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Championship-crucial wins by Tony Schumacher, John Force, Greg Anderson, and LE Tonglet capped a day of high drama at the NHRA Las Vegas Nationals, the second to last event of the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series
Championship scenarios were foremost on everyone’s mind, and the races got a shake up across the board. The Funny Car battle went as advertised, with first-place Matt Hagan and second-place John Force working their way through the ladder to face off in the final round, which Force won to cut Hagan’s lead to 37 points headed to the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals in two weeks.
Anderson entered as the points leader in Pro Stock and only improved that, going from 38 points to 115 points ahead of Mike Edwards with a final-round defeat of teammate Jason Line. Edwards’ hopes for a successful title defense in Pro Stock took a hit when he lost on a holeshot to Greg Stanfield in round one and Anderson capitalized to his fullest.
|Championship battles at a glance|
|Top Fuel: Dixon leads Schumacher by 85 points|
|Funny Car: Hagan leads Force by 37 points|
|Pro Stock: Anderson leads Edwards by 115 points|
|PS Motorcycle: Hines leads Tonglet by 34 points|
Tonglet, who has now reached the final in all five championship playoff events and won four of them, cut points leader Andrew Hines margin from 72 to 34 when he defeated Matt Smith in the final.
Top Fuel points leader Larry Dixon’s championship hopes improved when second-place Cory McClenathan broke a valve keeper and dropped a cylinder in a round-one loss to Australian newcomer Mark Mariani, but Dixon’s gain was only 20 points as he, too, dropped a cylinder in round two and fell to Dom Lagana. Schumacher then emerged as Dixon’s newest threat by winning the event and moving past Cory Mac into second place. Schumacher is now 85 back of Dixon while McClenathan is 106 back. A driver can earn a maximum of 150 points at an event, so both are still technically, but not realistically, in the championship race.
Schumacher, who qualified No. 1 and set the national speed record at 325.14 Saturday, bettered that number Sunday. After defeating Bob Vandergriff with a 3.79 at 324 mph in round one, Schumacher lowered the boom on Shawn Langdon with a 3.820 at 325.61 to bump the record higher. Schumacher reached the final, his eighth of the year and the 103rd of his career – and second place in the standings – by defeating David Grubnic with a 3.80 to earn final-round lane choice. He finished off his fifth win of the season and 67th of his career with a 3.84 conquest of Lagana.
“It was a fun car to drive this weekend,” said Schumacher. “I’m starting to feel a little bit of pressure again. We’re in Vegas and I’m not in the points lead, I’m not even that close, and all of a sudden we have this fast car. The thing is amazing. It’s just going down the track dead straight perfect. We tested a couple of times this year and we’ve been working on a couple of different things and it was just an excellent combination. The last run wasn’t all that stout. The track got good and it pulled the center of the tires out.
“I’m looking forward to going to Pomona. Like I said it back in ’06 and ’07, it’s kind of out of my hands. More than likely I won’t run Larry. If we do run each other it will be in the later rounds and it won’t matter. We have to go out and set a national record and win the race, and he has to go out and get beat or not show up, and I’m pretty sure he’s going to show up. We’re a long way out and we’re a super longshot, but we’re great at coming from behind.”
Lagana, who had not won a round in a year in which he has split driving chores with brother Bobby Jr., was competing in just his third race of the season and reached his first career final round by powering his Big O Tires dragster past Clay Millican, points leader Dixon, and Antron Brown. Lagana, who qualified in Topeka and Reading, defeated Brown in the semifinals, 3.89 to 3.95.
The Funny Car final had fans on their feet seeing whether Hagan would head to Pomona with a nearly insurmountable 77-point lead or if Force could carve it down to less than two rounds. The final was over quickly as Hagan lit the tires and Force raced to a 4.23 victory.
“We won Pomona and came here in April and won,” said Force. “We had the lead all year, but in Reading we had the clutch pedal fall off, so I couldn’t get the car in reverse and didn’t get a chance to race, and [Hagan] took advantage of it. He’s a great racer. I love the kid’s personality. We talked every round before we raced. He’s got big money behind him and he’s got a great team. Our attitude was we have to eat up every point. We got some points in qualifying that put us back in it and we got him in the final.
“[Crew chief] Mike Neff has been unbelievable taking the lead on this car, and so have [co-crew chiefs] Austin [Coil] and Bernie [Fedderly] for allowing that. The kid has brought a young energy to fight this fight. They put me on a diet — I’ve dropped 10 pounds since Reading — and they put the car on a diet. It came [here] without paint, and it came without a lot of stuff. We hung the fire bottles high to transfer weight, and we got our 60-foot [times] back, and we can race with him now.”
Force, who worked hard in qualifying to trim Hagan’s lead below three rounds, reached the final round, his record 212th and 10th this season, by fending off Jeff Arend, Melanie Troxel, and Bob Tasca III. Force got a scare against Troxel when his Castrol GTX Mustang lost traction downtrack but he held on for a crucial 4.71 to 4.85 win.
Hagan and crew chief Tommy DeLago looked flawless all day with passes of 4.07, 4.13, and 4.09 to defeat Tony Pedregon, Jim Head, and Ashley Force Hood, whose bid to help her father’s title hopes went up in smoke early, sending Hagan to his fourth final of the year.
Anderson and teammate Jason Line had more reason to celebrate beyond the championship jackpot as the event marked the return to the track of team owner Ken Black, a Las Vegas resident. Black had been sidelined by health issues all season and his presence no doubt served as a great motivator for the team. Any concerns about whether team orders would be in place to benefit Anderson were answered when then left almost together, .022 to.033 favoring Anderson, and ran 6.654 to 6.656.
“I couldn’t have drawn up this weekend on paper any better than what happened today,” said Anderson. “It was a wonderful, wonderful day. I’m almost speechless, and I know that sounds odd for me. I hope this goes miles toward Ken [Black’s] recovery. Now he’s planning on attending Pomona. I can’t think of better medicine for the man. This is why our team works so hard, because we want to do so much for Ken.
“We have a lot of pride, Jason and I, as does the rest of our team. I think we’ve proved over many years now that we don’t have any team orders when we race each other, and we’re not going to start now. If you’re going to win, you have to feel good about yourself. Jason did a great job today taking out Greg Stanfield in the semi’s. If he hadn’t done that, Stanfield might have gotten to me in the final, and we’d be talking about a whole different story.”
Both Summit Racing Equipment Pontiacs were bracket-like all day, with Anderson running 6.664, 6.663, and 6.677 to beat Rodger Brogdon, Jeg Coughlin Jr., and rookie Shane Gray, who red-lighted in the semifinals to Anderson, who reached his seventh final of the year and the 95th of his career.
Line’s matching entry ran 6.659, 6.651, and 6.652 to defeat Larry Morgan, Ronnie Humphrey, and Stanfield. Line’s victory over Indy winner Stanfield was key as had Stanfield reached the final he would have passed Edwards for second place and made Anderson’s job in Pomona more difficult.
Tonglet was able to close the gap on Hines by reaching the final round for the fifth straight time and Hines’ streak of final-round appearances was snapped at seven with a semifinal loss to Smith. The final went to Tonglet’s blue Suzuki, 6.95 to 6.98.
“I don’t want to wake up,” said Tonglet. “It’s just been an awesome year since Indy. We came into the Countdown in seventh and after Indy we were No. 2. We’ve been on a roll since then, and we have to keep the momentum going. The Harley team is going to be tough to beat. Andrew has been in this situation before. We just need to keep our heads on straight and see what happens.”
Tonglet, whose playoff win streak ended at the most recent event, in Reading, where he lost to Hines on a holeshot, kept the heat on the points leader despite losing his No. 1 engine in qualifying.
“We hurt the motor that we had run all year in the first round of qualifying and went to our back-up Vance & Hines motor that only had three runs on it,” said Tonglet. “At first we couldn’t get it to run right, but they kept telling us that the engine was a good one, and we kept after it. It seemed to come to life during today’s eliminations.”
Tonglet raced past Bailey Whitaker, reigning season champ Hector Arana, and Jim Underdahl with runs of 6.986, 7.004, and 6.948 to reach the final, the seventh of his likely rookie-of-the-year campaign.
Smith, whose Al-Anabi Racing Buell hadn’t been to the final round since the Norwalk event in June, overcame a scary no-brakes trip into the LVMS sandtrap in qualifying to reach the final, the 24th of his career.
Smith defeated Michael Phillips and Karen Stoffer before upsetting Hines in the semifinals by .002-second, driving around Hines’ imperceptible .039 to .041 holeshot to win, 7.037 to 7.041.
Brad Personett raced to his second victory of the NHRA Get Screened America Pro Mod Series. Meanwhile, Tennessee driver Von Smith clinched the inaugural series championship title in the NHRA’s newest national touring series.
Personett defeated top qualifier Melanie Troxel in the final round. Personett powered his turbocharged ’68 Personett Performance ’68 Camaro to a run of 5.859 seconds at 254.57 mph to hold off the hard-charging Troxel, who trailed with a 5.984 at 244.69 in her In-N-Out Burger ’68 Camaro.
With the victory, Personett, who also defeated Joe Baker, Roger Burgess and Jay Payne in earlier rounds, moved to third in the final point standings.
Smith, who claimed the $50,000 champion’s prize after he took the tree in the first round of eliminations, eventually lost in the quarterfinals in his Barwa/Al-Anabi Racing ’68 Camaro. Smith claimed victories at St. Louis, Englishtown, N.J. and Bristol, Tenn. during the season to earn the championship title.
The remainder of the top five points finishers are second place Danny Rowe, fourth place Troy Coughlin and race runner-up Troxel in fifth.
Friday: Schumacher speeds to top spot; Force Hood, Johnson, Arana also lead Vegas fields
Saturday: Friday leaders hold sway on a long day in Las Vegas
Though the champions of the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series soon will be decided on the track, the winners of the NHRA Full Throttle Hardworking Crew Award of the Year, who propel the racers to victory, will be determined online by the fans.
Beginning the Monday after the NHRA Las Vegas Nationals and concluding the Monday after the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals, fans are invited to visit NHRA.com to vote for the crews whose diligence and extra effort made the biggest impact in a race or on the season.
Video highlights featuring each of the finalists’ difference-making performances will be included to help fans make their selections. The recipients of the NHRA Full Throttle Hardworking Crew Award of the Year, as determined by overall fan vote, will be honored in each of the four classes at the season-ending awards ceremony.
So enjoy the race this weekend, then head to NHRA.com Monday to make your vote count. It’s brought to you by Full Throttle Energy Drink, the title sponsor of the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.
11/14/10 from 10am to 5 pm. Car show registration from 9am to 11am, judging begins at 11, awards ceremony at 4:30. Race registration starts at 9am, heads up qualifying at 11:00, 12:00, & 1:00. Eliminations at 2:30, 3:30, & 4:30.
Car/truck/bike show, 1/4 mile drag racing, Usaci double points stereo crank it up contest, burnout contest (time permitting), raffles and giveaways, models, vendors, and DJs.
Spectator $15 with flier (regular $17) *flyers printed off computer ok to use – right click on flyer image, print. Coupon only good for spectator admission.
Children 10 and under FREE
Car Show Entry $25 (does not include free passenger pass). *Note, IFO only charges $25 per car show entry, not $50 to $60 like other events that claim to give a “free” passenger pass.
Test and Tune Drag Racer $25 (open to any make/model)
Competition Drag Racer $25 (imports or sports compacts only)
Burnout Contest FREE
Stereo Crank It Up Info: 605-376-3249 or www.SoundOff.org
EVENT STATUS INFO LINE (in case of inclement weather): 225-247-7223
ADDED RACE CLASS FOR THIS EVENT LOCATION:
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Oct. 19) — The Super Chevy Show announced its 2011 schedule today, featuring 12 events, with stops at four new facilities, including an international visit to Castrol Raceway in Edmonton, Alberta Canada.
The national touring series, which celebrated its 30th anniversary this season with events in the Southwest, Midwest, South and Northeast, will broaden its reach in 2011 with races at Palm Beach International Raceway in Jupiter, Fla., Rockingham Dragway in Rockingham, N.C., Spokane County Raceway in Spokane, Wash. and Castrol Raceway in Edmonton.
“The 2011 Super Chevy Show schedule greatly expands the footprint of the series for fans, participants, and sponsors, now reaching down to Florida, and up into Canada,” said SCSW Board Member Billy Meyer, whose Texas Motorplex track will host an event on June 3-5. “Three of the series largest events this season were based near the East Coast, so we want to make sure we are reaching as many fans out there that want to participate, and we think that Rockingham will continue the growth in North Carolina.”
The big highlight for the 2011 schedule is the stop at Castrol Raceway in Edmonton, which will be part of a back-to-back stretch in late August and early September. The event at Spokane County Raceway is scheduled for Aug. 26-28 and will be followed one weekend later by the Castrol Raceway event, slated for Sept. 2-4. Track operators for both events are working together to provide incentives for fans and participants to attend the back-to-back shows.
“Castrol Raceway is a tremendous facility,” said Rob Reeves, Castrol Raceway managing partner. “We currently host major events, ranging from the World of Outlaws, to one of the largest IHRA events on the tour. Bringing the Super Chevy Show to Castrol Raceway is a great way for U.S. fans to come up and see the beauty of Canada, and for our local audience of two million residents in Edmonton to get to see what the Super Chevy Show is all about.”
The 2011 schedule, which is up from 10 races in 2010, begins April 8-10 at Palm Beach International Raceway in Jupiter, Fla. The series then shifts west to The Strip At Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas, Nev. on April 29-May 1 before stops at Virginia Motorsports Park in Petersburg, Va. on May 20-22 and Texas Motorplex near Dallas on June 3-5.
The series summer tour features visits to Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa. on July 14-17 and Bandimere Speedway near Denver, Colo on Aug. 19-21. That is followed by the back-to-back events in Spokane and Edmonton.
“It is amazing the interest we’ve already had in Spokane, just since announcing their addition a few weeks ago,” Meyer said. “Several of the largest car clubs in the Northwest have already committed their resources to the event, and we are nearly a year out from hosting that show.”
The final stretch of the season will see races at Bristol Dragway in Bristol, Tenn. on Sept. 23-25; Royal Purple Raceway at Houston (formerly Houston Raceway Park) in Baytown, Texas on Oct. 14-16; Rockingham Dragway on Oct. 21-23 and Firebird International Raceway near Phoenix, Ariz. on Oct. 28-30.
All events for the 2011 season will feature a Friday vendor set-up and a racer test-n-tune, with car shows, drag racing and swap meets on Saturdays and Sundays. The exception will be the Maple Grove event, which is scheduled to begin on a Thursday. Five events are scheduled to include an Autocross, which were quite popular during the 2010 season. An Autocross will be held at Palm Beach International Raceway, The Strip At Las Vegas Motor Speedway; Texas Motorplex, Royal Purple Raceway at Houston and Firebird International Raceway.
The series enjoys great promotional support from Source Interlink Media’s automotive publications, which help connect car enthusiasts to information about the events before, during, and after with print and on-line media resources.
“After a stellar 30th Anniversary year for the Super Chevy Shows in both attendance and added event programs, we anxiously await the start of the 2011 season that features more great venues and opportunities to meet the readers and enjoy their cars together with editors and staff. This year will be a banner year as new facilities are combined with more features and ways to participate in this great hobby by Chevy enthusiasts.” said Ed Zinke, Publisher of Super Chevy Magazine. Staff members from Super Chevy Magazine will again in 2011 be attending and provide event-by-event magazine coverage. Camaro Performers, Classic Custom Trucks, Popular Hot Rodding, and Chevy High Performance have all covered the Super Chevy Shows in 2010 with participation anticipated again for 2011.
“Historically, Super Chevy Shows are where we go to find the finest feature cars and trucks as well as magazine cover cars along with the most interesting stories that are covered in the magazine. This is where the best Chevrolets in the world go to compete for show trophies and racing glory…and we enjoy every one of them.” Zinke added.
2011 SUPER CHEVY SHOW SCHEDULE
Palm Beach International Raceway, Jupiter, Fla, April 8-10
The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas, Nev., April 29-May 1
Virginia Motorsports Park, Petersburg, Va., May 20-22
Texas Motorplex, Dallas, June 3-5
Maple Grove Raceway, Reading, Pa., July 14-17
Bandimere Speedway, Denver, Colo, Aug. 19-21
Spokane County Raceway, Spokane, Wash., Aug. 26-28
Castrol Raceway, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Sept. 2-4
Bristol Dragway, Bristol, Tenn., Sept. 23-25
Royal Purple Raceway At Houston, Baytown, Texas, Oct. 14-16
Rockingham Dragway, Rockingham, N.C., Oct. 21-23
Firebird International Raceway, Phoenix, Ariz., Oct. 28-30