GATORNATIONALS SITE OF FIRST WIN FOR MANY; CAN HISTORY REPEAT ITSELF?: For Funny Car driver Bob Tasca, Gainesville Raceway and the history-laden NHRA Gatornationals will always be a special place and a special event. It was here one year ago, in just his second full season of competition in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, that Tasca raced to his first win when he drove his Motorcraft Quick Lane Ford Shelby Mustang past longtime friend and two-time Gatornationals winner Tony Pedregon.
“To qualify No. 1 and beat Tim Wilkerson, John Force and Tony Pedregon to win your first race, it’s just awesome,” Tasca told the media following his win.
Traditionally, the third stop on the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series and first race for the exciting Pro Stock Motorcycle class, this historic event has always been the site of first-time wins for many drivers. With that in mind, the question among drivers and race fans alike will be this: Will there be a first-time winner holding up the famed Wally Sunday evening? Only time will tell as the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series heads south for the 41st annual Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals this weekend at the historic Gainesville Raceway in Florida.
Joining Tasca as defending event winners will be Top Fuel's Larry Dixon, who is currently tied with Joe Amato for the most wins in the category at the track with four; Jason Line, who has two Gatornationals wins; and Hector Arana, who began his campaign for the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle world championship with his win in Pro Stock Motorcycle last year.
NHRA ELIMINATES GATORS TICKET CONVENIENCE FEES, ADDS COLLECTOR’S CARD: NHRA has added two more incentives for fans who purchase tickets by March 10 to the 41st annual Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals, one of the most tradition-rich events in the 23-event NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. Fans purchasing tickets through Ticketmaster to NHRA’s traditional East Coast kickoff event, March 11–14 at Gainesville Raceway, will not have to pay the convenience or service fees usually associated with Ticketmaster purchases (a ticket-delivery fee may apply depending on which delivery option the ticket buyer selects).
The elimination of the fee applies to tickets purchased online at Ticketmaster.com, through Ticketmaster phone lines or at Ticketmaster outlets, including Florida f.y.e. (for your entertainment) stores. Additionally, NHRA will send to all fans who purchase tickets by March 10 a Gatornationals Collector’s Card. The 8.5x11 Collector’s Card, which will be delivered 30–45 days after the event, will highlight the top moments from the 2010 Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals. One card will be distributed to each ticket account. However, fans purchasing tickets through Ticketmaster outlets, such as f.y.e., will not receive a Collector’s Card.
NHRA TO HOST B.R.A.K.E.S. TEEN DRIVING SCHOOLS IN POMONA: NHRA is furthering its mission of promoting safe driving by hosting 12 B.R.A.K.E.S. (Be Responsible And Keep Everyone Safe) Teen Pro-Active Driving Schools in 2010 at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, beginning March 13–14. B.R.A.K.E.S., a 501 c(3) safe-driving charity founded by NHRA Top Fuel drag racer Doug Herbert, has already put hundreds of teenagers through the school, which is designed to give young drivers the dynamic experience of handling a vehicle in adverse driving conditions and in a controlled environment. The B.R.A.K.E.S. Teen Pro-Active Driving School presented by NHRA will be conducted free of charge for all participants.
The school utilizes professional driving instructors to educate students on the proper way to handle skids, panic stops, accident-avoidance maneuvers and driving with distractions. Schools will be held at the Fairplex in Pomona, California, March 13–14, June 12–13 and December 11–12. Parents are required to attend and are invited to experience the various courses; however, the focus remains on the teens.
Two sessions of the school will be held each day; the morning sessions will run from 8:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. and the afternoon sessions from 12:30 p.m.–4:30 p.m. To register or obtain more information about the B.R.A.K.E.S. Teen Pro-Active Driving School presented by NHRA, parents and teens should log on to www.putonthebrakes.org/driving-school or call 704/732-8950.
NHRA GATORNATIONALS, GAINESVILLE RACEWAY, March 11–14: The traditional season opener for the Pro Stock Motorcycle category, the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series heads to this historic event in the swamp lands of Florida. Defending event winners include Larry Dixon (Top Fuel); Bob Tasca (Funny Car); Jason Line (Pro Stock); and Hector Arana (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
NHRA FOUR-WIDE NATIONALS, zMAX DRAGWAY, March 25–28: For the first time in NHRA Nationals history, qualifying and eliminations for Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle at an NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event will be conducted four-wide instead of just two.
O’REILLY AUTO PARTS NHRA SPRING NATIONALS, HOUSTON RACEWAY PARK, April 9–11: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes its first of two stops in the Lone Star State. Defending event winners include Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel); Ashley Force Hood (Funny Car); Ron Krisher (Pro Stock); and Craig Treble (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
HE SAID, SHE SAID
MAKING A STATEMENT EARLY: Jack Beckman after his win in Phoenix:
“You kind of want to make that statement early in the year that you’re a team capable of winning races. If you can go to the final round and rack up a lot of points, that’s cool, but the trophy symbolized a lot of stuff, and when you get that trophy early in the year I think everybody on the team knows that we can be the best on any given day, and that’s the attitude that it’s going to take to run for the championship at the end of the year.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
8: That’s the number of Pro Stock drivers who will have the chance to finish the elimination rounds from the NHRA Arizona Nationals during the second, third and fourth qualifying rounds at the Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals. These drivers will have the rare opportunity to win two events in the same race, where there is not a bonus event.
Below are a list of the drivers and how they will pair up starting in the second round of qualifying on Friday.
- Mike Edwards
- Greg Anderson
- Allen Johnson
- Jason Line
- Ron Krisher
- Greg Stanfield
- Rodger Brogdon
- Bob Yonke
DID YOU KNOW…
…that Top Fuel pilot Doug Kalitta will be running a special tribute car in honor of NHRA legend Darrel Gwynn. The famed Coors Extra Gold Special Top Fuel dragster colors will once again streak down the track at this weekend’s Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals. Gainesville Raceway is the site of Gwynn’s last national event win as a driver, and the special Coors Extra Gold was the dragster he won it with. For more information, visit www.NHRA.com.