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NHRA: Brown, J. Force, Enders-Stevens, Smith Taste Success at AAA Insurance Midwest Nationals

By SEMA Editors



BROWN, J. FORCE, ENDERS-STEVENS, SMITH TASTE SUCCESS AT AAA INSURANCE NHRA MIDWEST NATIONALS: In the shadow of the St. Louis Arch, Antron Brown (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car), Erica Enders-Stevens (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) all secured victories at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals. Brown notched his third win of the year and jumped from eighth to sixth in points.

"It's no secret we've been struggling a lot more than what we had hoped to," Brown said. "We had hoped we could have a turnaround a little sooner, but we're not going to go out without a fight."

Force picked up his 136th career victory and more importantly is only six points behind series points leader Matt Hagan. "We've got a [points] race now, and I'm excited," said Force. "I had a good day. The most important thing for me was to see the crowd. They filled the bleachers."

Enders-Stevens won her second race of the season and moves to fourth in the points. "We had a consistent car in qualifying and a consistent car today," she said. "My guys showed their stuff, and we were able to get down the track when some of the others guys didn't."

Smith took the points lead in Pro Stock Motorcycle with his second win of the season. The 2007 Pro Stock Motorcycle champion leads the points by 75 over Hector Arana and Hector Arana Jr., who are tied for second. "This was important for me because I've messed up so much here lately in the final rounds," Smith said. "I've had the best bike and gave it up. It has been one thing after another. I could have won five or six races this year."

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GRAY AND BROWN AIM FOR MAPLE GROVE RACEWAY NITRO WINS: Johnny Gray and Antron Brown race into Maple Grove Raceway for the Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals attempting to win an NHRA Wally and end the season on a positive note. Gray enters the Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals with just three races left as a full-time competitor in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. He is looking to add more Wallys to his collection and win at a track where he has yet to taste victory. Gray raced to a runner-up finish at the event last season losing to Mike Neff in the finals. Gray is eighth in the Countdown to the Championship points and while a championship could be just out of reach, the team is still fighting for every possible victory.

"It's looking like we may not be able to win the championship as we had hoped, but the Pitch Energy team is going to close out this year giving it everything we've got," Gray said. "This is a great group of guys, and we've got more fight left in us. Believe me."

Brown is riding a wave of success after capturing his first win in the Countdown to the Championship when he won the recent event in St. Louis. Brown and his Matco Tools dragster team moved to sixth in points and will claw their way to another championship. It's not over until it's over and we're going to race every race like it's our last,” Brown said. "We're going to push hard. A championship is still in our scope and we're going to give it everything we have."

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HALL AND ANDERSON TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF FAVORABLE CONDITIONS AT MAPLE GROVE RACEWAY: The Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle categories relish the return to Maple Grove Raceway and the favorable conditions at the track and their naturally aspirated machines. National records often fall at the historic facility with each pass. Jason Line in Pro Stock set the national speed record at the track in 2012 and Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Andrew Hines set the E.T. record also in 2012. John Hall brings his two wins into the Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals and is attempting to win the championship in his sophmore season and record another victory.

“I feel very confident as we arrive in Reading,” Hall said. “This entire season has been a dream come true for me. I’m just glad to be in the Countdown along with [team owner] Matt [Smith] and the whole team. We have just three races left but still lots of room to step it up and keep climbing."

Greg Anderson has two wins at Maple Grove Raceway (2006, 2005), but has yet to record a win this season. He is currently seventh in points, raced to a semi-final appearance in St. Louis and is fighting to keep his streak alive to win a race in 12 consecutive seasons.

"The bottom line is that it is very, very tough out here, and we need to keep digging and fighting the good fight to win as a team," Anderson said. "I'm not completely out of the running for the championship, but we’ll see what happens. Jason is No. 3 in the points right now with his Summit Racing Camaro, and he has a very real shot at securing a championship for KB Racing. This class is tough. You just have to continue to strive for perfection, and that is exactly what we will do."

Tickets can be purchased by calling 610-856-7200.


COUGHLIN, FORCE SISTERS AND OTHERS GO PINK FOR OCTOBER: October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and a number of NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series teams will feature special pink-themed paint schemes during the month. Courtney Force and her sister Brittany will race breast cancer awareness-themed machines in Reading. All the Team JEGS cars will sport pink during the month as well. Doug Kalitta will pilot the Pink Crusader Mac Tools dragster during the month. Terry McMillen will also campaign a special Pinktober dragster starting in Reading through the remainder of the season. Alexis DeJoria will feature pink accents on her Tequila Patron Funny Car during month as well. Courtney Force took part in the special paint scheme in 2012 and will once again support this important cause.

"It's all about raising interest for Breast Cancer Awerness Month," Force said. "It's for a good cause, and it's exciting for our team to be able to come out here and run a pink car. It's only one time a year we get to do this, and it's fun for me being a girl and having my Traxxas Funny Car be all pink."

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LUCAS TAKES PART IN CEREMONY AT ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY: Top Fuel racer Morgan Lucas will take part in a special wreath-laying ceremony Wednesday at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. Lucas will take part in the ceremony with Hot Rods for Heroes, an organization dedicated to honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms.

"It's hallowed ground," Lucas said. "It's a very big honor to be able to go there and take part in this ceremony. I can't really put this into the proper words because I have the utmost respect for our military and anyone who will sacrifice for our country."

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BROWN HONORED DURING GREAT SPORTS LEGENDS DINNER AT WALDORF-ASTORIA: Antron Brown joined a group of world-renowned athletes during the Great Sports Legends Dinner to benefit The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis. Joining Brown, pictured with Marc Buoniconti, at the Waldorf-Astoria were Hall of Famers Terry Bradshaw from the NFL, James Worthy from the NBA and Dave Winfield from MLB, along with Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson, golfer Nick Faldo, jockey Gary Stevens and former WNBA great Teresa Edwards.

"I've been truly blessed this year, and being recognized by the Buoniconti family is more than I could have imagined," Brown said. "It was a remarkable event, and I'm just humbled to have been able to attend, let alone be honored, with such dignitaries from the sports world."

The Guitammer Co., more commonly known by their "Buttkicker" and "4D Sports" brands, has signed a multi-year agreement to become a marketing partner with the NHRA. Working together with the NHRA and ESPN, the Guitammer Co. is now delivering the first-ever tactile enhanced sports show to the NHRA's national audience during the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series telecasts on ESPN2.

"We believe this is a significant milestone in our efforts to commercialize our broadcast technology," said Mark Luden, president, The Guitammer Co. "The NHRA is an ideal starting point for us and we are very committed to providing new ways to bring the thrill of racing to the fans at home."

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NHRA TOYOTA NATIONALS, The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, October 24–27: The NHRA Toyota Nationals is the penultimate race of the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and the championship battles will be tight as the season comes to a close. Bob Vandergriff (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Eddie Kraweic (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are defending event champions and will again be top contenders during the weekend. One of the largest autograph sessions of the year will take place at the Freemont Street Experience October 24, with many of the top stars in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

AUTO CLUB NHRA FINALS, Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, November 7–10: The 2013 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series comes to a conclusion at the Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California, California, November 7–10. The champions will be crowned on Sunday night and Shawn Langdon will attempt to bookend the season with Pomona wins and secure his first championship. Brandon Bernstein (Top Fuel), Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle), took home wins in 2012 and will attempt to end the season on a high note.



“The Al-Anabi team left St. Louis with the points lead, so with three races to go, we are in control of our own destiny, and that is how we want it. Our lead is three points bigger than it was when we started the Countdown, but losing in the second round at St. Louis was still a little disheartening because with Massey and Kalitta losing in the first round, we had a great opportunity to extend our points lead and widen the gap, but Sunday played out how it did. The Al-Anabi car is very strong right now, and we are very excited to be going to Reading this weekend. A lot depends on the weather in Reading, but if the weather cooperates, you might see some 3.69s or 3.68s (3.69-second passes or 3.68-second passes). Reading has the capability of being a throw-down race, so we are going to be prepared for that possibility when we arrive. We want the Al-Anabi car to be ready because if there’s an opportunity to get a national ET (elapsed time) record and pick up those extra 20 bonus points, we want to be the ones to do it."

—Shawn Langdon on retaking the Top Fuel points lead and the conditions at Maple Grove Raceway.


7: Number of consecutive seasons Jack Beckman has won a Funny Car event in his eight-year Funny Car career. This streak is in jeopardy as Beckman has yet to win a points paying event this season with only three races remaining on the schedule. "We have yet to win a trophy this year and we're getting low on opportunities to do that," Beckman said. "We're not getting desperate. We're approaching it the same way. It is frustrating to be this deep into the season and not have a trophy. And when you get to Reading there are only 12 rounds left. It is put up or shut up time."



SMITH FAMILY HAS SUCCESSFUL OUTING AT GATEWAY MOTORSPORTS PARK: The weekend for Rickie Smith and his son Matt at Gateway Motorsports Park could long be remembered as one of the most successful of their careers. In the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series, Rickie Smith was able to secure his first championship on the strength of two wins and two No. 1 qualifying positions. Smith became the champion when he defeated Jim Laurita in the semifinals. An emotional Smith said in the media center that after winning the championship he would retire at the end of the season.

"I've been doing this for 40 solid years," Smith said. "I drive my own truck and put up my own awning and it's time to back off, be a crew chief and let these young guys do it."

In Pro Stock Motorcycle Matt put himself in a position to win his second championship when he won his second event of the year. He also took over the points lead in the two-wheel category by 75 points with only 12 rounds of racing remaining.