The free campground at the Texas Motorplex will open at 8:00am Thursday, September 24 for fans at the O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals.
Please do not attempt to arrive early, as there is no parking allowed on Boyce Road leading to the campground.
ENNIS, Texas – Every time Tony Schumacher enters the gates of the famed Texas Motorplex a bit of a nostalgic feeling must sweep over his body.
All of the great drivers vividly remember their first time.
For Schumacher, his first career NHRA victory came at the sport’s first super track, during a wild and wacky 1999 season. After four runner-up finishes in ’99, and four straight runner-up finishes spread out over the three previous seasons, Schumacher must’ve been wondering if he was ever going to break through and finally get the job done.
But that lone victory in ’99, a gritty win over two-time Top Fuel world champ Scott Kalitta, provided all the momentum that the second-generation racer needed to go on and close the doors on his first series championship crown.
He had one race victory and one world championship trophy. Life was good.
At the time, he probably didn’t realize that his ’99 season was actually the launching pad for what has turned out to be a very special drag racing career. Since then, his trophy collection has grown. A lot.
As he prepares for the 24th annual O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec, Sept. 24-27 at the legendary dragstrip located just south of metropolitan Dallas, Schumacher is in position to earn another victory and continue to build upon his legacy as the greatest Top Fuel driver in the history of the sport.
The six-time world champ recently put the finishing touches on his 60th career victory, which just happened to be his record eighth title at the prestigious Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis. After winning the last five world championships in a variety of ways, including a couple at the last instant in dramatic fashion, Schumacher is ready for another epic run in the Countdown to 1, NHRA’s championship playoffs. The race is the second of six events in the playoffs and the 20th of 24 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. J.R. Todd (Top Fuel), Tim Wilkerson (Funny Car), Greg Stanfield (Pro Stock) and Chris Rivas (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are the defending winners of the event, which will be televised on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD.
With competitors like regular season winner Antron Brown and two-time world champ Larry Dixon — both of whom earned five victories during the season — in the hunt for the championship, along with Charlotte winner and new points leader Cory McCleanthan, and a few hungry young racers like Brandon Bernstein, Morgan Lucas, Charlotte runner-up Shawn Langdon and Spencer Massey pressing hard as well, Schumacher knows that he’s in for a fight like no other.
“We are in the middle of a phenomenal battle that at the end of the year, whoever wins the championship is going to be able to stand there with a trophy and know that they earned it,” Schumacher said, “because it is truly going to be a battle.”
Schumacher, who drives the U.S. Army dragster, considers himself to be battle-tested. Over the years he has thrilled drag racing fans by pulling off amazing last-second performances to win races and championships. His recent Indy win showcased a little bit of that magic. For Schumacher, the actual winning is secondary to the thrill of the chase.
“I think the championship, all the accolades and the great stuff you get, there’s nothing that compares to just being able to enjoy those big moments, because if you can’t even recognize them, it’s hard to win them,” said Schumacher, who is currently tied for second in the point standings after a semifinal finish at the playoff opener. “And as Antron and all of these guys will have to figure out, you have to understand that it’s a big moment and you have to prepare for it. We are down to some immensely huge races and just a number of big moments coming up.”
With a new crew chief in Mike Green and a whole new cast of teammates tuning his dragster, Schumacher, who was written off early in the season by many who believed without tuning wizard Alan Johnson in his stable he would be a back-of-the-pack contender, feels like he has something to prove this postseason.
“It’s a matter of being able to suck it up, dig deep at the right time and smile while you do it,” Schumacher said. “There’s nothing like those big moments. I have been fortunate to have so many huge bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, full-count moments. Some of the guys are going to be able to handle the weight of the world on them… and some of them aren’t.”
In Funny Car the favorites include Tony Pedregon, who opened the playoffs as the top seed and continues to lead after Charlotte, followed by season-wins leader Ron Capps and Mac Tools U.S. Nationals winner Ashley Force Hood. Funny Car icon John Force has won seven times at the Motorplex in his career and has to be considered one of the drivers to beat. Of the remaining Countdown to 1 participants, Del Worsham, Charlotte winner Robert Hight and Wilkerson are all past winners at the Motorplex.
Jeg Coughlin started the playoffs as the top seed in Pro Stock in his JEGS.com Chevy Cobalt, and his only Motorplex win came in 2002. However, Mike Edwards quickly claimed the series lead with a victory in Charlotte, aided by a solid performance in qualifying at that race which, by taking advantage of NHRA’s new qualifying bonus point system, increased his lead to 56 over second place Coughlin. Others to watch in the 200 mph category include the Summit Racing Pontiac GXP team of Jason Line and Greg Anderson. Defending Dallas winner Stanfield has posted back-to-back runner-up finishes at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals and NHRA Carolinas Nationals.
There will be a new Motorplex winner in Pro Stock Motorcycle. As this press release is issued, none of the past two-wheel category winners are entered in the event. Those riders who have the best chance of pulling it off include regular season champ and defending world champ Eddie Krawiec and his teammate Andrew Hines, a three-time world champ. Together the Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson teammates held down the top two spots in the final regular season standings. Charlotte winner Hector Arana, who won three races during the regular season, and two-time winner Craig Treble, also will be riders to watch in the playoffs.
SCHEDULE: Pro qualifying sessions for the O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec, are scheduled for 2 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 25 and 11:15 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 26. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 27.
TICKETS: Tickets are available for the O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec by calling (800) 668-6775, or via the Web at www.texasmotorplex.com.
ON TV: ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise two hours of qualifying coverage at 12:15 a.m. (ET) on Sunday, Sept. 27. Later on Sunday, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will feature NHRA Race Day, a 30-minute pre-race show, at 11 a.m. (ET), and three hours of eliminations coverage at 7 p.m. (ET).
LUCAS OIL SERIES: The O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec also will feature competition in seven categories in the NHRA Lucas Oil Series, where the future stars of the NHRA Full Throttle Series earn their racing stripes. Lucas Oil Series qualifying begins at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 24. Lucas Oil Series eliminations begin at 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 25.
ON THE WEB: For complete online coverage of the O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec, please visit www.nhra.com.
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O’REILLY SUPER START BATTERIES NHRA FALL NATIONALS FACT SHEET
WHAT: 24th annual O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec, the 20th of 24 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series and the second of six races in the Countdown to 1. The top 10 drivers in four categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle – earn points leading to 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series world championships.
WHERE: Texas Motorplex, 7500 W. Hwy. 287, Ennis, Texas. Follow I-45 or I-35E to Hwy 287, then follow 287 to the track.
WHEN: Thursday through Sunday, Sept. 24-27
SCHEDULE: THURSDAY, Sept. 24 - Sportsman qualifying begins at 10 a.m.
FRIDAY, Sept. 25 - Sportsman eliminations begins at 8:30 a.m.
PROFESSIONAL QUALIFYING SESSIONS at 2 and 4:45 p.m.
SATURDAY, Sept. 26 – Sportsman eliminations begin at 8 a.m.
PROFESSIONAL QUALIFYING SESSIONS at 11:15 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
SUNDAY, Sept. 27 – Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m.
FINAL ELIMINATIONS begin at 11 a.m.
TELEVISION: Sunday, Sept. 27, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise two hours of qualifying highlights at 12:15 a.m. (ET)
Sunday, Sept. 27, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will telecast NHRA Race Day at 11 a.m. (ET).
Sunday, Sept. 27, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise three hours of final eliminations at 7 p.m. (ET).
SATELLITE: Friday, Sept. 25, 8 – 8:30 p.m. (ET), AMC 15 / Transponder 6 K (11820 MHz, horizontal)
(Analog feed) Saturday, Sept. 26, 7:30 – 8 p.m. (ET), AMC 15 / Transponder 6 K (11820 MHz, horizontal)
Sunday, Sept. 27, 7 – 7:30 p.m. (ET), AMC 15 / Transponder 6 K (11820 MHz, horizontal)
Video news release contains race action highlights each day and winners’ interviews on Sunday.
WINNERS: J.R. Todd, Top Fuel; Tim Wilkerson, Funny Car; Greg Stanfield, Pro Stock; Chris Rivas, Pro Stock Motorcycle.
TRACK Top Fuel - 3.820 seconds by Larry Dixon, Sept. ’08; 315.19 mph by Brandon Bernstein, Sept. ’08
RECORDS: Funny Car - 4.063 seconds by Robert Hight, Sept. ’08; 304.67 mph by Melanie Troxel, Sept. ’08
Pro Stock - 6.631 seconds by Jeg Coughlin, Sept. ’08; 208.26 mph by Warren Johnson, Sept. ’08
Pro Stock Motorcycle - 6.970 seconds by Eddie Krawiec, Sept. ’08; 191.92 mph by Krawiec, Sept. ’08
(Top Fuel and Funny Car race distance is 1,000 feet; Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle race distance is 1,320 feet)
NATIONAL Top Fuel – 3.771 sec. by Tony Schumacher, Oct. ’08, Richmond, Va.; 319.22 mph by Antron Brown, Sept. ’09, Indianapolis
RECORDS: Funny Car – 4.023 sec. by Ron Capps, Feb. ’09, Chandler, Ariz.; 312.13 mph by Ashley Force Hood, April ’09, Atlanta
Pro Stock – 6.528 sec. by Greg Anderson, Feb. ’09, Pomona, Calif.; 212.03 mph by Mike Edwards, March ’09, Baytown, Texas
PS Motorcycle – 6.860 sec. by Andrew Hines, May ’09, Madison, Ill.; 197.45 mph by A. Hines, March ’05, Gainesville, Fla.
(Top Fuel and Funny Car race distance is 1,000 feet; Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle race distance is 1,320 feet)
TICKETS: For tickets call (800) MOTORPLEX (668-6775). Tickets also are available at texasmotorplex.com.
RESERVED SEATS – Thursday: Adult, $10; Youth (12 years and under), $5. Friday: Adult, $30-50; Youth (12 years and under), $5-22. Saturday: Adult, $32-60; Youth (12 years and under), $5-30. Sunday: Adult, $36-66; Youth (12 years and under), $5-33.
For the latest news releases, photos, logos, statistics and event information, please visit http://media.nhra.com
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NHRA FULL THROTTLE DRAG RACING SERIES WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP POINT STANDINGS
GLENDORA, Calif. — Point standings (top 10) for NHRA professional categories following the second annual NHRA Carolinas Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C., the 19th of 24 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series and the first of six races in the Countdown to 1, NHRA’s championship playoffs -
1. Cory McClenathan, 2,162; 2. (tie) Antron Brown, 2,152; Tony Schumacher, 2,152; 4. Larry Dixon, 2,141; 5. Shawn Langdon, 2,113; 6. Brandon Bernstein, 2,098; 7. Spencer Massey, 2,076; 8. Morgan Lucas, 2,065; 9. Doug Kalitta, 2,042; 10. Clay Millican, 2,031.
1. Tony Pedregon, 2,148; 2. Ashley Force Hood, 2,147; 3. Robert Hight, 2,120; 4. Ron Capps, 2,115; 5. Bob Tasca III, 2,112; 6. Jack Beckman, 2,103; 7. Tim Wilkerson, 2,076; 8. John Force, 2,070; 9. Del Worsham, 2,053; 10. Mike Neff, 2,045.
1. Mike Edwards, 2,198; 2. Jeg Coughlin, 2,142; 3. (tie) Jason Line, 2,136; Greg Stanfield, 2,136; 5. Allen Johnson, 2,128; 6. Greg Anderson, 2,092; 7. Kurt Johnson, 2,079; 8. Johnny Gray, 2,053; 9. Ron Krisher, 2,040; 10. Rickie Jones, 2,020.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE
1. Hector Arana, 2,194; 2. Eddie Krawiec, 2,185; 3. Andrew Hines, 2,125; 4. Douglas Horne, 2,101; 5. Karen Stoffer, 2,094; 6. Matt Smith, 2,093; 7. Shawn Gann, 2,092; 8. Michael Phillips, 2,085; 9. Craig Treble, 2,072; 10. Matt Guidera, 2,020.
Texas Motorplex and Time Warner Cable are giving away a FREE exclusive Texas Motorplex backpack to the next 200 ticket orders to the O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals, September 24-27, 2009. Limit one per order, while supplies last, so act fast to make sure you do not miss out!
New section name billboards are being put in place for the O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals, September 24-27. The new billboard names will not be reflected on your tickets so be sure to pay attention to the section locator signs located under the grandstands and on the front of the grandstands facing the track. The section names, the name in parenthesis are what will show on you ticket, that will be affected on the north side grandstands will be Walkabout RV (Sec F) now named the Bombardier Section and Stainmaster (Sec G) will be Super Start Section. Sections on the south side grandstands that will be renamed are the AT&T section (Sec J) will now be the Redline Technology Section and Tradicional Azul (Sec K) is now the HoltCAT Section.
If you have an issues finding your seat during the event, ushers will be posted at the staircases on the front of the grandstands. Below is an updated seat-map that you can use as a reference.
Ennis, Texas (Sept. 16, 2009) – When Tim Wilkerson earned the Funny Car victory at the 2008 O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals, he thought he had the world at his beck and call.
Wilkerson and his Levi, Ray and Shoup Shelby Mustang drove into first place in the Funny Car standings after the Dallas event in ’08 by beating Tony Pedregon – the driver in first place at the start of the 2008 Countdown.
“Well, obviously, (the 2008 Texas Motorplex win) was just huge for us, and we really thought we had the world by the tail just about then,” Wilkerson said. “We came into the Countdown in the top spot, then when we won Dallas we felt really good about our chances and kind of allowed ourselves to think that maybe (the championship) was meant to be.
“We went right from there and won Memphis, but we learned a big lesson after that. Like they say, ‘it ain’t over ’til it’s over,’ and Cruz Pedregon answered our back-to-back wins and trumped us by winning the last three races to take the championship.”
Going into the 2009 Countdown playoff series of six events, Tony Pedregon leads the Funny Car pack.
Wilkerson is in sixth place, hoping to make a similar move up the standings with another victory at the Texas Motorplex when the 24th annual O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals comes for the 2009 stop (Sept. 24-27). The Motorplex is the second of six playoff events in 2009.
Wilkerson won’t have to worry about Cruz Pedregon this year –he missed the Countdown cut. But he will have Tony Pedregon, four John Force Racing cars and five other anxious teams to contend with as he seeks his first NHRA Funny Car championship.
Ashley Force Hood, fresh off her victory at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, is in third place in her Castrol GTX Ford Mustang. John Force is in seventh place with his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang. Mike Neff (Force Racing Ford Mustang) and Robert Hight (Auto Club Ford Mustang) are ninth and 10th, respectively.
“We are really excited to be returning to the Texas Motorplex for the second race of the Countdown,” Force Hood said. “The track is in good shape and since this race falls at the end of September, we are hoping for cool conditions and I think fans will see great times and speed and some amazing races at this event. Every round of the Countdown from qualifying to the finals is critical and we hope to be doing both very well at the Dallas event.”
Hight managed to slip into the 10th and final Countdown spot at the U.S. Nationals – the last of 18 opportunities racers had to qualify for the 10 Countdown positions. Only the top 10 drivers in each professional category are eligible for the playoffs and quest for a championship title.
Hight earned the 2006 Funny Car victory at the Motorplex and believes his team is poised to continue a recent upswing in performance.
“My Auto Club Mustang’s performance has really been coming around the last couple of races,” Hight said. “Our team earned the No. 1 qualifier in Indy and almost beat Ashley in the final. I am looking forward to getting to some of the tracks that are constructed to be high performance tracks. The Texas Motorplex is definitely one of those tracks with its all-concrete racing surface and great conditions. I have been to the winner’s circle there before and I’d like to get back there this year. Billy Meyer (Texas Motorplex owner) was a great funny car driver and to be able to win at his track is a big deal to me.”
Waco resident and legendary drag racer Billy Meyer opened the Motorplex in 1986. Meyer had the benefit of a Funny Car racing career to help create the sport’s first super stadium that rewarded fans with some of the best seating in racing while equally benefiting the competitors with an all-concrete racing surface that serves up more consistent racing surfaces in both lanes.
He knows the racers look forward to competing on the Motorplex surface and makes sure the Motorplex staff has the quickest and fastest surface possible.
“We built this facility so that both fans and racers win when coming to the Motorplex,” Meyer said. “We’re proud to provide our fans the best racing at a great facility that does everything possible to make sure racers can put on the best performance possible for the people sitting in the seats.”
Wilkerson is hoping to get another serving of Texas hospitality next week when the competition lines up on the all-concrete surface for some heated side-by-side racing.
“Winning at the Motorplex is a great deal because the Texas fans are terrific and it’s a unique atmosphere at a great track,” Wilkerson said. “We loved winning there, and we’d love to do it again, for sure. This time, if we’re in the hunt for the championship, we’ll be on a mission to keep it going and not let anyone sneak up on us, right to the end.”
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); www.texasmotorplex.com; or through Ticketmaster.