|Tony Schumacher||Larry Dixon|
ROLE REVERSAL; THE DIFFERENCE A YEAR CAN MAKE HEADING INTO ST. LOUIS: It has been nearly a year since the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series last rolled into the St. Louis metro area, and though things have changed in those 12 months, the similarities between the 2009 and 2010 event are too apparent to ignore.
Last season heading into Gateway International Raceway, defending world champion Tony Schumacher held the points lead with two wins already notched up for the season, while Schumacher rival Larry Dixon sat in a distant sixth place, with only one win in one final-round appearance, which happened to come in Gainesville. Though the gap between the two narrowed to within just two points of each other heading into the final day of eliminations for the 2009 season, Schumacher eventually prevailed and went on to win his sixth consecutive and seventh overall world championship. Now, heading into this weekend’s AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway International Raceway, a similar picture is being painted, but the roles in that picture have been reversed.
Al-Anabi Racing dragster pilot Dixon enters the event with the points lead after seven events—a lead he gained from three wins in three final-round appearances—while defending world champion Schumacher is the one currently sitting in the fifth spot in the points with one win in one final-round appearance. That win, like Dixon’s from a year previous, came at Gainesville. The similarities have many NHRA fans wondering if history may be repeating itself, but with a reversed look from 2009. But Dixon reassures that it’s more than just two cars battling for the world championship.
“The Top Fuel points battle isn’t just one or two teams,” said Dixon. “There are several very good cars that are in the mix so far this season, and it’s exciting to be one of them. We have to play hard every round; there are no easy rounds. All three (Don Schumacher Racing) cars are among the cars that are running well. Every one of those cars obviously is capable of winning races so when they show up at the line, you better have your best package at the starting line every time.”
The AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals begins this weekend at Gateway International Raceway.
GIR OFFERING MILITARY DISCOUNT FOR AAA INSURANCE NHRA MIDWEST NATIONALS: To show support for our nation’s military, Gateway International Raceway (GIR) and NHRA are providing a 15% discount to active-duty and retired service members for this weekend’s AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals. The program begins Tuesday morning and runs through Sunday. To take advantage of the discount, military members and retirees need to purchase tickets at either the GIR ticket office through Thursday or at ticketing locations at the track during the event, showing a valid military ID card. The promotion is limited to 10 tickets per service member. The AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals runs Friday through Sunday, with gates opening at 8:00 a.m.
NHRA ANNOUNCES COMPLETION DATES FOR PHOENIX NATIONAL, DIVISIONAL EVENTS: NHRA has rescheduled the conclusion of the NHRA Arizona Nationals for most competitors in the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series to Monday, July 19, following the 23rd annual Fram Autolite NHRA Nationals at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, scheduled for July 16–18. In addition, NHRA announced multiple locations for the rescheduling of the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series divisional event, originally set for February 26–28 at Firebird International Raceway in Phoenix.
“Keeping in mind the racers’ needs, along with phone calls to several competitors, we have decided to reschedule the events with the primary goal to assist the racers and make every effort to minimize the costs to conclude the affected events,” said Mike Rice, NHRA Division 7 Director. NHRA and Firebird International Raceway have spent the last few weeks deliberating the best possible solution for the racers as well as identifying the damage to the track. For most of May, Firebird International Raceway will be under construction to repair the damage and make overall improvements to the racing surface. To see a full schedule of the rescheduled events, 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
HOME TRACK ADVANTAGE: Funny Car driver Tim Wilkerson on racing this weekend at Gateway International Raceway: “For us, and for Levi, Ray & Shoup (located about 100 miles from the track in Springfield, Illinois) it’s real obvious that St. Louis is our home race, and they come out in droves to support us here. As of right now, we’re expecting way more than 1,000 LRS guests this weekend, and that’s not even counting the rest of our Illinois and Midwestern fans. There’s no shortage of support for us, that’s for sure.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
0: That’s the number of active Pro Stock Motorcycle riders that have more than one win at Gateway International Raceway. Only Matt Hines and Angelle Sampey (both retired) have ever won more than one race at Gateway, with Sampey’s last win coming in 2005. Four riders will attempt to earn their second win in St. Louis at this weekend’s AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals. Here is that list below:
- Andrew Hines
- Steve Johnson
- Eddie Krawiec
- Matt Smith
DID YOU KNOW…
…that defending Full Throttle Funny Car world champion Robert Hight will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Wednesday, April 28, at the St. Louis Cardinals game versus the Atlanta Braves.