DIXON STRENGTHENS POINTS LEAD WITH 12TH WIN OF SEASON; PEDREGON NABS SECOND WIN OF SEASON IN READING: Top Fuel points leader Larry Dixon picked up his 12th win in 12 final-round appearances Sunday in high fashion, winning a pedal-fest final round against second-place in the point standings Cory McClenathan at the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pennsylvania. After smoking the tires early in the run, Dixon was able to get back on the throttle of his Al-Anabi Racing dragster and drive past McClenathan to secure only his second win at Maple Grove and strengthen his points lead to 89 over the field.
“It was a huge [day in the points],” said Dixon. “I mean, you’re racing the No. 2 guy, and you could tighten it right up or spread it out. With two [races in the season] to go and more than a four-round lead with eight rounds left, I’d rather be 90 up than 90 down.”
McClenathan’s final-round appearance helped to strengthen his second-place lead over third-place and defending world champion Tony Schumacher by 65 points, but the loss to Dixon pushed him even further away from the points lead with only two races left in the 2010 season.
In Funny Car, two-time world champion Cruz Pedregon once again had the car to beat on
eliminations day, as he was able to power his Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry past runner-up Matt Hagan to earn his second win of the 2010 season and second at Maple Grove (his last coming in 1992). The win came as a surprise to the seasoned driver, who struggled during qualifying.
“Friday, if you had told me we would be here, I wouldn’t have believed it because we just didn’t have it together,” said Pedregon. “We were doing things we were doing earlier in the year, and I thought, ‘Man, we’re really going to look like slouches,’ but we got it together Saturday. The car made two great runs Saturday, and we were just picking them off one at a time today.”
Though Hagan was unable to collect his fourth win of the season, he did take the points lead away from 14-time world champion John Force after setting a national record for time at 4.011-seconds. Hagan now leads the Funny Car point standings by 64 points over the field with just two races left in the schedule. For more results from the recently completed Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals, visit NHRA.com.
CONNOLLY GRABS WIN IN JUST SECOND RACE BACK; HINES HOLDS OFF TONGLET FOR WIN
IN READING: In just his second race back after sitting out the better part of the past two seasons, Pro Stock driver Dave Connolly was able to drive his IDG Makita Power Tools Racing Chevy Cobalt past three-time world champion Greg Anderson in the final round Sunday at the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway. It was Connolly’s first win and first final round since 2008, and he did it on a holeshot win over the favored Anderson.
“It was just an incredible weekend all together,” said Connolly. “Just to be out here is a lot of fun. I’ve definitely learned over the last couple of years that you don’t take anything for granted and just enjoy the weekends you do have out here because there’s a lot who are less fortunate than what I have.”
Though Anderson was unable to grab his fifth win of the season, he did surpass defending world champion Mike Edwards to take the points lead in the category. With only two races remaining in the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Season, it’s the first time anyone other than Edwards has led the point standings in Pro Stock. In Pro Stock Motorcycle, a repeat final round of the past three races occurred, with both first- and second-place points riders, Andrew Hines and LE Tonglet, meeting in the final round. But for the first time in the four consecutive meetings, Hines was finally able to drive his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson past Tonglet to secure his fifth win of the season and strengthen his points lead.
“When I saw that win light, that was one of the prettiest win lights I’ve seen in a long time,” said Hines. “I’m trying to rely on some of the other competitors out there to take LE out early, but we keep matching up in the final round. It’s been tough with that little blue bike beating us the last few races. We were wondering what it was going to take to get it done.” With the win, Hines strengthened his points lead over Tonglet by 72 points. For more results from the recently completed Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals, visit NHRA.com.
ESPN HD TO AIR ELIMINATIONS COVERAGE OF FINAL TWO COUNTDOWN EVENTS: Beginning at last weekend’s Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals and continuing at the NHRA Las Vegas Nationals and the Auto Club NHRA Finals, high-definition television coverage of final eliminations for the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship will move from ESPN2HD to ESPNHD. Eliminations for the NHRA Las Vegas Nationals will air from 9:00 p.m.–11:30 p.m. (EDT) Sunday, October 31 and the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals will air from 9:00 p.m.–11:30 p.m. (EST) Sunday, November 14, both on ESPNHD. Qualifying for both events, as well as NHRA Race Day presented by Lucas Oil, will air on ESPN2HD. For more information, visit NHRA.com.
NHRA LAS VEGAS NATIONALS, THE STRIP AT LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY, October 28–31: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series heads back to Sin City for its fifth stop in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs. Defending event winners include Spencer Massey (Top Fuel); Robert Hight (Funny Car); Larry Morgan (Pro Stock); and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 800/644-4444 or online at lvms.com. For media credentials, please contact Director of Media Relations Anthony Vestal at email@example.com.
AUTOMOBILE CLUB OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA NHRA FINALS, AUTO CLUB RACEWAY AT POMONA, November 11–14: The 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series comes to an end where it all began: in sunny Southern California for the final event of the season and the crowning of the NHRA Full Throttle world champions. Defending event winners include Antron Brown (Top Fuel); Mike Neff (Funny Car); Greg Anderson (Pro Stock); and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 800/844-NHRA or online at NHRATIX.com. For media credentials, please contact Director of Public Relations Michael Padian at firstname.lastname@example.org.
KRAGEN O’REILLY AUTO PARTS NHRA WINTERNATIONALS, AUTO CLUB RACEWAY AT POMONA, February 24–27, 2011: The 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series kicks off at historical Auto Club Raceway at Pomona at the 51st running of this event. Defending event winners include Larry Dixon (Top Fuel); John Force (Funny Car); and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock). For tickets, call 800/844-NHRA or online at NHRATIX.com. For media credentials, please contact Director of Public Relations Michael Padian at email@example.com.
HE SAID, SHE SAID
SO CLOSE, YET SO FAR AWAY: Top Fuel second-place driver Cory McClenathan on losing a pedal-match final round to points leader Larry Dixon at the recently completed Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway: “It just makes it tough when you get down this close [in the points standings] and he’s beatable. He was very beatable there, but he just feathered back into it and just motored on down through there. As I had the gas all the way down, he just blew by me. We
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
In 2008, Cruz Pedregon won the NHRA Las Vegas Nationals en route to his second world championship. While Tim Wilkerson entered the event with the points lead, a first-round loss to Mike Neff all but ended his bid for his first world championship.
7: Since the inaugural year of the Countdown to the Championship (2007), only five drivers have entered the NHRA Las Vegas Nationals, the penultimate race of the Full Throttle Drag Racing season, with the points lead and went on to win the world championship. That means five drivers in the past three seasons have lost the points lead with only two races remaining in the season.
DID YOU KNOW…
…that Funny Car driver Matt Hagan set the national record for time at the recently completed Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway? With the national record (20 bonus points) and his runner-up finish, Hagan was able to move around John Force to secure the top spot in the Funny Car point standings with only two races remaining in the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing season. For more information, contact NHRA Media Relations at 626/914-4761 or visit the NHRA Media Center online.