2012 CHAMPIONS HONORED AT NHRA FULL THROTTLE AWARDS CEREMONY IN HOLLYWOOD: A trio of first-time world-championship winners—Antron Brown, Jack Beckman and Allen Johnson—headlined those drivers crowned Monday evening during the 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series awards ceremony at the Grand Ballroom at the Hollywood and Highland Center. The other NHRA Full Throttle Series world champion, Eddie Krawiec, who earned his second consecutive and third overall championship, also was honored and joined the others in receiving a check and trophy for winning the 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship. Top Fuel champ Brown, 36, made history by becoming the first African-American driver to win a major U.S. auto racing championship. He claimed the title in dramatic fashion at the season-ending race in Pomona. The driver of the Matco Tools dragster earned six victories in 11 final rounds during the season and set a national performance record in Reading to add 20 points to his total. He battled teammates Tony Schumacher and Spencer Massey to the final day of the season finale. Brown earned $500,000 from NHRA and Full Throttle for the series crown and added to NHRA’s history of diversity, joining pioneering champions Shirley Muldowney, Cruz Pedregon, Tony Pedregon, Angelle Sampey and Hector Arana Sr. in the NHRA record book. Other awards presented at the ceremony were the Full Throttle Hard Working Crew honors, which went to the teams of Antron Brown, Courtney Force, Erica Enders and Eddie Krawiec as well as the Don Prudhomme Award presented to NHRA announcer Bob Frey, who retired at the end of the season. In addition, rookie sensation Courtney Force received the Auto Club Road to the Future Award. For more on this story, visit www.nhra.com.
BROWN WINS FIRST NHRA TOP FUEL CHAMPIONSHIP: Antron Brown clinched the Top Fuel championship, his first, in white-knuckle fashion when teammate Tony Schumacher fell one round short of overhauling his lead during final eliminations at the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals. Brown had entered the event comfortably in the points lead, but his first-round loss to teammate Spencer Massey opened the door for both Schumacher and Massey. Massey’s hopes were ended in the second round against Brandon Bernstein, and Schumacher defeated J.R. Todd, Khalid alBalooshi and Bob Vandergriff Jr. to reach the final round. With the championship on the line, Schumacher fell to Bernstein by .008-second, 3.762 to 3.753, to make a very relieved Brown the season champ, and the first African-American to win a major U.S. auto-racing championship. Last-minute heroics are nothing new to Schumacher. His incoming 65-point deficit wasn’t even his largest heading into the final event of a championship season. He trailed “Hot Rod” Fuller by 68 points before overtaking him with a win at the 2007 event. Of course, he took part in one of the most iconic moments in drag-racing history when he won the 2006 title by setting the national e.t. record in the final round. This time, the magic ended one round short of another miracle, and Brown ascended the Top Fuel throne. Visit www.nhra.com for more on this story.
BECKMAN WINS FIRST NHRA FUNNY CAR CHAMPIONSHIP: Jack Beckman collected his first NHRA Full Throttle championship last Sunday at the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals with a second-round victory. Beckman, who entered the event first in points ahead of teammate Ron Capps, won the championship in the semifinals when Capps fell to Courtney Force. Beckman, who also had reached the semifinals, then lost to Cruz Pedregon, making the final margin of victory for Beckman just two points.
“I’m really not feeling anything right now,” said Beckman. “You think about this, and you dream about this. It’s going to take me a while to wrap my head around this. We would have loved to have won it head to head in the final, but the trophy is going to shine just as well no matter what. We really wanted to win. When you’re strapped in the car, you really can’t see the cars very much because the crewmen are all standing up on the starting line blocking your view. All the guys wearing NAPA shirts are great friends of mine and for three years were my crew guys, and when Capps was running, I could see his car between a couple of guys. It looked like it was running good, and I thought, ‘OK, they’re going to turn the win light on,’ and then I see one of them put his head down on the other's shoulder. I’m like, ‘I think he just lost,’ but there was no reaction from our crew. I’m not sure if they were staring just to make sure the light stayed on. It took probably five seconds, which felt like a half-hour, and they said, ‘We just won it.’ Then I thought, ‘Well, I can’t celebrate right now. We have to go up there and try to win.’ We didn’t, and I’m not all that upset about it, to be honest with you."
Visit www.nhra.com for more on this story.
JOHNSON CLINCHES FIRST NHRA PRO STOCK CHAMPIONSHIP: Allen Johnson was officially declared the 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Pro Stock champion after the conclusion of last Saturday’s final qualifying session at the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals. Johnson clinched the title by qualifying his Team Mopar/J&J Dodge Avenger in the No. 2 position with a time of 6.518, which mathematically eliminated the only remaining contender—2011 Pro Stock champion Jason Line. This is the first national title for Johnson and his father and engine builder, Roy, who have raced together in Pro Stock since 1996. Johnson posted his first top 10 showing in 1999, and he has finished in the top 10 in eight of the previous 10 campaigns; his previous best points finishes were No. 4 efforts in 2007 and 2011. Johnson, who entered the 2012 season with 18 No. 1 qualifying efforts, has always enjoyed ample power from his father’s engines, but the team had lacked the consistency to win on race day until this year.
Said Johnson, “First of all, I want to thank God for helping us make this happen. And it means a lot more to me to bring this championship to my dad, this crew, our family and our many friends in Greeneville, Tennessee.”
For more on this story, visit www.nhra.com.
KRAWIEC LOCKS UP 2012 NHRA FULL THROTTLE PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE TITLE: After securing his qualifying position for this weekend’s season-ending Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals in Pomona, Eddie Krawiec officially put the wraps on his third NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Pro Stock Motorcycle title.
"All three of my championships are special, so I can't say this one means any more or less than the others,” said Krawiec. “For me, the championship I didn't win is the most special. I won the title in 2008 without winning a race, and then in 2009, I went on a tear and won nine times. I didn't win the championship that year, but it validated the first one, and I'll always remember that. These Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidsons have been great all year, and that's a statement about the strength of our team. Terry Vance and Byron Hines have been at this a long time, and they know how to build a winning team. I'm just happy to be a part of it."
For more on this story, visit www.nhra.com.
BERNSTEIN, PEDREGON, JOHNSON, HINES WIN DRAMA-FILLED AUTO CLUB FINALS: While several drivers were celebrating winning Full Throttle world championship titles, Brandon Bernstein (Top Fuel), Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) raced to victory and claimed Wally trophies for winning the final race of the 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season. Bernstein used a holeshot start to defeat Tony Schumacher in a drama-filled Top Fuel final. Cruz Pedregon powered away from rookie sensation Courtney Force to get the win in the Funny Car final. Johnson put an exclamation point on his championship-winning Pro Stock season by holding off Vincent Nobile. Top Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifier Andrew Hines had a nearly perfect weekend aboard his Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson and outran newly crowned series champ and teammate Eddie Krawiec in the final round.
Visit www.nhra.com for more on this story.
O’REILLY AUTO PARTS NHRA WINTERNATIONALS, Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, February 14–17: The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series returns to Auto Club Raceway at Pomona for the start of the 2013 season with new colors. After a dramatic ending to the 2012 season, drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock are looking to pick up where they left off and bring more heat to the track for the season-opener. The 2012 winners of the event are Spencer Massey (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock).
ARIZONA NHRA NATIONALS, Firebird International Raceway, February 22–24: The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series makes its second stop of the 2013 season. Drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock will earn points towards the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series regular season points standings. The 2012 winners of the event are Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car) and Jason Line (Pro Stock).
NHRA GATORNATIONALS, Gainesville Raceway, March 14–17: The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series makes its third of 24 stops of the 2013 season in the Sunshine state of Florida. Drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will earn points towards the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series regular season points standings. The 2012 winners of the event are Morgan Lucas (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
HE SAID, SHE SAID
COURTNEY FORCE NAMED AUTO CLUB ROAD TO THE FUTURE AWARD WINNER: Courtney Force, the 24-year old driver from Yorba Linda, California, entered her rookie season with high hopes but grounded expectations behind the wheel of her Traxxas Ford Mustang. The day after she earned runner-up honors at the Auto Club NHRA Finals, the Cal State-Fullerton graduate was recognized at the Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood as the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future award winner, recognizing her as the 2012 NHRA Rookie of the Year. The youngest daughter of 15-time NHRA Funny Car champion and team owner John Force continued the John Force Racing tradition becoming the fourth team driver to win the prestigious award.
“It’s such an honor to have earned the Auto Club Road to the Future Award for top Rookie of the Year. It’s huge for our team, and it really says a lot for my crew members. We’ve had a great, consistent race car all season and we were really working hard for this award, but there are some great competitors out here that I’ve had to compete against head-to-head and they’re tough,” said Force. “I’m very honored and excited to get it this year. It definitely was a tough year to go for it and I’m very happy to join the rest of my teammates who have received this award before me. I’m definitely looking forward to next season with my Traxxas Ford Mustang team.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
92: DAYS UNTIL THE START OF THE 2013 NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SEASON: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing series concluded its 2012 season in dramatic fashion with Matco Tools Top Fuel pilot Antron Brown winning his first world championship as well as Funny Car driver “Fast” Jack Beckman and Pro Stock driver Allen Johnson also claiming their first world titles. As we closed this chapter of the NHRA series, we now look forward to a new beginning in 2013 with Mello Yello onboard as the new series sponsor. The first stop on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule will be at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona for the 53rd annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals and if the racing is as intense as it was at the 2012 season finale, the 2013 season will surely be one for the record books.
DID YOU KNOW…
2013 DATES ANNOUNCED FOR INAUGURAL NHRA SCREAMIN’ EAGLE CHAMPIONSHIP MOTORCYCLE SERIES: The race dates for the NHRA Screamin’ Eagle Championship Motorcycle Series have been announced for the 2013 season. The newly formed race series will compete 10 times during the season in conjunction with select NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series events held across the country. At least one high-energy NHRA Screamin’ Eagle Championship Motorcycle Series event will be held in each of the seven NHRA divisions during the year. At every event, Top Fuel, Pro Gas, Draggin’ Bagger, Street Pro and Hot Street will compete during the weekend. The NHRA Screamin’ Eagle Championship Motorcycle Series will offer a total purse of $152,800 among the five classes. The winners in each category at every event will be awarded a Wally and will participate in the race winner's circle activities. The program also includes the crowning of a year-end Top Fuel champion, who will receive a specially designed Wally and year-end bonus. The best seven of 10 races will count for points toward the year-end championship.
“The NHRA Screamin’ Eagle Championship Motorcycle Series greatly expands Harley-Davidson’s commitment to supporting grassroots drag racers with great Screamin’ Eagle performance products, more contingency payouts, and expanded opportunities to race on a national stage,” said Harley-Davidson Racing Manager Kris Schoonover. “We’re very excited to partner with the NHRA’s strong divisional Sportsman series to raise the visibility of this exciting form of motorcycle racing at a wide range of great racing venues around the country.”
For more on this story, visit www.nhra.com.