Compiled by SEMA Editors
LUCAS, HIGHT, COUGHLIN AND HINES RACE TO WINS AT OPENING COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP EVENTS: Morgan Lucas (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Jeg Coughlin (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) took home victories at the Carlyle Tools NHRA Carolina Nationals presented by NAPA Auto Parts Sunday in Charlotte, North Carolina. This was the first of six races in the Countdown to the Championship and set a tone for the championship push. Lucas, racing a newly in-house constructed dragster, defeated Spencer Massey in the finals for his second win of the year.
"The team gave me a great car," Lucas said. "They carried me, and I'm just genuinely proud to be part of this team." Hight continues his march to another championship with his second consecutive win and moves from ninth to third in points. "We've pulled it all together, and I've got a great team," Hight said. "These guys aren't leaving anything to chance, and we're clicking right now."
Coughlin raced to his 55th career win when he defeated Jason Line in the finals. "Jason and Greg [Anderson] have done wonders in the last 30 days," Coughlin said. "Whatever they did, they did one heck of a job with it. We never counted them out, and those two horses will be extremely tough in the Countdown."
Hines, who failed to make the Countdown for the first time in his career, raced to his first win of the season. Hines was pleased with the results and his role as a spoiler. "This is a bit bittersweet because we didn't make the Countdown, but I plan to be a nightmare for the rest of them," Hines said. "I said that one win during the Countdown would be sufficient for the year, and I'm going to be that nightmare by taking out our Countdown competitors."
KALITTA AND CAPPS TOP CONTENDERS AT AAA TEXAS NHRA FALLNATIONALS: Doug Kalitta races into the AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals as one of the quickest Top Fuel cars at each event with his category-best five No. 1 qualifying positions thus far this season. He has raced to two consecutive semifinal round apperances at the most recent events but is still looking for his first win of the 2013 season.
"We are having a great year so far," Kalitta said. "But we haven't been able to break through and get a win. With only five events left, time is definately running out on us, but we're all very confident we can get it done, hopefully in Dallas."
Ron Capps is second in the Countdown to the Championship in Funny Car points by 82 markers behind his teammate Matt Hagan. Capps has three wins this season and one career win at Texas Motorplex. He will attempt to race to another victory and his first Funny Car world championship and rebound from a second-round loss in Charlotte.
"Our team is better than a second-round finish," Capps said. "We know that. A lot of points moved around (at Charlotte). Hagan has moved out there pretty good so we're going to have to go to Dallas and battle back."
Top Fuel and Funny Car qualifying begins Friday at 3:00 p.m. and eliminations start Sunday at 11:00 a.m. For tickets, call 800-668-6775.
JOHNSON AND RAY RACE INTO AAA TEXAS NHRA FALLNATIONALS AS DEFENDING CATEGORY WINNERS: Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Michael Ray (Pro Stock Motorcycle) enter into the AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals as defending event winners and are looking for Texas-sized success during the weekend. Last season, Johnson used the win—one of three in the Countdown—to kickstart his run to the championship.
"Knowing how important that win at the Motorplex was to us winning the championship made it ever more special," Johnson said. "If we keep running well, going rounds and we get another win at the Motorplex, it would be a long way toward getting that second championship."
Ray, who lives just two hours from the track in New Braunfels, Texas, relishes returning to the all-concrete facility. "We walk in and say 'We owned this place last year,' this is my home race and I will have ton of friends and family," Ray said. "The pressure will be on with the Countdown but I love the Motorplex; I have had a lot of success there." Pro Stock qualifying begins Friday at 2:15 p.m. and eliminations start Sunday at 11:00 a.m. For tickets, call 800-668-6775.
JFR ANNOUNCES MULTIFACETED SPONSORSHIP INITIATIVES: 15-time Funny Car world champion John Force recently announced that John Force Racing has hired JMI as a strategic partner to help facilitate his pursuit of sponsorship opportunities and also announced his intentions to go back to Hollywood with a reality television show. "I am at a new crossroads as I look for new primary sponsors for the first time in 25 years. I have never been on the open market, and I feel like hiring JMI gives me the best chance to continue to grow my company. I have great partners in Auto Club, Traxxas, Mac Tools and Freightliner, but this is an expensive sport, and to be the best, you need funding."
CARQUEST NAMED AS TITLE SPONSOR OF NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES EVENT IN PHOENIX: The NHRA announced that CARQUEST Auto Parts has signed an agreement to become the title rights sponsor of the second stop in the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park near Phoenix.
"We are excited to return to NHRA Drag Racing by sponsoring the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park," said Ken Bush, senior vice president of merchandising and marketing, CARQUEST Auto Parts. "Phoenix is a great market for us, and we are looking forward to working with the new management team at the facility and hosting a great NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event."
AAA INSURANCE NHRA MIDWEST NATIONALS, Gateway Motorsports Park, September 27–29: The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series thunders into St. Louis for the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals, the third of six races in the Countdown to the Championship. The series returned to the track last season, and a capacity crowd witnessed Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Erica Enders-Stevens (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) race to victories. Brown, Beckman, and Krawiec went on to win championships, and success at this event can be what makes or breaks a championship run. For tickets, call 866 RACE-TIK (722-3845) or log on to www.gatewaymsp.com.
AUTO-PLUS NHRA NATIONALS, Maple Grove Raceway, October 3–6: Historic Maple Grove Raceway will again host the Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals the fourth of six races in the Countdown to the Championship, October 3–6, for what could be another record-breaking weekend. In 2012, fans witnessed three national elapsed time (E.T.) records set and two speed records. Antron Brown ran the quickest E.T. in history at 3.701 seconds and in Funny Car, Jack Beckman set a record of 3.986 seconds while Andrew Hines rode his Pro Stock Motorcycle to a record run of 6.728 seconds.
HE SAID, SHE SAID
“You never imagine this kind of thing happening. We just went out there and we were trying to run hard. Things just didn't go our way. That's how racing can be. You can do all the right things and they still come up wrong. Some days you do all the wrong things and they come up right. All of our guys have had their heads down working to the best of their ability and this weekend just wasn't our weekend. We'll go back and regroup and just keep our heads up. There are five races left in the Countdown. It's never over. We won three races last year but had other things that went wrong too. It's still anybody's championship to win. We've just got to stay focused, stay with the same mindset we've had, and attack it. The thing about it is, trust me, we're going to give it everything we've got. We will be good."
—2012 Top Fuel world champion Antron Brown on failing to qualify for the Carlyle Tools NHRA Carolina Nationals presented by NAPA Auto Parts in Charlotte. This was the first time since the season-ending event at Pomona in 2008, 110 races, that Brown failed to qualify for an event.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
12: Number of consecutive seasons Greg Anderson has won at least one race. That record could be in jeopardy as the three-time Pro Stock world champion has failed to win a race thus far this season. He has one runner-up finish in Chicago. The remaining races are favorable to Anderson as he has 24 combined wins at the five remaining tracks on the schedule. Four at the Texas Motorplex, one at Gateway Motorsports Park, two at Maple Grove Raceway, seven at The Strip at Las Vegas and 10 at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
DID YOU KNOW…
MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES AWARDS CEREMONY RETURNS TO L.A.'S WESTSIDE: The 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Awards Ceremony returns to the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angles' posh Westside, Monday November 11. The invitation-only black-tie event will be broadcast on NHRA.com and via NHRA's YouTube channel, Wednesday, Nov 13, at 6:00 pm. (EST). It marks the fifth year the full event will be available to fans via the internet.