BECKMAN GRABS WIN ON BIRTHDAY; LINE GETS WIN FOR TITLE SPONSOR IN NORWALK: Funny Car driver Jack Beckman couldn’t have asked for a better birthday gift. After powering his Valvoline/MTS Dodger Charger past such names as John Force, Jim Head and Bob Bode, Beckman was able to hold off Gainesville winner Bob Tasca to claim his second win of the season and move from sixth to fourth in the point standings at the third annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals this past weekend in Norwalk, Ohio.
For Beckman, the win was more than just icing on the cake; it was a strong push that his team needed heading into the final stretch of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series regular season.
“We’ve been sliding down in points the last couple of weeks, so it was good to go from sixth to fourth,” said Beckman. “Our goal is to be a top-five car by Indy, and, more importantly, our goal is to be consistently quick come Indy. Once the points are reset, anyone in the top five has a chance (to win the championship), and if you can hit your stride now, like we did last year heading into Denver, we’re going to be in good shape for the summer months.”
Another driver who seems to be finding his stride at just the right time in Norwalk was former Pro Stock world champion Jason Line. Line showed why he had the car to beat last week, driving past Warren Johnson, Ron Krisher and current hot streak driver Mike Edwards in the final round to claim his fourth win of the season at his title sponsor’s race.
“This was absolutely the biggest win for me, and it was a great time to do it,” said Line. “We just haven’t done a good job lately. But we’re starting to right the ship, and by Indy time, we’re going to be strong. It’s hopefully a sign of things to come for us, and it was a great day.”
COUGHLIN LEAVES NORWALK WITH CLINCHED SPOT IN COUNTDOWN PLAYOFFS AND $50K FROM K&N HORSEPOWER CHALLENGE WIN: Defending Pro Stock world champion Jeg Coughlin showed why he’s a three-time world champion this past weekend after he claimed the $50,000 win during the K&N Horsepower Challenge and also clinched his spot in the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to 1 playoffs.
Coughlin drove past runner-up Greg Anderson in the final round of the bonus event and claimed his third K&N Horsepower Challenge win, along with the $50,000 bonus that comes with it on Saturday. With his second-round finish on Sunday’s finals, Coughlin secured his top spot in the point standings and berth in the Countdown to 1 playoffs.
“No question we had a great weekend,” said Coughlin. “We’re at the midway point of the season now and we’re in first place with five wins so everything is working great for us. Now we’ll gear up for the Western Swing and do our best to keep the momentum going into the playoffs.”
SCHUMACHER NOMINATED FOR 2009 ESPY BEST DRIVER AWARD: Six-time NHRA Full Throttle Series Top Fuel world champion Tony Schumacher has been nominated for the ESPY Best Driver Award. They ESPY Awards, for Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly, were created by ESPN in 1993. Sports fans can vote for Schumacher and their other sports heroes in 37 categories via an online poll at www.espys.tv or www.espn.mobi. Voting concludes July 11, 11:59 p.m. EST.
Schumacher finished the 2008 season in dominating fashion, by winning a record fifth consecutive and sixth overall Top Fuel championship. He raced to 15 victories and became only the third driver in NHRA history to claim the coveted Driver of the Year Award.
“It’s an incredible feeling to be recognized by the ESPY folks for the third consecutive year,” said Schumacher. “I’m hopeful we can finally present this award to our Army Strong Soldiers. It’s their dedication, teamwork and passion that inspires the U.S. Army Top Fuel team to be successful.”
Joining Schumacher on the ESPY Best Driver ballot are NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson, Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton and IRL drivers Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon.
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).
NHRA NORTHWEST NATIONALS, PACIFIC RACEWAYS, JULY 17–19: Returning to Seattle for the second leg of the famed Western Swing, NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing makes its 14th stop on its 24-race circuit. Defending event winners include Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel); Tony Bartone (Funny Car); and Jason Line (Pro Stock).
FRAM AUTOLITE NHRA NATIONALS, INFINEON RACEWAY, JULY 24–26: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes its final stop on the famed Western Swing in beautiful Sonoma, Calif. Defending event winners include Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel); Robert Hight (Funny Car); Dave Connolly (Pro Stock); and Matt Guidera (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
HE SAID, SHE SAID
WAITING ON A WIN: Pro Stock Motorcycle rider and three-time world champion Andrew Hines on his win in Norwalk: “It’s been 19 or 20 races (since his last win), and it feels good to do it with my teammate in the other lane. It made it that much better. Eddie’s been kicking my butt lately, so I hit the tree hard in the semifinals when I had a bye, and in the final I figured I had nothing to lose.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
5: That’s the number of consecutive final round appearances that defending Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion Eddie Krawiec has had so far this year. Krawiec hopes to make it six consecutive and grab his third win of the season at next week’s Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals in Denver.
DID YOU KNOW…
…that only six drivers have ever swept the famed Western Swing, winning all three races in the three-races-in-three-weeks run? Tony Schumacher was the last to do so, sweeping in 2008. Below is a list of drivers who have swept the Western Swing:
- Joe Amato, 1991, Top Fuel
- John Force, 1994, Funny Car
- Cory McClenathan, 1997, Top Fuel
- Larry Dixon, 2003, Top Fuel
- Greg Anderson, 2004, Pro Stock
- Tony Schumacher, 2008, Top Fuel