SEMA eNews Vol. 13, No. 18, May 6, 2010

NHRA: Warren Johnson Snaps 98-Race Winless Streak

NEWS NUGGETS

W.J. BREAKS 98-RACE WINLESS STREAK; PHILLIPS GRABS JUST FOURTH CAREER WIN AT GATEWAY INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY: It took 98 races, four years and a whole lot of luck, but NHRA Pro Stock’s winningiest champion, Warren Johnson, returned to his winning ways with his 97th career win and third at Gateway International Raceway. Johnson faced tremendous competition throughout the entire day but was able to drive past the best Pro Stock drivers in the field, as Allen Johnson, Mike Edwards and Jeg Coughlin all had car troubles in eliminations.

“Everybody I raced did something wrong, and I was just cruising,” said Johnson. “I’ve had a few strokes of luck once in awhile before, but never three times in a row. That’s phenomenal. I guess I woke up on the right side of the bed this morning.”

Another driver who had a visit from Lady Luck during eliminations was Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Michael Phillips. Phillips was able to hold off former world champions Matt Smith and Eddie Krawiec enroute to his first win of the season and only fourth of his career.

“It is my best performance,” said Phillips. “Rodger (Brogdon) bought me a new engine, and that’s big. On the first couple of runs, I didn’t get a handle on it. Craig Treble sent me a clutch, but I wasn’t going to use it, but after I made a couple runs in qualifying, I decided to put it in. After a couple passes, I got it tuned.”

With his win, Phillips catapulted himself from the eighth to fourth spot in the point standings.

To see more results from this weekend’s AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals, visit www.NHRA.com.

HIGHT WINS FIRST OF THE SEASON; SCHUMACHER GRABS SECOND OF SEASON AT GATEWAY INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY: Defending Funny Car world champion Robert Hight drove his Auto Club Ford Mustang past Dale Creasy, John Force, Ron Capps and Jack Beckman to earn his first win of the season at his title-sponsor’s event, the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway International Raceway. With the win, Hight made a huge leap in the Funny Car point standings, boosting himself from the ninth to the sixth position with only 10 races left in the 17-race regular season in the Countdown to the Championship. The win didn’t come easy, as Hight, who qualified ninth for the event, found himself facing higher-qualified cars in every round of racing.

“It’s been an unbelievable week,” said Hight. “The timing for this was perfect. I wanted to come here and win and give a trophy to the folks at AAA of Missouri. They have supported us all along, but I’ve never had much luck here. We stayed here real late last night and went back to our old combination from two, three years ago, and it worked.”

Hight was joined in the winner’s circle by defending Top Fuel world champion Tony Schumacher, who was able to hold off rival Larry Dixon in the semifinals and the hard-charging Doug Kalitta in the final round to pick up his second win of the season and second at Gateway International Raceway.

“I was talking with Mike (Green, crew chief) in the lounge today, and he said, ‘Every time we back it down, we get in trouble.’ He went for it and made some nice runs,” said Schumacher. “If you look back, a lot of these races are won in the second round and semifinals by putting up a stout run and keeping lane choice in the late rounds.”

With his win, Schumacher moved up one spot in the point standings, from fifth to fourth, and is currently 92 points away from first-place driver Larry Dixon.

To see more results from this weekend’s AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals, visit www.NHRA.com.

NHRA UNLEASHED TO BE BROADCAST ON FOX SPORTS NET: NHRA has announced that Fox Sports Net will be the television home for NHRA Unleashed, an event and television series like no other, featuring Pure American Horsepower and celebrating the American musclecar and the passionate world of NHRA grassroots racing. NHRA Unleashed events will be featured nationwide on Fox Sports Net in a series airing on consecutive weeks in November and December.

Two half-hour shows will be produced from each of the four NHRA Unleashed events, at Atlanta Dragway (June 11-13), O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis (August 6-8), National Trail Raceway near Columbus, Ohio (September 10-12) and Gainesville Raceway (November 5-7). The Shows will be produced by Disrupt/ive Studios, led by Jack Schaeffer and Stephen Pullin, who have produced the popular "Pinks," "Pinks All-Out," and "Pinks All Outtakes" shows. NHRA Unleashed will air each Sunday beginning November 7, at 10:00 a.m., on Fox Sports Net-owned and operated regional networks nationwide.

The eight-week series will conclude the last Sunday of the year, December 26. NHRA Unleashed will air in a minimum of 75 million households through Fox Sports Net’s regions throughout the United States.

For more information on NHRA Unleashed, visit www.NHRA.com.

COMING ATTRACTIONS

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).

UNITED ASSOCIATION ROUTE 66 NHRA NATIONALS, ROUTE 66 RACEWAY, June 3-6: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series heads to the Windy City in the Chicago Metro area for the 10th event on the 2010 schedule. Defending event winners include Spencer Massey (Top Fuel); Tony Pedregon (Funny Car); Jeg Coughlin (Pro Stock); and Matt Guidera (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

HE SAID, SHE SAID

FEELING SAFE WITH THE SAFARI: Pro Stock driver Rodger Brogdon after his car turned over during the first round of eliminations Sunday at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals:

“When I hit my belts to get out of the car (hanging upside down) I got hung up on the steering column. By then the (Safety) Safari was there and they already had the hoses going spraying the car to knock the fire down and spraying me to make sure the fire didn’t get to me. I’m stiff and sore and I know it’ll be worse tomorrow, but I’m okay and we’re already making plans for Atlanta.”

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

8: Most NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series wins by a single driver at Atlanta Dragway, held by Dave Schultz. Schultz picked up his first Atlanta win in 1988, then went on a seven-race win streak at the track starting in 1990 and finishing in 1996.

DID YOU KNOW…

…that Ashley Force Hood has joined up with the group Stamp Out Hunger to help fight hunger in America. Force Hood and postal carrier Barry Linan are encouraging fans to help Stamp Out Hunger this year, by simply leaving a sturdy bag containing non-perishable foods, such as canned soup, canned vegetables, pasta, rice or cereal next to their mailbox prior to the time of regular mail deliver on Saturday, May 8. Postal workers will then collect the donations as they deliver the mail and take them to food banks and other hunger relief organizations in more than 10,000 local communities.

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