SEMA eNews Vol. 11, No. 8, February 21, 2008

HIGHT SHOOTS FOR NATIONAL RECORD IN PHOENIX AND OTHER NHRA NEWSMAKERS

NEWS NUGGETS

PHOENIX BOUND; POWERade SERIES DRIVERS PREPARE FOR CSK NHRA NATIONALS THIS WEEKEND: After an impressive start to the 2008 season, the NHRA POWERade drag racing season heads to the Valley of the Sun this weekend for the 24th annual Checker Schuck’s Kragen NHRA Nationals at Firebird International Raceway in Phoenix. Heading to a track known for record-setting times and speeds (including defending world champion Tony Pedregon’s national record for e.t. in Funny Car, 4.659 seconds, set at last year’s event), each driver recognizes how important the second race of the season is to the POWERade championship.
      “Last year we were in the final with Tony Pedregon, and we lost the race at the top end when we had a malfunction,” said 2007 world champion runner-up, Robert Hight, who would have won the championship in Funny Car with a national record-setting run. “We were going for a national record to beat or back-up our 4.636-second run from earlier in the race (last year). If we get good conditions there again, I think we can put up some more big numbers.”
      “You know, it’s a time of uncertainty for us,” said Funny Car driver Del Worsham, who, after being offered a one-year extension by his title sponsor, hopes to drive his CSK Chevy Impala to a win at his sponsor’s event. “I think it would be pretty big, and pretty emotional, for a lot of people if we could have a really good weekend.” 
       For more information on the Checker Schuck’s Kragen NHRA Nationals, visit www.nhra.com

COUNTING DOWN THE COUNTDOWN: After its inaugural season which saw all four POWERade world championships crowned at the final race, the Auto Club Finals in Pomona, California, the Countdown to the Championship has begun its “sophomore season” in the POWERade Drag Racing Series. To see all the new changes made to the 2008 Countdown and also to follow the story lines pertaining to the 2008 Countdown to the Championship, visit the new Countdown website at countdown.nhra.com.

‘SCHOOLING’ THE COMPETITION; DRAG RACING INSTRUCTOR HAWLEY RENEWS FUNNY CAR LICENSE: Drag racing legend and founder of the Frank Hawley School of Drag Racing, driver-turned instructor-turned driver, Frank Hawley, took his instructing skills to the dragstrip, literally, as Hawley renewed his Funny Car license this past week. Hawley, who plans on driving Mike Ashley’s second Gotham City Dodge Charger R/T, starting at the Gatornationals, made his first ever 300-mph pass down the quarter-mile at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. 
      “What an amazing feeling,” Hawley said. “I think that remaining actively involved in the sport made a huge, huge difference when I got into the car. Talking about it all the time in my classes and working with the drivers, I visualize things myself, and that helped a tremendous amount.”
      “A lot has changed since I drove last in 1991, but, really, my job is the same now as it was then—get the car straight down the track.”

COMING ATTRACTIONS

CHECKER SCHUCK’S KRAGEN NHRA NATIONALS, FIREBIRD RACEWAY, FEBRUARY 22–24: This second race in the regular season features two defending event winners who eventually launched serious attacks for 2007 POWERade Series titles—Tony Pedregon, the season world champion in Funny Car, and Rod Fuller, who earned runner-up honors in Top Fuel after the best season of his career. Kurt Johnson (Pro Stock) also reached the winner’s circle in Phoenix last year.

ACDELCO NHRA GATORNATIONALS, GAINESVILLE RACEWAY, MARCH 13–16: The Pro Stock Motorcycle category opens its 2008 season at the Gatornationals, annually one of the most popular stops on the NHRA POWERade Series tour. Defending event winners include: Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel); Ron Capps (Funny Car); Greg Anderson (Pro Stock); and Karen Stoffer (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

O’REILLY NHRA SPRING NATIONALS, HOUSTON RACEWAY PARK, MARCH 28–30: The fourth race in the regular season, drivers in all four categories in the POWERade Drag Racing Series will dual it out for a Texas win. Defending event winners include: J.R. Todd (Top Fuel); Ron Capps (Funny Car); Jason Line (Pro Stock); and Angelle Sampey (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

HE SAID, SHE SAID

ON BORROWED TIME: Entering the 12th year of his sponsorship with CSK, Funny Car driver Del Worsham enters the Checker Schuck’s Kragen NHRA Nationals, his title sponsor’s event, in the middle of a one-year extension on the sponsorship of his Chevy Impala SS. Not mincing words about his situation and the difficulty of competing in the highly competitive Funny Car category, Worsham describes what a win this weekend would mean to him and his team.
      “There’s no getting around the fact that this would be a very cool time to win one for everyone at CSK, past and present, who helped us every step of the way for the last 11 seasons,” Worsham said. “This would be a great time to have a big weekend, at ‘our house!’”

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

4.636: The track e.t. record in Funny Car at Firebird International Raceway, set by Robert Hight at last year’s event. Hight’s time was quicker than current POWERade world champion Tony Pedregon's national record of 4.659 seconds, which was also set at last year's event in Phoenix, but Hight was unable to back-up the time. Subsequently, at the Auto Club Finals, almost nine months later, Hight needed to break the national record for time to surpass Pedregon and win the championship, but came up short in the final round.

DRIVERS TELL ALL

HEADING TO ‘THE PROMISED LAND’: With back-to-back wins at Firebird International Raceway, it is hardly any wonder why Top Fuel pilot “Hot Rod” Fuller is so excited to return to Phoenix. 
      “To me, Phoenix is the promised land. The last two times I’ve raced there we’ve won, so we have a great streak going on. Arizona is like a second home. We did really well in testing, and we have a good combination for that race track. I’m very excited going into Phoenix.”

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