ILLINOIS NATIVE WILKERSON SEEKING STRONG OUTING THIS WEEKEND AT ROUTE 66 RACEWAY: The expected warm temperatures at Route 66 Raceway during this weekend’s O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries could play into the hands of noted warm-weather Funny Car specialist Tim Wilkerson. The Springfield, Illinois, driver needs a solid performance at the event to improve his chances of qualifying for the Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship. He is in 12th place in the standings and needs to move into the top 10 to make the playoffs. Wilkerson’s lone victory at Route 66 Raceway came in a 1999 tire-smoking final-round affair against legendary John Force.
“We ran well in Chicago last year, and we usually run well there every year,” said Wilkerson. “I’d sure like to think that we could go some rounds there. We always go to every racetrack and focus on how fast we can get down the lane with the circumstances that we’re provided, but it would be a real good place to start our comeback.”
For tickets to the O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries, call 888-629-RACE (7223) or log on to Route66Raceway.com.
PEDREGON’S SNAP-ON TEAM TO HONOR WOUNDED WARRIORS IN CHICAGO: For the second year in a row at the O'Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries, Cruz Pedregon’s Snap-on Funny Car will feature a special paint scheme in recognition of the Wounded Warrior Project—an organization dedicated to helping wounded veterans returning home from Afghanistan and Iraq.
“It is an honor and privilege to drive the Snap-on Funny Car on behalf of the Wounded Warrior Project and host these great men and women during race weekend,” said Pedregon. “Last year, we had a tremendous group of warriors at the race, and the whole Snap-on Funny Car team had a great time with them. We are excited to be hosting another group this year, and we hope to bring home a victory in recognition of these true American heroes.”
The wounded warriors, who will be guests of Snap-on and Pedregon, will be treated to an exciting weekend of racing and hospitality. Several special activities are planned for the wounded warriors at this year’s race, both in the pit area as well as at the starting line.
“On behalf of all Snap-on franchisees and associates, it is an honor to host these great American servicemen and women at the Chicago NHRA race,” said Yvette Morrison, vice president of marketing, Snap-on Tools Group. “Since its founding, Snap-on has a long, proud history of supporting our armed services, and based on the unforgettable weekend last year, we know this will be another memorable event. We hope the unique design on the Snap-on Funny Car helps raise awareness of the important mission of the Wounded Warrior Project.”
CASTROL TO DEBUT PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE AT O’REILLY AUTO PARTS ROUTE 66 NHRA NATIONALS: Castrol will be participating in some two-wheel competition during this weekend’s O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals in Joliet, Illinois, as Junior Pippin Trucking/Racing will campaign a Triumph Castrol Pro Stock Motorcycle. At the throttle will be multi-time champion motorcycle drag racer Kieth Burley. This partnership between Triumph North America and Castrol will feature a multi-race program with Junior Pippin Trucking/Racing that will include four events on the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series tour this season.
“Castrol has engineered and manufactured premium motorcycle lubricants for more than 100 years,” said Rob Corini, brand manager, motorcycle oil – Castrol. “Our loyal and passionate fans and customers love drag racing. Many of these fans also own motorcycles and, therefore, the Pro Stock Bike class is another marketing opportunity for us.”
There’s also a business partnership between Castrol and Triumph Motorcycles that goes back 100 years to when the motorcycle company was founded.
GRIME BOSS TO SPONSOR JIM DUNN RACING FUNNY CAR: Todd Lesenko will climb into the Jim Dunn Racing Funny Car at this weekend’s O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries with a new driver’s suit and new livery on the car courtesy of team sponsor Grime Boss hand wipes. Nice-Pak Products Inc.—a global producer of pre-moistened wipes—introduced Grime Boss to the NHRA audience earlier this year as an associate sponsor of Jim Dunn Racing at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals in Atlanta. Grime Boss is expanding its presence with the team as a primary sponsor at four of the next seven NHRA national events (also in Seattle, Brainerd and Indianapolis).
O’REILLY AUTO PARTS ROUTE 66 NHRA NATIONALS PRESENTED BY SUPER START BATTERIES, ROUTE 66 RACEWAY, June 28–July 1: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes its 11th stop of 23 events in the 2012 season in Chicago, and drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will earn points in the battles for the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series world championships. The 2011 winners are Del Worsham (Top Fuel), Mike Neff (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and LE Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 888-629-RACE (7223) or log on to Route66Raceway.com.
SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT NHRA NATIONALS, SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT MOTORSPORTS PARK, July 5–8: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes its 12th stop of 23 events in the 2012 season in Norwalk, Ohio, and drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will earn points in the battles for the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series world championships. The 2011 winners are Del Worsham (Top Fuel), Mike Neff (Funny Car), Vincent Nobile (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 419-668-5555 or log on to SummitMotorsportsPark.com.
MOPAR MILE-HIGH NHRA NATIONALS, BANDIMERE SPEEDWAY, July 20–22: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes its 13th stop of 23 events in the 2012 season, and drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will earn points in the battles for the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series world championships. The 2011 winners are Spencer Massey (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and Karen Stoffer (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 800-664-UWIN (8946) or log on to Bandimere.com.
HE SAID, SHE SAID
CAPPS ON TYING AN NHRA LEGEND: With his Bristol, Tennessee, victory, Ron Capps extended his consecutive final-round streak to six races, which puts the NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger driver in elite company among Funny Car drivers who have accomplished that feat. Capps joins Cruz Pedregon, John Force, Kenny Bernstein and Don Prudhomme as the only Funny Car drivers in NHRA history to advance to at least six consecutive final rounds. In addition, the victory was the 35th of his career, which ties him with “Big Daddy” Don Garlits on NHRA’s all-time wins list.
“Tying with Don Garlits for the amount of wins was a shocker,” Capps said. “You never even imagine as a kid growing up to be mentioned in the same sentence or the same breath as Don Garlits and the word 'wins.' That was the biggest compliment.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
.0000: EDWARDS REFLECTS ON PHOTO FINISH FROM BRISTOL: Mike Edwards collected the closest final-round victory in NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series history at Bristol Dragway (Tennessee) June 17 when he nipped Allen Johnson by less than one-ten-thousandth of a second at the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals to secure his fourth straight Bristol Pro Stock victory. A couple of weeks after the dramatic finish, Edwards is even more amazed at how close that race really was.
“How do you even measure less than ten-thousandths of a second?” Edwards asked. “I guess I can truly say I won by a hair."
No other form of auto racing, track and field, swimming or any other events have produced a winner by less than one-hundredth of a second.
“That is just how close NHRA Pro Stock racing really is, and we were blessed that our win light came on,” Edwards said. “It could have easily gone the opposite way. That race will easily go down in the history books as one of the closest races ever and for sure the closest final, and to be involved in such an exciting race is indescribable.”
DID YOU KNOW…
JEGS ALLSTARS TO BE SHOWCASED AT O’REILLY AUTO PARTS ROUTE 66 NHRA NATIONALS: The best Sportsman-level drivers from the NHRA's Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series will again converge on Route 66 Raceway this weekend for the JEGS Allstars competition. A total of 77 drivers representing 25 states will compete for individual and team honors, plus a share of nearly $120,000 during the event, which will again be held in conjunction with the O'Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries. The JEGS Allstars competition crowns individual champions in 10 eliminators in addition to an overall team champion from one of the NHRA's seven divisions. Racers can only qualify for the event by earning points in their home divisions during yearlong battles in the NHRA Lucas Oil categories of Top Alcohol Dragster, Top Alcohol Funny Car, Competition, Super Stock, Stock, Super Comp, Super Gas and Super Street as well as the Top Dragster and Top Sportsman classes.
Several of today's NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series stars are former JEGS Allstars participants, including Top Fuel drivers Morgan Lucas (Top Alcohol Dragster, 2003–2004; won in 2003), Shawn Langdon (Super Comp, 2005–2007; won in 2005 and 2006) and Spencer Massey (Top Alcohol Dragster, 2007–2008; won in 2007) as well as Funny Car drivers Tim Wilkerson (Top Alcohol Funny Car, 1995) and Jack Beckman (Super Comp, 2004–2005; runner-up in 2004). Pro Stock driver Jeg Coughlin also has been an Allstars representative for the North Central division six times, winning the Super Gas title twice. Although the JEGS Allstars is extremely competitive, camaraderie between racers is evident, especially during Friday evening's racer-appreciation barbecue, which is open to all JEGS Allstars competitors, their families and crews. The barbecue is scheduled for 8:00 p.m., at the conclusion of Friday evening's Pro Stock qualifying session at Route 66 Raceway.