FORCE BEATS SPRING VEGAS CURSE; DIXON, EDWARDS CONTINUE 2010 SUCCESS: It had been 11 years since the first NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series national event was held at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in April 2000. Since that time, 14-time Funny Car champion John Force had yet to win the now famous spring race in Las Vegas. In fact, Force had never had a winning record at the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals and had only made two final-round appearances at the track, both coming during the NHRA Las Vegas Nationals in the fall.
None of that seemed to matter Sunday as Force powered his Castrol GTX High-Mileage Ford Mustang past defending world champion Robert Hight, Matt Hagan, daughter Ashley Force Hood and two-time world champion Tony Pedregon in the final round to collect his third win of the season and first at the elusive SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals. What might be even more impressive is that Force won the event from the bottom half of the field, beating higher-qualified cars in three of the four rounds of eliminations.
“We all want a championship in the end, but what I’ve worked for now is to be able to compete and to show my kids that I can still do it,” said Force. “My Mustang knows how to run at night. It doesn’t like the heat. We started at Pomona, and everywhere it ran good, and we ran at Houston, and then the sun came out, and we were just toast. So we came in here with the attitude of start slow and make it go A to B, and you notice that we were fumbling just to get in the show. We got 'er in, but [co-crew chief Mike] Neff learned a lot.”
Force was also joined in winner’s circle by Larry Dixon, who drove his Al-Anabi Racing dragster to its second consecutive win and third of the season. Dixon not only held off Cory McClenathan in the final round for his fifth win in Las Vegas, but also moved past McClenathan to take the top spot in the point standings.
“I like racing Cory, and Cory likes racing me,” said Dixon. “He’s told me that. Nobody plays any games. We just go up there and do our thing. We both try our best on the line and, hopefully, let the cars do the talking. It’s just nice to race somebody like that. We both have respect for each other.” Pro Stock defending world champion Mike Edwards continued his streak of success by taking the No. 1 qualifier and his fourth win of the season Sunday. Edwards has amassed an impressive 261-point lead over the rest of the competition in only the sixth race of the 23-race season.
“My team, as the Interstate logo says, is outrageously dependable,” said Edwards. “These guys are awesome. To come here and run in conditions that were 180 degrees different than Houston and make the adjustments and make the car do what it did here, those guys are awesome, so hats off to all my guys.”
To see more results from the 11th annual Summitracing.com NHRA Nationals, visit www.NHRA.com.
NHRA TO RACE FOUR-WIDE AGAIN IN CHARLOTTE IN 2011: NHRA announced that the 2011 NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway will once again feature four-wide racing in all four Full Throttle categories. The spring event in Charlotte will be the only race on the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series schedule that will showcase four-wide racing.
“Few would argue the amount of attention the four-wide race received leading up to and even following the event from our fans, racers and the media,” said Tom Compton, NHRA president. “The spectacle of four-wide racing is nothing short of breathtaking, and we want to build on that and share the four-wide experience with our fans once again in 2011.”
Based on feedback from fans, the racing community and sponsors, the NHRA is planning to improve upon the format and make adjustments to enhance the experience for everyone. Areas under review include the experience on-site for fans, improving television for fans watching at home, maximizing sponsor value and working with race teams on operational functions, including the staging process.
“I want to thank Bruton and Marcus Smith and everyone at SMI for believing in the NHRA and having the vision to build a facility that is truly one of the crown jewels of the sport,” said Compton.
For more information, visit www.NHRA.com.
AAA INSURANCE NHRA MIDWEST NATIONALS, GATEWAY INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY, April 30–May 2: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series returns to the St. Louis metro area for the seventh stop on the 2010 schedule. Defending event winners include Antron Brown (Top Fuel); Del Worsham (Funny Car); Jeg Coughlin (Pro Stock); and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT NHRA SOUTHERN NATIONALS, ATLANTA DRAGWAY, May 14–16: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series returns to the Atlanta metro area for the eighth stop on the 2010 schedule. Defending event winners include Morgan Lucas (Top Fuel); Jack Beckman (Funny Car); Mike Edwards (Pro Stock); and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
O’REILLY AUTO PARTS NHRA SUMMER NATIONALS, HEARTLAND PARK TOPEKA, May 21–23: Drivers of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing series head to the Heartland of America for the ninth event of the season. Defending event winners include Larry Dixon (Top Fuel); Ron Capps (Funny Car); and Allen Johnson (Pro Stock).
HE SAID, SHE SAID
LIVING FOR THE LITTLE MOMENTS: Top Fuel pilot Cory McClenathan on the emotions that come with winning: “You feel bigger than life sometimes and (those are) the moments I cherish the most.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
9: That’s the number of current drivers that have had more than one race win at Gateway International Raceway. Of those drivers, only three have had more than two wins and no driver has ever raced to more than three wins at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals. Top Fuel’s Doug Kalitta, Funny Car’s Ron Capps and Pro Stock’s Kurt Johnson will try to become the first NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing series driver to win four at Gateway International Raceway.
DID YOU KNOW…
…that after a brief one-race break, the Pro Stock Motorcycle category will return for its fourth race of the season, the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway International Raceway. Defending world champion Hector Arana is currently in the points lead, but 2008 world champion Eddie Krawiec is just 20 points behind in second place.