KALITTA, LINE SCORE WINS AND TAKE POINTS LEADS; C. PEDREGON AND KRAWIEC CLAIM EVENT VICTORIES AT DALLAS: Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) raced to victories at the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals. With the Pro Stock victory, Line took over the outright points lead, and Kalitta is now tied for the Top Fuel lead with Shawn Langdon. In the Top Fuel finals, it was Kalitta vs. Langdon with the Mac Tools dragster of Kalitta rocketing to his first win of the year.
"This is huge for us," Kalitta said. "It's a good day for us. I'm really proud of Jim [Oberhofer, crew chief], Troy [Fasching, assistant crew chief] and the whole Mac Tools Team. We were qualifying good and going rounds. I was just trying to make sure I didn't screw it up."
Line prevailed over Shane Gray for the win and takes the points lead for the first time since 2011. "It was definitely a strange final, but we won," Line said. "Timing is everything, and this is a big win being it is my 31st."
In Funny Car, Pedregon won his fourth race of the season when he bested longtime rival John Force for his 34th career victory. "A couple of months ago, I thought about how cool it would be to sweep the Texas races," said Pedregon who won the Houston event in April. "Lo and behold, here we are."
Defending Pro Stock Motorcycle champion Krawiec rode to his first win of the season and moved to fourth in the points standings. "This weekend, I was riding great, but I wasn't racing great," said Krawiec of his first win at the Texas Motorplex. "If we can continue and improve, I think you're going to see our Harley-Davidsons up front."
For a full story log on to www.NHRA.com.
WILKERSON TO RACE AT HOME TRACK; SCHUMACHER ATTEMPTS TO MAINTAIN CHAMPIONSHIP QUEST: When the teams of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series return to Gateway Motorsports Park for the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals, Tim Wilkerson and his team will have the shortest commute as he races at his home track. Wilkerson and Levi Ray & Shoup (LSR)—the team's sponsor—are based in Springfield, Illinois, which is located two hours from the track, and a strong contingent of supporters attend the event.
"We really have a huge group of supporters in St. Louis every year," Wilkerson said. "LSR brings so many people they have to rent a hospitality tent in addition to the space we have in our pit area, so all told, we're talking about thousands of people there to support our team, and that's pretty neat."
In Top Fuel, the pressure is mounting for Tony Schumacher and his U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster to move up from fifth in the points and mount a charge for an eighth Top Fuel world championship. "Basically we've got to be flawless and miraculous the rest of the year," said Schumacher. "It's been done so many times and we're so used to that, we've just got to make sure we go into those last four with the right car, and it's not quite there, yet. But we're closer than we were before."
Looking to defend their titles in the nitro classes are Antron Brown in Top Fuel and Jack Beckman in Funny Car. Nitro qualifying begins Friday at 3:30 p.m. and tickets for the AAA Insurance Midwest Nationals can be purchased by calling 866-Race-TIK.
ARANA JR. LOOKS TO HOLD ONTO PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE POINTS LEAD; LINE SEEKS THIRD CHAMPIONSHIP: Jason Line comes into the event on the strength of his first win of the season and sits at the top of the points standings. Line, a two-time world champion, credits his team for his recent surge in points.
"To go from where we were two months ago to being here is a small miracle and a testament to all of our KB Racing guys and all the Summit Racing folks," Line said. There has been a lot of effort. We have worked harder than we have in a long, long time, that's for sure. It's good to see it starting to pay off."
Hector Arana Jr. has led the Pro Stock Motorcycle points since the season-opening event in Gainesville, but by no means is in a position to win his first championship in the two-wheel category. He has raced to two semi-final apperances since the Countdown to the Championship began and knows the importance of going rounds in the stretch run.
"It's going to be a fight to the finish," Arana said. "I knew it was going to be a long, hard Countdown, and these first two races have done nothing to change my mind. We've all got to dig deep and keep battling."
Pro Stock qualifying for the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals begins Friday at 2:45 p.m. and tickets for the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals can be purchased by calling 866-Race-TIK.
WORLD'S FASTEST TAILGATE PARTY FOR THE AAA INSURANCE NHRA MIDWEST NATIONALS SEPTEMBER 26: Fans of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Series in St. Louis can meet their heroes during the free Fan Fest sponsored by Mid-America Chevy Dealers in downtwon St. Louis, September 26. The event will take place from 5:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m. on Washington Avenue (14th and Tucker) and will feature activities for fans of all ages. A driver autograph session, car show, interactive displays, food, music and more will be part of the event. Log on to www.gatewaymsp.com for more information.
AUTO-PLUS NHRA NATIONALS, Maple Grove Raceway, October 3–6: Historic Maple Grove Raceway will again host the Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals—the fourth of six races in the Countdown to the Championship—October 3–6, for what could be another record-breaking weekend. In 2012, fans witnessed three national elapsed time (E.T.) records set and two speed records. Antron Brown ran the quickest E.T. in Top Fuel history at 3.701 seconds and, in Funny Car, Jack Beckman set a record of 3.986 seconds while Andrew Hines rode his Pro Stock Motorcycle to a record run of 6.728 seconds.
NHRA TOYOTA NATIONALS, The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, October 24–27: The NHRA Toyota Nationals is the penultimate race of the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and the championship battles will be tight as the season comes to a close. Bob Vandergriff (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Eddie Kraweic (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are defending event champions and will again be top contenders during the weekend. One of the largest autograph sessions of the year will take place at the Freemont Street Experience, October 24, with many of the top stars in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
HE SAID, SHE SAID
“It's pretty incredible how close the points are. There's 35 points seperating the top four in points, so it's really anyone's game at this point. I've been saying all year long how tough the competition is and the points are showing that. Those two points between us and the leaders can be made up in qualifying. Every run really counts in this Countdown right now. We had a really good race there last year. That's what we have to do again this year. Our goal for St. Louis is to go out there and get qualified and try to get some of those bonus qualifying points and then go rounds on Sunday. This is our third race in a row and we can't slow down now."
—Spencer Massey who is currently third in points, just two behind Doug Kalittal and Shawn Langdon who are tied for the top position.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
89: Number of times four-time Pro Stock world champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. has won a round of Pro Stock racing on a holeshot in his storied career. Coughlin was on the other side of the coin in Dallas, when Shane Gray knocked out Coughlin with a .029 reaction time to that of .066 posted by Coughlin. Gray ran a slower elapsed time but was able to get the win.
"I just didn't give it enough respect, quite honestly, and I guess that's a wake-up call," said Coughlin. "Sometimes you get away with them, and sometimes you don't."
Coughlin is second in points, only eight behind leader Jason Line.
DID YOU KNOW…
MEET THE DRIVERS NIGHT AT CLASSIC HARLEY-DAVIDSON IN READING: Numerous NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series drivers will be on hand to meet NHRA fans during a fundraising event taking place in Reading October 3. The event will take place at the Classic Harley-Davidson in Reading and will benefit Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation. Tickets for the event are $20 per person with proceeds to benefit the foundation. Drivers scheduled to appear are Blake Alexander, Brandon Bernstein, Johnny Gray, Shane Gray, Matt Hagan, Andrew Hines, Allen Johnson, Eddie Krawiek, Spencer Massey, Tony Schumacher and Greg Stanfield. More information can be found at www.MapleGroveRaceway.com.