DRIVERS REVVED UP FOR zMAX AND START OF COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP: It’s been a full week since the final drivers clinched their spots in the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship. A full week since the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series last raced. Now, after a brief break from racing action, the drivers and crew members will return to the dragstrip for the start of a three-races-in-three-weeks stretch, beginning this week at zMAX Dragway with the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals. And for those drivers competing in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship, the time couldn’t come quick enough.
“I’m ready to get the Countdown started right and would like to collect our first win of the season,” said Funny Car driver Matt Hagan, sixth in the point standings. “I can’t think of a better place than here to do just that.”
Said defending Pro Stock world champion and current point leader Greg Anderson, “Starting the Countdown at zMAX Dragway is absolutely perfect. It’s our home track, and our win there last September got us back in the Countdown and started us on the way to the championship. In fact, our last few races in Charlotte have been very good for us, and we need it to be good to us again this weekend so we can get our title defense off to a good start.”
Anderson isn’t the only driver to say how vital success at zMAX Dragway is toward the world championship. Top Fuel pilot Antron Brown also recognizes that fact. He is coming off of a run of three wins in the past six races, including at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil. He is second in the point standings and knows all too well what a bad day at zMAX Dragway can do to championship hopes.
“We came in the (2009) Countdown with over a 200-point lead, then it got wiped away,” said Brown. “We went there, and we were racing, but I think we put so much pressure on ourselves that in Charlotte we qualified second and lost the first round because we had to change the injector at the last minute.”
Brown finished third in the points that season. No matter the class, any driver would agree that success in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship starts this weekend at the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at zMAX Dragway. For tickets, call 800/455-FANS (3267) or log on to charlottemotorspeedway.com.
zMAX DRAGWAY READY FOR COUNTDOWN AND NHRA’S 60TH ANNIVERSARY: As the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series descends on zMAX Dragway this weekend for the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, North Carolina fans will have the opportunity to meet some of their favorite drag racers from the past as the NHRA’s yearlong 60th anniversary celebration returns to Charlotte. Highlighting the season-long Legends program will be one of the NHRA’s most colorful characters, NHRA legend “TV Tommy” Ivo. The charismatic Ivo will be on-site throughout the weekend to meet and greet fans, sign autographs and show off some of his legendary cars, including the four-engine Showboat, at the Full Throttle display on the Manufacturers Midway. Ivo will also participate in the popular Legends Track Walk program Sunday morning before pre-race ceremonies.
All fans who purchase a Sunday ticket are invited to participate. In addition, the weekend will feature the Don Garlits-Darrell Gwynn Match Races for a Cause series throughout the weekend. For tickets for the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, call 800/455-FANS (3267) or log on to charlottemotorspeedway.com.
NHRA ANNOUNCES 2012 FULL THROTTLE DRAG RACING SERIES SCHEDULE: NHRA announced its 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series schedule, highlighted by a return to Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis, which expands the schedule to 23 races.
“We are excited to return to the St. Louis area, as we have a very strong fan base in the region, and they have always supported NHRA Drag Racing,” said Tom Compton, president, NHRA.
A new operator at Gateway International Raceway has made the addition to the 2012 schedule possible. The multipurpose motorsports facility, located in Madison, Illinois, just across the river from St. Louis, played host to an NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event for 14 years, from 1997 through 2010. The NHRA Midwest Nationals, October 5–7, will become part of the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship and will feature all four professional categories: Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle. Another significant change to the 2012 schedule is the return of the 28th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals to a winter date, February 17–19, making it the second event on the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series schedule and the week following the season opener, the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, February 9–12. A complete listing of the 2012 schedule can be found by logging on to NHRA.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.
AAA TEXAS NHRA FALL NATIONALS, TEXAS MOTORPLEX, September 22–25: The NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship makes its second of six stops with a visit to the Lone Star State. Defending event winners are Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and LE Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 800/668-6775 or log on to extremetix.com. For media credentials, please contact Director of Media Relations Anthony Vestal at email@example.com.
UNI-SELECT AUTO-PLUS NHRA NATIONALS, MAPLE GROVE RACEWAY, September 29–October 2: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes its third stop in the Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship at scenic Maple Grove Raceway in Pennsylvania. Defending event winners are Larry Dixon (Top Fuel), Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car), Dave Connolly (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 610/856-9210 or log on to extremetix.com. For media credentials, please contact Senior Communications Manager Scott Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HE SAID, SHE SAID
PULLING OUT THE RADAR MAP: Funny Car driver Bob Tasca on how the weather conditions may spell success this weekend in Charlotte: “The weather this week should be off-the-charts good. It could be some of the best conditions we’ve seen all year and on one of the premier racing surfaces in the country. Get ready, because Charlotte is going to be record-breaking.”
60 YEARS IN NHRA HISTORY
2006, ‘The Run’: At the 2006 season-concluding Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Top Fuel pilot Tony Schumacher trailed Doug Kalitta by more than two rounds in the battle for the Top Fuel world title. After Kalitta lost in the semifinal round, Schumacher needed to not only win the event, but also to set a national record for e.t. On the last pass of the day in the final round of eliminations, Schumacher powered his U.S. Army dragster past Melanie Troxel on a national-record-setting run of 4.428 seconds to win the event along with his fourth world championship. The pass was dubbed simply “The Run” and was voted as one of the top 10 moments in NHRA history by fans.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
3: Three of the six rookies who are eligible for the Auto Club Road to the Future Award qualified for the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship. Vincent Nobile (Pro Stock), Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) and Jerry Savoie (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are hoping to follow in the footsteps of LE Tonglet and win the Auto Club Road to the Future Award and NHRA Full Throttle world championship in the same year.
DID YOU KNOW…
… that defending NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car world champion John Force will race a special paint scheme this week at zMAX Dragway honoring those who were among the first to respond at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The Castrol GTX High Mileage/Honoring Our Heroes Funny Car will make its appearance at the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals this weekend.
For more information, contact NHRA Media Relations at 626/914-4761 or log on to the NHRA Media Center.