SEMA eNews Vol. 14, No. 36, September 8, 2011

NHRA: Big Wins at Drag Racing's Big Go

NEWS NUGGETS

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Brown Neff Anderson Arana Jr.



BIG WINNERS AT NHRA DRAG RACING’S BIG GO:
Antron Brown, Mike Neff, Greg Anderson and Hector Arana Jr. were winners in their respective categories at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals—the final race of the regular season before the start of the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship—the six-race playoffs to determine the world champions. Brown became the first driver to win the historic event in both Top Fuel and Pro Stock Motorcycle when he powered his Matco Tools dragster to a 3.813-second run at 321.73 mph. The final-round performance was enough to get past Del Worsham and secure his fifth win of the season and 30th of his career.

“Words cannot describe how this feels,” Brown said. “To come here and win at Indy, the biggest stage in drag racing, means so much. It just goes back to my childhood dream and sitting under those grandstands as a kid and saying ‘I want to do that one day.’ It’s the greatest feeling I’ve ever had.”

In Funny Car, Neff drove his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang past Bob Tasca III to secure his first Mac Tools U.S. Nationals win. Neff posted a run of 4.068 at 314.61 in the final round to take his fifth win of the season and sixth of his career. It was also John Force Racing’s fifth Mac Tools U.S. Nationals win in the past six seasons.

“This is the big one, the one you dream about,” Neff said. “It’s huge to win here. I’ve never won here as a driver or a crew chief so to be able to do it here as both was great. It probably hasn’t even sunk in yet.”

Pro Stock points leader Anderson continued his domination at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis when he held off teammate Jason Line to earn his sixth Mac Tools U.S. Nationals win. Anderson and his Summit Racing Pontiac GXP posted a final-round run of 6.552 at 210.50 to get his fifth win of the season and 70th of his career. It was also his fourth win in the past six races.

“I feel like it’s my first and biggest win ever,” said Anderson. “Every time it happens up here, it’s just special; it’s just magic. I love this place. I think some of the other racers might miss out on how important it is and what it means to race here. There’s so much history here. It’s just everything about drag racing.”

Rookie Arana Jr. raced to his first win in Pro Stock Motorcycle when he held off Jerry Savoie in the final round. Arana rode his Lucas Oil Buell to a 6.867 at 192.60 to take the win in his second consecutive final-round appearance for the season.

“It has not sunk in on me yet,” said Arana “This is the biggest race of the year, and I won it in my rookie year. For all my family, this is a hometown event, and it just doesn’t get any better than this.”

To see more results from the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, visit NHRA.com.

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FULL THROTTLE COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP FIELDS SET:
The final 10-car fields for the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship playoffs were set during final eliminations at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil. Additionally, all of the top seeds who earned bonus points when the points were reset were established and included Del Worsham in Top Fuel, Mike Neff in Funny Car, Greg Anderson in Pro Stock and Eddie Krawiec in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Johnny Gray's loss in round one of Funny Car sealed that field. Gray's day ended early when his parachutes came out shortly after his car left the starting line against Dan Wilkerson.

Among those benefiting from Gray's misfortune were Wilkerson's father Tim, Jeff Arend and Bob Tasca III, who round out the 10-car field. Nine of 10 spots were filled in Top Fuel, and following 10th-place Dave Grubnic's first-round loss, Terry McMillen and Bob Vandergriff Jr.—both winners in round one—had the chance to pass him with a win in round two, but neither could advance, locking Grubnic into the 10th and final spot.

Pro Stock was settled in round two in favor of Ron Krisher after V. Gaines lost in round one and Ronnie Humphrey fell in the second round. Greg Anderson locked up the top seed by reaching the final round. Two spots were open in Pro Stock Motorcycle, and Jerry Savoie and Jim Underdahl, ninth and 10th in points, respectively, won their first-round races, as did 11th-place Chip Ellis. Savoie's win clinched his spot in the playoffs, so Ellis needed to go two rounds further than Underdahl to pass him but fell in the semifinals to give Underdahl the final position.

Opening-round losses by David Hope, Steve Johnson and Angie Smith ended their slim chances. The six-race Countdown to the Championship begins at the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals in Charlotte September 15–18. For more information about the Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship, visit NHRA.com.

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FULL THROTTLE COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP KICKS-OFF AT zMAX DRAGWAY: The first of six races in the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship opens September 15–18 at zMAX Dragway. Championship points have been reset in each Full Throttle Series category and the top 10 drivers in each of the four divisions who have earned a berth into the playoffs will begin their hunt for world championship glory at the North Carolina event. For tickets, call 800/455-FANS (3267) or log on to charlottemotorspeedway.com.

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TOP 10 GREATEST MOMENTS IN NHRA HISTORY UNVEILED:
And then there were 10. To commemorate its 60th anniversary season, NHRA announced the 60 Greatest Moments in its history back in January and then it asked its fans, throughout the course of the 2011 season, to select the moment that they collectively felt was the greatest moment in NHRA history. NHRA fans responded in huge numbers—more than 7.5 million impressions and more than 31,000 fan interactions—to pare the list down first to 20 greatest moments and now to a truly memorable Top 10. As difficult as that must have been for NHRA fans—narrowing the original list of 60 greatest moments down to just 10—consider the challenge that lies ahead for fans in selecting the single moment that they believe is the greatest moment in NHRA history. Here are the Top 10 greatest moments (in chronological order):

  • Founding of NHRA (1951)

  • Don Garlits makes NHRA's First 200-mph Run (1964)
  • Don Garlits debuts the rear-engine dragster and wins (Pomona, 1971)

  • Shirley Muldowney is first woman to win in Top Fuel (1976)

  • Shirley Muldowney is NHRA's first female world champ (1977)
  • Kenny Bernstein makes NHRA's first 300-mph run (1992)
  • John Force is first to win 100 career races (2002)
  • Tony Schumacher's "The Run" (2006)
  • Ashley Force Hood is first female Funny Car winner (2008)

  • John Force completes comeback, wins 15th championship (2010) 



To participate, fans can go to NHRA’s Facebook page and click on the “Vote 4 Greatest Moment” tab. Once there, fans will be instructed to select just one of the 10 moments and click "submit" (after submitting their vote, fans will have the chance to enter to win one VIP package or one of five pairs of full-event tickets to the 2012 event of their choice). Fans will be encouraged to check back often as the moment with the fewest votes at the conclusion of every one of the first five races in the Countdown playoff will be eliminated. That will leave five moments still in play entering the Auto Club NHRA Finals. Voting will close on Wednesday, November 9 and the fans’ selection for the Greatest Moment in NHRA History will be unveiled during pre-race at the Auto Club NHRA Finals on Sunday, November 13. Fans can visit the 60 Greatest Moments webpage for complete program details and to view historical photos and videos that retrace every step in NHRA’s rich and storied history. The page also includes links to view a preview/purchase of NHRA’s 60 Greatest Moments DVD.

COMING ATTRACTIONS

O’REILLY AUTO PARTS NHRA NATIONALS, zMAX DRAGWAY, September 15–18:
The NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship begins in Charlotte at the second stop of the season at zMAX Dragway. Defending event winners are Larry Dixon (Top Fuel), Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and LE Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 800/455-FANS (3267) or log on to charlottemotorspeedway.com. For media credentials, please contact Media Relations Manager Alex Baca at abaca@nhra.com.

AAA TEXAS NHRA FALL NATIONALS, TEXAS MOTORPLEX, September 22–25:
The NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship makes its second of six stops with a visit to the Lone Star State. Defending event winners are Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and LE Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 800/668-6775 or log on to extremetix.com. For media credentials, please contact Director of Media Relations Anthony Vestal at avestal@nhra.com.

UNI-SELECT AUTO PLUS NHRA NATIONALS, MAPLE GROVE RACEWAY, September 29–October 2: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes its third stop in the Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship at scenic Maple Grove Raceway in Pennsylvania. Defending event winners are Larry Dixon (Top Fuel), Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car), Dave Connolly (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 610/856-9210 or log on to extremetix.com. For media credentials, please contact Senior Communications Manager Scott Smith at ssmith@nhra.com.

HE SAID, SHE SAID

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MULDOWNEY HONORED WITH GRANDSTAND NAMED IN HER HONOR AT INDY:
“It looks like I’ll have a place to sit,” said an emotional Shirley Muldowney after NHRA honored the three-time world champion and 1982 Mac Tools U.S. Nationals Top Fuel winner with a sign designating a new grandstand named in her honor at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. It marks only the third time in NHRA’s history that a section of grandstand at an NHRA-owned and operated facility has been named for one of the sport’s legends. Earlier this year, during NHRA’s 60th Anniversary celebration, a section of grandstand at fabled Auto Club Raceway at Pomona was named for Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, and later in March, a section of grandstand at Florida’s Gainesville Raceway was named after “Big Daddy” Don Garlits. NHRA also honored NHRA Pro Stock legend Bob Glidden during the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals weekend by naming the fabled drag strip at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, Bob Glidden Drive.

60 YEARS IN NHRA HISTORY

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FUNNY CAR BECOMES AN OFFICIAL NHRA CATEGORY:
In 1968 NHRA introduced Funny Car as an official NHRA professional category. Wildly popular drivers like Jungle Jim Lieberman (pictured above) made the class an instant hit with fans.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

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2: Tony Schumacher posted only the second first-round loss at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in his Top Fuel career. Schumacher has won the race a record eight times in 10 career finals. This weekend he was upset in the opening round by Bob Vandergriff Jr., when his car dropped a cylinder at the hit of the throttle and the safety shutoff system activated, deploying the parachute.

DID YOU KNOW…

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… The NHRA presented a very special tribute in recognition of the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks as part of the pre-race ceremony Monday, September 5, at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil. The special ceremony opened with a moving 9/11 video tribute as each qualified Full Throttle Series driver for the event at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis helped to unveil a 60-x30-ft. banner from the top of the Wally Parks Tower that read “9-11-01: We Will Never Forget.” A 10-unit parade of first responders and fire trucks rolled down the return road so that fans could show their appreciation for their service to the community.

There was also a special Ride of Valor motorcycle parade to honor the victims of Flight 93. Several special guests taking part in the ceremony included Debra Borza, the mother of the youngest victim and hero of Flight 93, and retired Sgt. Maj. Tony Rose, who survived the attack at the Pentagon. A large U.S. flag was unveiled by the Future U.S. Army Soldiers and many local soldiers from the Indianapolis Recruiting Battalion, and a special rendition of "Taps" was performed by a military bugler. The national anthem was sung by Indianapolis police officer Christopher Wilburn, and skydiver Jason Peters soared into Lucas Oil Raceway.

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

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