NHRA announces Full Throttle Drag Racing Series 2011 schedule – Texas Motorplex will be the second race in the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship

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Phoenix Event Moved to the fall; Mac Tools U.S. Nationals Last Race before NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship

GLENDORA, Calif. (Aug. 26, 2010) – NHRA announced its 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series schedule today, featuring 22 national events. The most significant change to the schedule is the move of the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway to the fall where it will become one of the six-races that comprise the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship. The Phoenix event, which also will feature the Pro Stock Motorcycle class for the first time, will be held Oct. 14-16.

NHRA also announced that New England Dragway will join the NHRA member track network in 2011.  NHRA is currently working with the track on facility improvements with the goal to bring an NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event to New England Dragway as soon as possible.  Given the location of the facility, and NHRA’s well known desire to bring a national event to New England and near the metropolitan Boston market, it promises to be one of the most popular spots on the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series tour.

NHRA will celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2011, with a number of special events and activities planned throughout the season at all NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series events. Plans for the celebration, which will be announced in greater detail in the coming weeks, will include showcasing many of the sport’s greatest moments from the last seven decades.

NHRA’s 60th anniversary campaign kicks-off with the 51st running of the Kragen O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, Calif., Feb. 24-27, followed by the Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville (Fla.) Raceway two weeks later, March 10-13. After the East Coast opener in Gainesville, the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series will head west for the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, April 1-3.  

The second annual NHRA 4-Wide Nationals, a spectacle unlike any other in motorsports, will take place at zMAX Dragway, April 14-17.  The 24th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals will take place April 29-May 1 at Royal Purple Raceway near Houston, followed by the 31st annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals, May 13-15 at Atlanta Dragway. The O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Summer Nationals in Topeka, Kan. will be held May 20-22.  

The month of June will once again take the Full Throttle Series teams to three tradition-rich venues, beginning with the 42nd annual NHRA SuperNationals in Englishtown, N.J., June 2-5, followed by the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol, Tenn., June 17-19, and concluding with the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio, June 23-26.

Another change to the schedule sees The United Association Route 66 NHRA Nationals in Chicago moving to July 7-10.   In 2011, the start of the Western Swing will begin with the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals in Denver, July 22-24, followed by the 24th annual FRAM-Autolite NHRA Nationals, July 29-31 in Sonoma, Calif., and conclude with the NHRA Northwest Nationals in Seattle, Aug. 5-7.

The other race scheduled during the month of August, celebrating its 30th anniversary, is the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, Minn., Aug. 18-21.

If the stakes weren’t already high for the most famous of all drag racing events – the traditional Labor Day weekend running of the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil -   they will be increased ten-fold in 2011 as the prestigious event will represent the final chance for teams in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series to earn a top 10 position and qualify for the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship.  The nearly week-long event will take place Aug. 31-Sept. 5 at O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis.

The six-races that will make up the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship include the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, Sept. 15-18 at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte; O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex near Dallas, Sept. 22-25; and the 27th annual Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals, Sept. 29-Oct. 2, at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa.

The season concludes with the last three events of the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship, starting with the NHRA Arizona Nationals in Phoenix, Oct. 14-16, the NHRA Las Vegas Nationals, Oct. 27-30, and the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Nov. 10-13.

The Pro Stock Motorcycle class will compete in a 16-race schedule, with six of those races in the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship.
          
ESPN2 and ESPN2HD, a part of the ESPN network, the worldwide leader in sports, will once again provide exclusive television coverage, on a same-day basis, of all NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series events featuring action from qualifying rounds on Saturday and Sunday’s race.
          
Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA has 80,000 members and 140 member tracks worldwide.   As the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States, NHRA presents 23 national events featuring the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and NHRA Get Screened America Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. Two NHRA-sanctioned bracket racing series provide competition opportunities for drivers of all levels: the NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA.  NHRA also offers the Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 8 to 17.   In addition, NHRA owns and operates five racing facilities: Gainesville Raceway in Florida; Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; National Trail Raceway in Ohio; O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to NHRA.com, or visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Schedule
“60th Anniversary Celebration”

51st annual Kragen O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals               Feb. 24-27
Pomona, Calif.

42nd annualTire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals                               March 10-13
Gainesville, Fla. (PSM)

12th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals                               April 1-3
Las Vegas

Second annual NHRA 4-Wide Nationals                                       April 14-17
Concord, N.C.

24th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals                     April 29-May 1
Houston (PSM)

31st annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals               May 13-15     
Commerce, Ga. (PSM)

23rd annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Summer Nationals                     May 20-22
Topeka, Kan.

42nd annual NHRA SuperNationals                                           June 2-5
Englishtown, N.J.  (PSM)       

11th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals                                 June 17-19
Bristol, Tenn.

Fifth annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals                       June 23-26
Norwalk, Ohio   (PSM)

14th annual United Association Route 66 NHRA Nationals                    July 7-10
Chicago   (PSM)

32nd annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals                                July 22-24
Denver   (PSM)

24th annual FRAM-Autolite NHRA Nationals                                  July 29-31
Sonoma, Calif. (PSM)

24th annual NHRA Northwest Nationals                                      Aug. 5-7
Seattle

30th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals                                      Aug. 18-21
Brainerd, Minn. (PSM)

57th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil               Aug. 31 – Sept. 5
Indianapolis   (PSM)
Countdown to the Championship

Fourth annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals                          Sept. 15-18
Concord, N.C. (PSM)

26th annual O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals            Sept. 22-25
Dallas (PSM)

27th annual Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals                                     Sept. 29 – Oct. 2
Reading, Pa. (PSM)

27th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals                                        Oct. 14-16
Phoenix (PSM)

11th annual NHRA Las Vegas Nationals                                      Oct. 27-30
Las Vegas   (PSM)

47th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals            Nov. 10-13
Pomona, Calif.  (PSM)

(PSM) – Event will include Pro Stock Motorcycle

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JOHN FORCE TO KICK – OFF 25 DAY FAN PROMOTION FOR TEXAS MOTORPLEX

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DALLAS (Aug. 25, 2010) — John Force has won more than any driver in the history of NHRA drag racing. With 130 career wins, more than 1,000 round wins, 14 Full Throttle Funny Car world championships Force has rewritten the record books throughout his legendary career. Many of his record setting and his most terrifying performance occurred at the storied Texas Motorplex in Ennis, Texas.

Force will be in Dallas on Monday, Aug. 30, to kick-off the 25th annual O’Reilly NHRA Fall Nationals with a full day of media events including announcements about the fan promotions counting down the final 25 days before racing action takes to the track at the Texas Motorplex Sept. 23-26. Force will make the announcement at 3 p.m. along with Motorplex officials at an O’Reilly Auto Parts store located at 3425 North Beltline Road in Irving, Texas. The store is at the intersection of North Belt Line and Finley Road.

When asked recently what racing at the Texas Motorplex, recognized as the first super track on the NHRA tour, meant to the winningest driver in NHRA history Force did not have a problem explaining his excitement.

“Texas is a great a marketplace.  It’s exciting because I really do love Texas.  But (Texas Motorplex owner) Billy Meyer was a Funny Car racer in the early days.  He knew what the racers wanted when he built (the Motorplex).  When I first saw it, it was like seeing Rome.  It was like, ‘You’re kidding me,’ This thing built out in the middle of nowhere but in a great marketplace that drew from all corners of Texas and it was like, wow. Right next to Dallas and this thing was this giant stadium.  It looked like where the Romans fought, the Gladiators, the lions and all that stuff.  It was like, ‘Wow!,’ said Force.

“He made it all concrete, you know what I mean?  That means you can race on it, you can set national records and I did that there.  And Billy Meyer just created what we wanted.  Yeah, I crashed there and I’m still struggling with it and I really want to win Dallas.  And that’s why I was excited when Billy called to go there to do PR because that’s where I crashed; that’s where I fell. I’ve gone back the last two years and I haven’t been able to hit my tail end. But this year, I’m back in the game.”

“(2009 Funny Car champion and Force teammate) Robert Hight is kind of taking over this operation with Ashley (Force Hood), but I’m going to give them a run for their money this year.  So, I’m excited to come back to Dallas.  It’s a great place but Billy Meyer was an innovator that knew the dream and he delivered, of that time, the state of the art.  Today there’s only a few stadiums that compare with him.  Most of them are built by Bruton Smith, but his is still the one, when you come down that freeway, there it is,” concluded Force.

Details of the fan promotions will be announced at 3 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 30 as well as throughout the 25 days leading up to the 25th annual O’Reilly NHRA Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex website, www.texasmotorplex.com.

The Texas Motorplex was the first all-concrete stadium-style drag racing facility ever constructed. Built in 1986, The Texas Motorplex has been the place of many drag racing milestones and world record performances. The Billy Meyer-owned facility hosts a number of racing and car show events between March and November each year and also features the Champions Club – an 11,000 square-foot facility – that serves fully catered events throughout the year.

Media contacts: Christie Johnson, Texas Motorplex, 254-744-0270 or Elon Werner, John Force Racing, 214-244-1184.

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DRAW – COME JOIN THE FUN – EVERYONE IS INVITED

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One of DRAW’s biggest fund raising activities is the Annual DRAW Auction at the Texas Motorplex in Ennis, TX, held during the O’Reilly Auto Parts Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals.  The  Annual DRAW Auction will be held on Saturday, September 25, 2010, in the Champions Club.  Admission is free. The Auction area will be opened at 6:30 p.m. and the auction is scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m. but depending on the race day the starting time is subject to change.  Announcements will be made during the day of any changes. 

The event is hosted by Billy and Deborah Meyer and The Staff of the Texas Motorplex.  Finger foods will be provided and beverages will be available.

If you have something you would like to donate for the Live Auction, please ship it to DRAW, 4 Hance Drive, Charleston, IL 61920.  It should be shipped so it will arrive before September 7. 2010.  It may also be dropped off at the DRAW Booth at any national event prior to the auction or delivered to the DRAW Booth in Ennis. 

DRAW Persons of the Year, Company of the Year and Volunteer of the Year will be named during the evening’s activities.

Volunteers are needed on Saturday at both the booth and to help prepare the auction area during the day and to work the auction during the evening.  If you would like to volunteer you may call 217 345-6537 or e-mail rnoble@consolidated.net.

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Congratulations go out to our bracket race winners!

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Thank you to everyone who came out and had a good time at the Texas Motorplex Bracket Racing Series last Saturday.   Congratulations go out to our race winners, Austin Williams (Super Pro),David Jones (Pro), Gerald Haning (Quick 16), Jake Howard (No-E 1/4 & 1/8 mile) and Holly Ward (Extreme Street).  We hope to see everyone again at the next bracket races on Sept. 11-12.   

Click here for complete results.

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Bode scores first to highlight dramatic regular-season finale in Brainerd

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by Phil Burgess, National DRAGSTER Editor
Info | Tickets | Schedule | Entries | Results
Team reports | Notebook | Photos | Video

Bob Bode scored his first career win in Funny Car, Larry Dixon remained perfect in Top Fuel, Andrew Hines stole the spotlight in Pro Stock Motorcycle and Jeg Coughlin Jr. won his fifth Brainerd Wally in Pro Stock at the 29th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals.

As the final event of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series’ regular season, the event also was packed with Countdown drama all the way to the final rounds. A number of drivers clinched spots in qualifying, and although the last spots were claimed in Sunday’s first round — with Dave Grubnic outlasting Terry McMillen in Top Fuel, Tony Pedregon holding off Jeff Arend in Funny Car, Rodger Brogdon denying Kurt Johnson in Pro Stock, and Karen Stoffer and Craig Treble beating out Shawn Gann in Pro Stock Motorcycle – the battle for top seeds and positions raged on all the way to the final bike final where Andrew Hines took away the top seed from Hector Arana with his victory. Earlier, John Force held on by one point for the top seed in Funny Car. [Full Countdown field recap]

Bode, a former national champion boat racer, enjoyed his finest day on dry land when he powered his AR-BEE.com/Alard Machine Products Impala to the winner’s circle, upsetting heavily-favored Jack Beckman in the final round when Beckman’s machine lost traction just off the starting line.

“All of this is kind of like a dream I’m afraid I’m gonna wake up from,” said Bode. “I didn’t know if it would ever happen, but now that it did, I can’t believe it happened. It’s the best thing that ever happened to me in my entire life in the racing world. I have a wife and kid, wonderful things there, but the racing world, this is it.

“[Against Beckman] I went up to the line going, well, we’re in the final. If [Beckman] runs another .00 we’re going to be in trouble. We were trying to run a .14 or maybe something a little bit better. There were no teeth left on the belt, I get up to the finish line and there were little flames going out, and I’m going, I ain’t liftin’, and I never saw him. But we would have tried for a .12 and we knew that maybe if I had a decent light I coulda outrun him if he floundered and ran a .10. But we were just going to lay down our number and hopefully he made a mistake, and someone did.”

Bode reached the final, the first of his career, on a trio of victories over past national event winners, defeating  former world champ Cruz Pedregon, Englishtown winner Bob Tasca III, and three-time season winner Tim Wilkerson with a series of mid-4-teen passes.

Beckman, runner-up here in 2008, didn’t win the event but he did climb past teammate Matt Hagan and into third place in the standings. Although he only qualified sixth at 4.141, Beckman’s special-edition Freightliner Dodge came on like a semi truck on Sunday, rattling off passes of 4.057 (low e.t.), 4.080, and 4.089 to reach the final, the 21st of his career and his fourth this season. In his wake he left Del Worsham, Robert Hight, and 1985 Brainerd winner Jim Head.

Dixon remained perfect in 2010 final rounds, winning his ninth straight in a titanic battle between the top two drivers in the standings. Dixon scored the win in dramatic fashion, running 3.78 to beat McClenathan’s 3.81 in one of the quickest side-by-side races in NHRA history. Dixon, who won this race in 1999 and 2001 but since has suffered through four final-round defeats here (2002, 2005, 2007, and last year) collected career win No. 56.

“I feel fortunate,” said Dixon, whose engine suffered damage right as he hit the finish line. “When I lifted it popped, but I saw the win light and the 78 on the board and so I knew they weren’t taking Cory and the Schumacher team lightly. I got heat-treated a little bit.

“We’ve won finals so many different ways this year and there are so many variables that if you have just one hiccup someone else wins. I’ve had seasons where I haven’t won one race so to win nine is overwhelming, These races are so hard to win; to win nine period let alone to win nine straight in finals is something.”

Dixon, who reached his 100th career final in winning the Sonoma event, didn’t take long to start working on his second hundred as he raced the Al-Anabi machine to a steadily-improving trio of passes, going from a cylinder-dropping 3.91 against Steve Torrence in round one to a 3.82 to defeat Shawn Langdon and then a dazzling 3.794 in the semifinals to beat low qualifier Doug Kalitta’s 3.830.

Like Beckman, although McClenathan didn’t win the race, he did improve his Coutndown position, eking past Tony Schumacher for the No. 2 seed. McClenathan, a three-time winner already this season, reached his sixth final of the year and the 63rd of his Top Fuel career with the Fram dragster by racing past Chris Karamesines, then Schumacher, and finally Dave Grubnic with passes of 3.84, 3.83, and 3.802.

Coughlin, who had won here three times previously in Pro Stock and, prior to that, in Supoer Stock, reached the Brainerd winner’s circle again, sealing the victory on rookie Shane Gray’s close -.001 red-light. It was Coughlin’s 65th career win and 52nd in Pro Stock.

“I do have to say, the Gray family has done an unbelievable job and they’re getting a program from nothing to several final-round runnings between the two of them,” said Coughlin “Shane did a heck of a job and had he turned that thing green by a couple of hundredths, he would have smoked the yellow and black car. We got away with one there because I was late on the Tree in the final.

“This is as close as we’ve been to the points leader all year. That’s the way the playoff and the Countdown to 1 works. We’ve had that work to our advantage for a couple of years and had that work against us last year. This year, we were probably no way shape or form going to contend for our sixth world title, but we are.”

Coughlin reached his third straight final, his sixth this season, and the 103rd of his combined Pro and Sportsman career by powering the yellow and black JEGS.com Cobalt with a steady trio of passes – 6.612, 6.617, and 6.609, all better than the incoming 6.630 track record – to defeat Ron Krisher and last year’s finalists Jason Line and defending event champ Greg Anderson.

Gray leaped two spots in the final standings by reaching his second final of the season and no doubt boosted his chances of winning the Automobile Club of Southern California Raod to the Future award for the season’s top rookie. The Englishtown runner-up drove his Tire Kingdom Pontiac past Rickie Jones and Allen Johnson with runs of 6.63 and 6.62, then defeated his father, Johnny, whom he also beat in the Englishtown semifinals, to reach the final, and did it on a holeshot, 6.66 to 6.63.

Hines clearly was on a mission in Brainerd, leading qualifying from the first session on as he worked diligently to chase down reigning season and event champ Arana’s lead, which was 60 points entering the event. He chopped off a small chunk with his outstanding qualifying effort then finished it off with his win – his second straight on the schedule and fourth of year — against first-time finalist Jim Underdahl, scoring on a 6.94 to 7.01 count for his 22nd career win. It’s Hines’ second win here, having scored previously in 2007. Older brother Matt won the race three times.

“Big win,” agreed Hines. “I’ve never been No. 1 going into the playoffs so it’s nice to be in this position. Three or four races ago we were looking at the point and Hector had something like a 160-point lead and we just wrote it off that we wouldn’t make it there. Luck turned to our side, the motorcycle started performing better and Hector faltered a little bit and we capitalized on it.

“Hungry guys like Jim Underdahl, you can’t take them for granted because you never know what’s going to happen. He improved a bit in the final and we slowed down, so I wasn’t about to go out there and miss the Tree. They’ve got Vance & Hines power in that bike and we’re proud of it. They’re doing a lot with what they have.”

Hines had the bike to beat all weekend in Brainerd, putting the Screamin’ Eagle/Vance & Hines Harley Davidson on the pole with a track-record 6.915 and running a flurry of low 6.90s to reach the final, the 36th of his career and his third straight. He opened with low e.t. of the meet, a 6.904, to beat local Buddy Robinson, then took a crucial victory when Arana fouled in the second round. Hines advanced to the final with a 6.92 by defeating Angie Smith in the semifinals.

Underdahl may not have made the Countdown to 1 playoffs, but the Forest Lake, Minn., hero showed the partial homestate crowd what his Suzuki Extended Care machine was capable of, racing past Craig Treble, Joe DeSantis, and Mike Berry with a pair of six-second runs and a 7.03 in the semi’s. The fact that DeSantis and Berry were among Underdahl’s late-round conquests bore out the upset-laden nature of the eliminator as three of the four semifinalists had not won a Wally in their careers.

In Lucas Oil action, Frank Manzo and Rick Johnson, who scored respective wins in Alcohol Funny Car and Super Stock at the inaugural Brainerd event back in 1982, reached the winner’s circle again. Manzo, the defending world and event champ beat Tom Carter this year for his 90th career victory, while Rick Johnson beat reigning world champ Jimmy DeFrank Jr.

Alcohol Dragster honors went to Chris Demke, who defeated Duane Shields, while Dan Fletcher collected career win No. 68 in Stock, defeating Ben Line, brother of Pro Stock ace Jason Line. Comp gold went home with points leader Al Ackerman, who defeated Lou Ficco Jr. for his second win this season.

Former world champ Gary Stinnett beat Topeka winner Dustin Long in a double breakout final in Super Comp; Lance Trujillo scored his first career win in Super Gas, turning back Stan Moulzolf in the final round; and Adam Fricke took Pro Stock Snowmobile honors over Louie Wirbel.
 
Related stories:
Saturday: Final fields set, Countdown berths earned in Brainerd
Friday: Bernstein, Force Hood, Johnson, Hines tops in Brainerd

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