Compiled by SEMA Editors
LUCAS RACES TO FIRST WIN OF 2013; HAGAN AND NOBILE SCORE AT LAST RACE OF WESTERN SWING: Morgan Lucas powered to his first Top Fuel win of the season in his third final-round appearance of the year when he defeated David Grubnic at the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries. This was the second consecutive final-round appearance for Lucas and his first win since the 2012 Brainerd, Minnesota, event.
"I've always had a special place in my heart for this track," Lucas said. "Hopefully we can maintain this consistency the back half of the season because I want to make a serious run at the championship." Other winners were Matt Hagan, who won his fourth Funny Car race of the year, and Vincent Nobile, who scored his second consecutive victory at the final race of the Western Swing. Check out a full wrap-up of the event.
WILKERSON AND MARTINO TO FEATURE NEW PAINT SCHEMES FOR LUCAS OIL NHRA NATIONALS: Funny Car racer Tim Wilkerson and Pro Stock competitor Mark Martino will fly new paint schemes for the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, Minnesota. Wilkerson will sport Circle K colors along with those of his longtime partner Levi, Ray & Shoup. Wilkerson, a former gas-station owner, has experience in the world of gasoline and convenience stores. Circle K is moving into the Minnesota market, with 14 stores making the transition in the past six months.
"When I started out, you pretty much just sold gasoline," Wilkerson said. "Now the convenience-store side of the equation is what makes you successful. I was really excited to put this car together and help launch the Circle K brand in Minnesota."
Canadian racer Martino's GXP Pro Stocker will feature Voortman Cookies and Menards during the event. The partnership celebrates the sale of the Canadian Voortman Cookies in Menards stores beginning in mid-August.
"We are proud to represent a great Canadian company like Voortman Cookies and have the bright yellow Menards graphic scheme on our Pro Stock car at Brainerd," Martino said. "Brainerd is a special place for me as this track was the first place we raced in the NHRA Pro Stock class in 2010 and qualified for our first-ever event back here in 2011."
HAGAN BECOMES FIRST FUNNY CAR RACER TO ENTER COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP: 2011 Funny Car world champion Matt Hagan became the first racer in the Funny Car category to gain entry into the Countdown to the Championship following his win in Seattle. Hagan raced to his sixth final round of the season and fourth win of the year when he defeated Bob Tasca III in the title round. Also earning berths in the Countdown to the Championship were Pro Stock racers Shane Gray, Vincent Nobile, Jason Line and Greg Anderson. In Top Fuel, Shawn Langdon, Tony Schumacher and Spencer Massey are in the Countdown to the Championship. Hagan earned a berth in the Funny Car category. Mike Edwards, Allen Johnson, Jeg Coughlin, Nobile, Gray, Line and Anderson make up the current field in Pro Stock. Pro Stock Motorcycle racers in the Countdown to the Championship are Hector Arana Jr., Matt Smith, Michael Ray and Hector Arana Sr. The Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, Minnesota, and Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis are the final two races remaining to earn points for the playoffs.
LUCAS OIL NHRA NATIONALS, Brainerd International Raceway, August 15–18: The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series returns to the Land of 10,000 Lakes when the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals takes to Brainerd International Raceway August 15–18. Jeg Coughlin will be looking for a victory that would put him at the top of the Pro Stock win list at the facility and break the tie at four he holds with Bruce Allen, Bob Glidden, Kurt Johnson and Warren Johnson. The 2012 winners of the event were Morgan Lucas (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Erica Enders-Stevens (Pro Stock). The 17th of 24 events in the Mello Yello Series will be televised nationally on ESPN2. For tickets, call 218-824-7223 or log on to www.brainerdraceway.com.
CHEVROLET PERFORMANCE U.S. NATIONALS, Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, August 28–September 2: The Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals returns to Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis August 28–September 2. Legends such as Don Prudhomme, Shirley Muldowney, Bob Glidden and Don Garlits have cemented themselves in racing lore by winning at this monumental event. Defending and nine-time event Top Fuel champ Tony Schumacher (pictured) will attempt to break his tie with Glidden to become the winningest driver of the event. Mike Neff (Funny Car), Dave Connolly (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also wrote their names in the record books as 2012 winners of the event. This is the 18th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and the last chance that racers have to qualify for the Countdown to the Championship. Also during the weekend, Top Fuel and Funny Car drivers will compete in the NHRA Traxxas Nitro Shootouts, specialty eight-car races within a race. For tickets, call 800-884-6472 or log on to www.NHRATix.com.
HE SAID, SHE SAID
“That's how this sport goes sometimes, especially when you only get two chances to qualify. This hurts because we had a chance to leave Seattle with the points lead, but I know how good our NAPA Dodge is, and we'll be ready for the next race. I know we are still in the hunt for the championship, but it would have been very special to have all of my NAPA family in the winner's circle with me."
—Ron Capps, who won the Funny Car title in Sonoma, California, on failing to qualify for the 16-car field in Seattle. Capps dropped to third in the points and will attempt to rebound at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, Minnesota, where he has three wins and is the defending event champion.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
9-1: Number of round wins and losses for Pro Stock racer Vincent Nobile during the recent Western Swing. Nobile won consecutive events in Sonoma, California, and Seattle and raced to a quarterfinal finish in Denver. His performance moved him from sixth to fourth in points and earned him a berth in the Countdown to the Championship. Nobile defeated Jeg Coughlin in the final at both events.
"Luckily, we came out on top, just like last weekend," Nobile said. "I think I try a little bit harder when I'm going up against my teammates in Jeg and Allen [Johnson], and it definitely means a lot beating Jeg. He's unbelievable, and to be able to beat a champion, it means a lot to me and my team."
DID YOU KNOW…
MOPAR HEMI CHALLENGE RETURNS TO INDIANAPOLIS FOR 13TH YEAR: Mopar-powered SS/AH (Super Stock/Automatic-HEMI) class competitors will again prepare for a showdown in the Mopar Hemi Challenge August 29–30 at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis during the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals. The winner will receive $15,000, the Hemi Challenge trophy and a newly added prize—a custom Mopar winner's jacket.
"We're very proud of how popular our Mopar vehicles have remained since their introduction over 40 years ago, especially because of the passion we see from sportsman competitors and fans," said Pietro Gorlier, president and CEO of Mopar—Chrysler Group LLC's service, parts and customer-care brand.