Edwards Scores Maximum Qualifying Bonus Points

September 27, 2009 by  
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ENNIS, Texas – Pro Stock racer Mike Edwards took advantage of NHRA’s new qualifying bonus point system and earned the maximum 12 points during two days of qualifying at the O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals. For his efforts, the Oklahoma racer earned his category-leading 12th No. 1 qualifying position of the season Saturday at the Texas Motorplex.

Larry Dixon, Robert Hight and Eddie Krawiec also claimed No. 1 qualifying positions in their categories at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event. The race is the second of six events in the Countdown to 1, NHRA’s championship playoffs.

Edwards was quickest in both sessions for the day in his A.R.T. / Young Life Pontiac GXP, but it was his 6.597 second run at 209.88 mph from Friday that earned him the top spot. He will face V. Gaines in Sunday’s 11 a.m. eliminations.

Per the new rule, the top three qualifiers in each pro category earn 3, 2, and 1 points respectively during each qualifying session. Edwards’ total increased his series lead over defending champ Jeg Coughlin, who earned 5 qualifying bonus points.

“Hat’s off to all my guys, they were making some really good judgments for this last qualifying run,” Edwards said. “We had like 122 track temp, and I just made a phenomenal run. Moved around just a little bit down low, but boy, it was really nice. Hopefully we can make good decisions tomorrow. I’m really happy with my team and the car and my performance and everything. But tomorrow is another day, so we’ll see what happens. We’re all out here trying to win rounds so every round you can win you try to do all you can. If we could win this race here, it would really help us a lot, but there are 15 other guys who are trying to do the same thing. It’s going to be a tough job, but I think we’re capable.”

In Top Fuel, Al-Anabi Racing’s Dixon earned his sixth No. 1 of the season, 37th of his career and second consecutive in the playoffs, with his 3.833 at 312.93 mph performance from Friday. Brandon Bernstein and Spencer Massey were quickest of the day.

“Yesterday was a lot more fun than today,” Dixon said. “Conditions were obviously pretty warm. We went out there and tried a few things on the first run, then we went back to a normal set-up and still got the tires loose, so we’ll calm her down a little more. It’s going to be hotter tomorrow, so we’ve got to make sure we get our car down the racetrack.”

The two-time world champ will face opening round opponent Mike Bowers, who is making his first career start in Top Fuel. Dixon says with warm conditions forecast for Sunday, anything can happen.

“The first couple of rounds probably won’t be too bad, but if we’re fortunate enough to get to the semifinals, we’re going to be running around 3 o’clock, and that’s the hottest part of the day,” Dixon said. “We measured 127 [degrees track temperature on the second run], so it was pretty hot. But when you’re sitting in that car ready to run and the last thing you see is Alan Johnson stick his hands in their and turn the knobs, you don’t worry about anything; it’s a good feeling.”

Hight took his third No. 1 position of the season and 31st of his career in Funny Car with his Friday run of 4.109 at 305.56 in his Auto Club Ford Mustang. Ashley Force Hood and Bob Tasca III posted the quickest runs of the day.

“We knew that with today’s weather that we were definitely going to stay No. 1; nobody was going to run a .10,” Hight said. “But we only got down the track once today and I’d feel better going into race day if we’d done better in the heat. It dropped a cylinder on that last run and if that hadn’t happened it probably would have run near what the quick guys were running.”

Hight will face first-time NHRA Funny Car racer Leif Helander in the opening round as he tries to keep his recent hot streak going.

“We’re racing a guy from Sweden and you know he’s got to be hungry,” Hight said. “There are no easy ones. You know he’s going out there trying to get his first national event round-win, so we’re going to have to do our job tomorrow. Looking at the ladder, there are a lot of first-round match-ups of the Countdown cars, so a lot of those guys are going to be gone early and if we can do what we did in Charlotte we can keep this thing rolling. But it won’t be easy. It’s going to be hotter tomorrow and we’ve got to go down the track to win.”

The three marquee Countdown to 1 first-round pairings Hight was referring to include Tim Wilkerson vs. Ron Capps; Force Hood vs. Del Worsham; and Tasca III vs. Tony Pedregon.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Krawiec claimed his second top qualifying position of the season with his Friday performance of 6.908 at 192.55 on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson. Krawiec earned eight qualifying bonus points for the weekend, but Saturday’s quickest riders were Krawiec teammate Andrew Hines and series leader Hector Arana.

“Like I said yesterday, I really didn’t think my run was going to hold up for the session this morning,” said Krawiec, who will face Redell Harris in the first round. “I was fortunate that it got a little hotter and the humidity went up. The weather conditions weren’t quite as good I was able to maintain the No. 1 position. I think on any race day, it doesn’t matter where you qualify or where you are in the field. Bottom line is, as long as you qualify, you have a shot. I don’t take any competitor out here lightly. They all have fast motorcycles they all just have to get tuned into the track conditions and weather conditions. I think anybody out there can possibly shine tomorrow. I’m just going to go out there and race my own race.”

* * *

ENNIS, Texas — First-round pairings for Sunday’s professional eliminations Sunday at the 24th annual O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec at Texas Motorplex, the 20th of 24 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, and the second of six events in the Countdown to 1, NHRA’s championship playoffs. Pairings based on results in qualifying, which ended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings.

Top Fuel — 1. Larry Dixon, 3.833 seconds, 312.93 mph vs. 16. Mike Bowers, 4.018, 296.50; 2. Morgan Lucas, 3.859, 313.58 vs. 15. Mike Strasburg, 4.017, 304.05; 3. Tony Schumacher, 3.860, 312.78 vs. 14. T.J. Zizzo, 3.992, 307.16; 4. Shawn Langdon, 3.872, 311.56 vs. 13. Clay Millican, 3.984, 306.88; 5. Cory McClenathan, 3.878, 315.86 vs. 12. Doug Kalitta, 3.979, 308.28; 6. Antron Brown, 3.878, 314.61 vs. 11. Terry Haddock, 3.954, 304.46; 7. Spencer Massey, 3.879, 307.16 vs. 10. Bob Vandergriff, 3.931, 307.93; 8. Brandon Bernstein, 3.889, 313.44 vs. 9. Steve Torrence, 3.901, 310.20. Did Not Qualify: 17. Urs Erbacher, 4.102, 294.18; 18. Scott Palmer, 4.154, 270.05; 19. Todd Simpson, 4.731, 209.33.

Funny Car — 1. Robert Hight, Ford Mustang, 4.109, 305.56 vs. 16. Leif Helander, Chevy Camaro, 10.185, 89.49; 2. John Force, Mustang, 4.149, 302.41 vs. 15. Grant Downing, Chevy Monte Carlo, 4.374, 255.63; 3. Jerry Toliver, Monte Carlo, 4.163, 302.55 vs. 14. Jeff Arend, Toyota Solara, 4.256, 292.27; 4. Ashley Force Hood, Mustang, 4.173, 295.79 vs. 13. Del Worsham, Solara, 4.246, 294.05; 5. Mike Neff, Mustang, 4.181, 298.40 vs. 12. Cruz Pedregon, Solara, 4.234, 294.43; 6. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.188, 294.56 vs. 11. Tony Pedregon, Chevy Impala, 4.228, 291.95; 7. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 4.194, 296.44 vs. 10. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.207, 294.75; 8. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.204, 294.95 vs. 9. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.207, 295.27.

Pro Stock — 1. Mike Edwards, Pontiac GXP, 6.597, 209.88 vs. 16. V. Gaines, Dodge Stratus, 6.700, 206.10; 2. Jason Line, GXP, 6.611, 209.33 vs. 15. Matt Hartford, Stratus, 6.697, 206.99; 3. Jeg Coughlin, Chevy Cobalt, 6.614, 209.33 vs. 14. Steve Spiess, Cobalt, 6.695, 207.15; 4. Tom Hammonds, Cobalt, 6.620, 208.17 vs. 13. Allen Johnson, Stratus, 6.688, 207.94; 5. Greg Anderson, GXP, 6.628, 208.97 vs. 12. Warren Johnson, GXP, 6.660, 208.68; 6. Kurt Johnson, Cobalt, 6.639, 208.52 vs. 11. Rodger Brogdon, GXP, 6.655, 207.94; 7. Johnny Gray, Stratus, 6.639, 208.10 vs. 10. Larry Morgan, Stratus, 6.653, 207.72; 8. Greg Stanfield, GXP, 6.643, 208.49 vs. 9. Ron Krisher, Cobalt, 6.645, 208.17. Did Not Qualify: 17. Mark Buehring, 8.928, 202.15.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.908, 192.55 vs. 16. Redell Harris, Buell, 7.179, 183.24; 2. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.912, 193.07 vs. 15. Joe DeSantis, Suzuki, 7.127, 188.81; 3. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.930, 191.95 vs. 14. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 7.113, 183.72; 4. Matt Smith, Suzuki, 6.944, 192.14 vs. 13. Junior Pippin, Buell, 7.094, 188.89; 5. Douglas Horne, Buell, 6.966, 190.75 vs. 12. Mike Berry, Buell, 7.092, 186.56; 6. Michael Phillips, Suzuki, 6.976, 194.60 vs. 11. Craig Treble, Suzuki, 7.074, 187.50; 7. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.997, 190.75 vs. 10. David Hope, Buell, 7.068, 185.28; 8. Shawn Gann, Buell, 7.014, 190.62 vs. 9. Angie McBride, Buell, 7.049, 186.56. Did Not Qualify: 17. Bailey Whitaker, 7.256, 183.34; 18. Blaine Hale, 7.279, 184.40.

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Hight, Dixon, Edwards and Krawiec Lead Qualifying

September 26, 2009 by  
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ENNIS, Texas – Robert Hight raced to the Funny Car qualifying lead Friday at the O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec.

Larry Dixon, Mike Edwards and Eddie Krawiec also led their categories at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event.

Hight, who barely made it into the NHRA Full Throttle Series Countdown to 1, has made the most of his opportunity and followed up his win last weekend in Charlotte, N.C. by leading qualifying at the Texas Motorplex at the second event in the six-race championship playoffs.

Hight powered his Auto Club Ford Mustang to a No. 1 effort of 4.109 seconds at 305.56 mph. If the performance holds through Saturday’s two qualifying sessions (11:15 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.) it will be his third No.1 position of the season. Hight earned three bonus points in qualifying under NHRA’s new qualifying bonus system, announced prior to the start of the Countdown to 1, which awards the top three qualifiers in each pro category 3, 2 and 1 points per session.

“It’s a good way to start the weekend,” Hight said. “We’ve kind of gotten on a roll here. People have been joking with me saying we sandbagged all year, and that’s not the approach we took, trust me. We would loved to have had this a lot sooner, but we’re definitely going to take it now that we’ve got it. The trick now is to keep running with, keep doing this. We tried too hard the first run, so we definitely needed to go down the track tonight, and to put a 4.10 on the board is pretty gutsy. But it stuck and it looked like there was more room. Tomorrow we’re going to have to run in the heat and practice for Sunday because it’s going to be hot out there.”

Hight’s Team owner, John Force, was second in his Castrol GTX High-Mileage Mustang, while veteran Jerry Toliver was third overall in his Canidae Chevy Monte Carlo.

In Top Fuel, Dixon paced the field with a 3.833 at 312.93 in his Al-Anabi Racing dragster to hold down the top spot. He was quickest in both sessions and earned the maximum six-point bonus available in his category.

“Before, being in the top three or four was okay,” Dixon said. “Now, you want to be low every session. We came into the race 21 points out, then after the first session it was 18 and now it’s 15. Even if we don’t get any points tomorrow, we’ve did okay. Those points can absolutely make a difference. That [3.94 in the first session] was a good baseline run for us. It was very safe, and I know it’s going to be warm tomorrow, and that will allow us to press a little harder to see what we can get away with on Sunday. We know we can run a 3.94, so if we can run a 3.90 or 3.88 or something like that, then obviously that kind of information will help.”

Morgan Lucas was second in his GEICO Powersports/Lucas Oil dragster, while Tony Schumacher was third in his U.S. Army dragster. Charlotte winner and points leader Cory McClenathan was fifth overall in his FRAM Tough Guard dragster.

Edwards continued his impressive playoff performance and raced to the lead in Pro Stock with a 6.597 at 209.88 in his A.R.T./Young Life Pontiac GXP. Edwards was quickest in both sessions, which netted him six bonus points.

“The conditions are good enough to run .50s,” said Edwards, who is looking to claim his 12th No. 1 qualifying position of the season if the performance holds through Saturday. “I think the track was real tricky the first run and then tonight we got a little bit more weather in here as far as humidity and it really affects these aspirated engines. I think that might have slowed some of us down a little bit. We actually went pretty hard left that time so I feel like we ran pretty good for the e.t. we got. I think we could have run just a little bit better maybe. But overall, my guys made great decisions and I’m happy with the results.”

Krawiec was quickest in Pro Stock Motorcycle, with a performance of 6.908 at 192.36 on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson. He also earned six bonus points for being quickest in both sessions.

“It’s great to be back up here again,” said Krawiec, who earned his only No. 1 qualifying position this season at Sonoma in July. “For awhile I didn’t know if my Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson would make it back in the No. 1 spot, but the confidence in my whole team and everybody out there, it’s been working. We did some work in between the last race and this race, got here a few days early, pulled out the Matco Tools and got to work on the bike. We couldn’t be any more excited with the results. [Getting the] six bonus points, that’s huge. We count every point that there is and with that new scoring system and points it gives you an opportunity to hopefully get 20 points by the end of the weekend if you’re the No. 1 guy. I got the first half of that, now let’s just hope I can get the second. The track is great, it’s working well and hooking really good for us. The weather conditions are almost second to none. There are a lot of times when you go to these and you don’t know what you’re going to get.”

* * *

ENNIS, Texas — Results Friday after the first two of four rounds of qualifying for the 24th annual O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec at Texas Motorplex, 20th of 24 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series and the second of six in the Countdown to 1, NHRA’s championship playoffs. Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday’s final eliminations.

Top Fuel — 1. Larry Dixon, 3.833 seconds, 312.93 mph; 2. Morgan Lucas, 3.859, 313.58; 3. Tony Schumacher, 3.860, 312.78; 4. Shawn Langdon, 3.872, 311.56; 5. Cory McClenathan, 3.878, 315.86; 6. Antron Brown, 3.878, 314.61; 7. Spencer Massey, 3.879, 306.53; 8. Brandon Bernstein, 3.902, 311.85; 9. Bob Vandergriff, 3.931, 307.93; 10. Steve Torrence, 3.954, 289.57; 11. Mike Strasburg, 4.017, 302.89; 12. Mike Bowers, 4.018, 296.50. Not Qualified: 13. T.J. Zizzo, 4.067, 296.44; 14. Todd Simpson, 4.339, 209.33; 15. Doug Kalitta, 5.248, 142.52; 16. Clay Millican, 6.372, 94.14; 17. Scott Palmer, 6.410, 105.30; 18. Urs Erbacher, 6.781, 85.65; 19. Terry Haddock, broke.

Funny Car — 1. Robert Hight, Ford Mustang, 4.109, 305.56; 2. John Force, Mustang, 4.149, 302.41; 3. Jerry Toliver, Chevy Monte Carlo, 4.163, 302.55; 4. Ashley Force Hood, Mustang, 4.173, 293.92; 5. Mike Neff, Mustang, 4.181, 298.40; 6. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.188, 291.26; 7. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 4.194, 296.44; 8. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.204, 294.95; 9. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.207, 295.27; 10. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.207, 294.75; 11. Tony Pedregon, Chevy Impala, 4.228, 290.76; 12. Jeff Arend, Toyota Solara, 4.256, 292.27. Not Qualified: 13. Grant Downing, 4.322, 236.09; 14. Cruz Pedregon, 4.541, 273.44; 15. Del Worsham, 4.688, 214.69; 16. Leif Helander, 5.547, 131.81.

Pro Stock — 1. Mike Edwards, Pontiac GXP, 6.597, 209.88; 2. Jason Line, GXP, 6.611, 209.33; 3. Jeg Coughlin, Chevy Cobalt, 6.614, 209.33; 4. Tom Hammonds, Cobalt, 6.620, 208.17; 5. Greg Anderson, GXP, 6.628, 208.97; 6. Kurt Johnson, Cobalt, 6.639, 208.42; 7. Johnny Gray, Dodge Stratus, 6.639, 208.10; 8. Greg Stanfield, GXP, 6.643, 208.49; 9. Ron Krisher, Cobalt, 6.645, 207.82; 10. Larry Morgan, Stratus, 6.653, 207.72; 11. Rodger Brogdon, GXP, 6.655, 207.94; 12. Warren Johnson, GXP, 6.660, 208.68. Not Qualified: 13. Steve Spiess, 6.666, 207.15; 14. Allen Johnson, 6.675, 207.94; 15. V. Gaines, 6.690, 206.10; 16. Matt Hartford, 6.696, 206.99; 17. Mark Buehring, 6.798, 202.15.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.908, 192.36; 2. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.912, 191.81; 3. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.948, 191.95; 4. Douglas Horne, Buell, 6.966, 190.75; 5. Michael Phillips, Suzuki, 6.976, 194.60; 6. Matt Smith, Suzuki, 7.003, 190.11; 7. Shawn Gann, Buell, 7.014, 190.62; 8. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 7.026, 186.85; 9. David Hope, Buell, 7.068, 185.28; 10. Craig Treble, Suzuki, 7.074, 187.50; 11. Mike Berry, Buell, 7.092, 184.67; 12. Joe DeSantis, Suzuki, 7.127, 188.81. Not Qualified: 13. Junior Pippin, 7.129, 188.89; 14. Steve Johnson, 7.129, 182.18; 15. Bailey Whitaker, 7.182, 183.34; 16. Angie McBride, 7.273, 183.12; 17. Blaine Hale, 7.287, 180.33; 18. Redell Harris, 7.299, 182.77.

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Campgrounds are open, cars are going down the track…..

September 25, 2009 by  
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Sept. 25, 2009 – Fans are coming to the Texas Motorplex and they plan to stay a while. The 24th annual O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals started Thursday and now that the sun is out and professional racers are on site, the campgrounds are filling up.

Sportsman racing started Thursday morning and continues today. NHRA Full Throttle Series professional qualifying starts Friday, continues on Saturday and wraps up with eliminations on Sunday.

The Motorplex is one of the final six events of the 2009 season – which make up the Countdown to 1 playoff schedule. Only the top 10 racers in each of the four professional categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle – will earn the right to compete for the 2009 NHRA championships. All professional racers had 18 events to battle their way into the top 10.

SCHEDULE:
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.

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.

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It’s Racing Weather!

September 24, 2009 by  
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ENNIS, Texas (Sept. 24, 2009) — Some people call crisp, clear mornings and nights perfect football conditions. This weekend, however, those conditions will only help the quickest and fastest motorsport in the world produce an even more exciting show for fans.

Cool and crisp? Yeah, that’s racing weather.

The 24th annual Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals kicks off today with hundreds of competitors ready for hot side-by-side action at the cool track. Weather.com predicted 0% chance of precipitation for Saturday and Sunday in the weekend forecast and high temps are expected to be in the 80′s.

This is a recipe for records, and under the new NHRA points system, Top Fuel and Funny Car can now set records and receive valuable Full Throttle Countdown to One championships points for setting E.T. records for the 1000-ft. racing distance.

The Motorplex is one of the final six events of the 2009 season – which make up the Countdown to 1 playoff schedule. Only the top 10 racers in each of the four professional categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle – will earn the right to compete for the 2009 NHRA championships. All professional racers had 18 events to battle their way into the top 10.

J.R. Todd earned the 2008 Top Fuel victory at the Motorplex while Tim Wilkerson is defending the Funny Car title, Greg Stanfield will be defending Pro Stock and Chris Rivas will defend the Pro Stock Motorcycle title.

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), ticketmaster.com or at the track.

TOP FUEL COUNTDOWN RACERS:

1. Antron Brown 2110 Hadman
2. Larry Dixon 2080 Hadman
3. Tony Schumacher 2070 Hadman
4. Brandon Bernstein 2060 Hadman
5. Cory McClenathan 2050 Hadman
6. Spencer Massey 2040 Dragster
7. Morgan Lucas 2030 Hadman
8. Shawn Langdon 2020 Hadman
9. Doug Kalitta 2010 Attac
10. Clay Millican 2000 Hadman

FUNNY CAR COUNTDOWN RACERS:

1. Tony Pedregon 2110 Chevrolet
2. Ron Capps 2080 Dodge
3. Ashley Force 2070 Ford
4. Bob Tasca III 2060 Ford
5. Jack Beckman 2050 Dodge
6. Tim Wilkerson 2040 Ford
7. John Force 2030 Ford
8. Del Worsham 2020 Toyota
9. Mike Neff 2010 Ford
10. Robert Hight 2000 Ford

PRO STOCK COUNTDOWN RACERS:

1. Jeg Coughlin 2110 Chevrolet
2. Jason Line 2080 Pontiac
3. Mike Edwards 2070 Pontiac
4. Greg Anderson 2060 Pontiac
5. Allen Johnson 2050 Dodge
6. Greg Stanfield 2040 Pontiac
7. Ron Krisher 2030 Chevrolet
8. Kurt Johnson 2020 Chevrolet
9. Richard Jones 2010 Dodge
10. Johnny Gray 2000 Dodge

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE RACERS:

1. Ed Krawiec 2110 Harley-Davidson
2. Andrew Hines 2080 Harley-Davidson
3. Hector Arana 2070 Buell
4. Matt Smith 2060 Suzuki
5. Douglas Horne 2050 Buell
6. Craig Treble 2040 Suzuki
7. Michael Phillips 2030 Suzuki
8. Matt Guidera 2020 Buell
9. Shawn Gann 2010 Buell
10. Karen Stoffer 2000 Suzuki

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Schumacher seeking playoff success at the Texas Motorplex

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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.

2008 EVENT

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 -

TOP FUEL

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.

FUNNY CAR

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.

PRO STOCK

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.

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