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Persistent rain and cooling air and track temperatures forced NHRA officials to call an end to Sunday’s action at the Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals with only a mostly complete first round in the books. The first rounds of both Top Fuel and Funny Car were completed and two of the eight first-round pairings in Pro Stock were run down the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona track before a rain, which had caused a four-hour delay earlier in the day, brought an end to the day’s activity at 5:20 p.m.
Racing will resume Monday at 10:30 a.m. with Stock eliminator. Round two of Top Fuel will follow at 11:30 a.m., followed by Funny Car and then the resumption of round one of Pro Stock. NHRA.com will present a live audiocast of the day’s action.
Monday’s racing will air during a two-hour show on ESPN2 and ESPN2HD at 9:30 p.m. (ET). Tickets will be available for Monday’s racing for $26. Fans holding tickets for any of the rain-delayed days (Thursday, Friday, or Sunday) may redeem those tickets on Monday for entry.
In-between the delays, quick times and exciting racing were the order of the day as many favorites fell to the tricky track conditions and the lack of ontrack time from Saturday’s one-shot qualifying, but both low qualifiers in the nitro classes moved on into round two.
Though it is just one round, things remained much the same in Top Fuel with Tony Schumacher leading the way with a 3.845 that gave him an easy win over rookie Del Cox Jr. Schumacher enters round two with lane choice over Brandon Bernstein, who had an interesting journey to the second round of competition. Both Bernstein and opponent Andy Carter had to pedal their cars, and Carter’s car responded quicker, giving him the edge. However, just when it appeared the European driver would score his first career NHRA round-win in his debut, his Lucas Oil ride began shedding body panels and drifted toward the centerline, ultimately crossing it and disqualifying Carter from competition.
Joining Schumacher and Bernstein in round two are Antron Brown, Mike Strasburg, Morgan Lucas, Steve Chrisman, Cory McClenathan, and Doug Kalitta. Only four of the first-round winners came from the top half of the ladder.
The upsets started early with independent runner Strasburg ousting Don Prudhomme’s U.S. Smokeless Racing team and rookie driver Spencer Massey. Chrisman continued the shockers when he bested David Baca in the following pair. Though he also started in the bottom half of the field, Morgan Lucas made a strong opening-round statement with the second quickest time of the round, a 3.846, that gave him the win over No. 2 qualifier Joe Hartley. Doug Kalitta also started from the slow half of the field, but his 4.648 was more than enough to move him around Urs Erbacher.
One driver from the top half of the field that did escape the first round was top qualifier Brown, who dodged a bullet when Steve Faria experienced more troubles and faded, allowing Brown to win with a 4.222. Fellow top half qualifier McClenathan also advanced when he bested Shawn Langdon, 3.934 to 4.221.
Funny Car low qualifier Robert Hight, who’s been to the last three Winternationals finals and won two of them, in 2006 and 2008, is a round closer to a fourth straight final-round appearance after getting past Jerry Toliver in their opening pairing. Hight’s Automobile Club of Southern California Mustang ripped to a 4.15 to beat the 2004 Winternationals winner to the finish line.
Although Hight advanced, his boss, John Force, in his new Castrol Edge Mustang, did not, as longtime rival Ron Capps put him on the trailer with a 4.125, the quickest pass of the round. Another Ford driver, Bob Tasca III and his Quick Lane Shelby, nearly matched Capps with a 4.127 against Hight’s teammate, Mike Neff, who compounded a red-light by getting extremely crossed up. In round two. Hight will face Jack Beckman, who downed reigning season champ Cruz Pedregon, and Tasca will race Capps. If both Hight and Tasca win their second-round duels, they’ll face off in the semifinals.
On the bottom half of the ladder, Del Worsham was the only driver to make close to a full pass as he booted Alan Johnson’s Al-Anabi Toyota to a 4.19 against Bob Bode. Worsham will face veteran Gary Densham in round two; Densham beat local hero Jeff Arend in their first-round tussle.
“When you get in these cool conditions like this, the track doesn’t become slippery; it actually gets more traction,” said Worsham, of Sunday’s conditions, which produced a number of tire-shaking runs. “When these tires bite like that, if they don’t slip a little bit, they tend to want to shake, and that’s what you were seeing with the tire shake out there and everybody trying to pedal it and get it down there. We just don’t run in these conditions enough to get good at it, so when we get into a situation like this when it happens, everybody’s just doing the best job they can do. If you can get it to where it’s not shaking, you could easily set a record out here right now.
“I’m extremely confident about tomorrow. The first round’s gone, and that really is the nerves, first round at the first race of the season. I feel a lot better about tomorrow, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Ashley Force Hood added a second John Force car to the quarterfinals when she bested rookie Matt Hagan’s BrakeSafe Dodge. She’s pair off in round two with Jim head, who advanced after former world champ Tony Pedregon hiked the front end after pedaling and crossed the centerline.
Brown, Hight, Anderson lead Winternationals qualifying
Cloudy and Windy conditions could not keep racers home for the first Open Test & Tune of Texas Motorplex’s 2009 Racing Season. Over 160 racers from all over North Texas arrived at the Texas Motorplex for their first chance of the season on the concrete quartermile.
Thank you to everyone that made this a great opening day, we hope to see everyone again at the next Open Test & Tune on February 21.
Here are a few pictures from the event:
Is your golf cart “Texas Style” and captures the spirit of Pinks All Out? If so, you could be selected to participate in the 2009 Great Texas Golf Cart Shootout at PINKS All Out on March 21. Click here for more info!
NHRA Full Throttle Series and ESPN partner for ninth straight season; TSN, American Forces also renew for ’09
|OTHER NHRA TV NEWSNHRA Lucas Oil Series returns to ESPN2, ESPN2HDNHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series enters eighth year on TSNAmerican Forces Network schedules full slate of NHRA programming|
The worldwide leader in sports television will join forces with NHRA for a ninth consecutive season in 2009 as ESPN2 returns as the exclusive network of the 24-race NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. ESPN2 is now available in more than 96 million households.
The partnership that began in 2001 has grown stronger with each year of the relationship. In 2008, the fast-growing NHRA Full Throttle Series delivered 9 percent ratings growth on its Sunday eliminations broadcast.
The 2009 season begins in Southern California with the 49th annual Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona Feb. 5-8. It will conclude back in Pomona with the season-ending Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals Nov. 12-15, the sixth and final race in the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to 1, and like each of the previous five races in the NHRA playoffs, it will be shown in prime time (7-10 p.m. ET).
In all, the network will dedicate more than 120 hours of original programming to the world’s quickest, fastest, and most intense motorsport with live or same-day coverage of qualifying and eliminations on Sundays.
Sixteen of the 24 races will begin or end in the 7-10 p.m. ET time slot, and all 24 of the races will be presented once again in high definition.
Additionally, the popular pre-race show that debuted in 2007, NHRA Race Day presented by Lucas Oil, will be back in 2009 and again will be produced on-site to allow fans attending the Sunday race a chance to watch – and participate in – the show. It will air Sundays from each of the 24 NHRA Full Throttle Series events.
Highlights of NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series coverage on ESPN2 and ESPN2HD include consistent time slots Sunday evening for the final eliminations rounds, with a majority in the coveted Sunday night prime-time slot. In addition, the network will dedicate 10 hours of coverage to the world’s most prestigious drag race, the 55th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at historic O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis Labor Day weekend, Sept. 2-7.
Paul Page returns to the broadcast booth alongside former drag racer Mike Dunn, who will provide expert analysis and insight on the racing action. Dave Rieff and Gary Gerould will return as pit reporters. Joining them at select races throughout the year will be veteran announcer John Kernan, who joined the NHRA broadcast team in 2007.
NHRA Race Day presented by Lucas Oil will be hosted once again by Rieff and Dunn and originate from NHRA’s Nitro Alley. NHRA Race Day presented by Lucas Oil sets up the day for fans at home with must-see matchups, interviews with the stars of the sport, driver features, news and analysis, a review of qualifying, and what to watch for during the all-important Sunday eliminations action.
This year’s schedule includes four qualifying shows that will repeat on ESPN2 and ESPN2HD Sunday morning. Those shows are from the events in Phoenix, Gainesville, Reading, and Memphis, all of which have non-prime-time original airtime slots Saturday night.
In addition to coverage on ESPN2 and ESPN2HD, NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing will be aired and distributed internationally through ESPN International.
2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series television schedule
|Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals, Pomona||Qualifying, 10 p.m.-midnight, Feb. 7|
|Eliminations, 6:30-10 p.m., Feb. 8|
|NHRA Race Day, 11:30 a.m., Feb. 8|
|NHRA Arizona Nationals, Phoenix||Qualifying, 2-4 a.m., Feb. 22|
|Qualifying (re-air), 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Feb. 22|
|Eliminations, 7-10 p.m., Feb. 22|
|NHRA Race Day, 12:30 p.m., Feb. 22|
|ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals, Gainesville||Qualifying, 2-4 a.m., March 15|
|Qualifying (re-air), 10-11:30 a.m., March 15|
|Eliminations, (ESPN), 3-6 p.m., March 15|
|NHRA Race Day, 11:30 a.m., March 15|
|O’Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals, Houston||Qualifying, 8-10 p.m., March 28|
|Eliminations, 4:30-7:30 p.m., March 29|
|NHRA Race Day, 11 a.m., March 29|
|SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals, Las Vegas||Qualifying, 8-10 p.m., April 4|
|Eliminations, 4-7 p.m., April 5|
|NHRA Race Day, 11 a.m., April 5|
|Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals, Atlanta||Qualifying, 6-8 p.m., April 18|
|Eliminations, 7-10 p.m., April 19|
|NHRA Race Day, 11 a.m., April 19|
|O’Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals, Madison||Qualifying, 8-10 p.m., May 2|
|Eliminations, 7-10 p.m., May 3|
|NHRA Race Day, 11 a.m., May 3|
|NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, Bristol||Qualifying, 8-10 p.m., May 16|
|.||Eliminations, 7-10:30 p.m., May 17|
|NHRA Race Day, 11 a.m., May 17|
|O’Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals, Topeka||Qualifying, 9:30-11:30 p.m., May 30|
|Eliminations, 4-7 p.m., May 31|
|NHRA Race Day, 11 a.m., May 31|
|NHRA Route 66 Nationals, Chicago||Qualifying, 10:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m., June 6|
|Eliminations, 4-7 p.m., June 7|
|NHRA Race Day, 11 a.m., June 7|
|NHRA SuperNationals, Englishtown||Qualifying, 7-8 p.m., 11:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m., June 13|
|Eliminations, 10 p.m.-1 a.m., June 14|
|NHRA Race Day, noon, June 14|
|Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, Norwalk||Qualifying, 8-10 p.m., June 27|
|Eliminations, 8-11 p.m., June 28|
|NHRA Race Day, noon, June 28|
|Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals, Denver||Qualifying, 10 p.m.-midnight, July 11|
|Eliminations, 8-11 p.m., July 12|
|NHRA Race Day, 11 a.m., July 12|
|NHRA Northwest Nationals, Seattle||Qualifying, 7-9 p.m., July 18|
|Eliminations, 9 p.m.-midnight, July 19|
|NHRA Race Day, 11 a.m., July 19|
|Fram Autolite NHRA Nationals, Sonoma||Qualifying, 6-8 p.m, July 25|
|Eliminations, 9 p.m.-midnight, July 26|
|NHRA Race Day, 11 a.m., July 26|
|Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, Brainerd||Qualifying, 6-7 p.m., Aug. 15|
|Eliminations, 10 p.m.-1 a.m., Aug. 16|
|NHRA Race Day, 11 a.m., Aug. 16|
|Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals, Reading||Qualifying, 1-3 a.m., Aug. 23|
|Qualifying (re-air), 10-11:30 a.m., Aug. 23|
|Eliminations, 10 p.m.-1 a.m., Aug. 23|
|NHRA Race Day, 11:30 a.m., Aug. 23|
|Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, Indianapolis||Qualifying, 11 p.m.-midnight, Sept. 5|
|Qualifying, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m., Sept. 6|
|Qualifying, 5-7 p.m., Sept. 6|
|Eliminations, 1:30-6 p.m., Sept. 7|
|NHRA Race Day, 11 a.m., Sept. 6|
|NHRA Nationals, Charlotte||Qualifying, 11:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m., Sept.19|
|Eliminations, 7-10 p.m., Sept. 20|
|NHRA Race Day, 11 a.m., Sept. 20|
|O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals, Dallas||Qualifying, 10 p.m.-midnight, Sept. 26|
|Eliminations, 7-10 p.m., Sept. 27|
|NHRA Race Day, 11 a.m., Sept. 27|
|O’Reilly NHRA Mid-South Nationals, Memphis||Qualifying, 1-3 a.m., Oct. 4|
|Qualifying (re-air), 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Oct. 4|
|Eliminations, 7-10 p.m., Oct. 4|
|NHRA Race Day, 11 a.m., Oct. 4|
|NHRA Virginia Nationals, Richmond||Qualifying, 10:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m., Oct. 10|
|Eliminations, 7-10 p.m., Oct. 11|
|NHRA Race Day, 11 a.m., Oct. 11|
|NHRA Las Vegas Nationals, Las Vegas||Qualifying, 10 p.m.-midnight, Oct. 31|
|Eliminations, 7-10 p.m., Nov. 1|
|NHRA Race Day, 11 a.m., Nov. 1|
|Auto Club NHRA Finals, Pomona||Qualifying, 10:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m., Nov. 14|
|Eliminations, 7-10 p.m., Nov. 15|
|NHRA Race Day, 11 a.m., Nov. 15|
|* All times ET. Schedule subject to change. Please check local listings.|
Anyone interested in getting their chassis certified at the Test & Tune on Feb 21, space is limited, please call 972-878-2641 to sign up for a space.