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NHRA: Full Throttle Championships Up for Grabs in Vegas
FULL THROTTLE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS UP FOR GRABS IN LAS VEGAS: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing returns to Las Vegas for the 12th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals, October 25–28, at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The event is the 22nd of 23 races in the 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series and fifth of six playoff races in the Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship.
Last year, Del Worsham, Ron Capps, Mike Edwards and Eddie Krawiec raced to wins in their respective categories. Many of the biggest names in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series will blast their way towards the finish line.
Stars, such as Top Fuel points leader and fan-favorite Antron Brown, Tony “The Sarge” Schumacher and Top Fuel speed record holder Spencer Massey, will compete for the race win and world championship crown. Season-long points leader Ron Capps, the defending Funny Car winner at this event, will try to keep his Funny Car championship dream alive, but new points leader and national record holder “Fast” Jack Beckman and Reading winner Mike Neff are hot on his trail. The Harley-Davidson team will finish their Reading final here and then continue their title-race for the 2012 crown.
Fans arriving early for the penultimate race-weekend will be treated to the traditional NHRA Fremont Street Fan Fest, annually one of the best-attended Fan Fests both in terms of driver and fan participation. The Fan Fest will be Thursday, October 25, at 6:00 p.m., on Fremont Street and will feature the sport’s top drivers, legendary NHRA announcer Bob Frey and an NHRA-themed light show over Freemont Street.
Fans will be able to participate in a driver Q&A session and get autographed hero cards from their favorite drivers. As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass. Pro qualifying will run at 12:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m., Friday, October 26, and will continue at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., Saturday, October 27. Final professional eliminations begin at 11:00 a.m., Sunday, October 28.
NHRA FANFEST AT FREMONT STREET IN LAS VEGAS ALWAYS A FAN-FAVORITE: Fans are invited to meet their favorite NHRA drivers at a festival at the Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas, Thursday, October 26, from 5:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m. The event will take place at the Third Street Stage. The free autograph session will kick off the October 25–28 NHRA Big O Tires Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The Las Vegas NHRA race is the next-to-last stop on the 2012 schedule, and point battles in all four pro divisions (Top Fuel Dragster, Top Fuel Funny Car, Pro Stock Car, Pro Stock Motorcycle) are tight.
Drivers and riders scheduled to appear include: John Force, Johnny Gray, Khalid alBalooshi, Shawn Langdon, David Grubnic, Brandon Bernstein, Morgan Lucas, Terry McMillen, Steve Torrence, Spencer Massey, Todd Lesenko, Jeff Arend, Alexis DeJoria, Ashley Force, Courtney Force, Larry Morgan, Jeg Coughlin Jr., Shane Gray, Erica Enders, Greg Anderson, Jason Line, Allen Johnson, L.E. Tonglet, Michael Ray, Karen Stoffer, Matt Smith, Angie Smith, Hector Arana, Hector Arana Jr., Eddie Krawiec, Andrew Hines and Leah Pruett.
Two Top Fuel Funny Cars will be on display at the free autograph session: John Force’s new “Destination Force” Ford and Johnny Gray’s Big O Tires Dodge. The evening will start at 5:00 p.m. with music and games. The autograph session will start at 5:30 p.m. and end at 6:30 p.m. The special NHRA light show will be seen on the Fremont Street Experience canopy at 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
NHRA ROOKIES WILL TRY TO EARN MORE VOTES IN LAS VEGAS: While many veteran drivers will be fighting it out in the Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship playoffs, the battle for the 2012 Auto Club Road to the Future Award is also going to be intense at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway during the Big O Tires NHRA Nationals, October 25–28. Each of the eight eligible rookie drivers will have one last shot at the season’s penultimate event to make a lasting impression on the auto-racing journalists who will cast votes to determine the winner of the award. Among the candidates trying to make a strong showing to earn votes is the most recent rookie winner, Top Fuel driver Khalid alBalooshi. The native Middle East driver who resides in Los Angeles is still riding the momentum following his first victory in Reading after defeating Al-Anabi Racing teammate Shawn Langdon in the semifinals and Countdown to the Championship points leader Antron Brown in the final round of eliminations. alBalooshi, only the third driver from outside North America to win a Full Throttle Series race, got off to a slow start this season but has been picking up steam near the end of the year.
“I give my team owner, the crew guys and all the people who work with us thanks for making this win,” an elated alBalooshi said while clutching his first Top Fuel Wally in Pennsylvania. “I try my best, and I know that everybody on the team is trying their best, and finally, I won my first race.”
Two Funny Car drivers—Alexis DeJoria and Courtney Force—have made an immediate impact in the sport and are certainly among the leading candidates. The season’s most decorated rookie, Force, has had a memorable first year behind the wheel; she earned her first victory in Seattle and raced to No. 1 qualifying positions in Indianapolis and Dallas in her Traxxas Ford Mustang. She also posted runner-up finishes in Chicago and Denver and was one of only two rookies to qualify for the Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship—the NHRA’s playoffs—ensuring a top 10 points finish. For more on this story, visit www.nhra.com.
NHRA FULL THROTTLE WORLD CHAMPS WILL BE CROWNED AT AUTO CLUB NHRA FINALS: The 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series will come to a finish November 8–11, at the 48th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals. Race fans will flock to the historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona to witness the season finale of the Full Throttle Series and be a part of the crowning of the 2012 world champions in all four categories—Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle. This final of six playoff races in the Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship will be televised on ESPN2HD. The sport’s favorite NHRA stars as well as some new contenders will be competing in the season’s final race, including Top Fuel points leader Antron Brown, teammate and title challenger Spencer Massey, seven-time Top Fuel world champion Tony Schumacher, Funny Car leader Jack Beckman, Ron Capps, Mike Neff, Robert Hight, 15-time Funny Car world champ John Force and rookie-sensation Courtney Force. Pro Stock title contenders include Allen Johnson, Jason Line, and female superstar Erica Enders, while in Pro Stock Motorcycle the Harley-Davidson duo Eddie Krawiec and Andrew Hines are tightening the competition in their battle to the NHRA championship.
In addition to the racing on the strip, the NHRA is bringing fans more entertainment as the season comes to a close. The Auto Club NHRA Finals celebration kicks off on Saturday, November 3, as the NHRA hosts the community-favorite Fan Fest in downtown La Verne with car displays and driver autograph sessions, including Funny Car points leader “Fast” Jack Beckman. Bring the entire family to Fan Fest, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., located on D and 3rd Street. In observance of Veteran’s Day, active and retired military can save $10 per Sunday ticket by showing military ID. A special Veteran’s Day Track Walk with Tony Schumacher and Antron Brown will be held Sunday morning. Free for all Sunday ticket holders, the popular Track Walk gives fans the opportunity to walk down the legendary drag strip alongside some of the NHRA’s biggest stars.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass. While strolling through the pits and the Midway, check out the NHRA’s “The Rumble in the Junction” Car Corral featuring dozens of nostalgic dragsters, race cars and hot rods on display and Cacklefest shows all weekend. As part of the Nitro Generation theme of the season, the NHRA is offering free general admission for kids 12 and under with a paying adult. Tickets are available online at www.NHRATIX.com or by calling the NHRA Ticket Sales Center at 800-884-NHRA (6472).
BIG O TIRES NHRA NATIONALS, The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, October 26–28: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes its 22nd stop of 23 events in the 2012 season, and the fifth race of the Countdown to the Championship—the NHRA’s playoffs. Drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will earn points towards the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series world championships. The 2011 winners of the event were Del Worsham (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 800-644-4444 or log on to LVMS.com.
AUTO CLUB OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA NHRA FINALS, Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, November 8–11: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes its final stop of the 2012 season. Drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will earn points towards the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series world championships. One driver from each category will walk away a champion at the end of the day. The 2011 winners of the event are Del Worsham (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Greg Stanfield (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 800-884-NHRA (6472) or log on to www.NHRATIX.com.
HE SAID, SHE SAID
MASSEY LOOKING FOR HELP FROM THE RACING GODS TO TRACK DOWN BROWN: Spencer Massey is second in the Top Fuel points standings, 104 back of leader Antron Brown with two races remaining. He trails by more than five rounds of racing with only eight rounds to go in the season. Massey realizes passing Brown will be a very tall order, but he’s hoping for some help from the racing gods as he hits the track in the final two events.
"Racing gods are racing gods," Massey said. "Hopefully, they fall in the favor of the Prestone/FRAM car, but a lot of things are going to have to fall our way. But if you think back, you can look back at years ago when Tony Schumacher won the championship with his run in 2006 that was kind of the same situation. So anything can happen, but in reality, I mean, it's going to be tough. But I am going to keep my same focus like we have been and try and win both races."
Brown, meanwhile, who set a national record in Reading, Pennsylvania, and posted a runner-up finish to increase his lead, says he and his Matco Tools team need to stay the course and maintain their focus in order to finish the job. “We have to keep attacking if we want to have the hopes to actually bring this championship home,” Brown said. “And that's the way we're looking at these last two races is that they're do or die. We've got to go in here and not leave one 'i' undotted and one 't' uncrossed, and we've got to go in there and just keep digging and digging, and hopefully we can be there at the end and contend and try to bring this championship home.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
23: FUNNY CAR TITLE BATTLE IS TIGHT: Thanks to a victory at St. Louis and a semifinal effort and national record performance at Reading, Pennsylvania, in his Valvoline/NextGen Dodge Charger, “Fast” Jack Beckman has emerged from 97 points behind season-long points leader Ron Capps to move 23 markers ahead of the NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger driver with only two races remaining in the season. Also in the mix is noted tuner-driver Mike Neff, who won at Reading and now sits 54 points behind Beckman in third place in his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang. The competition between these three drivers will certainly be intense at the final two races in the Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship: Las Vegas (October 25–28) and Pomona (November 8–11).
DID YOU KNOW…
READING PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE FINAL TO BE DECIDED IN LAS VEGAS: Only one pair of machines was not able to finish their racing at the rain-delayed Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals in Pennsylvania two weeks ago. The Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidsons of Eddie Krawiec and Andrew Hines will decide which rider gets that Wally during the second qualifying attempt on Saturday during the Big O Tires NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas. Should Krawiec win, he will extend his series lead to 37 points over Hines. If Hines claims the trophy, he will take over the series lead and be three points ahead of Krawiec with eight rounds of racing left in the season.