SEMA eNews Vol. 13, No. 34, August 26, 2010

NHRA: Dixon Carries 30-Point Lead Into First of Six Countdown to the Championship Races

NEWS NUGGETS

John Force Larry Dixon
Schumacher Robert Hight

COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP READY TO GO AT THE "BIG GO": With the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series regular season a distant memory, drivers prepare themselves for the biggest race of the season: the prestigious Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil and the beginning of the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship playoffs. In one week, drivers and fans will descend on historic O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis for the 56th running of the event and the first of six races in the Countdown to the Championship playoff round.

First-place Top Fuel pilot and three-time U.S. Nationals winner Larry Dixon is ready. Dixon carries a 30-point lead over the field entering the event and hopes that his nine wins in nine final rounds regular season success continues to give the driver his first U.S. Nationals title since 2005 and fourth overall.

But don’t count out defending U.S. Nationals winner and third-place driver Tony Schumacher. With his win last year, Schumacher tied NHRA legend “Big Daddy” Don Garlits for the most U.S. Nationals wins in Top Fuel at eight and hopes to tie Pro Stock legend Bob Glidden for the most wins overall with nine.

Current Funny Car points leader John Force is hoping for some success at O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis. The 14-time world champion has a 30-point lead over teammate Robert Hight entering the event, but in his 32-year career has only had four wins at the prestigious event—his last coming in 2002. Hight has two Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil wins (2008, 2006), but John Force Racing teammate and defending event winner Ashley Force Hood is still on the hunt for her first win of 2010. A second win at the event could push her from eighth up to the top of the points battle with her two teammates.

Pro Stock points leader Mike Edwards saw his points lead of more than 300 dwindle to just 30 points over second place Allen Johnson with the start of the Countdown to the Championship. But it’s third-place driver and three-time U.S. Nationals winner Jeg Coughlin that has the record at Indy that could move him into the points lead leaving the event. Pro Stock Motorcycle defending winner Hector Arana lost his points lead to Andrew Hines at the last event of the regular season but could regain that lead with a second win at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil. Hines has never won the prestigious event.

TIRE KINGDOM EXTENDS TITLE-RIGHTS SPONSORSHIP OF NHRA GATORNATIONALS: Tire Kingdom, a leading brand of service centers for Florida-based TBC Retail Group Inc., has signed a multiyear contract extension to continue its title-rights sponsorship of the tradition-rich NHRA Gatornationals at historic Gainesville Raceway. In addition to title sponsorship of the Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals, Tire Kingdom will be a national partner of the NHRA Youth & Education Services program presented by the U.S. Army, utilizing its Tire Kingdom, NTB-National Tire and Battery, Merchant’s Tire and Auto Centers and Big O Tires brands. TBC Retail Group will also have a presence along NHRA’s Manufacturers Midway at a number of events on the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series schedule throughout the year.

The Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals has a long and storied history as the East Coast opener for the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. Next year, the event will celebrate its 42nd anniversary of thrilling fans throughout Florida and as the home to numerous records and memorable moments. In 2011, NHRA will be celebrating its 60th anniversary and announce a number of special events and activities planned throughout the year.

For more information, visit www.NHRA.com.

COMING ATTRACTIONS

MAC TOOLS U.S. NATIONALS PRESENTED BY LUCAS OIL, O’REILLY RACEWAY PARK AT INDIANAPOLIS, September 1–6: The famed Labor Day event at historic O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis is the first of six races in the Countdown to 1 playoffs. Defending event winners include Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel); Ashley Force Hood (Funny Car); Jeg Coughlin (Pro Stock); and Hector Arana (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

O’REILLY AUTO PARTS NHRA NATIONALS, zMAX DRAGWAY, September 16–19: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes its second stop of the season in North Carolina and second stop of the Countdown to 1 playoffs. Defending event winners include Cory McClenathan (Top Fuel); Robert Hight (Funny Car); Mike Edwards (Pro Stock); and Hector Arana (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

O’REILLY SUPER START BATTERIES NHRA FALL NATIONALS, TEXAS MOTORPLEX, September 23–26: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes its second stop in the Lone Star State and third stop of the Countdown to 1 playoffs. Defending event winners include Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel); Robert Hight (Funny Car); Greg Anderson (Pro Stock); and Hector Arana (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

HE SAID, SHE SAID

NO TIME FOR VACATION: Various drivers in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series on what they’re doing the week before the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil and the start of the Countdown to the Championship:

Antron Brown
ANTRON BROWN:
“We’ve been struggling with some clutch disc
issues and we hope to work that out in testing before the U.S.
Nationals. We’ll head back to our DSR shot in Brownsburg (Indiana) and
gear up and test and then come out strong at Indy.”
Matt Hagan
MATT HAGAN:
(after quarterfinal loss in Brainerd) “I know these
DieHard guys will go back and fix (my car) and make sure it never,
never happens again, and then we’re going to move into Indy for the
beginning of the Countdown to 1 playoffs.”
Greg Anderson
GREG ANDERSON:
“We’re going to spend a lot of time on the
racetrack and dyno before Indy and are not going to rest until we
get this all figured out so we can contend for the championship.”
Hector Arana
HECTOR ARANA:
“I’m really glad we’ve got a few weeks off
because we have some work to do. We’re gonna go home and take this bike
down to the bare chassis and check every little thing. Then we’ll redo
the motors and make them perfect. Then we’ll go to the Indy test and
make sure we’re ready for the Countdown.”

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

8/10: Defending world champion Tony Schumacher has won eight of the past 10 Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil Top Fuel titles. Larry Dixon is the only other Top Fuel driver to have won during that span (2005, 2001).

DID YOU KNOW…

…that NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series drivers Larry Dixon, Tony Schumacher, Antron Brown, John Force, Ashley Force Hood, Robert Hight, Del Worsham, Bob Tasca and many, many more will be at O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis this week testing before the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil? For media information or interviews with any of these drivers, contact Senior Communications Manager Scott Smith at ssmith@nhra.com.

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