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

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by Phil Burgess, National DRAGSTER Editor
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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 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 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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The American Drag Racing League (ADRL) has an extensive new television agreement with MAVTV, a national television network that caters to a motorsports audience.

The agreement calls for 13 one-hour shows on the high-definition network, giving the ADRL a national television presence for all of its 2010 events. The television show will provide highlights, interviews and coverage of the 2010 ADRL Racing Series.

MAVTV is currently available in more than 35 million homes and is growing at a rapid rate. It features a lineup of thrill-seeking programming that targets a male audience, ages 18-to-54.

“We are thrilled to have a MAVTV as a media partner,” ADRL Executive Vice President Jeff Fortune said. “They expressed great interest in supporting the ADRL and our racers with a primetime slot, additional airings and promotional campaigns.

undefined“The agreement we have worked out is a tremendous package for us as well as MAVTV. They also appreciate the audience and exposure that we will provide for them with our fans.”

The 1-hour broadcasts will begin on Thursday, September 2 and continue for 13 weeks.  In addition, MAVTV will air multiple viewings of each broadcast and will heavily feature the ADRL in its on-air and online promotions. The series will focus on each race of the 2010 points season beginning with the ADRL LenMar Motorsports World Finals V from Ennis, TX.

“We are extremely impressed by the success of the ADRL and feel that MAVTV is an excellent outlet to showcase the excitement of the ADRL racers and events. Newave TV presented some exciting plans for the production of the ADRL and we can’t wait to introduce it to our audience,” MAVTV President and COO Steve Smith said.

The burgeoning network will also be at the final four ADRL events of the 2010 season, promoting its exciting programming and partnership with the ADRL.

This television partnership with MAVTV also supports the ADRL’s other media efforts.

“Television has a huge place in our growth, which makes MAVTV and Newave incredibly important to the future of the ADRL, and a great complement to everything we do in print, online and through our ticket distribution program,” Fortune said.


Super Chevy magazine on newsstands NOW!

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 Attention Chevy Fans! The Super Chevy Magazine with the coverage of Super Chevy Show held at the Texas Motorplex in May is on newsstands NOW!   The coverage includes the car show, drag race, autocross, the Saturday morning car show cruise and results from the car show and drag race.  You can check out more info at


NHRA Top Fuel Points Leader Visits DFW Children’s Hospital

July 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured Articles, Latest News

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Larry Dixon spends off day in Dallas preparing for Fall Nationals

ENNIS, Texas (July 30, 2010) – Larry Dixon is a two-time NHRA Top Fuel world champion. Dixon also is the current points leader in the NHRA Full Throttle professional series. If that wasn’t enough, Dixon has claimed eight victories in eight final round appearances behind the wheel of his Al-Anabi Racing dragster in just the first 16 events of the 2010 season.

Larry Dixon, however, needs to brush up on his video game skills.

Dixon trailed Lankan, one of the many children he met during a visit to Dallas’ Children’s Hospital, while playing the Cars video game on Thursday. Dixon was in town to help promote the 25th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals, a race he has won twice (2001, 2007) at the Texas Motorplex. But the highlight of his trip was visiting one of the largest pediatric health care providers in the nation.

Dixon didn’t think twice about taking the time to pass out Texas Motorplex pencils, make Play-Doh cookies, sign his Al-Anabi dragster Hero Cards and chat with the kids and their families.

“One of my sons was in the hospital for three days earlier this year and you realize how important the children’s hospitals are to helping them heal,” Dixon said.

It won’t be long before Dixon is back in the DFW area to battle for the victory at the Texas Motorplex. The Motorplex is the third stop in the six-race playoff series that caps the 2010 season. Dixon and his team locked in first place going into the playoffs, which starts at the Sept. 1-6 U.S. Nationals before moving on to Charlotte (Sept. 16-19) and then the Texas Motorplex.

Dixon finished in second place in 2009, losing to seven-time NHRA champion Tony Schumacher by just two points. Once the final standings for the 2009 season were announced, Dixon said the team had a party at the season finale event unlike any other.

“We had a great party, the best second-place party ever,” Dixon said. “We were already looking forward to the 2010 season. Our team learned a lot and came together last season and just like last year, I like our chances going into the playoffs.

“I think I have the best crew, the best crew chief and the best car out there. You have to win rounds in the playoffs to earn the championship and I like our chances of being able to compete and win rounds.”

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.

Tickets for the 25th annual O’reilly Auto Parts Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals can be purchased by telephone at (800) MOTORPLEX, online at or at Call the track (800) MOTORPLEX or (972) 878-2641 for more information.

MEDIA CONTACT: Christie Johnson, 254-744-0270,


NHRA: You’ve Got To See It To Believe It!

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NHRA has created a spectacular video showcasing your favorite sport. To see all of the excitement of an NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event, click now to watch “NHRA: You’ve Got To See It To Believe It!”


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For event information or tickets please call 972-878-2641
or 1-800-MOTORPLEX (1-800-668-6775)