WITH TOPEKA WIN DIXON MOVES CLOSER TO THE TOP SPOT IN TOP FUEL: On a day that saw track temperatures in the 100s and cars struggling to find enough traction to make a full pass, Top Fuel driver Larry Dixon did what seems to be the impossible when he drove to his second win of the season at the 21st annual O’Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals in Heartland Park Topeka.
But perhaps even more impressive than his skills on the track was the jump in the points the win gave Dixon, propelling him from sixth to fourth in the point standings, just 141 points outside of first-place driver Tony Schumacher.
With the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing regular season officially at the halfway point and just nine events left before the cutoff point for the Top 10 and advancement into the Countdown to the Championship Countdown to 1 playoffs, the jump couldn’t have come at a better time.
“The car’s been great all year,” said the former two-time world champion. “I just wanted to come to (Topeka) and get the gloves on and get in the game.”
In Funny Car, current points leader Ron Capps grabbed his fourth win of the season over runner-up Ashley Force Hood. The win helped strengthen Capps points lead over the competition and the runner-up finish moved Force Hood past Tony Pedregon to take the third spot in the point standings.
Pro Stock veteran Allen Johnson was able to keep Mike Edwards from picking up his third win of the season. Johnson’s win was his first since Denver 2007. For more results from the 21st annual O’Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals, visit www.nhra.com.
SCHUMACER IN ‘DRIVERS SEAT’ HEADING TO HOME TRACK ROUTE 66 RACEWAY: With one-third of the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing season complete and only nine races left before the Countdown to 1 playoffs, no driver is more comfortable heading into this weekend’s United Association Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois, than current Top Fuel points leader Tony Schumacher.
Schumacher, a native of the Chicago area, holds a solid lead over second-place driver Antron Brown and is heading to his home track where he has three wins and is the current defending world champion.
For Schumacher, there’s no other place he’d rather be than at the top heading into the second of three events in three weeks.
“To be back in the points lead is outstanding,” said Schumacher. “We started this year with everyone telling us we’d probably never win another race. To be sitting here now with three wins in the first nine races is very satisfying.”
While the defending event winner in Top Fuel at Route 66 Raceway comes back to Chicago with three wins and the points lead for the season, the defending event winners in both Funny Car and Pro Stock are still searching for their first wins in 2009.
Former two-time Funny Car world champion and defending event winner Tony Pedregon has made two final round appearances for the season but has yet to find winner’s circle, while defending Pro Stock event winner Kurt Johnson, who had an amazing season last year which saw the driver pick up three wins in five final round appearances, is currently eighth in the point standings and has only one final round appearance for the season.
The Pro Stock Motorcycle category, which has had a one-month break since its last event, will return to Route 66 Raceway for the fifth of 17 races on their schedule.
TOP FUEL DRIVER J.R. TODD TO RETURN TO COMPETITION IN MACH 1 GLOBAL DRAGSTER FOR CHICAGO: Top Fuel driver and team owner David Baca will relinquish the seat of his Mach 1 Global Services dragster to J.R. Todd for this weekend’s 12th annual United Association Route 66 NHRA Nationals in Joliet, Illinois. A six-time event winner in the Top Fuel category and 2006 Auto Club Road to the Future Rookie of the Year winner, Todd will be competing for the first time this season.
“I’m sure I’ll have a few butterflies before we make our first pass because it’s been a couple of months but hopefully it’s like riding a bike and it’ll all come back to me,” Todd said. “Hopefully, having this opportunity to compete will bring some other possibilities for all of us in the future.”
UNITED ASSOCIATION ROUTE 66 NHRA NATIONALS, ROUTE 66 RACEWAY, JUNE 4–7: NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing returns to the Windy City for the 10th stop in the 2009 season. Defending event winners include Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel); Tony Pedregon (Funny Car); Kurt Johnson (Pro Stock); and Chris Rivas (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
UNITED ASSOCIATION NHRA SUPERNATIONALS, OLD BRIDGE TOWNSHIP RACEWAY PARK, JUNE 11–14: A historic event in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, all four categories will head to New Jersey for the 40th annual visit to Old Bridge Township Raceway Park. Defending event winners include Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel); Tim Wilkerson (Funny Car); Greg Anderson (Pro Stock); and Chip Ellis (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT NHRA NATIONALS, SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT MOTORSPORTS PARK, JUNE 25–28: NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series returns to Norwalk, Ohio, for its third annual event. Defending event winners include Doug Herbert (Top Fuel); Tony Pedregon (Funny Car); Greg Anderson (Pro Stock); and Hector Arana (Pro Stock Motorcycle). Norwalk is also the site of the K&N Horsepower Challenge Pro Stock bonus event.
HE SAID, SHE SAID
GETTING HIS ‘MOJO’ BACK: Pro Stock driver Allen Johnson after grabbing his first win in almost two years at the O’Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals in Topeka: “We’ve had the car, and I just haven’t done my job very good the last year or so. I knew a win would come, but I’ve been very, very frustrated with myself, to be honest. I hadn’t done my job really well for the last year, but I’ve really been working on it. I feel like I’ve got my mojo back, and we’re going to do well the rest of the year.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
5: That’s the number of final rounds that both Funny Car and Pro Stock points leaders Ron Capps and Jeg Coughlin have been to this season—the most of any driver in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.
DID YOU KNOW…
…that in the past four races Funny Car driver Ashley Force Hood has collected three No. 1 qualifiers, been to two final rounds, and has had the top speed at three of the four events. Force Hood will be a strong contender to grab her second Wally of the season heading into this week’s United Association Route 66 NHRA Nationals.