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NHRA: Drivers Face Do or Die at the Big O
DO-OR-DIE TIME FOR MANY COUNTDOWN DRIVERS AT BIG O TIRES NHRA NATIONALS: Top Fuel pilot Del Worsham knows that it is do-or-die time. After leading the points for nearly the entire regular season and entering the Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship with a 30-point lead, Worsham could only watch his points lead diminish as drivers below him in the standings raced their way to consecutive final-round appearances. A runner-up finish in Reading, Pennsylvania, gave the Al-Anabi Racing driver a confidence boost he needed, and now, as the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes its penultimate stop of the season at the Big O Tires NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Worsham, currently fourth, knows that this may be his last chance to make a push toward his first world championship.
“We definitely haven’t had the results we’ve wanted so far in the Countdown, but with two races left, I feel pretty good about the Al-Anabi team’s chances,” said Worsham. “We only have to make up three rounds, and our teammate, Larry Dixon, is running great. I’ve been in this sport for 21 years, but I’ve never been in a championship battle like this. It feels good to be in contention and have a team that can get it done.”
While one driver is working to obtain the early-season success he once enjoyed, another, Funny Car racer Cruz Pedregon, is hoping to ride the wave of Countdown success right into his third world championship. He has kept his Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry within the top four in the point standings all season, but with a race win and two No. 1 qualifiers in the Countdown, he is hoping to move from fourth, 48 points behind first-place Jack Beckman, all the way up to the top spot with two races remaining. It’s an accomplishment that Pedregon has achieved before. In 2008, he entered the Big O Tires NHRA Nationals third in the standings with the final two races remaining. He won the Las Vegas race as well as the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals in Pomona, California, on his way to his second world championship. With the top four drivers in both Top Fuel and Funny Car separated by less than three rounds of racing, only time will tell who races to the 2011 world championship and who is left to watch. For tickets to the Big O Tires NHRA Nationals, call 702-644-4444 or log on to ticketmaster.com.
LAS VEGAS NHRA FANFEST AUTOGRAPH SESSION OCTOBER 27: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series heads to Las Vegas for the Big O Tires NHRA Nationals October 27–30 at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and the NHRA is inviting fans to experience a Fanfest unlike any other, Vegas-style. The stars of the NHRA will interact with fans, sign autographs and participate in a Q&A session with legendary announcer Bob Frey under the lights of Viva Vision, the state-of-the-art light and animation display above the Fremont Street Experience in the heart of downtown Las Vegas. An NHRA-themed light show will play on the Viva Vision throughout the evening, and ticket giveaways and music will also highlight the most popular Fanfest of the year. The NHRA Las Vegas Fanfest will kick off at 5:00 p.m. Thursday, October 27, on the 3rd Street Stage at the intersection of 3rd and Fremont streets and is free to the public. Johnny Gray’s Big O Tires Dodge Charger Funny Car as well as the Tequila Patron Funny Car driven by Alexis DeJoria will be on display throughout the evening. For a list of some of the drivers participating in this event or for more information, log on to NHRA.com.
MEET THE STARS OF NHRA FULL THROTTLE DRAG RACING AT THE 2011 SEMA SHOW IN LAS VEGAS: The stars of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series will be out in full force at the 2011 SEMA Show in Las Vegas and will visit the NHRA booth (Booth No. 22327, Central Hall) for autograph sessions Tuesday, November 1, at 12:15 p.m. and Wednesday, November 2, at 10:00 a.m. Headlining the NHRA stars signing on Tuesday are Funny Car drivers Matt Hagan, Ron Capps and Johnny Gray for Don Schumacher Racing. From Kalitta Racing will be David Grubnic, Jeff Arend and 2012 rookie Funny Car driver Alexis DeJoria. R2B2 Racing team member Leah Pruett, coming off her first win in the NHRA Get Screened America Pro Mod Drag Racing Series earlier this fall in Charlotte, is also scheduled to appear. Others who will be featured at the autograph sessions are Top Fuel drivers T.J. Zizzo, Terry McMillen and Dominick Lagana and Pro Stock racer Allen Johnson.
In addition to the autograph sessions, the NHRA will again host the popular NHRA Breakfast, Wednesday, November 2, from 7:30 a.m.–9:00 a.m. in the Las Vegas Hilton Ballrooms A&B. This year’s theme is NHRA Nitro Generation. Scheduled panelists for the NHRA Breakfast, representing the generations of drivers and participants in the NHRA, are Bob Tasca and Bob Tasca III; LE, GT and Gary Tonglet; Jeg Coughlin Sr. and Jeg Coughlin Jr. and John and Courtney Force. The NHRA Breakfast is open to all registered SEMA Show attendees. A continental breakfast will be served. Several of the participants from the NHRA Breakfast are also scheduled to make an appearance at the NHRA Booth for the 10:00 a.m. autograph session following the breakfast, including Courtney and John Force, Bob Tasca, and GT and LE Tonglet. For more information, log on to NHRA.com.
BIG O TIRES NHRA NATIONALS, THE STRIP AT LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY, October 27–30: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes its stop at the penultimate race of the season in Las Vegas. Defending event winners are Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and LE Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 702-644-4444 or log on to ticketmaster.com. For media credentials, contact Media Relations Manager Alex Baca at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AUTOMOBILE CLUB OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA NHRA FINALS, AUTO CLUB RACEWAY AT POMONA, November 10–13: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes its final stop of 2011 where it all began, in sunny Southern California. It is also the spot where world champions will be crowned. Defending event winners are Antron Brown (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car), Shane Gray (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 800-884-NHRA (6472) or log on to extremetix.com. For media credentials, contact Media Relations Manager Zak Elcock at email@example.com.
HE SAID, SHE SAID
NOT YET SWINGING FOR THE FENCES: Funny Car point leader Jack Beckman: “I don’t know what we have to do to win the championship; what I do know is we are going to approach these last two races the same way we have done all year. Rahn (Tobler, crew chief) and John (Collins, assistant crew chief) take a methodical approach at each race, collecting data, getting down the track as consistently as possible. If we have to step it up, we know how to take the steps to do so. We don’t swing for fences unless we’re well-qualified.”
60 YEARS IN NHRA HISTORY
|NHRA founder Wally Parks with Ak Miller and Marvin Lee.
1951, FOUNDING OF NHRA: In 1951, Wally Parks, then editor of the influential magazine Hot Rod, proposed the idea of a national organization to educate, promote and regulate the fledgling sport of hot rodding. The National Hot Rod Association was officially incorporated March 13, 1951. The founding of the NHRA is one of the six top moments in NHRA history that fans can still vote on to determine No. 1.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
4: Since the Countdown to the Championship was introduced in 2007, the Funny Car winner at the Big O Tires NHRA Nationals has gone on to win the world championship in each of the four years. Here is a list of those drivers:
2007: Tony Pedregon
2008: Cruz Pedregon
2009: Robert Hight
2010: John Force
DID YOU KNOW
…that as part of the final NHRA 60th Anniversary season celebration, children 12 and younger can receive free tickets to the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals, November 10–13, at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California? To take advantage of this money-saving offer, log on to www.NHRATix.com.
For more information, contact NHRA Media Relations at 626-914-4761 or log on to the NHRA Media Center.