SEMA eNews Vol. 14, No. 46, November 17, 2011

NHRA: Full Throttle World Champions Crowned

NEWS NUGGETS

FULL THROTTLE TOP FUEL WORLD CHAMPION

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  Del Worsham, Al-Anabi Racing Dragster

Round Win/Loss Record: 53–14
No. 1 Qualifiers: 7
2011 Race Wins: 8
2011 Runner-up Finishes: 3

Season Summary: After competing 20 years in the Funny Car class, Worsham began his first full season in Top Fuel competition by racing to the win at the Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals and the points lead. From there, Worsham held the points lead throughout the regular season and entered the Countdown to the Championship at the top of the Top Fuel class. Back-to-back second-round losses in Charlotte and Dallas—the first two races of the Countdown—bumped Worsham down to third in the standings. But with a runner-up finish in Reading and a win in Las Vegas, Worsham clinched his first NHRA world championship with his semifinal round win over Spencer Massey at the Auto Club NHRA Finals in Pomona. Worsham would go on to win the event—his eighth of the season.

Championship Quote: “When you race for Alan Johnson, I knew we had a real chance to win this thing. We weren’t in it from the start of the season but we are now and that’s all that matters. It’s always good to have him in your corner and I know I’m glad I do. I was always hoping to win a Funny Car championship after 20 years of racing, but the Top Fuel one feels just as sweet.”

FULL THROTTLE FUNNY CAR WORLD CHAMPION

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  Matt Hagan, DieHard Dodge Charger

Round Win/Loss Record: 33–20
No. 1 Qualifiers: 3
2011 Race Wins: 2
2011 Runner-up Finishes: 2

Season Summary: After losing the 2010 world championship to John Force, Hagan came out in 2011 and raced to back-to-back final rounds in Pomona and Gainesville to start the season. After a fifth-place point finish in the regular season, Hagan raced to his first win of the year at the Countdown opening O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals in Charlotte, North Carolina, took the No. 1 qualifier for the event and made NHRA history when he set the national record and became the first Funny Car driver to break the three-second barrier with his run of 3.995 seconds. Hagan entered the season-ending Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona with the points lead and after a semifinal round win over Cruz Pedregon, clinched his first world championship. He then went on to win the race—his second of the year.

Championship Quote: “It really is truly amazing this weekend to win the championship and the race. We had some phenomenal things happen this year and to win this is amazing. It’s really a testimony to my crew and Tommy DeLago and what these guys have done with this car. I hate the phrase, ‘you’ve got to lose one to win one,’ but that really happened here. These Wallys in Funny Car are really hard to come by so this means so much to get the win and the world championship.”

FULL THROTTLE PRO STOCK WORLD CHAMPION

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  Jason Line, Summit Racing Pontiac GXP

Round Win/Loss Record: 47–16
No. 1 Qualifiers: 7
2011 Race Wins: 6
2011 Runner-up Finishes: 2

Season Summary: After finishing fifth in the point standings in 2010, Line came out on a mission in 2011, powering his Summit Racing Pontiac GXP to back-to-back wins to start the season in Pomona and Gainesville. His impressive start kept him at the top of the point standings for most of the regular season, but a second-round loss in Brainerd bumped him down to second place and Line entered the Countdown to the Championship second in the point standings. He then raced his way to two wins in three consecutive final-round appearances and three No. 1 qualifiers to start the Countdown and went on to become the first driver to clinch his world championship when he drove to a semifinal round appearance at the penultimate race of the season in Las Vegas.

Championship Quote: “It feels unbelievable to win my second championship. Timing is everything in our sport, and we got hot at the right time. The second championship definitely means more to me because as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to appreciate it and realized how hard these things really are to get.”

FULL THROTTLE PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE WORLD CHAMPION

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  Eddie Krawiec, Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson

Round Win/Loss Record: 35–12
No. 1 Qualifiers: 3
2011 Race Wins: 4
2011 Runner-up Finishes: 2

Season Summary: After finishing second and third in 2009 and 2010, Krawiec came out in 2011 and won the season opening Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals. Throughout the 2011 season, Krawiec and his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson never dropped below third place in the points standings. Krawiec finished the regular season with the points lead, then went on to win two races in three final-round appearances in the Countdown to the Championship en route to his second career world championship.

Championship Quote: “This has been my championship year all year. I didn’t win any races in my first championship but this year I won four races in six finals so this one really validated it all for me. Especially to have Willie G. here and all of Harley-Davidson, it’s awesome. For Andrew (Hines, teammate) and I to go to the last two races and be winner and runner-up at both is amazing. Plus, to have the opportunity to race with such great competitors, I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

COMING ATTRACTIONS

O’REILLY AUTO PARTS NHRA WINTERNATIONALS, AUTO CLUB RACEWAY AT POMONA, February 9–12, 2012:
The 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series kicks everything off in Southern California. Defending event winners are Morgan Lucas (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car) and Jason Line (Pro Stock). For tickets, call 800-884-NHRA (6472) or log on to NHRATIX.com. For media credentials, contact Director of Media Relations Anthony Vestal at avestal@nhra.com.

HE SAID, SHE SAID

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NOT THE ‘NEW KID’ ANYMORE: Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Hector Arana Jr. after winning the 2011 Auto Club Road to the Future Award, which recognizes the top-performing rookie of the season: “This has been the most amazing year of my life. This was my goal, my dream coming into this year. Everything was the rookie of the year award.”

60 YEARS IN NHRA HISTORY

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GREATEST MOMENT IN NHRA HISTORY AND GRANDSTAND NAMING: After his 2010 world championship-winning moment was voted the best in NHRA history by fans, Funny Car driver John Force received the ultimate honor when NHRA president Tom Compton announced that the Top Eliminator Club Grandstand at historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona would be forever named the John Force Grandstand.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

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1, 2: This was the first world championship for Top Fuel pilot Del Worsham and Funny Car driver Matt Hagan and the second world championship for Pro Stock driver Jason Line and Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Eddie Krawiec.

DID YOU KNOW

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…that after competing more than 30 years in NHRA Drag Racing as a driver and team owner, Kenny Bernstein has announced his retirement from NHRA Drag Racing. “We salute the late great NHRA founder Wally Parks, who was a dear friend and gave us an arena in which to live our dreams. We are fortunate to have had a job that we loved and without Wally’s vision, it’s hard to say where our life’s path would have led. For a youngster that grew up in Texas dreaming about cars and reading Hot Rod magazine, we were able to live the dream. Thanks again to all those who have touched our lives. We are walking away with a treasure chest full of memories.”

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

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