SEMA eNews Vol. 14, No. 26, June 30, 2011

NHRA: Career-Changing Seasons Could Bring First Full Throttle World Championships for First-Place Drivers

NEWS NUGGETS

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CAREER-CHANGING SEASONS COULD BRING FIRST FULL THROTTLE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS FOR FIRST-PLACE DRIVERS: When NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing driver Del Worsham got the news from Al-Anabi team manger Alan Johnson that he would be adding a second Al-Anabi dragster to the stable and that he wanted the long-time Funny Car racer to pilot that dragster, Worsham could never have imagined the change that this move would bring to his life. But 10 races into the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle season, that change has resulted in four race wins in five final-round appearances as well as the points lead in Top Fuel.

“It’s the kind of season that anybody would dream of, and it’s amazing to get it in my 21st season of racing,” Worsham said, following his recent win at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio. “It shows what kind of team Sheikh Khalid (Al-Thani, team owner), Alan Johnson, Brian Husen (crew chief) and Jason McCulloch (crew chief of teammate Larry Dixon’s dragster) put together. I’m a lucky passenger in this car.”

Funny Car driver Mike Neff is having a similar experience. After tuning world champion John Force to his 15th world title in 2010 in his Castrol GTX High-Mileage Ford Mustang, Neff got the call from team owner Force to take over driving duties for daughter Ashley Force Hood, who announced that she would sit out the 2011 season to start a family with husband Danny Hood. Now, with just six races left before the Countdown to the Championship playoffs, Neff has raced to three wins in six final-round appearances and held the points lead for seven of the 10 races while pulling double duty, serving as driver and crew chief of the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang.

“I can’t thank my team enough,” said Neff. “The more rounds you go the better you get. I am getting in the groove and my team has been in the groove. They went to 11 finals last year. They can hack it, and I am getting better at it.”

One thing both drivers hope their string of success can produce is a No. 1 spot entering the Countdown to the Championship playoffs, which not only brings bragging rights entering the final six races of the season, but also gives that driver a 30-point lead once the points are reset. To see the results from Sunday’s Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, log on to NHRA.com.

FORCE, ANDERSON NOMINATED FOR BEST DRIVER ESPY AWARD: NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series champs John Force and Greg Anderson earned two of the four coveted spots in the ESPY award voting for Best Driver. Force, who won his 15th NHRA Funny Car championship last season, and Anderson, who won his fourth NHRA Pro Stock championship, have both been nominated for the award but have not won. Also included in the nominations this year are NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson and IndyCar competitor Dario Franchitti. Previous NHRA drivers nominated include Top Fuel champ Tony Schumacher, Ashley Force Hood, Melanie Troxel and Tony Pedregon. To vote, log on to http://www.espn.com/espys. Voting ends July 9 at 11:59 p.m. (EDT).

COMING ATTRACTIONS

O’REILLY AUTO PARTS ROUTE 66 NHRA NATIONALS, ROUTE 66 RACEWAY, July 7–10: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series heads to Chicago and the Windy City for its 11th stop of the season. Defending event winners are Larry Dixon (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and LE Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 815/727-RACE or log on to route66raceway.com. For media credentials, please contact Director of Media Relations Anthony Vestal at avestal@nhra.com.

MOPAR MILE-HIGH NHRA NATIONALS, BANDIMERE SPEEDWAY, July 22–24: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series heads to the Rocky Mountains of Denver and the first of three stops in the historic Western Swing. Defending event winners are Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 800/664-UWIN (8946) or log on to ticketreturn.com. For media credentials, please contact Media Relations Manager Zak Elcock at zelcock@nhra.com.

FRAM-AUTOLITE NHRA NATIONALS, INFINEON RACEWAY, July 29–31: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series heads to Sonoma and the second of three stops in the historic Western Swing. Defending event winners are Larry Dixon (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), Jeg Coughlin (Pro Stock) and Michael Phillips (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 800/870-RACE (6223) or log on to infineonraceway.com. For media credentials, please contact Director of Media Relations Anthony Vestal at avestal@nhra.com.

HE SAID, SHE SAID

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NOTHING LIKE A $50,000 PAYDAY:
Pro Stock driver Greg Anderson after winning his second consecutive and fourth overall K&N Horsepower Challenge at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals Sunday: “Four titles at the K&N [Horsepower] Challenge is just cool. It’s a beautiful trophy, and it’s just a neat, neat deal, and $50,000 cash, that’s just so exciting for us. Back in the day when I worked with Kurt and Warren [Johnson], it seemed like Kurt was winning every year they had this event. It’s taken a lot of years to try and get close to him, and now we’ve tied him. Now, obviously, the next goal is to try and go ahead of him, but we’re going to enjoy the moment right now.”

60 YEARS IN NHRA HISTORY

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1975, GREATEST RUN EVER? Don Garlits went to the World Finals with the goal of becoming the first to record a 250-mph pass at an NHRA national event, and he accomplished that with a 250.63-mph national-record run in qualifying. His estimated time on the run, however, of 5.63 seconds was more than a tenth-and-a-half quicker than his 5.78 NHRA record. Garlits went on to win the race and clinch the world championship that weekend. His record of 5.63 stood for six years.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

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4: That’s how many final rounds that Pro Stock driver Vincent Nobile has been to in the first 10 races of the season. Nobile has two wins, a round win-loss record of 19–8 and is third in the point standings, in his first full season of competition. Nobile is one of the candidates battling for the $20,000 Auto Club Road to the Future Award, which recognizes the top-performing rookie for the year.

DID YOU KNOW…

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…that with his win Sunday at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Eddie Krawiec took the points lead from Karen Stoffer? The Pro Stock Motorcycle class will compete at 11 of the final 12 races on the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series schedule.

For more information, contact NHRA Media Relations at 626/914-4761 or log on to the NHRA Media Center.

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