SEMA eNews Vol. 14, No. 29, July 21, 2011

NHRA: Points Leaders Hope to Make History With Western Swing Sweep

 

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NEWS NUGGETS

POINTS LEADERS HOPE TO MAKE HISTORY WITH WESTERN SWING SWEEP: Seven drivers. In the 22-year history of the famed Western Swing, the grueling three-races-in-three-weeks summer stretch that includes stops in Denver; Sonoma, California; and Seattle, only seven drivers have ever won all three races. And of those seven, none have ever swept the swing twice. With the NHRA Full Throttle Series heading to Bandimere Speedway in Denver, the first of the three stops in the Western Swing, many drivers are hoping to make history by becoming the eighth name to be added to the famed list that includes NHRA greats Joe Amato, John Force, Cory McClenathan, Larry Dixon, Greg Anderson, Tony Schumacher and Antron Brown. Top Fuel points leader Del Worsham is one of those. Since making the switch from Funny Car to Top Fuel, Worsham has won an impressive five races in six final-round appearances, including two consecutive wins heading into the event this weekend. He currently sits 131 points ahead of his closest competition, Spencer Massey, entering the summer racing stretch.

“For me to be in this position 21 years after I started (racing), I feel very, very lucky right now,” said Worsham. “I’m driving for a championship-caliber team, and they know how to adapt to the conditions on Sunday.”

Another driver looking primed for his first Western Swing sweep is Funny Car Points leader Mike Neff. After getting the call before the start of the season to not only drive but tune the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang previously piloted by Ashley Force Hood, Neff has stepped up to the plate and delivered an impressive performance thus far, posting four wins in seven final-round appearances, including final-round appearances in six of the last seven races.

“I’m feeling pretty good right now,” said Neff. “We’ve been going to a lot of finals, and that’s like training. You get in a groove and now, everybody is feeling good.”

A groove may be exactly what the drivers of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series are looking for as they head to Denver this weekend for the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals. For tickets, call 800/664-UWIN (8946) or log on to ticketreturn.com.

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HAGAN, GRAY TO SPORT SPECIAL PAINT SCHEMES IN DENVER:
Don Schumacher Racing drivers Johnny Gray and Matt Hagan will sport special paint schemes for this weekend’s 32nd annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway. Hagan will display a special Mopar scheme honoring the event sponsor, while Gray’s Service Central Racing Lemonator Dodge Charger Funny Car is part of a month-long fundraising campaign for the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. The special paint scheme chosen by fans will celebrate the month-long grassroots-fundraising effort at the TBC Retail Group’s family of retail tire and automotive-service centers to raise money in the race to find a cure for childhood cancer.

“I’m very excited to help this cause any way I can,” said Gray. “I am honored to be chosen to drive the Lemonator."

For more information on this story, log on to NHRA.com.

COMING ATTRACTIONS

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 grueling 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 famed 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.

O’REILLY AUTO PARTS NHRA NORTHWEST NATIONALS, PACIFIC RACEWAYS, August 5–7: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series visits the Great Northwest and Seattle area to finish the three-race Western Swing. Defending event winners are Cory McClenathan (Top Fuel), Tim Wilkerson (Funny Car) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock). For tickets, call 253/639-5927 or log on to extremetix.com. For media credentials, please contact Director of Media Relations Anthony Vestal at avestal@nhra.com.

HE SAID, SHE SAID

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KING OF THE MILE-HIGH MOUNTAIN: Pro Stock driver Allen Johnson, who has won three of the last four races at Bandimere Speedway, on why he seems to be so successful at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals:

“For years we have tested and tested there with our Mopar Dodge, and we seem to have developed a combination that is superior. I feel like all that testing has led to our success at Mopar’s big race. And also, when you’ve done well at a track, you go back there with confidence, and we’ve definitely excelled at Thunder Mountain.”

60 YEARS IN NHRA HISTORY

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Bob Glidden defeated Jerry Eckman in the final round of Pro Stock at the 1989 Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals in Denver.
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Don Prudhomme defeated Mark Oswald in the final round of Funny Car at the 1989 FRAM/Autolite NHRA Nationals in Sonoma.
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Joe Amato defeated Dick LaHaie in the final round at the 1989 O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals in Seattle.


1989, THE BIRTH OF THE WESTERN SWING: In the summer of 1989, the NHRA introduced the famed Western Swing—a three-races-in-three-weeks stretch in the summer months that included stops in Denver, Sonoma and Seattle. Since that time, only seven drivers in NHRA history have ever swept the historic stretch of racing.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

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186.54: That’s the speed record at Bandimere Speedway in Pro Stock Motorcycle set by Ryan Schnitz in July 2005, six years ago. Will this be the year that the Pro Stock Motorcycle category finally hits 190 mph at Bandimere Speedway?

DID YOU KNOW…

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…that the John Force Racing Road Show will be displaying five of the famed Funny Cars at Denver-area Walmarts to promote the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals? The five Funny Cars will be on display inside the Walmart stores located in Littleton, Lakewood and Wheat Ridge. For addresses and exact locations, log on to NHRA.com.

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

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