ATLANTA TYPICAL SPOT FOR NHRA FULL THROTTLE DRAG RACING SERIES DRIVERS TO GRAB VALUABLE CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: One year ago, Funny Car Driver “Fast Jack” Beckman entered the small town of Commerce, Georgia, just a short drive north of Atlanta, seventh in the point standings with just one final-round appearance (Houston) for the season. By the end of the weekend Beckman found himself in the winner’s circle hoisting his first Wally of the season. Even more impressive, the win catapulted Beckman from the seventh spot all the way up to the second-place spot in the point standings. The win in Atlanta gave Beckman a boost in the points that kept the Funny Car driver at the top end of the point standings for the remainder of the 17-race regular season, with Beckman never falling below the sixth spot in the point standings during that time. But what a change a year can bring.
Last year’s Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway was the sixth stop on the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing schedule. This weekend, as the drivers of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series head back to Commerce, they will be making their eighth stop on the season tour; two races ahead of what they would have been at last year entering Atlanta Dragway, which means every point earned at this year's Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals means more, and many of the drivers know it.
Top Fuel pilot Brandon Bernstein is one of those drivers. Bernstein’s Copart/Lucas Oil dragster team had a rough start to the season, but thanks to back-to-back semifinal appearances in Las Vegas and St. Louis, Bernstein has moved from ninth to sixth in the point standings entering Commerce, Georgia. A win at Atlanta Dragway, where he won in 2007, would give Bernstein a strong push up the championship points ladder.
“That consistency (in Las Vegas and St. Louis) helped us gain positions in the point standings,” said Bernstein. “We are now sixth, and we have energy that we would like to continue to capitalize upon.”
Another driver who could get the push he needs in the point standings is Funny Car driver Tim Wilkerson. After grabbing an early season win in Gainesville, Wilkerson has struggled to get out of the second round the past three races. Currently eighth in the point standings, Wilkerson could move within the top five in the point standings with an Atlanta win.
“In the end, if you finish (the regular season) with your round record in positive territory, you’ve had a good year, and with the Countdown (to the Championship) in place, you’d have a legitimate shot at the championship,” said Wilkerson. “But, you’d have to break out of it a little during the Countdown, because going 6-6 then isn’t going to cut it.”
The stars of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series head to Commerce, Georgia, this weekend for the 30th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals.
NHRA UNLEASHED ENTERS INTO AGREEMENT WITH OUTLAW RACING STREET CAR ASSOCIATION: NHRA has entered into an agreement with the Outlaw Racing Street Car Association (ORSCA) to assist NHRA with racing operations at the upcoming NHRA Unleashed events. Along with Disrupt/ive Studios, which will work on the broadcast elements of the event, NHRA has created a formidable team designed to celebrate the American musclecar and the passionate world of NHRA grassroots racing.
ORSCA, which was founded in 2004, will promote the NHRA Unleashed events through its network of racers and assist NHRA in facilitating the outlaw race classes designated to compete at NHRA Unleashed events. The outlaw classes scheduled to be run at the four NHRA Unleashed events are Outlaw 10.5, Limited Street, EZ Street and Modified Street.
The NHRA Unleashed events are scheduled 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).
For more information about NHRA Unleashed events, visit www.NHRA.com.
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
A HOME AWAY FROM HOME TRACK: Pro Stock driver Allen Johnson on racing this weekend in Atlanta Dragway, just a three-and-a-half-hour drive from his home in Greeneville, Tennessee:
“It’s neat to be close to our second home track (the home track being Bristol Dragway). The guys get an extra day at the shop. Everything just sort of plays into our hands heading into that race.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
9: The number of NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing events in the next 11 weeks. The drivers of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, starting this weekend in Atlanta and ending July 25 in Denver, will go “Full Throttle,” with nine events in just 11 weeks.
After the cross-country marathon, the series will have just two weeks off before the final race of the regular season, the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway, before the start of the Countdown to 1 playoffs.
DID YOU KNOW…
…that the In-N-Out Burger Dodge Charger Funny Car driven by Melanie Troxel will be racing at this weekend’s Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals.
R2B2 Racing owner Roger Burgess has entered the car as a reward for the progress the team has made and as a birthday present to In-N-Out Burger Chief Lynsi Martinez.