MAC TOOLS U.S. NATIONALS ACTION RESUMES SEPTEMBER 8–9: Two days of persistent rain showers from the remnants of Hurricane Isaac forced NHRA officials to postpone the 58th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis until September 8–9. Qualifying for the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series categories—Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle—will reopen with two sessions (11:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.) Saturday, September 8, and eliminations will take place at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, September 9. The NHRA Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Funny Car, the $100,000 bonus race within a race, will be run on Saturday, September 8, with the first round starting at 12:30 p.m. ESPN2’s coverage will air Sunday, September 9, from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. (EDT). Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx will also continue qualifying Saturday, September 8, and the rest of sportsman eliminations are scheduled for Saturday. Tickets from Sunday, September 2, will be honored Saturday, September 8. Tickets from Monday, September 3, will be honored Sunday, September 9.
COUNTDOWN BERTHS STILL HANG IN THE BALANCE AT INDY: In addition to crowning event champs, week two of the 58th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus will settle what rain-drenched week one could not: the establishment of the 10-car fields for the Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship playoffs. With just the one race left, four drivers in Top Fuel, six in Funny Car and eight each in Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle still have mathematical chances to lock up the few remaining spots. The situation is most clear in Top Fuel, where nine of the top 10 spots have been clinched. Antron Brown, Spencer Massey, Tony Schumacher, Steve Torrence, Doug Kalitta, Morgan Lucas, Shawn Langdon, David Grubnic and Brandon Bernstein have all had their tickets punched for the six-race playoffs that begin with the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals in Charlotte, September 14–16. Bob Vandergriff Jr. is currently clinging to the No. 10 spot, just eight points in front of Clay Millican. Khalid alBalooshi and Terry McMillen also are both mathematically alive, but McMillen will be eliminated if Vandergriff remains qualified. Vandergriff is in a good spot to do so, ranked eighth, meaning his top 12 time will carry over to the resumption of qualifying. alBalooshi is No. 6; McMillen is not currently qualified.
In Funny Car, Courtney Force, the provisional No. 1 qualifier, earned enough bonus points during week one to lock up her spot, just one of six finalized. She’s locked in with Ron Capps, Robert Hight, Jack Beckman, Johnny Gray and Mike Neff. Cruz Pedregon will instantly clinch the seventh spot if he qualifies for the field, but that might be a big if, as he’s not currently in the show. John Force, Jeff Arend and Bob Tasca III hold the final three spots, but reigning world champ Matt Hagan is less than a round behind Tasca and just 32 behind Arend, and Tim Wilkerson is just seven points back of Hagan. John Force could clinch by qualifying depending on his qualifying position and/or bonus points versus Hagan’s qualifying position and/or bonus points. For more on this story, visit www.nhra.com.
MASSEY WINS BIG AT INAUGURAL TRAXXAS NITRO SHOOTOUT FOR TOP FUEL: Spencer Massey and the Prestone/FRAM Top Fuel team scored a $100,000 payday by winning the inaugural Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Top Fuel held during qualifying at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus, Saturday, September 1. Massey slugged his way through the field with a strong run in the opening round followed by crushing performances in the semifinal and final rounds. His Todd Okuhara- and Phil Shuler-tuned dragster iced the win with a 3.780 at 325.61 mph in the final round to defeat fellow 29-year-old Texas native Steve Torrence, whose Capco Contractors dragster coasted to a 4.840 at 155.70 mph.
“I’m so happy for all of our guys because this couldn’t have happened without any of them, including the guys who show up at our shop every day to make our parts and build our chassis,” Massey said. “Just making it into the Traxxas Shootout is huge. To win a race out here is amazing because every car in the class is bad to the bone. Leading up to this event has been pretty nail-biting. We came out and tested last week for seven passes and made pretty good runs, so we had some data and knew we had what it took to win so long as we could put it all together on Saturday.”
For more on this story, visit www.nhra.com.
FULL THROTTLE COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP BEGINS AT ZMAX DRAGWAY SEPTEMBER 14–16: The Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship—the NHRA’s six-race playoff series—opens September 14–16, at zMAX Dragway—Bruton Smith’s “Bellagio” of dragstrips. The kick-off race for this season’s world championship battle for the top 10 drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle promises to be one of the best ever. In past seasons, this event has produced record-setting performances, such as Funny Car driver Matt Hagan’s milestone run of 3.995 seconds last year. Hagan’s victory at the event propelled the Virginia cattle rancher on to the world championship title five races later. Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Eddie Krawiec, who set both ends of the track record on his Harley-Davidson V-Rod last September, also used the race-winning momentum to secure a second world championship title in Pomona. Every Countdown-eligible driver knows that getting off to a fast start in the first race of the playoffs is critical. That’s why every team will be pushing hard to win the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries at zMAX Dragway.
“[In the Countdown] whoever gets the hot hand, can win it all,” said John Force, driver of the Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang, who won a record 15th Funny Car world championship in the Countdown to the Championship in 2010. The O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries will feature a qualifying show on Friday, exhibition runs by two jet dragsters and a fireworks display to close out the night of racing. On Sunday, fans who attend the race can participate in the Nitro Generation Track Walk, where all ticket holders can walk side-by-side down zMAX Dragway with the most popular drivers in the sport. General admission tickets for Friday are $20 and kids 13 and under are admitted free each day with a paid adult ticket. For tickets to the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries, call the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office at 800-455-FANS (3267).
MAC TOOLS U.S. NATIONALS PRESENTED BY AUTO-PLUS, Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, September 8–9: The weather-delayed event has been rescheduled for September 8–9. Drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will compete in the final regular season event in the Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. The 2011 winners were Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Mike Neff (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 800-884-NHRA (6472) or log on to NHRATix.com.
O’REILLY AUTO PARTS NHRA NATIONALS PRESENTED BY SUPER START BATTERIES, zMAX Dragway, September 14–16: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes its 18th stop of 23 events in the 2012 season for the first event of the Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship. The top 10 drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will earn points in the Countdown—the NHRA’s playoffs. The 2011 winners were Del Worsham (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 800-455-FANS (3267) or log on to zMAXDragway.com.
AAA TEXAS NHRA FALL NATIONALS, Texas Motorplex, September 20–23: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes its 19th stop of 23 events in the 2012 season, and the second race of the Countdown. Drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will earn points towards the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series world championships. The 2011 winners were Bob Vandergriff (Top Fuel), Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Michael Phillips (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 800-668-6775 or log on to TexasMotorplex.com.
HE SAID, SHE SAID
DESPITE THE WEATHER DELAY, FORCE LOOKING TO CONTINUE STRONG RUN IN INDY: NHRA Funny Car driver Courtney Force recorded a career-best elapsed time of 4.049 seconds and set a track speed record of 317.27 mph during qualifying at Lucas Oil Raceway last weekend. She will return to the track this weekend for the completion of the rain-delayed event as the No. 1 qualifier in Funny Car. She will try to hang on to that spot during the two remaining qualifying sessions. Despite persistent rain showers that forced NHRA officials to postpone all racing action until September 8–9, Force maintained a positive attitude and is looking forward to getting back on the track.
“I have all the faith in the world in my guys,” Force said. “They’ve been working hard all season, and to get a career best at Indy, it’s huge. This is the one track that you want to say it at, and it’s pretty cool that it’s the Big Go, and it’s my career best, an awesome time, so we’re excited.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
8: FUNNY CAR DRIVERS WHO WILL BE GOING FOR $100,000 WINNER’S SHARE OF TRAXXAS NITRO SHOOTOUT FOR FUNNY CAR ON SEPTEMBER 8 IN INDY: Eight Funny Car drivers will race for the $100,000 winner’s share of the NHRA Traxxas Nitro Shootout, September 8, during the completion of the rain-delayed Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. Ron Capps is the top-seed for the event and he will face lottery/fan vote winner Courtney Force in the first round of competition. Other first-round matchups include Robert Hight vs. Jeff Arend, Johnny Gray vs. Mike Neff and Jack Beckman vs. John Force. Last weekend Spencer Massey claimed the $100,000 check in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Top Fuel.
DID YOU KNOW…
B.R.A.K.E.S. DINNER, GOLF TOURNAMENT SCHEDULED FOR CHARLOTTE: For the fifth consecutive year, B.R.A.K.E.S. (Be Responsible And Keep Everyone Safe) will invite many of the brightest stars from the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, the fans who follow them and supporters of this lifesaving 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization to gather for the B.R.A.K.E.S. Benefit Dinner at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Concord, North Carolina, Thursday, September 13. The dinner will follow the organization’s annual golf tournament earlier that day. This year, the dinner will feature an added touch of Hollywood: The special guest speaker will be Rudy Ruettiger, whose life story inspired the motion picture Rudy starring Sean Astin. The movie depicts Ruettiger’s repeated attempts to fulfill his dream of playing for the University of Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish football team despite his small size and lack of athletic skills. Eventually, he wins the admiration and respect of the team for his hard work and dedication and gets the opportunity to play in the final game of his senior year, much to the delight of his teammates and Notre Dame fans alike. Now an inspirational speaker, Ruettiger is a natural choice to address those attending the B.R.A.K.E.S. affair.
“We think it’s going to be a sensational evening,” said Doug Herbert, B.R.A.K.E.S. founder and popular star of NHRA and IHRA Top Fuel racing. “Everyone will enjoy hearing what Rudy will be sharing with us, and at the same time, drag-racing fans will be able to socialize and sit next to some of the NHRA’s best-known drivers, legends and team owners. We are really looking forward to what we think will be the best Benefit Dinner we’ve had to date.”
A silent and live auction, including sports and entertainment memorabilia, several special travel getaways and a host of unique items to benefit B.R.A.K.E.S. will also be part of the evening’s program. A cocktail hour is scheduled for 6:00 p.m., and dinner will be served at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $150 per person. Earlier that day, NHRA stars will be going rounds of a different kind as they join their fans at Rocky River Golf Club adjacent to zMAX Dragway for the B.R.A.K.E.S. Benefit Golf Tournament. All NHRA fans and those looking to help support B.R.A.K.E.S. are invited to take part in this fundraising event, in which they can play side by side with their favorite NHRA drivers. For more information about this story, visit www.NHRA.com.