SEATTLE WINS COME AT RIGHT TIME FOR NHRA FULL THROTTLE DRIVERS: To say that Funny Car driver Tim Wilkerson was looking for success on the Western Swing would be an understatement. Just three weeks ago, Wilkerson entered the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals—the first event of the three-race swing—in 11th place in the point standings. In the first 11 races of the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season, he had racked up eight first-round losses and had only advanced further than the second round once with a semifinal finish in Charlotte. Things were, to say the least, looking bleak. But as Wilkerson stood in the winner’s circle Sunday evening at the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals—the final leg of the famed Western Swing in Seattle—his struggles seemed a distant memory.
“This win really couldn’t have come at a better time for this team,” said Wilkerson. “The win is definitely a big morale boost for my team and really helps our position in the Countdown for sure.”
With his win in Seattle, runner-up finish in Sonoma and second-round showing in Denver, Wilkerson moved to ninth in the standings with two races left before the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship. Like Wilkerson, Pro Stock driver Jason Line timed his win—his fourth of the season—just right. After losing his point lead with a semifinal loss to Mike Edwards in Sonoma—a lead that he had held nearly the entire season—Line took back the top position by beating teammate Greg Anderson in the final round in Seattle. Now, with the points lead back in hand, Line hopes to clinch his top spot and that 30-point bonus with two regular-season races left.
“It doesn’t get any better than this,” said Line. “I had a great feeling that if I did my job today that we had a car that could win this race. We made some changes to the car from Sonoma, and it ran good all weekend. It was phenomenal.”
For more results from Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals, log on to NHRA.com.
MORE DRIVERS CLINCH COUNTDOWN SPOTS IN SEATTLE: As the dust settled at Pacific Raceways following the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals, eight more drivers had clinched spots in the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship—the NHRA’s six-race playoffs for the world championships. Funny Car drivers Robert Hight, Jack Beckman and Cruz Pedregon joined point leader Mike Neff with their clinched spots, and Pro Stock featured the most drivers to clinch—five: Vincent Nobile, Erica Enders, Allen Johnson, Rodger Brogdon and Greg Stanfield. Only two races remain—the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway and the prestigious Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, before the start of the Countdown. Below are the drivers who have secured spots so far in the Countdown to the Championship:
||PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE
|Larry Dixon||Erica Enders
LUCAS OIL NHRA NATIONALS, BRAINERD INT’L RACEWAY, August 18–21: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series visits the Land of 10,000 Lakes on its second-to-last stop before the Countdown to the Championship. Defending event winners are Larry Dixon (Top Fuel), Bob Bode (Funny Car), Jeg Coughlin (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 218/824-7223 or log on to ticketreturn.com. For media credentials, please contact Senior Communications Manager Scott Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MAC TOOLS U.S. NATIONALS PRESENTED BY LUCAS OIL, LUCAS OIL RACEWAY AT INDIANAPOLIS, August 31–September 5: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes its last stop before the Countdown to the Championship at the most prestigious race in the world. Defending event winners are Larry Dixon (Top Fuel), Ashley Force Hood (Funny Car), Greg Stanfield (Pro Stock) and LE Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 800/884-NHRA (6472) or log on to extremetix.com. For media credentials, please contact Senior Communications Manager Scott Smith at email@example.com.
O’REILLY AUTO PARTS NHRA NATIONALS, zMAX DRAGWAY, September 15–18: The NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship begins in Charlotte at the second stop of the season at zMAX Dragway. Defending event winners are Larry Dixon (Top Fuel), Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and LE Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 800/455-FANS (3267) or log on to charlottemotorspeedway.com. For media credentials, please contact Media Relations Manager Alex Baca at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HE SAID, SHE SAID
IT’S ALL IN THE DETAILS: Top Fuel pilot Del Worsham after his win Sunday at the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways in Seattle—his sixth of the year: “This season has been unreal; to watch this Al-Anabi team work is amazing. This team is so detail-oriented and just really good at what they do. The Al-Anabi team did another outstanding job, and they gave me a car that could win.”
60 YEARS IN NHRA HISTORY
1966, SHAHAN BECOMES FIRST WOMAN TO WIN NHRA EVENT: At the 1966 Kragen O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, 27-year-old housewife and mother of three Shirley Shahan drove her ’65 Plymouth past Ken Heinemann in the Top Stock final round to become the first woman to win an NHRA event.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
18: That’s how many points 11th-place Top Fuel driver Terry McMillen sits behind 10th-place Dave Grubnic with just two races left before the NHRA Countdown to the Championship. McMillen is less than one round back of grabbing a spot in the Countdown.
DID YOU KNOW…
…that racing-lubricants pioneer and Top Fuel team owner Forrest Lucas will be at Brainerd International Raceway to help kick off the NHRA 60th celebration in Minnesota? Lucas will participate in a special track walk Sunday before pre-race and be on hand during the entire weekend at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals to sign autographs and meet with fans. Also, a special autograph session celebrating the 60th anniversary of the NHRA will occur Saturday, in which NHRA legends Warren Johnson, Kurt Johnson, Greg Anderson, Jason Line and Tom Hoover will participate. For tickets to the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, call 218/824-7223 or log on to ticketreturn.com.
For more information, contact NHRA Media Relations at 626/914-4761 or log on to the NHRA Media Center.