LUCAS, HIGHT, LINE CLAIM FIRST VICTORIES OF 60TH CELEBRATION AT SEASON-OPENER IN POMONA: The 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing season and 60th anniversary year of the NHRA kicked off with a bang Sunday at the season-opening Kragen O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California. In Top Fuel, Morgan Lucas and his Geico Powersports/Lucas Oil dragster team were able to power their way through the competition, including teammate and high school classmate Shawn Langdon in the final round, to secure their first Winternationals title and fourth win of Lucas’ career.
“The thing about it is (the Winternationals) is probably one of the most special races there is,” said Lucas. “In my eyes, it’s here, Gainesville, Indy and the Finals. Those are the races that if you’re going to win one, those are the ones you want to win, and maybe a little, in a selfish way, the Lucas Oil Nationals in Brainerd just because of family.”
The win also marked the first time Lucas has ever led the points in Top Fuel. His teammate and runner-up Langdon is close behind in the second spot. In Funny Car, 2009 world champion Robert Hight drove his Auto Club Ford Mustang past a highly competitive class, including Bob Tasca, team owner John Force, Ron Capps and 2010 Funny Car champion runner-up Matt Hagan in the final round to secure his third Winternationals title and 19th career win.
“To win the Winternationals, their first race of the year, at Auto Club Raceway, is just awesome,” said Hight. “You look at the class, it ain’t that easy to get wins. Look at the guys I had to beat today. It’s not that easy.”
Pro Stock also saw its share of excitement to open the season, as former world champion Jason Line held off 2010 world champion runner-up Greg Stanfield in the final round to earn his 22nd career win in his Summit Racing Pontiac GXP and take the points lead to start off the season.
“My confidence wasn’t that high (entering eliminations), but I kept thinking about Greg (Anderson, teammate) last year at Vegas and Dallas, where he qualified in the bottom half,” said Line. “I thought, ‘you know, if we can get down the right lane decent enough to win first round, then we have a shot at it.’ We actually went .53 and .53 in the right lane. The car, I would say, it was phenomenal.”
To see all the results for the Kragen O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals, visit NHRA.com.
VISITMYRTLEBEACH.COM NAMED SPONSOR OF NHRA 4-WIDE NATIONALS: Standing in front of a 40-ton sand sculpture of an NHRA Top Fuel dragster, zMAX Dragway officials announced last week VisitMyrtleBeach.com as the new title sponsor of the second annual VisitMyrtleBeach.com NHRA 4-Wide Nationals, April 14–17 at zMAX Dragway. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, popularly known as “The Grand Strand,” has been one of the South’s most popular tourism destinations for years, and VisitMyrtleBeach.com will now attach its name to the most unique event in drag racing at the sport’s premier facility. The 4-Wide Nationals is the only event on the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series calendar where competitors break from the traditional form of two-wide drag racing to race four wide with a 32,000hp assault on “the Bellagio of dragstrips.” For more information on this story or to purchase tickets to this event, visit NHRA.com.
NHRA KICKS OFF OFFICIAL 60TH CELEBRATION WITH TIRE KINGDOM GATORNATIONALS KICKOFF PARTY MARCH 10: In celebration of the 60th anniversary year of NHRA Drag Racing, the stars of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series will help get the celebration started with the official Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals Kickoff Party Thursday, March 10, at the Ale House in Gainesville from 6:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m. Some of the biggest names in NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing, including Tony Schumacher, Jack Beckman, Matt Hagan, Spencer Massey and Johnny Gray, just to name a few, will participate in a Q&A and autograph session, and fans will be treated to plenty of giveaways, music and fun. The Ale House is located at 3950 Archer Road. Tickets are still available for the 42nd annual Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals and can be purchased by visiting NHRA.com.
TIRE KINGDOM NHRA GATORNATIONALS, GAINESVILLE RACEWAY, March 10–13: The second stop in the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series and first race for the Pro Stock Motorcycle class, this showdown in the swamplands of Florida will bring added excitement as the NHRA celebrates its 60th anniversary. Defending event winners include Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel); Tim Wilkerson (Funny Car); Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 800/844-NHRA or go online at NHRATIX.com. For media credentials, please contact Senior Communications Manager Scott Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SUMMITRACING.COM NHRA NATIONALS, THE STRIP AT LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY, April 1–3: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes the first of two stops in Sin City and its third stop of the 2011 season. Defending event winners include Larry Dixon (Top Fuel); John Force (Funny Car); and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock). For tickets, call 800/644-4444 or go online at Ticketmaster.com. For media credentials, please contact Media Relations Manager Zak Elcock at email@example.com.
VISITMYRTLEBEACH.COM NHRA 4-WIDE NATIONALS, zMAX DRAGWAY, April 14–17: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series returns to the “Bellagio of dragstrips” for the only 4-wide national event on the calendar. Defending event winners include Cory McClenathan (Top Fuel); John Force (Funny Car); Mike Edwards (Pro Stock); and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 800/455-FANS (3267) or go online at Ticketmaster.com. For media credentials, please contact Public Relations Director Michael Padian at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HE SAID, SHE SAID
DOWN, BUT FAR FROM OUT: Defending NHRA Full Throttle Top Fuel world champion Larry Dixon, after losing the first round at the Kragen O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals: “It’s disappointing but not life-threatening. The good that came out of the weekend is that we leave Pomona with the national elapsed time record (3.770 seconds), and we were able to bring that record to our camp. The bar was set high when they set it, and I’m proud that the Al-Anabi team has it now.”
60 YEARS IN NHRA HISTORY
1954, THE BEGINNING OF THE SAFETY SAFARI: In 1954, a four-man crew headed by former Pomona police sergeant Bud Coons, headed off across the country towing a trailer full of equipment, to bring the message of NHRA drag racing and dragstrip preparation to the whole country. Known as the Drag Safari, this group paved the way for what we now call, the Safety Safari, a safety and track preparation crew that travels to all 22 events on the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing schedule.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
2: Only two drivers have ever won back-to-back races to start the season in the Top Fuel category. Gary Ormsby won both the Winternationals and Houston event to start the 1989 season, while Gary Scelzi won the Winternationals and Phoenix race to start the 1997 season. Morgan Lucas will look to become the third person added to that list as the season heads to Gainesville and the Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals, March 10–13.
DID YOU KNOW…
…that NHRA Mobile, the popular mobile application that gives NHRA fans access to real-time results, news, race schedules and more through their cell phones and mobile devices, will now offer video highlights from each NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event? The package will include race action highlights from No. 1 qualifiers in each NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series category as well as eliminations highlights featuring the final-round runs for each pro category. Other video clips will feature winning drivers’ interviews as well as footage of any eventful activities that may occur during a race weekend. For more information, click here.
For more information, contact NHRA Media Relations at 626/914-4761 or visit the NHRA Media Center online.