Be prepared: The temperature is rising fast off the track too
ENNIS, Texas (Sept. 10, 2009) – What else could you expect when prestige, Countdown positions and prize money are all on the line? The racing surface isn’t the only thing that will be heated over the next six races.
John Force and Tony Pedregon had a heated argument last weekend as the drama unfolded at the 55th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis. Tony and his brother, Cruz, both accused Force of cheating and manipulating race results to benefit John Force Racing’s four-car squad.
To say the least, Force didn’t appreciate being called a cheater. Force and Tony Pedregon battled it out during separate interviews during ESPN2′s coverage of the race before having a heated argument at the top end of the race track – just after Ashley Force Hood beat Tony Pedregon and Robert Hight beat Force. Hight’s win over his Ford teammate bumped Cruz Pedregon (the 2008 series champion) out of the coveted 10th place in the Countdown, ensuring Cruz Pedregon will not be in the playoffs for the final six events of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.
Ashley Force Hood went on to claim her first U.S. Nationals title, becoming the first female to claim a Funny Car victory at the event.
Billy Meyer, owner of the Texas Motorplex and 1982 Funny Car winner at the U.S. Nationals, is pleased to see the racers’ personality showing their true competitive colors.
In fact, as the 24th annual O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex readies for the Sept. 24-27 stop, Meyer hopes to see the racer’s intensity heat up even more.
“I think it’s great to see such personality coming out,” Meyer said. “It shows how much passion they have for the sport. They are in fuel Funny Cars going 300 mph, and they should be fired up and passionate about what they do. No one wants a corporate bobble head in the cockpit of those cars. It’s about time we get to see their competitive personality.”
The Motorplex is one of the final six events of the 2009 season – which make up the Countdown to 1 playoff schedule. Only the top 10 racers in each of the four professional categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle – will earn the right to compete for the 2009 NHRA championships. All professional racers had 18 events to battle their way into the top 10.
Meyer said having the U.S. Nationals as the final event for racers to bump into the top 10, therefore be eligible to race for the championship title, just set the stage for heated moments.
“I am one of the lucky drivers who can say they battled and won a U.S. Nationals title,” Meyer said. “I know what it takes to win that event. It’s
a marathon and everyone is throwing everything they have at the track to win. I don’t know a driver who would give up that trophy because you don’t just stumble upon a U.S. Nationals victory. You have to fight for it.
“I also know that every team has sponsors to answer to and everyone wants their team to be in the Countdown. Force Racing accomplished that goal and now have four cars in the Countdown.”
J.R. Todd earned the 2008 Top Fuel victory at the Motorplex while Tim Wilkerson is defending the Funny Car title, Greg Stanfield will be defending Pro Stock and Chris Rivas will defend the Pro Stock Motorcycle title.
Sportsman qualifying begins at 10 a.m. on Sept. 24. The first of four rounds of professional qualifying is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Sept. 25, continuing at 4:45 p.m. that evening. Qualifying wraps up with sessions at 11:15 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 26. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Sept. 27.
Tickets for all four days of racing can be purchased by phone at 800-MOTORPLEX (800-668-6775) or at the track.
TOP FUEL COUNTDOWN RACERS:
1. Antron Brown 2110 Hadman
2. Larry Dixon 2080 Hadman
3. Tony Schumacher 2070 Hadman
4. Brandon Bernstein 2060 Hadman
5. Cory McClenathan 2050 Hadman
6. Spencer Massey 2040 Dragster
7. Morgan Lucas 2030 Hadman
8. Shawn Langdon 2020 Hadman
9. Doug Kalitta 2010 Attac
10. Clay Millican 2000 Hadman
FUNNY CAR COUNTDOWN RACERS:
1. Tony Pedregon 2110 Chevrolet
2. Ron Capps 2080 Dodge
3. Ashley Force 2070 Ford
4. Bob Tasca III 2060 Ford
5. Jack Beckman 2050 Dodge
6. Tim Wilkerson 2040 Ford
7. John Force 2030 Ford
8. Del Worsham 2020 Toyota
9. Mike Neff 2010 Ford
10. Robert Hight 2000 Ford
PRO STOCK COUNTDOWN RACERS:
1. Jeg Coughlin 2110 Chevrolet
2. Jason Line 2080 Pontiac
3. Mike Edwards 2070 Pontiac
4. Greg Anderson 2060 Pontiac
5. Allen Johnson 2050 Dodge
6. Greg Stanfield 2040 Pontiac
7. Ron Krisher 2030 Chevrolet
8. Kurt Johnson 2020 Chevrolet
9. Richard Jones 2010 Dodge
10. Johnny Gray 2000 Dodge
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE RACERS:
1. Ed Krawiec 2110 Harley-Davidson
2. Andrew Hines 2080 Harley-Davidson
3. Hector Arana 2070 Buell
4. Matt Smith 2060 Suzuki
5. Douglas Horne 2050 Buell
6. Craig Treble 2040 Suzuki
7. Michael Phillips 2030 Suzuki
8. Matt Guidera 2020 Buell
9. Shawn Gann 2010 Buell
10. Karen Stoffer 2000 Suzuki