NHRA Full Throttle Awards Ceremony available via the Web

NHRA Full Throttle Awards Ceremony available via the Web

NHRA is excited to announce that the NHRA Full Throttle Awards Ceremony will be available to viewers worldwide on the Internet at NHRA.com and the NHRA channel on YouTube beginning Wednesday, Nov. 18, at 3 p.m. ET/noon PT. It marks the first time the event will be available to NHRA fans via the Internet.

The NHRA Full Throttle Awards Ceremony will be available via webcast nearly in its entirety. The webcast will feature five to six 30-minute segments, for a total running time of up to three hours. The NHRA Full Throttle Awards Ceremony, showcasing the world champions in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, and Pro Stock Motorcycle, will take place Monday, Nov. 16, at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles.

The webcast also will include the crowning of the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award winner, the winner of the Full Throttle Moment of the Year in each of the four Professional categories, and the acceptance speeches from the Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, and Pro Stock Motorcycle world champions.


Dixon, Force jump to nitro leads; Edwards, Stoffer remain on point

Dixon, Force jump to nitro leads; Edwards, Stoffer remain on point

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Larry Dixon took over the qualifying lead and the provisional points lead in Top Fuel and John Force became the new front man in Funny Car, and they, Mike Edwards, and Karen Stoffer lead qualifying at the halfway point of the drama-filled Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals.

The white-knuckle drama in Top Fuel continued as Dixon, who came into the event trailing Tony Schumacher by one point and lost another point Thursday when he qualified one spot behind the field-leading U.S. Army driver, vaulted right past him by scooping up three bonus points Friday for having the quickest pass of the day’s lone session while Schumacher earned none, giving Dixon the one-point lead heading into the final qualifying sessions of the season at the 24th and final race of the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.

Larry Dixon

Dixon’s 3.801 blast in the Alan Johnson/Al-Anabi dragster came alongside Schumacher, who smoked the tires early and watched Dixon’s maroon marauder roar to the No. 1 spot to cap a great session. Dixon already has nine pole positions this year and 40 in his great career. Dixon’s speed on the pass, 318.99 is a new track record; Spencer Massey originally broke Schumacher’s year-old 317.42-mph track speed mark with a 317.94-mph blast on a 3.809 ripper that finished second.

“Provisionally [I’m in the lead]; obviously, it could all flip tomorrow,” said Dixon. “We got two points yesterday and three today, and obviously, we just try to do as much as we can for the given day. Tomorrow, there’s six points on the table, so you want to try and get as much as you can and go into Sunday hopefully a round up as opposed to a round down.

“It’s exciting to come to the last race of the season and have a chance to win a championship. As a driver, unless you’ve wrapped it up with three to go, you definitely want a shot at it. I haven’t been in that position for a while, so I’m enjoying it. This is fun. If you’re not having fun now, you’re never going to have fun.”

Behind Massey’s Don Prudhomme-owned rail is Schumacher with his Thursday 3.832, a number matched by Brandon Bernstein, but Schumacher’s superior speed, 316.52 to 312.28, gives him the higher position. Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals champ Doug Kalitta is fifth with his Thursday 3.836, while championship contender Cory McClenathan sits sixth with a 3.838, also record Thursday.

Antron Brown recovered from a subpar 4.59 Thursday to run 3.853, the fourth-best pass of the session behind Dixon, Massey, and Bernstein, while the fifth-best run of the round was a pleasant surprise as Chris "the Golden Greek" Karamesines ran a career-best 3.891 that moved him into the No. 10 spot.

Twenty-four fuel dragsters filled the staging lanes today, including Europeans Urs Erbacher (Switzerland), Lex Joon (The Netherlands), Stig Neergaard (Denmark), and Thomas Nataas (Norway).

John Force

Force, who knows that one of his drivers — son-in-law Robert Hight or daughter Ashley Force Hood — will win the season championship, has his own agenda as he is trying to extend to 23 the number of consecutive seasons in which he has won at least one NHRA national event, and his stunning 4.060 Friday evening puts him in his best position to do so all year. Force hasn’t qualified No. 1 since the 2006 Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, a span of 72 races, the longest drought of his career.

"It’s nice to come up and see you," Force told the media, "instead of following Robert or Ashley up here, which is what I usually do. We’re just trying to get back in the game. Castrol and Ford pay us good money and we just haven’t done our job. This is probably the second-worst season of my career. It’s just good to see something come out of this season for me. Being No. 1 qualifier means a lot, and I used to take them for granted.

"There’s a lot going on in our camps and where we’re going in the future with this economy, so I’m a little tired, but I’m excited. No complaints; I have a pretty good race car, and I’ll be in the show. Tomorrow is a new day and guys will run faster; I know Jimmy Prock [crew chief for Hight] will."

Hight, Thursday’s leader at 4.093 in his Auto Club Mustang, improved to a 4.069 to take the No. 2 spot and the two bonus points he earned over Force Hood now puts his lead at 110 points. Force Hood is qualified fourth at 4.098 with only Don Schumacher Racing pilot Ron Capps and his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge breaking up the John Force Racing stranglehold with a third-quickest 4.076.

Rookie of the year contender Matt Hagan is qualified fifth with a 4.107, and he’s followed on the sheets by the fourth JFR pilot, Mike Neff, who dropped from second to sixth while standing on his Thursday 4.137 pass.

Jeff Diehl is the surprise guy in the No. 12 position with a 4.192 ahead of regular qualifiers such as Del Worsham, Cruz Pedregon, Jeff Arend, and Jerry Toliver. Twenty Funny Cars are competing this weekend for 16 spots.

Mike Edwards

Wholesale changes were the order of the day in Pro Stock as by the time they ran late in the session, Thursday leaders Edwards and Greg Anderson had been bumped down to Nos. 8 and 12, respectively. Edwards climbed right back to the top with a stunning 6.575 from his ART/Young Life Pontiac, more than three-hundredths ahead of his closest rival.

"It’s hard to believe we’re that far ahead of everyone, but I don’t think it will be that way when qualifying ends," Edwards admitted. "There’s quite a difference between the lanes, and some cars didn’t run real good in the right lane today.

"The conditions were a little bit better because we got a second full day of racing on the track so it should be even better in the morning tomorrow. We run at about 11 o’clock, and I think I’ll have to run better than that 6.57 if I want to stay No. 1. I’m always ready for the season to be over, but we’re running so good I almost don’t want it to end."

If Edwards stays No. 1, he’ll tie Anderson’s class record of 16 No. 1 qualifying positions in a season, set in 2004.

Anderson ran 6.630 to improve on his Thursday 6.647 but still slipped to fourth behind Allen Johnson’s Dodge (6.611) and Rodger Brogdon’s Pontiac (6.621), who earned bonus points for the second- and third-quickest passes of the session.

Anderson’s Summit teammate Jason Line is right on his heels with a 6.630, while three drivers — Greg Stanfield, Ronnie Humphrey, and Jeg Coughlin — round out the top eight with matching 6.632s. Coughlin, who didn’t get down the track Thursday, opened the session by zipping from No. 22 to No. 1 with a 6.632 but eventually fell back to eighth.

Johnny Gray’s Dodge holds down the 12th and final transfer spot to Saturday’s qualifying with a 6.642. Among those outside the top 12 are Kurt Johnson, Las Vegas winner Larry Morgan, Warren Johnson, Ron Krisher, V. Gaines, and several others.

Karen Stoffer

Thursday Pro Stock Motorcycle leaders Stoffer and Andrew Hines remained 1-2 in the field, but they got a more serious challenge Friday as the list of six-second qualifiers doubled to six. Stoffer’s GEICO Suzuki still leads with a 6.982 and Hines’ Screamin’ Eagle Harley is still No. 2 at 6.986 though neither picked up any bonus points in the session as they ran respective passes of 7.03 and 7.46.

“The GEICO Powersports Suzuki was on a good run. I think if we had been in the other lane and had the same setup on it we would have bettered our 6.98,” said Stoffer. “For the Pro Stock Motorcycles, there happens to be a little bit of a difference in the lanes. The top end actually was pretty good; it was the first half of the track that we saw the difference in the track. But we’re happy with it, and we learned a lot about those lanes and the differences — at least for these two days there were some differences.
“Gary was able to come out here yesterday and hit the tune-up pretty darn close, and that put us into the first position. I think tomorrow the conditions are going to be a little bit better, and I think that now that we all have data on both lanes, I think we’re probably going to see even more of those Larry Cook amazing runs come out, and I don’t think the 6.98 is going to hold. I think we’re going to have to better ourselves. I definitely think there’s room for us to improve.”
Larry Cook was the surprise session leader with a 6.987 aboard the Guidera Racing/Mohegan Sun Buell with a 6.987 that ranks him third, while rookie of the year contender Doug Horne rebounded from a Thursday 7.42 to post a 6.989 for the fourth spot, also aboard a Buell. Reigning season champ Eddie Krawiec, trying desperately to catch points leader Hector Arana, got around his foe by one position with a 6.995 that slipped past Arana’s Thursday 6.997 and earned Krawiec one bonus point. Arana spun the tires to a disappointing 7.09 Friday.

Jim Underdahl holds down the all-important 12th position with a 7.075 that will carry over to Saturday. Outside the field and needing to make a top-16 pass Saturday are former world champ Matt Smith, Steve Johnson, and 10 others.

Related stories:
Thursday: Schumacher, Hight, Edwards in championship form; Stoffer also leads

U.S. Army to continue partnerships with Schumacher, Stewart-Haas

U.S. Army to continue partnerships with Schumacher, Stewart-Haas

Tony Schumacher

The U.S. Army Accessions Command has that the U.S. Army will continue its sponsorship of Tony Schumacher’s Top Fuel dragster in the NHRA and will return as a primary sponsor of Ryan Newman and the No. 39 Chevrolet Impala SS for 15 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races in 2010.

“Tony Schumacher and Ryan Newman are not only outstanding drivers, they are also powerful and effective advocates for the great men and women of our Army.  Both drivers possess and demonstrate a passion for our Army Strong Soldiers and their families.  They and their teams share our Army values and demonstrate the mental, emotional and physical strength which are the hallmark of our Soldiers,” said Lt. Gen. Benjamin C. Freakley, Commanding General U.S. Army Accessions Command.  “We are very excited about the opportunities our participation in the National Hot Rod Association and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series present us to tell our Soldiers’ stories and connect with Americans across the country.”

The 2010 season will mark the Army’s 10th with Don Schumacher Racing and the NHRA since its return to the sport in September 2000.  Tony Schumacher has won five consecutive championships while piloting the U.S. Army Top Fuel dragster.  He enters the weekend as the points leader for the 2009 championship.  Should Schumacher capture the crown, it will be the Army’s 10th including four won in the mid-1970s as the sponsor of Don Prudhomme’s Funny Car.

“I am extremely proud and humbled to represent the U.S. Army and the brave men and women who make it possible for us and our families to live in freedom,” Schumacher commented.  “My team and I are motivated by the dedication, sacrifice, and service of our Soldiers and their families.  It is also an honor to team up with Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart to help tell young Americans about the wonderful opportunities the Army offers.”

The U.S. Army will serve as the primary sponsor on Schumacher’s Top Fuel dragster for all 23 NHRA national events and as an associate sponsor on all Don Schumacher Racing cars.  In addition, the Army will return as the Official Military Partner of the NHRA and presenting sponsor of the NHRA Youth and Education Services Program (Y.E.S.)

Harley-Davidson extends official status; naming rights on Sportsman Motorcycle series

Harley-Davidson extends official status; naming rights on Sportsman Motorcycle series

Harley-Davidson Motor Company has extended both its official program with NHRA and its title sponsorship of the NHRA Harley-Davidson Sportsman Motorcycle Series through the 2012 season. Harley-Davidson, the only major U.S.-based manufacturer of motorcycles, became the official motorcycle of NHRA and title sponsor of the popular NHRA Harley-Davidson Sportsman Motorcycle Series in 2006.

“When we first signed this deal three years ago, it was the first of its kind for Harley-Davidson,” said Gary Darcy, senior vice president of sales and marketing, NHRA. “Since that time, Harley-Davidson’s interactive display at NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series events have become a destination attraction for our fans. It allows Harley-Davidson to engage NHRA fans and provide them the opportunity to be a part of the Harley-Davidson experience.”

Harley-Davidson first entered NHRA in 2004 with the Screamin’ Eagle/Vance & Hines team. Since that time, Harley-Davidson and the Screamin’ Eagle/Vance & Hines team have claimed four NHRA Full Throttle world championships, including three consecutive with rider Andrew Hines (2004-‘06) and last season’s title with Eddie Krawiec.

“We’re proud to continue our relationship with the NHRA as its Official Motorcycle and excited to maintain our outreach to its diverse and dedicated fan base,” said Harley-Davidson Racing Manager Anne Paluso. “Harley-Davidson’s multiple championships in NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle racing are part of a long and proud history of motorcycle racing and performance. Our official sponsorship enables us to tell that story and provide a taste of the Harley-Davidson experience to NHRA fans.”

Since 2007, Harley-Davidson’s interactive display in Nitro Alley, NHRA’s fan interactive area on-site at NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series events, has been one of the featured attractions for fans of all ages. The display engages NHRA fans into the Harley-Davidson experience through product displays, fun activities for all ages, and a special dyno-drag racing simulator using V-Rod motorcycles.

As part of the agreement, NHRA and Harley-Davidson will continue to partner in giving away a Harley-Davidson Motorcycle at select events on the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series tour.

The NHRA Harley-Davidson Sportsman Motorcycle Series is contested in four of NHRA’s seven divisions within the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.  The sponsorship provides Harley-Davidson with the opportunity to extend its brand across the country through NHRA’s sportsman racing community.

Schumacher, Hight, Edwards in championship form; Stoffer also leads

Schumacher, Hight, Edwards in championship form; Stoffer also leads

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Team reports | Notebook | Photos | Video

Mike Edwards inched closer to locking up his first NHRA Full Throttle world championship by qualifying No. 1 in Pro Stock and is joined atop the leaderboard at the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals by Tony Schumacher, Robert Hight, and Karen Stoffer.

The event, at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, is the final race not only of the 24-event NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, but also the sixth and final event of the Countdown to 1 playoffs and will determine the four Professional-class champions. Edwards had the Pro Stock crown all but mathematically locked up entering the event, and Hight in Funny Car also needs only a few good passes to score his first championship. The scenarios are a little different in Top Fuel, where Schumacher came into qualifying leading Larry Dixon by just one point and Cory McClenathan by just 48, and in Pro Stock Motorcycle, where Hector Arana entered with a lead of just 55 points.

Tony Schumacher

Schumacher and Dixon entered qualifying one point apart and finished the first qualifying session one-thousandth of a second apart, underscoring the tightness of their battle for the final Top Fuel championship of the decade. Schumacher’s U.S. Army dragster doubled his points lead — to two — by outqualifying Dixon’s Alan Johnson/Al-Anabi dragster, 3.832 to 3.833, to pick up three bonus points to Dixon’s two.

"If you had asked me earlier this year to write a script to surpass ‘The Run’ [his record-breaking, championship-clinching pass in the final round of the 2006 Finals], I wouldn’t have thought there was one, but here we are, 23 races later with a one-point lead coming in going against my old team. Two great teams, two great drivers, two great crew chiefs, and a rivalry you couldn’t have written or faked.

"We’ve been just missing it all year, down 6-7 mph on most cars at the eighth-mile, and gave up a lot of races that way, but we stayed and tested in Vegas and figured it out, made some huge changes, and it ran great. Every point right now is so important. One point is a round now, really. If we go out in the same round, that’s the championship."

Doug Kalitta, who opened the season in Pomona with a Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals victory, continued to show some SoCal magic by qualifying third with a 3.836. He’s just two-thousandths in front of McClenathan, who clocked a solid 3.881 for the fourth spot. Behind them are Bob Vandergriff Jr. (3.881), Steve Torrence (3.891), Morgan Lucas (3.909), and Brandon Bernstein, whose 3.919 in his last event in Budweiser livery has him qualified eighth.

European ace Urs Erbacher has the 12th position with a 4.033. Twenty Top Fuelers made passes, though more are on the grounds. Among those needing major improvements Friday are perennial qualifiers Antron Brown and Shawn Langdon, who are 14th and 19th, respectively.

Robert Hight

Looking every bit like the champion he probably will be crowned by the end of the weekend, Hight fronts the Funny Car field with his Jimmy Prock-tuned Automobile Club of Southern California Mustang after pounding out a 4.093 at 3.09.34 mph, more than four-hundredths ahead of his closest pursuer. Hight has four previous No. 1 qualifying spots this season and 32 in his career.

"That was huge; I’m pretty sure that 4.09 will stay in the show, and that’s the first step," said Hight. "This last week and a half has gone by so slow since Vegas. We want to get out there and get going. We’re focused – Jimmy Prock and my whole team is – and we’re not going to let our guard down and act like we have this all sewn up because that’s when you make mistakes.

"Jimmy did something on that run that he’s never done before. He opened the box and changed some clutch settings after the burnout. He’s never done that before. He just really knows what he’s doing right now, and his confidence is what I’m feeding off of now. As a driver, I can see he knows it’s going to run well, and I can go out there and do my job."

Hight’s teammate Mike Neff is second with a 4.137 from his Drive One Mustang, and he’s followed on the grid by Jack Beckman’s Valvoline/MTS Dodge, which ran 4.145. Beckman’s teammate Ron Capps is right behind him with a 4.149 in his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge. Tim Wilkerson clocked the fifth-best pass of the session, a 4.154 in his Levi, Ray & Shoup Mustang, and John Force occupies the No. 6 spot with a 4.165. Hight’s other teammate, Ashley Force Hood, the only person who can get past him for the championship, opened with a disappointing 4.21, good only for the No. 8 position.

Del Worsham holds down the 12th spot with the Al-Anabi Toyota at 4.541. Among those on the outside are Memphis winner Jeff Arend, Jerry Toliver, and five others who will need to bump their way into the quick 16.

Mike Edwards

Edwards unofficially locked up his first Pro Stock championship after posting a solid 6.637-second pass in his Young Life/ART Pontiac. Edwards needed only to be one of the top three runners in any qualifying session to attain an insurmountable lead, and he got the drama over by leading the first session and picking up three bonus points. The results of qualifying won’t be official until the end of business Saturday, so, barring an event disqualification or otherwise unlikely scenario, his official coronation will come Saturday evening.

"It’s good to qualify No. 1 and get those precious bonus points, which have really helped us in the Countdown," said Edwards. "We still have a ways to go to get that, but it’s been a huge part of racking up those points.

"The pressure’s off a little. I had a week to think about the disappointment I had in [not wrapping up the championship] in Vegas and get my stuff together and do a better job and hopefully win our first championship. It’s not officially done, but I’ve never been this close in my dreams, and it’s pretty special."

As he is now in the points and has he has been most of the season, Greg Anderson is second behind Edwards after powering his Summit Pontiac to a 6.647. Behind him is Rodger Brogdon and the Charter Communications Pontiac with a 6.648.

The Dodges of Johnny Gray and hometown favorite Vinnie Deceglie break up the Pontiac lovefest at the top after qualifying fourth and fifth. Gray, in his last event in a Dodge before switching to Pontiac next season, placed his SKI Racing Stratus in the No. 4 spot with a 6.649, and Deceglie cracked off a 6.652 for fifth with Nick Mitsos’ Mountain View Tire Stratus.

The 12-car cutoff after one session is a healthy 6.663, held by Ronnie Humphrey. Among those who will need to fight their way into the top 16 in the next two days are perennial qualifiers such as Las Vegas runner-up Rickie Jones, Warren Johnson, and Ron Krisher.

Karen Stoffer

After charting a field-leading 6.982, Stoffer is looking for her first No. 1 qualifying berth of what has been a disappointing season for her GEICO Powersports Suzuki, and she’s simultaneously trying to fend off Shawn Gann in their battle for seventh place. He began the event four points behind her, but the three points she earned as the session’s best qualifier nearly doubled the gap.

"Those three points are nice, but it’s kind of a melancholy feeling because this is the last race, and we want it to be good," said Stoffer, who has one No. 1 qualifying berth. "And we’re just getting our momentum up, so we wish there was another pass today and another race next weekend so we can maintain that. I’m proud of the team, and the GEICO Powersports bike is running good right now, and, although this isn’t a home race, we have the conditions down because it’s on the West Coast, so I hope these conditions continue.

"That’s just one hit and the first time out and a lot of people were spinning the tire, so I don’t think this really shows anything about the potential. But the next three qualifying runs will show us more. Our Suzuki inline fours can do better in these conditions than we do in the hot, sticky stuff, so there’s going to be more parity."

Andrew Hines placed his Screamin’ Eagle/Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson No. 2 with a 6.986, just ahead of points leader Arana, who ran a 6.997 aboard his Lucas Oil Buell. Arana earned one bonus point for the session’s third-best run and upped his lead over Hines’ teammate, defending world champ Eddie Krawiec, to 55 points. Krawiec is a disappointing 14th after a 7.16 opener.

Countdown runner Michael Phillips continued his strong playoff effort with a fourth-best pass of 7.021, but there’s more than three-hundredths-of-a-second gap between him and fifth-place David Hope’s 7.054.

The 12-bike cutoff after one session is 7.142 by Bailey Whitaker. Joining Krawiec on the outside looking in are notables such as rookie of the year contender Doug Horne and former world champ Matt Smith.

Torrence and Tuttle back full time in Top Fuel in 2010

Torrence and Tuttle back full time in Top Fuel in 2010

Steve Torrence

Top Fuel driver Steve Torrence and team owner Dexter Tuttle will return full time to the NHRA Full Throttle tour in 2010. The return will mark Torrence’s first full season in Top Fuel competition. Torrence joined Tuttle in the middle of 2008 and has been running a partial season in 2009.

"It has always been my dream to race for a Top Fuel championship," Torrence said. "When I first started racing in Super Comp, I always had the goal of someday being a Top Fuel world champion. Next year, I’ll get that chance."

Both Torrence and Tuttle, who also tunes the car, will be using this weekend’s Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals as a springboard into their bid for the 2010 Full Throttle world championship.

Always a man of few words, Tuttle is humble about the performance potential of his race car.

"I think our car runs pretty respectable," Tuttle said in his usual understated tone.

The Dexter Tuttle-owned, Steve Torrence-driven ColorFast dragster has qualified at all three events entered this season and has a semifinal finish in Memphis and a No. 2 qualifying berth in Vegas.

The fact that Tuttle’s team consistently qualifies in the top half of the field and typically goes rounds on race day substantiates Tuttle’s comments. This year, the team scored a season-best semifinal finish in Memphis and qualified No. 2 in Las Vegas. The  team is competing at only its fourth race this year.

The team will enjoy continued support from longtime sponsors Fram/Autolite, and Clevite but will also be seeking associate sponsors to add to its program.

"We have a really good team and can offer companies one heck of a value," Torrence said. "Dexter knows how to make every dollar count, so we can do this more affordably than most teams. That is really important in an economy like this. I do know that 2010 is going to be a blast; I’d like to invite Corporate America to come along for the ride."