partake in two of the biggest events in the region in the month of February, NHRA has announced, in cooperation with the owner/operator of Firebird International Raceway, that the 26th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals will be moved up one week to February 19–21, 2010, which is historically Firebird’s tradition date for this event.

As a result, the event will take place the weekend after the 50th annual Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona and three weeks prior to the East Coast opener, the NHRA Gatornationals at Florida’s Gainesville Raceway. You will find an updated 2010 schedule to the right of the page.

NHRA OPENS FAN VOTING FOR FULL THROTTLE MOMENT OF THE YEAR: No sport does a better job of treating its fans as partners than the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, so it should come as no surprise that the league is turning to its fans to determine who will win The Quest for the Full Throttle Moment of the Year and the combined purse of $70,000. Fans can vote for what they believe was the most unforgettable moment of the 2009 season in each of the four NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Pro categories—Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle.

The Quest for the Full Throttle Moment is an innovative bonus program developed by Full Throttle and NHRA that recognizes a single unforgettable moment from each of the Pro categories at each of the 24 races. At the conclusion of the NHRA Las Vegas Nationals, ESPN analyst Mike Dunn selected four finalists from each of the four Pro categories.

For a list of the four finalists in each category and more information on voting, visit


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 historic 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).

US Army Crew
U.S. Army dragster crew.


WINNING ONE FOR THE NEW GUY?: U.S. Army dragster crew chief Mike Green on what it would be like to win his first world championship as a crew chief: “I’ve spent most of my adult life working on fuel cars and have been lucky enough to have experienced winning a Top Fuel championship. To have the opportunity to win one as a crew chief and for all of the guys on the team would be great. We work hard at preparing the race car for Tony to drive and take a lot of pride in knowing it’s capable of taking him to another championship.”


485: That’s the number of points, since making the Countdown to 1 playoffs, that Funny Car driver Robert Hight has earned to move all the way from the 10th and final spot in the Countdown to 1 to first-place heading into the final race of the season. Hight has had a 97-points-per-race average since the start of the Countdown to 1 playoffs in September.


…that NHRA, working with Cruz Pedregon Racing, recently conducted a series of test runs following the NHRA Las Vegas Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It was part of NHRA’s Competition and Technical Departments’ continuing initiative to find a new combination designed to reduce power in the nitromethane categories in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. For more on the test, visit