Mike Edwards in Pro Stock and Robert Hight in Funny Car claimed their first NHRA Full Throttle world championships at the close of qualifying for the season-ending Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals.
The points Edwards earned for his No. 1 starting spot combined with 10 qualifying bonus points gives him a 150-point lead over second-place Greg Anderson, which is more than enough to mathematically eliminate Anderson from championship contention (only 100 more points are available at the event). Though it is his first Pro Stock title, this is Edwards’ second overall NHRA crown; he also won the Modified championship in 1981.
Edwards had the dominant car of the 2009 season, wheeling his ART/Young Life Pontiac GXP to five wins (Atlanta, Bristol, Seattle, Charlotte, and Richmond) in 10 final-round appearances. He was also the No. 1 qualifier 15 times during the season, including at the eight events leading into the season finale. He held both ends of the national record during the season (he is the current e.t. holder at 6.509, but his 212.03-mph speed mark was bettered by Anderson). Edwards also tied Anderson’s single-season record for No. 1 starts at 16.
“I can say words, but they just don’t describe the feeling I have,” said an emotional Edwards. “It’s so exciting for me, and it’s been such a long time coming, but it’s all worth it. It’s Roger Stahl and a bunch of guys who got together a couple of years ago and decided to give it our best effort. We decided we’d try one time to do it the right way and started our shop, and we’ve all just kept pulling at the same end of the rope, and here we are, living our dream.
“We knew over the winter we were a lot better, but until you get out here and run against the Summit team, the Jegs team, the Johnsons, and everyone, you just don’t know. We started off well here and got on a roll. It wasn’t until the middle of the summer when we got four or five runners-ups and a couple of wins that I thought if we could keep our momentum going and keep fighting adversity that we knew we had a good chance. We made a lot of good decisions on the car and just tested and tested and tested. We did everything we could this year to make it happen, and it’s all paid off.
“There are a lot of people behind this, and they all give me great opportunities,” said Edwards. “It’s been a long time coming, but it sure feels good right now. [Our final run] just goes to show you what Terry Adams, Josh Robinson, Al Lindsay, and Nick and Paul and Carl and just the whole team can do — they’re fabulous. I feel like there were times I let them down, but they never gave up on me. They kept encouraging me and telling me that I could do it, and somehow I guess I believed them a time or two. I can’t forget my backbone, my friend, the one that keeps me in line and keeps encouraging me when I lose a little bit or get stressed out: my wife, Lisa. Thank you, Lisa, and thank you to my sister, Marilyn.”
Edwards is the 15th driver in NHRA history to win a Pro Stock championship. His previous best finish in Pro Stock was third, in 1996, when he also set his previous best mark for wins in a season at three. This is Edwards’ ninth top 10 finish.
Minutes after Edwards accepted the Wally trophy emblematic of his title, Hight became the second of two first-time NHRA Professional champions crowned when he earned enough points in qualifying with his Auto Club Mustang to mathematically eliminate his closest points rival, teammate Ashley Force Hood, to claim the Funny Car championship, the 16th for John Force Racing.
For Hight, who moved from clutch specialist on Force’s Funny Car to the cockpit in 2005, it has been a relatively short ride to glory — a path that has included his being named the winner of the Auto Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award as 2005′s top rookie and second-place points finishes in 2006 and 2007 – but it has been a rocky ride this season.
The fifth-year pilot struggled through the season’s first two-thirds, winning just 12 rounds at the first 17 events and twice failing to qualify, and he needed a last-second near-miracle to qualify for the Countdown playoffs, which he got with a runner-up finish to Force Hood at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil.
“We started with the same team we had last year, and I was so excited, and that’s how John won so many championships. We started struggling, but I still think that’s what got us through it. We never doubted each other and worked through the hard times. I’ve had a lot of time to think about this but never really got emotional about it until that last run. We’ve all worked so hard and so long for it.
“Coming so close so many times before makes this really special, but it’s really all about this team. It’s a whole team behind this, starting with John Force, who put me with the best people. The best advice he gave me was to team up with [crew chief] Jimmy [Prock] and become his buddy, like he and [Austin] Coil and just live with him, and that’s what I’ve done. He’s like my brother. I can’t thank John enough for taking a chance on a guy who’d never driven anything but a Ford F-150 truck and for the sponsors like AAA for supporting John.”
After Indy, Prock found the magic that had eluded him all season and turned up the wick on his Prock Rocket. They won back to back in Charlotte and Dallas to kick off the playoffs, then returned to the winner’s circle in Las Vegas with a performance that all but sealed the championship.
Hight, a son-in-law of Force (who has won 14 championships and was team owner for Tony Pedregon’s Funny Car title in 2003), is a former championship trapshooter and finally has zeroed in on another title target.
Texas Motorplex wishes D4 “Good Guy” racers good luck at the 45th annual Automobile Club of Southern Califronia NHRA Finals this weekend.
Texas Motorplex would like to wish all of the Division 4 racers representing the D4 “Good Guys”, including Jason Kizlinski and Warren Wright, good luck this weekend at the 45th annual Automobile Club of Southern Califronia NHRA Finals.
Jason Kizlinski of from Midlothian, Tx will be representing the Texas Motorplex after his No-E Street win at the Division 4 Summit ET Finals and Warren Wright of Grandview, Tx will be representing NorthStar Dragway after his win in No-E Quick .
By: Jack Korpela, Cycledrag.com
GEICO Powersports Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Karen Stoffer can’t think of a better way to end the NHRA season than with a win at this weekend’s AAA Auto Club Finals from Pomona, Calif.
“Were looking for a win,” Stoffer said. “There’s no question about it. A victory would be the best way to go into the off season.”
Stoffer is coming off of a successful outing at the Las Vegas Nationals, where she qualified fifth and scored a first round victory over veteran Steve Johnson.
“We had a great motorcycle in Vegas,” Stoffer said. “The team’s hard work really paid off. We hope to be fast in Pomona as well.”
Stoffer enters this race ranked No. 7 in the Full Throttle Series with 2,213 points. She trails No. 6 Douglas Horne by 49 points, and No. 5 Michael Phillips by 75 points. Stoffer’s highest year-end ranking came in 2006 when she finished sixth.
“We should be in good shape for Pomona,” team owner Doug Johnson said. “We really want to end the season on a high note.”
Opening qualifying in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class gets underway on Friday, November 13th, at 1:30 PM.
Stoffer went on to extend special thanks to all of her sponsors and supporters.
NHRA and primary sponsor Full Throttle Energy Drink will put a new face on drag racing’s premier series in 2010 with the unveiling of a new series logo.
NHRA’s top Professional series, consisting of Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, and Pro Stock Motorcycle, first partnered with The Coca-Cola Company in 2001, and the association will continue through at least 2013. Full Throttle Energy Drink assumed the title sponsorship from POWERADE beginning with the 2009 season, launching what is arguably one of the strongest synergies between brand and sport in the sports and entertainment industry.
The association between NHRA and Coca-Cola North America, with support from Coca-Cola Enterprises, represents one of the longest-running series sponsorships in motorsports, and the move to Full Throttle Energy Drink marks the lead sports marketing association for the beverage company’s lead energy drink, which has been the official energy drink of NHRA since 2005.
NHRA’s top Professional series features 23 races from February through November, all of which are broadcast by ESPN2 in HD.
Here are the 2009 O’Reilly Bracket Racing Series Class Champions.
Super Pro Champion- Jeff Lopez
Pro Champion- Robby Lopez
No Electronics Champion- Austin Williams
Quick 16 Champion- Jeff Lopez
Jr Sportsman Champion- Bradley Wilson
Jr Modified Champion- Taylor Bright
Jr Top Eliminator Champion- Ryan Gleghorn
BRACKET OVERALL POINTS CHAMPION- Robby Lopez
JR OVERALL POINTS CHAMPION- Bradley Wilson
All CLASS Champions will be awarded trophies and 2010 Gold Cards at the 2009 Racer Appreciation Awards Banquet on December 5th at the Texas Motorplex Champions Club. Please RSVP for you and your guests by calling 972-878-2641. 2009
Results for October 31, 2009 O’Reilly Bracket Racing Series Final Race
Win – Jackie Jones Kemp, Tx 23T Roadster .012 7.622 160.86
R/U – Jeff Lopez Bedford, Tx 06 TNT Supercross -.006 7.964 127.29
Win – Robby Lopez Grand Prarie, Tx 66 Chevy .012 6.546 102.93
R/U – Jack Mauldin Jr. Groesbeck, Tx 70 Nova .023 6.724 110.39
Win – Jeff Lopez Bedford, Tx 06 TNT Supercross .029 4.765 143.12
R/U – Doug Haning Kaufman, Tx 09 TNT .032 4.575 151.10
Win – Allan Pratt Rockdale, Tx 81 Camaro .042 10.774 116.03
R/U – Jimmy Falkenbach Ennis, Tx 89 S-10 .031 10.609 117.74
Chris Brackman Euless, Tx 2002 CVPI .242 15.834 87.58
Wendell Finnegan Euless, Tx 2007 Mustang .329 13.719 100.43
JR Top Eliminator
Win – Ryan Gleghorn Watagua, Tx 06 McMillen .044 7.932 78.14
R/U – Kyle Armstrong Blooming Grove, Tx .126 8.057 78.31
Win – Taylor Bright Waxahachie, Tx 04 RPC .066 8.960 69.67
R/U – Adrian Acevedo Italy, Tx .110 9.325 69.10
Win – Rusty Price Corsicana, Tx 08 Infinity .143 12.972 49.13
R/U – Mikey Carver Blooming Grove, Tx 98 Spitzer .060 13.187 53.84
AER Race of Champions
The Texas Motorplex would like to congratulate Jeff Lopez of Bedford Tx and Jackie Jones from Kemp, Tx for making it to the finals for the AER Race of Champions and to Jackie Jones for winning the block from AER which will be given out at the 2009 Texas Motorplex Racer Appreciation Banquet on December 5. Click here for more info on the 2009 Racer Appreciation Banquet.