POINTS LEADER LINE HOPES TO MAKE IT THREE-FOR-THREE AS SERIES HEADS TO LAS VEGAS: To say that the start of the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series for Pro Stock points leader Jason Line has been anything but a surprise may be the understatement of the century. Back-to-back wins to start the season and the points lead, with teammate Greg Anderson close behind in second place, may not have been the position Line thought he’d be in heading into this weekend’s SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip At Las Vegas Motor Speedway. But with the momentum of early-season success pushing his Summit Racing Pontiac GXP, Line hopes to make it three wins to start the season, especially at his primary sponsor’s event.
“It’s huge for me,” said Line, referring to a possible win this weekend. “It’s a big deal, and especially right now it’s a big deal for Ken (Black, team owner), because us doing well definitely motivates him and he’s really working hard and he’s trying to get better and get out of that wheelchair. He’s going to make it.”
Line’s greatest competition in Las Vegas may be the man sharing a pit stall with him, as teammate and defending world champion Anderson holds the most wins of any driver at The Strip At Las Vegas Motor Speedway with seven, three of which were at this event.
“(Greg and I) try not to take it too serious,” said Line. “But it’s a tough thing because obviously we both have egos and we both want to win, and not just for ourselves, but we owe it to the rest of the team to do the best job we can because these guys are working hard to give us good hot rods.” But fate itself could be against Line, as only five drivers in NHRA history have ever won three consecutive races to start out the season, the last coming 15 years ago (Jim Yates, Pro Stock, 1996). Can Line make it three to start the year, or will another contender rise from the ranks? Tickets are still available for the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals by calling 800/644-4444 or going online at Ticketmaster.com.
GREG BIFFLE VICTORIOUS IN FOUR-WIDE SHOWDOWN WITH JOHN FORCE, MATT KENSETH AND DAVID RAGAN IN PREVIEW OF VISITMYRTLEBEACH.COM FOUR-WIDE NATIONALS: Roush Fenway Racing driver Greg Biffle scored an upset victory in a four-wide battle of NASCAR stars versus an NHRA legend today at zMAX Dragway during a race held to promote the second annual VisitMyrtleBeach.com NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, April 14–17. Defending VisitMyrtleBeach.com NHRA Four-Wide Nationals Funny Car champion John Force welcomed Biffle and fellow Roush Fenway Racing drivers Matt Kenseth and David Ragan to his turf today for a four-wide elimination battle in ’11 supercharged Ford Mustang GTs. Ragan, driver of the No. 6 UPS Ford in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, was the driver with the slowest time on the first pass and the first driver to be eliminated. In an outcome that surprised everyone in attendance, including media and visiting soldiers from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Force was eliminated with the slowest time on the second pass.
"They went out there and they did their job and they beat me," Force said. "I beat them on the tree, but I tried to power shift the car and I screwed up. It was pretty cool being out here with these NASCAR kids, even though I lost big today."
The final elimination pass left Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, battling fellow Roush Fenway Racing driver Kenseth, the 2003 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and driver of the No. 17 Crown Royal Ford. The race was close, but Biffle emerged victorious, winning the final round with an elapsed time of 13.284 on the world's only four-lane, all-concrete dragstrip.
"I got lucky because I've drag raced in a Mustang before," Biffle said after his winning pass. "It was pretty neat to get a chance to race against a 15-time champion like John Force. It feels good beating him, too. I had a lot of fun out there today."
Fifteen-time NHRA Funny Car champion driver and 17-time champion car owner Force was in Charlotte, North Carolina, today for the race and a media tour promoting the VisitMyrtleBeach.com NHRA Four-Wide Nationals.
"I'm excited to come back to zMAX Dragway," said Force. "There's only one place in the whole world to come see this four-wide racing and that's here. This is a family sport, with families out here racing, so bring the family out and see the stars of the NHRA. I want to see a packed house. Fans should get out of the house and come have some fun at zMAX Dragway."
Tickets are on sale now for the VisitMyrtleBeach.com NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway, April 14–17. Nitro fans can buy two tickets to any day for only $60 and receive a choice of a free upgrade: two event hats, two event shirts, two beer vouchers or two Coca-Cola soft drinks and two hot dogs. To purchase tickets by phone, call the zMAX Dragway ticket office at 800/455-FANS (3267). Connect with zMAX Dragway and stay up-to-speed with all the happenings at the Bellagio of dragstrips on Facebook and on Twitter.
SUMMITRACING.COM NHRA NATIONALS, THE STRIP AT LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY, April 1–3: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes the first of two stops in Sin City and its third stop of the 2011 season. Defending event winners include Larry Dixon (Top Fuel); John Force (Funny Car); and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock). For tickets, call 800/644-4444 or go online at Ticketmaster.com. For media credentials, please contact Media Relations Manager Zak Elcock at firstname.lastname@example.org.
VISITMYRTLEBEACH.COM NHRA 4-WIDE NATIONALS, zMAX DRAGWAY, April 14–17: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series returns to the “Bellagio of dragstrips” for the only 4-wide national event on the calendar. Defending event winners include Cory McClenathan (Top Fuel); John Force (Funny Car); Mike Edwards (Pro Stock); and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 800/455-FANS (3267) or go online at Ticketmaster.com. For media credentials, please contact Director of Public Relations Michael Padian at email@example.com.
O’REILLY AUTO PARTS NHRA SPRING NATIONALS, ROYAL PURPLE RACEWAY, April 29–MAY 1: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes its first of two stops in the Lone Star State as it heads to Houston and Royal Purple Raceway. Defending event winners include Larry Dixon (Top Fuel); Matt Hagan (Funny Car); Jeg Coughlin (Pro Stock); and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 281/383-RACE (7223) or go online at ExtremeTix.com. For media credentials, please contact Director of Media Relations Anthony Vestal at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HE SAID, SHE SAID
THAT NEW CAR SMELL: Funny Car driver Cruz Pedregon on deciding during the off-season to start the season fresh with a brand-new Funny Car: “I was reluctant but felt like we needed to rest our reliable car from two years ago—the 2008 championship car. We ground it out last year, so I felt, ‘Okay, let’s start off with a fresh car.’ That’s making changes that really were not warranted, but we felt like we needed to load our gun, so to speak.”
Pedregon has a runner-up finish and No. 1 qualifier in the first two races of the season.
60 YEARS IN NHRA HISTORY
1995, NHRA HITS THE WORLD WIDE WEB: On July 26, 1995, NHRA became the first major auto-racing sanctioning body to create a website on the Internet. What started out as goracing.com/nhra and quickly moved to nhraonline.com 16 years ago, has now expanded to not only NHRA.com, but also a major web presence with social media pages on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
11: Since the event began 12 years ago, 11 winners of the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway have gone on to win the world championship in that same year. In 2003, all three event winners (Larry Dixon, Tony Pedregon and Greg Anderson) won the world title that same year.
DID YOU KNOW…
…that Funny Car driver Bob Tasca will attend the final launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavour? Tasca was invited to attend the launch by close friend Mark Kelly, commanding astronaut of the mission and husband of congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who continues to recover after being critically injured in a shooting outside an Arizona grocery store in January. Kelly was a VIP guest of Tasca’s at the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals at Royal Purple Raceway near Houston last year.
"I told Mark, I hope I get the chance to win the Wally for you because if I do, I'm going to dedicate it to you and your family," Tasca said. "Maybe we can get Wally in space."
The 14-day mission is set to launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 19. Kelly will be commanding a crew of four Americans and one European astronaut.
For more information, contact NHRA Media Relations at 626/914-4761 or visit the NHRA Media Center online.