PEDREGON GRABS FIRST WIN OF THE SEASON; MASSEY FIRST WIN OF HIS CAREER IN CHICAGO: In similar fashion to so many previous title runs, Tony Pedregon grabbed his first win of the season at the United Association Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois—just one race past the halfway point for the regular season in the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship.
Pedregon dominated all weekend, picking up the No. 1 qualifier Friday and Saturday and driving past Ashley Force Hood in the final round to pick up his second consecutive and fourth overall win at the track. The win also boosted Pedregon from the fourth to second spot in the point standings, just 58 points behind first-place driver Ron Capps. But the win wasn’t an easy one for Pedregon and his team.
“We had a lot of drama in our pits,” said Pedregon. “We had to change a motor, and once they were done with the motor, they were changing front tires. Our car was so good in qualifying, and it gave me a lot of confidence going into race day. It’s not often that I would say (Ron) Capps is going to have to be a pretty bad cat to beat us, but I really felt that with the way the car was running.”
In Top Fuel, Auto Club Road to the Future Rookie of the Year candidate, Spencer Massey, grabbed the first win of his Top Fuel career when he drove his U.S. Smokeless Tobacco dragster past runner-up Antron Brown in the final round. Though he didn’t pick up the win, Brown was able to leave Route 66 Raceway with the points lead in the class, just 18 points ahead of second-place Tony Schumacher.
Defending Pro Stock world champion Jeg Coughlin continued his dominance of the class when he drove past runner-up driver Mike Edwards in the final round to pick up his fourth win of the season as well as fourth at Route 66 Raceway, while Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Matt Guidera held off defending world champion Eddie Krawiec to grab his first win of the 2009 season.
NEXT STOP: UNITED ASSOCIATION NHRA SUPERNATIONALS IN ENGLISHTOWN: This weekend, the last leg of a three races in three weeks run comes to an end at historic Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey, for the 40th annual United Association NHRA SuperNationals. For many drivers, a trip to Englishtown is a trip back through drag racing history:
“The history at Englishtown is almost unparalleled. It’s a track that my grandfather performed very well at and had countless match races over the years. There are magic moments in everyone’s life and for me, one of the greatest magic moments was Englishtown when I won that first national event in my alcohol funny car and my entire family was there.”—Funny Car driver Bob Tasca
“There are NHRA race tracks that I consider PGA TOUR major championships, and Englishtown is one of them. Englishtown ranks up there with Indianapolis, Pomona and Gainesville; they are all places I used to read about as a kid, and I hoped that someday, I’d get to race there. Racing at Englishtown, and especially winning four times there, is definitely a highlight of my career.”—Top Fuel pilot Larry Dixon
“I listened to my dad talk about racing in Englishtown for years. If you were a drag racing fan, you probably attended an event at Englishtown, it had and still has, a place of prestige on the NHRA circuit.”—Top Fuel pilot Brandon Bernstein
REICHERT SEALS JEGS ALLSTARS TITLE FOR DIVISION 3 TEAM: With his win in the Top Alcohol Dragster category, Bill Reichert was able to top off the win for the North Central Division team at the 25th annual JEGS Allstars event at Route 66 Raceway. Ben Wenzel Sr. (Stock) and Ricky Shipp (Super Street) picked up wins in there respective categories to help strengthen the points lead, but it was Reichert’s win that gave the Division 3 team that extra push past the defending champions from Division 1 for their sixth team win, but first in over a decade.
In Top Alcohol Funny Car, Frank Manzo continued his dominance and nearly pulled out the team win for Division 1 with his win, while Division 5’s Bruno Massel pulled away with the win in the Comp category. Division 7’s Greg Luneack (Super Stock) and Aaron Kinard (Super Comp) walked away with wins in their respective categories, while Division 1’s Mike Sawyer rounded out the competition with a win in Super Gas. For more information on the 25th annual JEGS Allstars event, visit www.nhra.com.
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.
MOPAR MILE-HIGH NHRA NATIONALS, BANDIMERE SPEEDWAY, JULY 10–12: NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series heads back to the Mile-High city for the 30th national event at Bandimere Speedway. Defending event winners include Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel); Tim Wilkerson (Funny Car); Greg Anderson (Pro Stock); and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
HE SAID, SHE SAID
EVERYONE REMEMBERS THEIR FIRST WIN: Top Fuel pilot Spencer Massey, who won his first event in Top Fuel at the United Association Route 66 NHRA Nationals last weekend in Joliet, Illinois: “This whole season has been a dream. I’ve been watching NHRA racing and wanting to drive a Top Fuel dragster in the NHRA since I was 4 years old and saw my first race. I watched Don Prudhomme win his last Top Fuel race in Dallas in 1994, and now he’s high-fiving me in the winner’s circle. That’s unbelievable.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
23: That’s the number of different drivers in Top Fuel that have won at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park. Of the 23, only seven have won more than once at the historic track and out of that seven, Larry Dixon (2007, 2005, 2004, 1995) and Doug Kalitta (2003, 2000) are the only active drivers to have repeat wins at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.
DID YOU KNOW…
…that NHRA President Tom Compton, Coca-Cola North America Senior Vice President, Integrated Marketing Bea Perez, Coca-Cola North America Director of Motorsports Marketing Ben Reiling and George Pyne, President of IMG’s Sports and Entertainment Group rang the Opening Bell today at the New York Stock Exchange? Drivers Antron Brown, Ashley Force Hood, Bob Tasca, Tony Pedregon, Eddie Krawiec, Morgan Lucas and Karen Stoffer also participated in this event and a fan fest was held in front of the NYSE.