Compiled by SEMA Editors
LANGDON AND J. FORCE LOOK TO HIT THE JACKPOT IN THE NITRO CLASSES AT THE NHRA TOYOTA NATIONALS: Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel) and John Force (Funny Car) race in to the NHRA Toyota Nationals atop the points in their respecitve categories and will aim to strike it rich at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, October 24–27. Langdon has six wins this season, which leads Top Fuel, but knows that the championship is still up for grabs and they need success in the final eight rounds of racing.
"We go to every race knowing we want to win and that we are capable of winning,” Langdon said. “We have been fortunate to have a good year this season, but in the Countdown, it’s crunch time; you have to perform, and you can’t go out in the first round."
John Force is aiming to record his 16th Funny Car championship and his first since 2010. He has three wins and four runner-up finishes and leads the points by 65 over Matt Hagan. “I have a good ol’ hot rod. Sometimes you can be fast, but what we have right now is consistency," Force said. "[Crew chief] Jimmy Prock likes to swing for the fence and that scares me, but when he is hot, he is hot, and he is hot right now.”
ARANA JR. AND LINE MOUNT CHAMPIONSHIP CHARGES AT NHRA TOYOTA NATIONALS: Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) and Jason Line (Pro Stock) are set to mount a chase for titles in their respective categories during the NHRA Toyota Nationals October 24–27. Arana Jr. has won a category-leading four races this season and led the points until St. Louis. The team has spent the break between races preparing new motors and preparing their two-wheeled machines for a push toward the championship.
"One round at a time, and every round counts," Arana Jr. said. "Like I said, a little bit of luck and no errors on my side as a driver, and hopefully no errors on the bike, and hopefully the No. 1 guy goes out early, and you can gain those points."
Line, a two-time world champion, by his own admission had struggled prior to the Countdown to the Championship, but since the six-race playoff started he has found renewed vigor. He has one win in two final rounds, is third in points and knows he needs to keep winning to take home the season-ending crown. "Obviously you're going to have to win," Line said. "So I don't sit around counting points, of course. I'm lucky enough that somebody else does that. But you have to win, and you really need to win the race."
LARGEST AUTOGRAPH SESSION OF THE SEASON COMES TO FREEMONT STREET: Fans of the NHRA at the NHRA Toyota Nationals will be able to take part in one of the largest and glitziest autograph sessions of the year October 24 on Freemont Street in Las Vegas. The autograph session will take place from 5:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m., and will also feature an NHRA-themed light show under the Freemont Street display.
MASSEL TO MAKE PRO STOCK DEBUT AT AUTO CLUB NHRA FINALS: Bruno Massel, the reigning NHRA Comp national champion, will make his debut in Pro Stock at the Auto Club NHRA Finals. Massel will wheel the Protect the Harvest Chevy Camaro usually driven by Steve Kent, who has a prior engagement. Massel tested the car in St. Louis and will also get laps in at Royal Purple Raceway prior to his debut.
“I have to admit it was a bit humbling at first because the staging procedure is different than what I’m used to with my turbo cars," Massel said. "The foot and hand motions are the complete opposite. It hasn’t come naturally, and I’m still having to think as I do it every step of the way, but I think it will get more fluid and less mechanical with more laps."
AUTO CLUB NHRA FINALS, Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, November 7–10: The 2013 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series comes to a conclusion at the Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California, November 7–10. Courtney Force will attempt to bookend her season with wins to finish off her stunning sophomore season in style. The champions will be crowned during the weekend. Brandon Bernstein (Top Fuel), Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle), took home wins in 2012 and will attempt to end their seasons on a high note.
HE SAID, SHE SAID
“I’m up on Cloud Nine. It’s such a thrill to have an outdoor store named after me. I’ve had my family back there pushing this project forward and getting Rocky and all their gear in the new store. Rocky’s hunting line is just phenomenal. I have several hunts lined up and can’t wait to try new Rocky products in the field.”
—Matt Hagan on the opening of Matt Hagan Outdoors—a 9,000-sq.-ft. sporting goods store in Radford, Virginia. The store is scheduled to open mid-November.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
3: Number of championships the Coughlin family secured recently during a successful weekend. T. J. Coughlin won the Division 3 Super Gas championship with a runner-up finish at the Division 2 NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing series event at Silver Dollar Raceway in Reynolds, Georgia. Jeg Jr.'s son Jeg III, won the Ohio Division III golf championship on the same weekend. His 144 shot total during the two-day tournament broke the high school record on the course. Cody Coughlin continues his climb up the ranks in oval racing by winning the JEGS/CRA All-Star Tour championship. This is the first oval track championship for a family that has long been dominating on the drag strip.
DID YOU KNOW…
FORCE FAMILY HOSTED AT ESPN LOS ANGLES: John, Courtney and Brittany Force had the opportunity to meet with the staff and on-air talent of ESPN Los Angeles last week. During the visit, they toured the studios, took part in pre-show meetings and met ESPN anchor Kenny Mayne. The racers taped a segment featuring Traxxas Funny Cars with Mayne that will air during the 10 p.m. (PDT) edition of SportsCenter, Friday October 25.