AUGUST 2006 NEWS
THE NHRA ADJUSTS BLOWN ALCOHOL DRAGSTER OVERDRIVE
(9-7-2006) - The NHRA Competition Committee has announced an adjustment to the maximum overdrive limit in blown alcohol dragster combinations. Effective immediately, the blower overdrive limit will be increased to 2.28 for all screw-type supercharger entries.
HANDWRITING MAY BE ON THE WALL FOR NHRA PRO MODIFIED
(9-7-2006) - The AMS Pro Mod series recently posted an announcement on AMSProMods.com, that if a sponsor agreement is not made by the Las Vegas race, Dave Wood and AMS will back out. This is not a red flag sent out by AMS or NHRA, just a communication with teams and fans, and the AMS series wanted everyone to know the whole story.
According to Matthew Brammer, series administrator, “I think it’s important, and it’s been important all year, that we communicate and know what’s going on. People have to plan, racers have to plan, and teams have to got to do all those things, and that’s critical. I made a commitment at the beginning of the season to let people know what’s going on. Dave and I talked, and we both agreed that we have to set a timeline with this; we have to draw a line in the sand. We’re not going to let it happen like it did last year, not February, January, okay guys now we have a series. So, what we said and what’s on the AMS Pro Mod site, is Dave has said if we don’t have the funding signed, sealed, and delivered by Las Vegas, which is our last race, he’s going to pull his support of the series.
“Now, with that said, that is in no way a white flag, we’re not throwing in the towel, there’s nothing like that. I think that we have some incredibly good things, especially after this weekend. Things are looking better for next year then they have in a very long time. We’re talking about a better program; better television, larger purses, and even expanding the races, so the outlook is really positive, and there is a line in the sand so people can plan their rides. That’s really what the whole point is.” - Amy Johnson
A FEW WORDS WITH BILL BADER, JR. NEWEST HOST OF AN NHRA NATIONAL EVENT
(9-7-2006) - The last few weeks have been rather mind boggling for Bill Bader, Jr., the president of Norwalk Raceway Park. About 48 hours after the belated conclusion of the last-ever IHRA World Nationals at NRP the track and NHRA jointly announced it would switch sanction and host a new POWERade Series event beginning next June 28th.
We caught up with him in the pits at O’Reilly Raceway Park for a few questions.
COMPPLUS: What’s been the reaction of the people you’ve bumped into here t the news about your track?
BADER: The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. I was not on this property more than two minutes before a father and son came up to me and told me they attend the Night Under Fire show every year and also go to a variety of NHRA POWERade races. They just couldn’t believe the big show was coming to Norwalk Raceway Park.
I’ve probably had 12 to 15 people approach me since then, and I’m embarrassed to tell you that I didn’t know a lot of them, but from spectators, sponsors, sportsman drivers, the reaction has been extraordinary.
COMPPLUS: Are you trying to make contact with sponsors and racers?
BADER: We haven’ been in years, so I thought I’d take my lovely wife of 17 years on a little vacation, and I brought her to the biggest drag race in the world!
We’re also going to do an interview with ESPN, and we’ve also got some print interviews scheduled. I’m really just trying to decompress afte a long couple of weeks.
COMPPLUS: How was the World Nationals from an aesthetic and financial standpoint?
BADER: The World Nationals was very good. Obviously, we had a huge number of racers. The fact that it ended the way it did because of the weather, and having to bring everyone back on Monday, and then losing Monday should not in any way overshadow the excitement that was generated by the event. To be honest with you I don’t know how profitable it was because we haven’t looked at the numbers yet. We got a lot of positive emails in the days that followed, so I think it was good. - Jon Asher
TROY CRITCHLEY RACES TO 239 BLAST AT INDY
(9-7-2006) – Australian-born NHRA AMS Pro Modified driver Troy Critchley enjoyed one of his finest outings of the season with a quarter-final finish during the NHRA U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis. He also did it in rapid fashion by establishing the quickest-ever mile per hour in the history of the series with a 239.40 trap speed behind the wheel of the AMS Staff Leasing-sponsored 1970 Barracuda. Critchley’s day could have gone even further had it not have been for parts attrition and an inexpensive part at that.
Just to think, a $5 part was the only thing that was able to negate a .42 starting line advantage over Tony Pontieri. Yes, you read that correctly – over four tenths of a second.
“It sickens me to think about it,” Critchley said. “You do everything you can to win and we definitely had a strong car on Monday and then that happened. One bad break does not ruin a weekend of good fortunes and we certainly had a lot to be thankful for as Indy.”
Call Critchley a speed demon or call him what you want, but after Indy you can call him the fastest Pro Modified racer in the United States. It’s a combination that he wants to make a household name – power by Critchley and tune by Moon.
Howard Moon, the veteran tuner for the AMS Rage team also directed Critchley’s teammate Josh Hernandez to the winner’s circle. Last year they combined for a top qualifying position and a runner-up finish. Moon definitely knows Indy.
The interesting part of the scenario is if Critchley could have secured the victory, he would have faced Hernandez in the semi-finals.
“It would have been a race at Indy that people would have talked about for a long time,” Critchley said.
Race fans were already talking after Critchley entered eliminations as the 10th quickest qualifier with a 6.140, 237.38 best.
In the opening round, Critchley fired his first major volley with a victory over Chip King with his best run of the weekend. He nailed the timers with a 6.077 at over 239 miles per hour.
During Monday’s quarter-final race against Pontieri, Critchley did have a monster starting line advantage because of two factors. Pontieri was extremely tardy and Critchley (.028 reaction time) was extremely quick.
Less than four seconds in the run, Critchley’s machine stopped pulling and he could only watch helplessly as his weekend ended.
FLATOUT GASKETS MERGER NEWS
(9-7-2006) - Flatout Group has completed a merger to form Flatout Group, LLC. This will allow for the continued expansion of the Flatout Gasket product line into the traditional and further into performance automotive arenas. Established in 1998, Flatout Group has been manufacturing Performance, Original Equipment and Aftermarket automotive gaskets since 2000 and is also known for their quality metal fabrication business. “With engines evolving, we saw the importance of enhancing our capabilities moving towards rubber molded/carrier based gaskets,” said Mark Adelizzi, President of Flatout Group.“Vertical integration and quality is just the beginning of what our additional resources will bring to us, Adelizzi added. “With our one-stop shopping approach, Flatout Gaskets will now be able to offer the aftermarket consumer these benefits."
New Flatout Gaskets Manufacturing Features:
Total in-house product/mold design, development and fabrication for steel or plastic carrier based, rubber molded gaskets.
Total in-house manufacturing from all aspects of design to production.
Quality assurance to the highest standards of ISO/TS16949:2002 and ISO 9001:2000
Material technology options, offering emerging technologies that are all leading edge. LIM & heat cured silicone rubber, FKM, nitrile and plastic molding.
Along with the merger, plans are to build a technology center in Northern Illinois to house all aspects of product development, testing and manufacturing under one roof.Flatout Gaskets and Flatout Fabrications also feature products manufactured for all forms of motorsports and other industries, including automotive and heavy–duty. Flatout also produces fabricated sheet metal products and custom machine components. High and low volume die cutting, abrasive waterjet machining, stamping, forming and welding all are specialties at Flatout!Their corporate phone, fax and internet contact info will remain the same.The 2006 Flatout Gaskets catalog which was released earlier this year is available and covers popular performance aftermarket engine applications. A wide ranging selection of (RCC) Rubber Coated Copper and SaberSeal MLS (Multi-Layer Steel) head gaskets, intake and header gaskets are offered. Flatout also specializes in low volume and custom gasket applications that are available to enthusiasts, racers and engine builders.To checkout the Flatout Group website or their on-line gasket catalog, please go to: www.flatoutgroup.com
WORLD FOOTBRAKE CHALLENGE - $50,000 TO WIN AT BRISTOL DRAGWAY
(9-7-2006) - Nationally recognized Footbrake
competitors Jared Pennington
and Steve Stites announced today that they will be taking a step out from
behind the wheel and into the tower at Bristol Dragway next April 13-15.
The duo has teamed to promote the greatest Footbrake event in history at
the beautiful Bristol Facility, headlined by an unheard of $50,000-to-win
main event Saturday April 14. In addition to the marquee Saturday
competition, the World Footbrake Challenge will be book-ended by a pair of
$10,000-to-win events, making the total purse for the event well over
“Steve and I are racers--and Footbrake racing is what we live, eat, and
breathe everyday,” said Pennington. “We were at a race a while back, and
we were thinking; ‘Man, wouldn’t it be cool if we got to run for 50 grand?’
It’s never been done before, and we didn’t figure any of the regular tracks
or promoters would ever give it a shot... So we decided to put it together
ourselves. I have no doubt that come April we will have the best Footbrake
event ever--the only bummer for Steve and I is that as promoters we
obviously won’t be competing ourselves!”
The World Footbrake Challenge boasts a huge cash purse, all for a weekend
entry fee of just $800. Plus, event promoters are offering a special
pre-entry discount: All pre-entries received before February 1, 2007 will
receive their run cards at the discounted price of $675. What’s more?
Pre-enter before November 1, 2006 and get that same discounted $675 price,
plus a free weekend crew pass. The event must have 125 pre-entries, or it
will be cancelled.
The Coalburg Racing Promotions duo of Pennington and Stites also assure
competitors that the cash purse will be augmented by a host of special
prizes. “We wanted to go ahead and get the flyer out, to let everyone know
that this event is for real,” said Pennington. “But we’re in the process
of securing sponsorship that will make the race even better for the
competitors.” In addition to the over $100,000 guaranteed purse, the duo
plans to give away at least $15,000 in prizes for all types of rewards.
“We’re working to have a little something for everyone: the guys or girls
who win the big money won’t be the only people leaving with smile on their
face.” To keep up-to-date with the event’s growing prize pool, check in
periodically at the online home of the World Footbrake Challenge:
To secure your entry into this one-of-a-kind event, contact Steve Stites
(662-837-8166) or Jared Pennington (205-612-3502), Visa & Mastercard are
accepted. To mail in a pre-entry payment, simply send a check or money
order payable to “Coalburg Racing Promotions”:
Coalburg Racing Promotion
451 CR 400
Falkner, MS 38629
STATEMENT FROM NHRA REGARDING RAY ALLEY
(9-6-2006) – On Monday, and prior to the start of eliminations at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, NHRA was surprised and disappointed to learn that Ray Alley, director of Top Fuel and Funny Car racing, was leaving the organization to work with Kenny Bernstein and his newly-formed Funny Car team for the 2007 season.
We are disappointed to see Ray Alley leave given the contribution he has made during his nearly seven-year tenure at NHRA. Under the circumstances however, and given the nature of his position, we will not be able to continue to utilize Ray’s services through the remainder of the year. Therefore, we have no choice but to relieve him of his duties effective immediately. A search for his replacement has begun.
We want to wish Ray all the best on his new endeavor and thank him for the contributions he has made over the years to the sport of NHRA POWERade Drag Racing
PITTMAN FOCUSED ON FINISHING SEASON ON A WINNING NOTE
(9-6-2006) - With the 2006 eMax IHRA Drag Racing Series schedule entering the home stretch, Pro Modified competitor Alan Pittman feels that the knowledge and experience he and his team have gained this year will see them through to a solid, top-ten finish.
Currently sitting in the No. 10 spot, Pittman has lived through every possible scenario, good and bad, since he and team owner Mel Bush brought their distinctive supercharged 1962 Chevrolet “bubble top” to the Pro Mod wars at the beginning of the season.
He knew it would happen, expected it to happen, in fact, but it was still hard to deal with at times.
“We started off strong in San Antonio at the beginning of the year, and we went to the winner’s circle at Grand Bend, Ontario, in just our third race of the season,” Pittman said. “We thought we had dodged the ‘new car blues’ bullet since we had done well right out of the box, but looking back now it’s clear that we overlooked a lot of small things that eventually came back to bite us.”
Because of these “small things,” Pittman was unable to sustain any momentum the victory in Grand Bend had given him as his South Carolina-based team failed to qualify at the next two events. It was a humbling experience, and a real wake-up call to the veteran racer.
“We knew we were in for a fall, and it came,” Pittman said. “We had to go back to square one with our entire program and start fresh. We built the car ourselves, and we knew the chassis was working the way it was supposed to, so we began to look in the clutch can and in the engine compartment. We spent a lot of time in the dyno room at [engine builder] Carl Spiering’s shop, and we were able to pick up some additional horsepower. We’re still fighting with the clutch, but things are much better now, and we want to prove it by putting on a good show the rest of the year.”
For Pittman, who returned to the Pro Mod ranks after taking a couple of years off to establish his AP Race Cars business, it has been a mostly positive experience. In spite of the lows he encountered along the way, Pittman has qualified well, won a race, and posted career-best performance numbers.
On top of that, he brought a cool and unique hot rod to a class that has made its reputation over the years based on the variety of body styles and engine combinations utilized. The more off-the-wall the better, and Pittman’s Chevy fills the bill on all accounts.
With just four more races left on the IHRA schedule, beginning with this weekend’s Amalie Oil North American Nationals, Pittman wants to prove to himself, and to the racing community, that he’s been able to pull his program back together.
“We started strong, fell behind, and then slowly picked up the pace again,” he said. “With the things we’ve learned, the changes we’ve made, and the help of some good people, we’re in a good position to finish well in the points. All in all, I think we’ve done real well for a new team. We have a good car and a good engine program, and I firmly believe we can challenge for the title next season if we get a few breaks along the way.”
This weekend’s race is the Amalie Oil North American Nationals presented by New England Dodge Dealers, September 8 – 10, 2006, New England Dragway, Epping, New Hampshire.
LIMITED EDITION PEDREGON RACING HOT WHEELS® DIECAST NOW AVAILABLE
(9-6-2006) – While supplies last, a special limited edition set of 1:64 scale Hot Wheels® models of Cruz and Tony Pedregon's NHRA Nitro Funny Cars are now available exclusively at Advance Auto Parts stores. These cars will be packaged in a special Hot Wheels® 2-Pack Collector Car Set.
“I am thrilled to be a part of this special Hot Wheels promotion at Advance Auto Parts,” stated Cruz Pedregon. “I grew up with Hot Wheels as every kid did and still collect them to this day. In a way Hot Wheels still represents the kid in me that loves wild car designs and of course racing.”
"I know that NHRA fans are also avid Hot Wheels collectors and that they will be as excited as we are to be able to buy these limited edition cars at Advance Auto Parts stores," stated Tony Pedregon.
This special Hot Wheels® two-car set includes 1:64 scale models of the Advance Auto Parts Nitro Funny Car and the Q Power Nitro Funny Car that Cruz and Tony drive, respectively, in the POWERade Drag Racing Series of the NHRA.
Today, more than 15 million boys ages 5-15 are avid collectors, and the average boy collector owns more than 41 Hot Wheels® cars. In fact, somewhere in the world two Hot Wheels® cars are sold every second of the day! The Hot Wheels® brand continues to lead the industry with fresh, innovative products relevant to the market.
SCOTTY, LANE WIN BIG BUCKS AT HUNTSVILLE'S MEGA BUCKS SERIES
(9-6-2006) - It was down to the wire for the points leaders in the 2006 Mega Bucks series, a six-race series split between Huntsville Dragway and Memphis Motorsports Park, but Scotty Richardson of Goodlettsville, Tennessee, arguably one of the best bracket racers in the country, won Pro brackets on Saturday, September 2, locking up the championship and taking home the big bucks.
His final-round opponent was a racer equally as famous as he, Johnny Labbous Sr., also of Goodlettsville, in his dragster. Richardson entered three cars at the Mega Bucks race, and won in his all-black Chevy II. Richardson was racing with support from his mom Mary, plus crew chief Brandon Jarrell, and Amanda Betts. His win was worth $7,500, and he also won a new Danny Nelson/Racecraft Chassis dragster for his Mega Bucks points lead over Brian Robinson of Mississippi, who was tied with Richardson until Scotty won the fourth round.
For his points finish, though, Robinson won a free entry into the BTE Million Dollar Race, to be held on September 13-17 at Memphis Motorsports Park.
On Sunday, a racer who had retired two years earlier to take care of the family car business, Ron Lane of Hixson, Tennessee, won the $10,000 first prize in Pro, defeating yet another good racer, Kenny Joe Dixon of Calhoun, Georgia. Both racers were shoeing dragsters. Lane said afterwards that “maybe I oughta quit for another two years and then come back again.” He also won a special 32-car shootout on Saturday for an entry into the BTE Million, and Dixon won the same thing in Sunday’s shootout race.
In Saturday’s Footbrake action, Brad Ford of Gardendale, Alabama, a racer who had amassed a 20-round lead over his opponents in the Huntsville series, won in his Nova over Adam Davis of Cullman, Alabama, who also raced a Nova. Like Lane and Dixon in Pro, Ford was also a shootout winner --- he won an entry into the inaugural $100,000 Halloween Classic for all Footbrake cars, to be held at Montgomery Motorsports Park.
Steve Stites of Falkner, Mississippi won Sunday in his ’94 Cavalier over David Easterly of Dunlap, Tennessee in his wild ’65 Falcon wagon. Other shootout winners were Scottie Walters of Whitwell, Tennessee in Pro, for an entry into the Million, and John Burleson of Etheridge, Tennessee, and Jason Young of Etowah, Tennessee, for entries into the $100,000 Footbrake Halloween Classic. --- Dale Wilson
SPECIAL AUCTION FOR GOOD CAUSE
(9-6-2006) - Drag racing fans have just a few
days left to get a unique piece of memorabilia and help a very worthy cause at
the same time. Earlier this year at the Pontiac Performance NHRA Nationals in
Columbus, Ohio, Carrier Boyz Racing Top Fuel driver Cory McClenathan piloted a
special-edition, one-race-only Jeg's Mail Order dragster. The fan favorite even
took the time to have a Jeg's firesuit and helmet made for the occasion, which
he's now autographed and put up for auction on eBay with 100-percent of the
proceeds from the sale of the items going directly to Jeg's "Racing for Cancer
There are only three days left in the auction so interested parties should log onto http://stores.ebay.com/Jegs and follow the appropriate links to make their bids.
IS THIS A SIGN OF THINGS TO COME? MORE ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY DRAGS?
(9-6-2006) - The final round of Atlanta Motor Speedway’s Friday Night Drags Series is set for this Friday, Sept. 8 and a number of drag motorcycles are on the card for the final drag event of 2006.
The high speed motorcycles will be demonstrating the incredible spectacle of professional drag bike racing with a combination of street, top gas and pro-mod bikes. The fastest class is expected to travel the entire AMS eighth-mile drag strip in under five seconds.
“The professional riders we are bringing to the show Friday should hit close to 140 mph in an eighth-mile run,” said Southeastern Motorcycle Drag Racing Association coordinator Doug Frierson. “These guys are some of the best in the southeastern United States and have been racing competitively for years.”
The evening will carry a motorcycle theme as a variety of stunts will be performed by two local super bike acrobats. The professional stuntmen will dazzle the crowd with wheelies, front wheel stands and more.
“We wanted to give the fans more entertainment value for their dollar,” said Atlanta Motor Speedway vice president of events Brandon Hutchison. “It’s $7 worth of non-stop fun for all ages. This final night for 2006 will set the tone for next year’s Friday Night Drags Series.”
Fans will also have the opportunity to visit the “Show-N-Shine” arena to see the many restored and original vehicles from years past. Several NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series replica stock cars will be on display Friday night as the Richard Petty Driving Experience and Charity Laps join the family fun. All the entries will once again be invited to participate in the ‘speedway cruise’ during the break in drag racing action.
Friday Night Drags divisions include the Domestic, Import, Trucks, Pro Street and Pro classes. The Show-N-Shine offers Stock Vintage, Stock Current, Street Rod, Hot Rod, Modern, Current and Motorcycle classes. Winners in all classes receive trophies and plaques while second and third place winners at the “Show-N-Shine” also receive a commemorative plaque.
Infield gates open this Friday night at 6:00 p.m. for the competitors with grandstand gates opening at 6:30 p.m. Drag practice runs are slated for 7:00 p.m. The ‘speedway cruise’ and motorcycle stunt show will take place at 9:00 p.m. with drag elimination rounds to start at 9:20 p.m. Spectator tickets are $7 with children five and under admitted for free. Competitor entry into the drags or the “Show-N-Shine” is $20 and includes the admission ticket for the driver.
For additional information, contact the Atlanta Motor Speedway at 770-946-4211 or at www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.
WORLD WAR IV IS COMING TO MONTGOMERY
(9-6-2006) - World War IV is coming to Montgomery Motorsports Park in October! The battle royale, presented by Comp Cams, TCI and George Howard Racing, will be played out over the October 14-15 weekend and will feature nothing but heads-up, Pro tree racing. Classes that will be contested include Outlaw 10.5, Outlaw 4.70, Outlaw 5.30, Limited Street, Real Street and 6.0 and 7.0-indexed classes. In addition to big money paid out to each winner, runner-up and semi- and quarter-final finishers, there will be a special Saturday night $5,000 winner-take-all shootout for the quickest 10.5 cars from the Northeast, Southeast, Northwest and Southwest divisions. For more info, contact georgehowardracing.com or telephone 205-251-7311.
CAUSE FOUND FOR WEIS' BLAST
(9-5-2006) - Patti Barrett, who along with
husband Bill Barrett sponsors Scott Weis' dragster, shared with Competition Plus
an explanation of what caused the explosion with the car near the starting line
this past Sunday during the final Top Fuel qualifying session at
Bottom-end specialist Steve Prince and cylinder-head builder Frank Mazzarrelli suffered minor injuries and were treated and released by track emergency medical personnel.
She said the team since has learned what likely happened to the Barrett Enterprises Dragster.
"I read the notes about Scott's explosion," Patti Barrett said after conferring with team members, "and we all have decided that it would be best to set the record straight.
"We did, in fact, back the motor down (wish it would have been that simple) as we always do. We did everything right. We are certain now, after much investigation, that there were no leaks, et c.," she said.
"After the incident, other crew chiefs came to our pit and told us that there is a ramp on the set-back blower manifold that holds fuel and ultimately drains into the No. 5 cylinder. They all told us the procedures that they have now begun using after they, too, had explosions. We will be begin doing the same thing in order to eliminate the left-over fuel," Mrs. Barrett said.
"It is a blessing that no one was seriously injured. We wish that
someone had shared that information prior to the devastation."
Weis was unqualified at the time, and the incident prevented him from making a last-chance pass. - Susan Wade
MORE ON THE KENNY BERNSTEIN/RAY ALLEY FUNNY CAR PROGRAM:
(9-5-2006) - Torco’s Competitionplus.com has learned that Ray Alley informed NHRA president Tom Compton of his decision to leave to join Kenny Bernstein’s Monster Funny Car team during the Indy weekend. Compton was reportedly stunned to hear the news, but wished Alley well, and also told him there’d be a job waiting if he decided at the end of a year to return.
IIn preparation for next year, Alley, Bernstein and current crew chief Tim Richards discussed a list of possible assistants for Alley, finally narrowing their choices down to five. Reportedly, all five turned them down, either because they were locked into long term agreements with their teams, or were happy where they are. The two leading candidates remaining are Todd Okuhara, crew chief for the Whit Bazemore-driven Matco Tools Dodge, and Marc Denner, crewchief for the Phil Burkhart-driven CSK team car owned by the Worshams. Our sources indicate there was to be a meeting with Okuhara on Monday evening following final eliminations at Indy, with Denner set to discuss things with Bernstein on Tuesday.
SCARY MOMENTS IN PRO STOCK
(9-5-2006) - Ron Krisher suffered his second fiery crash in as many seasons during the second round of eliminations. He was reported to be alert, conscious, mobile and responding to commands after his Cobalt went out of control, veered away from the right lane and impacted the left guardwall.
Krisher was extracted by NHRA Safety Safari members and was airlifted to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis for evaluation as a precaution. NHRA emergency services officials reported that Krisher had only a minor burn to his left elbow and there were no other visible injuries.
It was later reported that Krisher suffered a fractured rib and officials later reported his Hans device was instrumental in preventing further injury. (Roger Richards)
(9-5-2006) - Oil and debris not only filled Dave Grubnics lane, but also hit the left lane as well. (Roger Richards)
MORE ON THE SALE OF SCHUMACHER’S PRO STOCK TEAMS
(9-5-2006) - Roy Johnson, Allen’s father, told Competitionplus.com that he’s been told (by Mopar, we assume) to have an engine ready for Richie Stevens’ use at the Maple Grove race. This would tend to confirm the rumors that Stevens will be “traded” to the Johnson team immediately following the U.S. Nationals. At this juncture it may be pure speculation, but it would appear that Schumacher’s relationship with Daimler-Chrysler is becoming increasingly strained.
THE GENERAL ISN’T HAPPY
(9-5-2006) - Numerous sources report that GM drag racing honcho Fred Simmonds, one of the most highly respected and well-liked corporate representatives active on the quarter mile, is less than pleased with the move of the Pontiac Nationals from Columbus to Norwalk Raceway Park. Simmonds was reportedly informed of the move via a voice mail on the day of the announcement, and if true, this would be far from the first instance in which NHRA has handled a delicate matter in this manner. The rumor mill is churning with some wild ones on this subject, including the possibility of GM asking for the return of their loaner vehicles, which would include all of the GMC trucks used for the Safety Safari.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE 2007 POINTS SYSTEM
(9-5-2006) - After having interviewed 35 team owners, drivers, tuners and sponsors for their views of the new points system, here’s the bottom line: The majority of those polled aren’t against change per se, and most aren’t even opposed to the system of reducing the championship contenders to a field of eight in each professional category beginning with next year’s U.S. Nationals. However, even drivers touted by NHRA as being totally in favor of the new plan turn out not to be so favorable towards it when out of earshot of association officials. Even POWERade champion Gary Scelzi, said to be totally behind it, turns out to have misgivings about the Final Four cut-down with just two races remaining. Virtually everyone else we spoke with was adamantly opposed to that portion of the plan. The other area in which there was total unanimity was the racer’s ire at not being asked for their input before the decision was set in stone and the announcement made. More evidence of that could have been found in Friday’s PRO meeting, where a show of hands of those present, a considerably larger number than we managed to poll personally, indicated total opposition to the cut to just four championship contenders with two races remaining.
NHRA CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS AFTER INDY
(9-5-2006) - Point standings (top 10) for NHRA professional categories following the 52nd annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at 'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis, the 18th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series -
1. Doug Kalitta, 1,306; 2. Tony Schumacher, 1,252; 3. Brandon Bernstein, 1,210; 4. Melanie Troxel, 1,166; 5. David Grubnic, 1,019; 6. Rod Fuller, 1,012; 7. Larry Dixon, 968; 8. Morgan Lucas, 862; 9. Hillary Will, 834; 10. Cory McClenathan, 815.
1. Ron Capps, 1,300; 2. John Force, 1,281; 3. Robert Hight, 1,141; 4. Tony Pedregon, 1,112; 5. Eric Medlen, 1,069; 6. Tommy Johnson Jr., 1,008; 7. Gary Scelzi, 1,001; 8. Whit Bazemore, 956; 9. Cruz Pedregon, 759; 10. Phil Burkart, 756.
1. Jason Line, 1,301; 2. Greg Anderson, 1,242; 3. Dave Connolly, 1,166; 4. Kurt Johnson, 1,005; 5. Allen Johnson, 987; 6. Mike Edwards, 960; 7. Jim Yates, 938; 8. V. Gaines, 875; 9. Larry Morgan, 846; 10. Greg Stanfield, 798.
Pro Stock Motorcycle
1. Andrew Hines, 907; 2. Antron Brown, 899; 3. Angelle Sampey, 809; 4. Chip Ellis, 794; 5. Matt Smith, 697; 6. Karen Stoffer, 637; 7. Ryan Schnitz, 634; 8. Tom Bradford, 568; 9. Matt Guidera, 525; 10. Geno Scali, 488.
MOHEGAN SUN RACING WELCOMES NEW SPONSOR INTO THE FOLD
(9-5-2006) - The familiar sound of slot machines and high dollar card tables was replaced by the sounds of banging hammers and nail guns as Paul Athey and Mohegan Sun Racing welcomed a new sponsor to their operation. Sterling Homes is proud to announce their backing of the Mohegan Sun Team for the remainder of the 2006 season and the 2007 campaign as well.
“This is a great partnership,” team owner Paul Athey said. “Russ is a great guy with a passion for what we are trying to achieve on the track. It is really great to have someone on board with our team that sees what we are trying to accomplish in the long term, as well as the short term. The quality of their homes is completely unmatched as well.”
Russ Busa the owner of Sterling Homes attended a drag race at New England Dragway as a guest of the Mohegan Sun Casino, from the experience he had with the team at the race track, it was an easy decision to provide funding for the continued growth of their operation.
“I see two organizations moving in the same direction,” said Busa. “What really got me excited was the passion that Paul and his team showed at the races. I had no idea about what went on in the pits and the excitement, passion, and focus that Paul’s team concentrated on the race car is exactly what I invest in my business.”
Busa, much like Athey, is a self made man, who spent his early years helping his dad build houses and eventually started his own, highly successful, custom housing business. “My father spent 45 years building houses and he built over 800 of them,” Busa said. “I started Sterling Homes in 1998 with the goal of establishing the company as a name that stood for quality custom homes and the kind of work every craftsman would be proud of.”
From his first taste of the Pro Modified world as a spectator, Busa’s interests in the Mohegan Sun team grew quickly. “I saw the attitude and professionalism that the team had in the pits and on the track and it fit the model that I have for my business perfectly,” Busa said. “The fact is that this team is ready to do some big things and I want to be a part of it.”
Paul Athey and the rest of the Mohegan Sun team agree. With a fresh tune up and more runs than literally any of their competitors at new England Dragway, host of the up coming Amalie Oil North American Nationals, this local team is ready to score some big points.
“We are going to be fighting against the best Pro Mod cars in the business at the North American Nationals,” said Athey.
That fight may have gotten a little bit easier due to the addition of Sterling Homes to the roster of supporters for the 2006 campaign. We’ve said it before, but it is the truth. No matter what your position is, never bet against the house (literally!), because you will probably get burned.
HERBERT CONFIRMS LEGAL ACTION AGAINST FORMER CREW CHIEF
(9-4-2006) - Top Fuel racer Doug Herbert confirmed that he's filed criminal charges against his former crewchief Wayne Dupuy.
"When he left he was under the impression that all the parts that he’d worked on were his, and all the records were his," Herbert said. "I did everything I could do to get him to give them back, and so at that point, unfortunately, it goes to the next level. The reason why it’s taken so long is that they do an investigation because when they put a felony grand larceny charge against someone they want to be sure they’re right. All I did was sign a complaint saying I wanted my parts back, and he refused, so then it went to the district attorney. I love Wayne, but the way that he did this, well, if you look back in history this isn’t the first time there’ve been problems like this. I hate it and I wish it hadn’t happened, but I also wish I had my parts back." - Jon Asher
COMMENTS ON THE IHRA WORLD NATIONALS F/C FINALE
(9-4-2006) - Last weekend’s IHRA World Nationals
(hard to believe, with all that’s been going, on that it was just a week ago)
featured a scheduled Funny Car finale between Gary Densham and Scott Kalitta,
but the race never came off. When Sunday’s final rounds were rained out the
competitors returned to settle things Monday morning, but Densham and Kalitta
failed to appear, forcing the association to simply list things as
Torco’s Competitionplus.com caught up with the protagonists at Indy to ask them what happened.
DENSHAM: Basically it rained most of Sunday morning, but there was a window of opportunity to run the cars between about three o’clock and eight o’clock in the evening. They busted their butts, cleaned and dried the track and did everything they were supposed to do. They called us up into the lanes and ran the first two pair of cars. We were the third pair. I did my burnout, backed up and it was raining on the car. They shut us off, went back to the pits for about an hour while they dried the track, and we raced.
Then they started running Top Fuel and in about the third pair they had a massive oildown. So now we’re sitting around waiting because they’ve got two Funny Cars that haven’t run for three hours and another pair that hadn’t run for about an hour. We were
ready to run again before they even ran the last pair of Top Fuel. It was nobody’s fault, that’s just the way it was. They finally finished Top Fuel and then we went up and ran the semifinals of Funny Car, and after that they got in the semifinals of Top Fuel about an hour or so later.
Then they asked us to get in line for the finals. We got up there and waited for about 20 minutes while they ran some bracket cars, and then it rained again. Basically, it was just a combination of a bunch of stuff in so much that we were ruining a bunch of tires on almost every run, and Goodyear had already left. In the semifinals we ran with a six-run tire on one side of the car and a four-run tire on the other side. There was no way to buy any new tires because everyone was gone.
Connie (Kalitta) was very upset that they didn’t run us when they called us up there, and I probably was a little bit too. We came back to the pits and tried to figure out what we were going to do about the final. They couldn’t decide if we were going to run the next day (Monday) or carry it over to Epping or some other race. None of us knew what they were ging to decide, and I was trying to figure out financially what was going to happen because two of my guys had airline flights already booked to go home a six o’clock
Ya know, you’re sitting there thinking that your car is running pretty good and that you can win the race. I thought we had a slight advantage over Scott, but they were running pretty good, too. Then Connie came over and he was huffin’ and puffin’ and being upset about the whole thing. They’d hurt their new Toyota body and it had to be at Jack Roush’s place at nine o’clock Monday morning to get repaired and fixed up for Indy. Well, Connie came over and after mumbling about the “dirty so-and-sos” he said he was going to go up there and tell the IHRA officials that we were just going to split
I wanted to race because you get to win so seldom. It doesn’t matter where you’re racing, and I know some people think IHRA is a minor league compared to NHRA, but it’s not to us because it’s so hard to win anywhere these days. It’s good for me and good for the team’s morale to win anywhere. They were looking forward to being in the winners circle and getting their pictures taken, while I was trying to rationalize that splitting the money would probably be the best thing for everyone, and I also didn’t want to make an enemy out of Conrad, so I said, If that works for you, Connie, I’ll go along with it, but in the back of my mind I really didn’t think IHRA would agree, and yet the weather forecast said it was going to rain for 40 days and 40 nights.
I figured Connie would go up there and they’d tell him to go pound sand, that we were going to run the final and that’s the way it was going to be. I was more shocked than anyone when he came back and said Here’s your check for half the money.
It had no affect on the points because I can’t catch Dale Creasy for the title. They way the IHRA points structure is, they give bonuses for competing in every race, and I haven’t done that, so it had no bearing on the points. I think they have a great program and it’s going to do nothing but get better. Who knows, for all I know Schumacher might have four cars over there and Force might have four cars over there, too just so they can have eight teams!
I’d like t thank Even Knoll for putting up the money and giving us good places to race. It’s a lot better than it was over there before. IHRA treats the racers really great over there, and I’m extremely pleased to be part of it over there, even if it isn’t full time.
CONNIE KALITTA – TEAM OWNER/SCOTT KALITTA F/C: This car (indicating the Toyota) had a broken front end on it, and they were forecasting rain for Monday. In fact, after Hillary (Will) ran in the Top Fuel final it rained and killed the rest of the day.
What we saw Sunday night was that we weren’t going to see the finale. We split the money because IHRA was all right because neither one of them, Densham or Scott are not in the points chase. It didn’t compromise anything in reality.
I was a little perturbed about the whole thing. We sat there in
line for a long time. Gary was in line, too. I went up to the starting line
and told them both cars were ready, should we put the drivers in, and the
official said no, that they knew up in the tower that we were ready. They were
still running doorslammers. It was a poor business decision on their parts not
o get the pros out of the way. That’s what they should have
BILL BADER, JR. – NRP PRESIDENT: I was not even aware of what was going on with the Funny Cars until that whole deal was done. I know the drivers were unhappy because they felt they had to sit in the lanes too long. Connie Kalitta made a call to the control tower, and some arrangement was made. I don’t know what the financial
arrangement was. I’m assuming they split winner and runner-up money. For me the difficult part was the return of Nitro Funny Cars to IHRA, and the fact that it was obviously going to be our last IHRA race, and we weren’t able t put anybody into the winners circle seemed a little odd to me.
FORCE RACES TO SIXTH SKOAL SHOWDOWN VICTORY, ALSO GRABS NO. 1 QUALIFYING POSITION IN FUNNY CAR
Schumacher, Anderson and Smith also will lead their categories into eliminations at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals
(9-3-2006) - John Force raced to the $100,000 Skoal Showdown victory Sunday at O'Reilly Raceway Park. It was Force's sixth career win in the special bonus race for the top eight Funny Car qualifiers from the last 12 months.
Force also was the No. 1 qualifier in his category at the $2.6 million Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, the world's most prestigious drag race. Tony Schumacher, Greg Anderson, and Matt Smith also were No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the 18th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
|RACE COVERAGE||PHOTO GALLERIES|
|PIT NOTES||EVENT NOTEBOOKS|
WANT MORE INDY INSIDER INFO?
(9-3-2006) - When your name is Jon Asher, you get your own notebook at the NHRA U.S. Nationals.
"FLASH" GORDON MINEO DIES IN BOATING ACCIDENT
(9-3-2006) - "Flash Gordon" Mineo, one of the most prolific Funny Car match racers from the late 1960s through 1980, was killed in a boating accident Sept. 2 that also claimed the lives of his wife, Ann, his daughter and her husband, and another boater. The Mineos, along with Amy Dawn Lane and her husband Justin, were in one boat taking part in a “poker run” race on Lake Texoma in Willis, Okla., when their boat collided with another driven by a Tennessee couple. Myra L. Gibson was also killed in the accident and her husband Bruce hospitalized.
HINES RACES TO $25,000 VICTORY IN RINGERS GLOVES PRO BIKE BATTLE Schumacher, Force, Anderson and Smith are qualifying leaders at Mac Tools U.S. Nationals
(9-2-2006) - Pro Stock Motorcycle champion Andrew Hines claimed the largest payout in class history by winning the $25,000 top prize in the Ringers Gloves Pro Bike Battle Saturday at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis.
The special race within a race bonus event highlighted a spectacular day of qualifying for the 52nd annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, the $2.6 million showcase event in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock), and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are the provisional No. 1 qualifiers at the event, the 18th of 23 on the tour.
ASHER'S INDY NOTEBOOK - MORE DRIVER REACTIONS ON SATURDAY
(9-3-2006) - Continuing our unofficial canvas of the drivers regarding the new points system for 2007, we again asked the same question as was put forth yesterday: What’s your opinion of the points system change for next year?
WHIT BAZEMORE – MATCO TOOLS FUNNY CAR DRIVER/DON SCHUMACHER RACING: I think it’s interesting. I think it’s got potential and the reasoning behind it is valid. Obviously, it’s going to be a more contrived championship. What concerns me as a competitor is that if you make it to the Final Four, if you have bad luck you’re pretty much done. There’s absolutely no margin for error. Throughout history the championships have always been won by the best team, and this new system could change that. It certainly opens the door to a team winning it that’s not necessarily the best over the course of the year. Is that fair, unfair, good or bad? That remains to be seen. I think (NHRA) is trying to give the fans something very exciting and the media more to talk about, and I think it might work for that, but is an absolutely fair championship? That’s hard to say, but it opens the door for other scenarios other than the best team winning.
COMPPLUS: What’s our Plan for next year?
BAZEMORE: My plan right now is that I don’t have a plan set in stone. There are some opportunities (for me). I think that obviously, with Matco going to David Powers they’re interested in having me there, but I don’t have a deal yet.
COMPPLUS: Let’s back up. Is it Matco that wants you there, or Powers that wants you there, or both?
BAZEMORE: I would assume both. I think all parties are interested in having me there, but I’m not there yet. I’ve had a very good six years with Don (Schumacher), and I don’t think that it would be completely fair of me to just bolt right away. If Don is interested in retaining me I’d like to give him some time to find the financing for this car, but how much time that is I don’t know.
LARRY DIXON – TOP FUEL DRIVER/DON PRUDHOMME RACING Honestly, it really doesn’t matter to me. I think it’s more important what other people think, like the fans, the sponsors and the media. I’m going to go into every race and try to win that race. If I have the best car in the pit area, I’m still going to win every week. If they take all my points away and we start over, I’ll win again. If you’ve got the best car on the block, it shouldn’t make any difference. If (the new system) makes it more exciting and puts more fans in the stands and id doubles or triples the TV ratings and brings more sponsors into our sport, then I think it’s a great plan.
COMPPLUS: What’s your plan for nest year, and how soon do you expect to have a sponsor?
DIXON: I am very out of the loop on that. I’m racing and driving, and I know they’re working very hard on getting something. I know they were looking to make an announcement here at Indy, but it’s not that together, I guess, so I’m sure they’ll make an announcement as soon as they can. We’re planning on keeping the team in tact. It’ll be a different color, and we’ll keep racing next year.
TOMMY JOHNSON, JR – SKOAL FUNNY CAR DRIVER/PRUDHOMME RACING: I knew you were going to ask me that! I see pros and cons of both systems. I see that with the old system if someone runs away with it it’s very anticlimactic because you’re crowning a champion early in the season. With the new system I like the drama at the conclusion. I see negatives in that you can be put out of the points chase very easy at the end of the year, but in my personal opinion, using this year as an example, that would be a great opportunity for a team like ours. We’re running really well at this point in the season, and we’re sixth in the points. We’re kinda outa sight of the championship, but this would put us right back in the hunt. It would be a dog fight with a really tough car at the end of the season. Marketing wise I think it’s great for the sport because it’ll keep people excited until the end of the season. I am a little concerned with the cut to four cars with just two races left. That’s a tremendous amount of pressure on four teams to not make a single mistake. It’s kinda like you’re running the whole season for just two races. You’ll have to be perfect in those two races, and that’s a lot of pressure on these teams, and with these cars a lot of little things could go wrong and ruin your whole season. That would be unfortunate. It would be terrible. I guess my view is that no matter what kind of points system they have, you still have to go out and win the thing. Whatever they give us, we gotta win it. Right now this team is as solid as its ever been, so we’re nt going to change a thing for next year.
We questioned a member of the sponsorship community, who requested anonymity before he’d answer the same basic question, although it was posed from the perspective of a major sponsor, which this individual represents: My initial thought, and you usually go with your initial feelings – and I haven’t thoroughly studied the plan – is that the Funny Car class could easily come down to four John Force cars at the end. As a sponsor. For Castrol that would e okay, and for John Force that would be okay. For an independent team or anyone else it wouldn’t be okay. I don’t know if it will drive excitement or not.
COMPPLUS: Do you think that you, as a sponsor, could be ignored if your car failed to qualify for the Elite Eight or the Final Four?
SPONSOR: Oh, I think you’ve already seen that in NASCAR, with the Chase. Everyone’s looking, okay, here’s the 10 cars. After that the only car that gets any attention is the car that wins the race if he’s out of the Top 10. Over there they have 43 cars on the track at the same time, but absolutely, I don’t think it’s of value at that point if your car is not among that Top 10 (for the Chase).
TONY SCHUMACHER – TWO-TIME POWERADE TOP FUEL CHAMPION/U.S. ARMY-DON SCHUMACHER RACING: Well, I think if you ask the guys who win the world championship they’re not going to like it. Just common sense will tell you that. I’ve locked (the title) up in Reading and in Las Vegas early on, and I’d hate to win 15 races in a season and still have it come down the point where you don’t even have to win, you just have to average a little better than the next guy, and we’re going to call you the world champion. I’m not sure that’s right. Years ago “Ace” McCulloch won seven out of nine races, but you had to go to Amarillo to win the world championship, and Gene Snow won at Amarillo with “Ace” the runner-up, and he’s not the world champion? Haven’t we proved that that didn’t work years ago? I guess it evens it out for the rest of the guys. Overall I guess the majority of the guys would like it, but for me it ain’t gonna help this Army team in any way, shape or form.
(After the recorder had been turned off Schumacher went on at some length about hearing significant negative reactions from the fans – obviously fans of his – that they didn’t like the system. According to Schumacher, they’re objections were based upon his potentially winning a significant number of races prior to Indy and then losing the title through a mechanical malfunction or the like in the last two races. In his words, “Some of ‘em told me they’d be wearing black armbands the next year if that happened!”
JIM DUNN – LUCAS OIL FUNNY CAR TEAM OWNER; I think it’s great if you’re an idiot. I don’t like it ‘cause it just helps the big guys. If you don’t have at least a $2 million budget you’ll never be in the top eight. Like I told Mr. Compton, You’re telling me that if we go to the top four, and Force qualifies first and (Robert) Hight qualifies fourth that Hight’s not going to lay down (for Force)? If he doesn’t, they’re stupid, because if he qualifies Number 1 that’ll give him one more point than the two Schumacher cars that might be in there. You could be runner-up and win the deal. Now it makes the whole team very important.
COMPPLUS: What’s your plan for nest year?
DUNN: Tryng to stay alive!
COMPPLUS: Is Lucas Oil on board for next year?
DUNN: Yeah, I believe so.
COMPPLUS: What about your driver situation?
DUNN: Probably the same one (Tony Bartone).
MORE ON BERNSTEIN AND THE MONSTER ENERGY DRINKS DEAL
(9-3-2006) - Torco’s Competitionplus.com has
heard from reliable sources, and has
confirmed with those involved, that a total of four race teams were
in the mix for the sponsorship from Monsters, a product of Hansens
that is distributed exclusively on a national basis by none other
than Anheuser-Busch. Included n the chase were Don Schumacher Racing
(either as a replacement sponsor for the departing Matco Tools or for
yet another Funny Car), Kalitta Motorsports (with some involvement
from the now sidelined Jerry Tolliver, who had some involvement in
the Kalitta Toyota program) and Don Prudhomme Racing. The consensus
of opinion is that Bernstein’s obvious connection to A-B through the
Budweiser brand may have played a prominent role in the decision making.
In related Bernstein “news,” a significant number of PRO members, including some Board members, were less than pleased to find out their elected president had been in on the discussions with NHRA regarding the new points system and failed to alert them. As one Board member said, requesting anonymity, “If you can’t trust your
fellow Board members, you shouldn’t be the leader. Why should I waste my time working for the organization when stuff like this is going on?”
ASHER'S INDY NOTEBOOK - JEG COUGHLIN, JR. ON HIS RETURN TO PRO STOCK COMPETITION
(9-2-2006) - As the world now knows, two-time NHRA Pro Stock titlist Jeg Coughlin, Jr. will return to active competition in Victor Cagnazzi’s Slammers Milk-backed Chevrolet beginning with the NHRA POWERade Series national event at Virginia Motorsports Park later
Far from being dormant on the sidelines, Coughlin has been actively campaigning this season in a variety of cars, and did double duty at the U.S. Nationals with another appearance in the Hemi Challenge while also racing in Competition Eliminator.
More than just a marketing partnership between Coughlin and Cagnazzi, the Jeg’s Mail Order operation is going to handle the complete line of Slammers products because of their almost limitless shelf life, meaning that everyone involved will be able to effectively track product sales, something few sponsorship programs are really able to do.
Coughlin explained his reasoning for coming back to Pro Stock, and a lot more, to Torco's Competitionplus.com
COMPPLUS: What made you decide to come back to Pro Stock?
COUGHLIN: I’ve always felt like Pro Stock’s been a good home for
me. I really enjoy the cars, enjoy drivin’ ‘em, enjoy getting in and
out of them every day, so I found that home in the late 90s and never
had any interest in going further. The Top Fuel and Funny Cars are
awesome, but they’re not for me. We’ve had a great run of success in
Pro Stock. When we transitioned from our own team to Schumacher’s
team in 2004 I really thought that it would be a home for me for some
time, and a secondary home for Jeg’s as well, because we did bring
some sponsorship dollars with us. However, it was apparent to me
early one that that probably wasn’t going to pan out long term.
COMPPLUS: Was it a problem of what you guys wanted to do with the
car as opposed to what crew chief Bob Glidden wanted to do?
COUGHLIN: No, there were no problems like that anywhere, the problem
was the car just didn’t perform the way they wanted it to perform, and as they “advertised,” so it wasn’t a case of Bob-this, or Don-that, it just wasn’t right for me.
My dad came in to a test session and fixed things on both cars, and in an hour-and-a-half I was driving both cars, and then he came to one race and I made it to the final where I lost by a couple of thousandths, but that had nothing to do with it either,
even though was all over the chat rooms and stuff. I thought my dad showed a lot of courage to come in and work in that environment and work on that car and then stick around to work on them during a race. That was about the time that I decided that with everything that was happening that it wasn’t the place for me. Don was very well aware of how I felt, and so was Bob. It wasn’t any one thing in particular.
COMPPLUS: Let’s talk about the Slammers program a little. How did this all come about?
COUGHLIN: I talked to Victor Cagnazzi and a couple of his guys late last year. They approached me because they’d heard all the rumors about the situation at Schumacher’s and they asked me if I’d be interested in driving the car, and transition what I had over at Schumcher’s to their program. I told them I wasn’t really up for
another change at that point, that if I couldn’t make it work where I was I’d sit out for a while. Part of our discussion that day was that it would be a fully funded team, but our plan at that point was not to bring any money to the team. But, there is some Jeg’s
involvement now. That’s the way it’s worked out.
COMPPLUS: So this team is going to be under Victor’s umbrella?
COUGHLIN: Yes, this is 100 percent Victor’s team with full backing
from Slammers Ultimate Milk.
COMPLUS: Tell us about your marketing plan for Slammers.
COUGHLIN: We met with the Slammers folks earlier in the year just to
get to know them and all of the people at Bravo Foods. They’re very
personable people. One of the guys on Victor’s team said to them,
Hey maybe we could get Jeg’s to sell this stuff, and we hadn’t even
thought about that at that point. When we got to talking we found
out it’s a shelf-stable milk which doesn’t need to be stored in a
refrigerated environment, and its good for about six months. Well,
we got to talking a little more, and that was like icing on the cake
for the deal. We’re really excited to be the first real direct
suppliers of Slammers Ultimate Milk and offer the great flavors they
COMPPLUS: How much product do you think you can move for them?
COUGHLIN: That’s yet to be seen. You know, for the last few years
Jeg’s has prided itself on having something to offer for everyone,
and this is truly a something for everyone product. It’s a
disposable product, so we’re optimistic that we can sell a lot of
it. With our delivery you can reach anywhere in the country in two
days or less, so that’s another great deal.
COMPPLUS: How soon will you start marketing Slammers in your catalog
and on the web?
COUGHLIN: If it’s not on there tonight I’d be surprised!
COMPPLUS: Who’s going to be your crew chief on the car.
COUGHLIN: At this point I really don’t know. There’s two Slammers
cars going to be run, so they’ll probably need some new talent there.
COMPPLUS: Is Tom Lee going to stay in the other car?
COUGHLIN: I haven’t heard any differently, so I would have to say yes.
COMPPLUS: What about your brother, Troy? Does he have any interest
in Pro Stock, or is he happy with what he’s doing?
COUGHLIN: He’s really happy doing that Pro Street deal, and he’s
also really interested in this Pro Mod car he’s built. It’s
something we have to pass through the organizations, so hopefully, he
can run it legally in NHRA and IHRA. I think he’s excited about that
whole program. The motors are making good power, and it looks awesome.
COMPPLUS: Because of your close ties to National Trail Raceway, how
do you feel about the race moving to Norwalk Raceway Park?
COUGHLIN: National Trail’s always been our home track, so that has a
slight sting to it, but we’ve actually raced more at Norwalk than we
have at National Trail because the track seemed to be a little more
consistent for us in Pro Stock. Bader’s always done one heck of a
good job in preparing the track, so we would test there three or four
times a year, so it’s become a second home to us. I’m sure NHRA has
done their due diligence on the demographics and on the facility
itself, so it’s probably a good move, and we’re behind that.
ASHER'S INDY NOTEBOOK - REACTIONS TO THE 2007 POINTS STRUCTURE
(9-2-2006) - The first day's talk at the Mac
Tools NHRA U.S. Nationals
at newly re-named O’Reilly Raceway Park was dominated by discussions
of the new points system for next season (See previous News items for
the details). Racers, manufacturers and the media could talk of
little else, and Torco’s Competitionplus.com will be posting
reactions throughout the weekend. Everyone was asked the same basic
question: What’s your opinion of the points system change for next
GEORGE BRYCE – PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE TEAM OWNER:
We haven’t known about it long enough to have studied it and really understand
all of the possible implications and scenarios that are possible. The first
thing I thought of was what happened in NASCAR when some of the biggest sponsors in the sport didn’t have their cars make the Chase for the Cup, and I watch NASCAR all the time, even if I have to watch it on TiVo because I’m a big NASCAR fan. I think that it did fix NASCAR in some eyes, as far as the fans ‘cause it made it really exciting for them. I was really disappointed that Jeff Gordon and Junior (Dale Earnhardt, Jr.) didn’t make the Chase last year, but it looks like they’re going to be in it this time. But our team has typically finished in the top eight every year no matter what, and I don’t think that’s going to change, so it’ll probably be good for us. Our sport needs this excitement right now, and it needs competitionplus and everyone else talking about this because we’re pretty stuck in a rut, and this is going to help us get up on the surface to where people will be talking about us. I’m ready to adapt, and it could be really exciting and I’m looking forward to it.
LARRY MORGAN – PRO STOCK OWNER/DRIVER: Actually, I haven’t had a chance to really study it completely, but I’m sure it’s a typical NHRA deal where they don’t communicate with anyone but themselves, but from what I’ve seen and heard, it’s pathetic. I just don’t know, and until I look at it thoroughly I really can’t comment on it.
COMPPLUS: What’s your plan of attack for this weekend?
MORGAN: I plan on winning this race, that’s what I plan on doing.
MARK PAWUK – PRO STOCK OWNER/DRIVER AND PRO BOARD
MEMBER: Well, I think NHRA needs to make changes within our sport, and
I think shaking up the points system is great. My only concern is the first
17 races of the year when you have guys competing for a Top 10
position and then only 8 of them make it to the next stage of the
game. That’s probably a good idea in some ways because maybe it will
bring some more excitement back into our sport. When you have
situations where someone is running away with the points, which has
been the situation in Pro Stock for the last few years, the fans
kinda lose interest.
But, I do feel that when you get down to the Final Four with two
races left there are to many variables at stake. The guys have worked hard all
year and let’s say Number 8 in the points ended up in the top 4 because of luck.
Maybe he had some of the top guys redlight against him, maybe the other guys
broke. There are so many variables in our class where one mistake can determined
whether or not you go to the next round or not. Number 8 could end up winning
the championship and not really deserve it. I do like shuffling
things and maybe having a showdown with the Top 8 or Top 10 or Top 12
or whatever they want to do, but I think with going to four cars with
two races left there’s just too much at stake for guys who might have
had career years and don’t make that final cut.
COMPPLUS: What was the driver attitude during the PRO meeting?
PAWUK: We took a vote and basically the
membership didn’t have too
many problems with going to final 8, but a lot of guys had a real problem with cutting it down to four cars with two races left. That seemed to be the general consensus.
COMPPLUS: Were you consulted as a PRO board member, or was your opinion on this sought by anyone at NHRA prior to the announcement.
PAWUK: I’d rather not comment on that.
KURT JOHNSON – PRO STOCK OWNER/DRIVER: Anything
you can do to add an element of excitement at the end of the year’s obviously
help, but the fact that we’ll only have two races to decide the world
champion is going to turn out to be more of a lucky thing than a
skillful thing, or necessarily the team that deserves it. When you
look at NASCAR’s schedule they use 10 races out of 36 (to determine
the champion). That’s 27 percent of the races. The calculations on
the NHRA side are two out of 23. That’s just 6 percent of the races
to decide a world champion. I think they could have stretched it out
to something like the last six races, or eight. That would have been
a little better deal to decide the world champions.
WARREN JOHNSON SIX-TIME PRO STOCK CHAMPION
OWNER/DRIVER: I could live with the eight (final points races), but
when it goes to four that’s absolutely, totally ludicrous, and that’s all
is trying to “personalize” their points structure compared to what
NASCAR has. They want to put their own little stamp on the thing,
but unfortunately, we don’t have 499 laps to make up for an error.
The way this is laid out now, a guy could win the championship after
he’s in eight place without ever winning a race. And, when it boils
down to four, one team could win the whole thing. In the long run I
see this as being the demise of all the pro categories. This is
what’s going to happen to the guys that are just filling the fields
and having fun with their race cars, but they’re still part of the
program because we need 16 cars out there. Those guys don’t even
have the illusion of ever winning a championship, it’s not even in
the cards anymore. Those guys are just going to hang up their
helmets. You’re going to see Top Fuel and Funny Car down to maybe
eight cars inn two years. That’s why (NHRA) figures they’ll only
have two car owners out there with four cars each. In Pro Stock I
can guarantee you that there will be two cars who aren’t out here
next year because of this. (Johnson declined to answer our question
as to who those car owner were, saying he’d promised them he wouldn’t
The guys that are quitting aren’t going to be among that top 8
but the thing is that you could be than Number 8 driver
and not attend any of the year’s remaining races and you’re still
going to be eighth in the points. The car in ninth place can’t move
up no matter what he does. The only thing he can down is precipitate
down. And when it gets down to four cars the guy in fifth can only
hold on to that, or move down, but he can’t move down further than
eighth because those top eight cars are going to be locked in. It’s
totally ludicrous thinking. It’s typical NHRA small-time thinking,
and I’m giving them a lot of credit in letting them think I think
they can think, which they obviously can’t.
COMPPLUS: Did you have any inkling that this was coming before you saw the announcement”
COMPPLUS: So, you weren’t one of the racers consulted about this?
BART PRICE – PRO STOCK TEAM OWNER (PIRANZ/GREG
STANFIELD): I don’t care for the new points structure. It leaves us in
a position where a guy could have a bad race or two and lose the championship
because you just can’t catch the guy ahead of you. They way they’ve got it now
they’re going to take the top four guys with two races left,
there’s no chance for anyone else. You could be that guy that jumps
up and wins some races, which you can do out here, and it wouldn’t
mean anything because you were already out of it. But, you know what
I say. This is NHRA and it’s their game.
CLAY MILLICAN – TOP FUEL DRIVER Well, I’ll tell
ya what. If they’re
trying to make people talk and stir things up, I think they’ve
accomplished that. If they changed the points system to create
excitement, I think that’s a good thing. The only thing that I think
is extremely wrong is that last cut, going from eight to four cars.
I don’t like that. But, being that I’m a guy who’s won a few
championships, I don’t want to be that guy who’s won all year and
then gone into a slump and lost the title.
On the other side of it, you can’t turn ESPN on within them talking about Is Dale, Jr,. going to make (the Chase for the Cup), or is Jeff Gordon going to make the Chase. There are pros and cons, but the most part I think the way it is was pretty good.
In general I think the whole sport is stepping up. On
the IHRA side their program has definitely moved up. I think it’s
extremely interesting that Norwalk just moved to NHRA. Things are
changing, but the grandstands seem to be a little fuller at times,
and I think that’s good for everybody. I hope it gets more interested
in coming in.
COMPPLUS: Are you going to be able to maintain your points lead and win the IHRA championship again?
MILLICAN: Well, we’ve made it close enough now
that it’s real
simple. If Doug Foley wins a round, I have to win a round For a guy
who barely gt a passing grade in math in high school I can actually
understand the position we’re in. I think it’s going to be fun.
Those guys have run really well, and they’ve stepped up their
program. They’ve gone out and found the dollars necessary to spend
the same kind of money we spend and if you look at the whole sow,
everybody over there has really stepped it up a bunch. Its going to
be tough, but I’m looking forward to the challenge. It’s just like
my first year in IHRA. It was one of the most intense things I’ve
ever been involved in even though I didn’t win the championship. We
lost by seven points to (Paul) Romine that year, and it all came down
to the final round of the final race.
COMPPLUS: You’ve run all of the IHRA races this year, so
biggest change you’ve seen between last year and this?
MILLICAN: To be honest I haven’t seen a lot of
change. For me, from
my little Werner pit area, it looks pretty much the same. I kinda
miss the Hooter participation. It’s never good when a company that
size leaves the sport, but at the races it’s been pretty much
business as usual.
COMPPLUS: Do you think the inclusion of Nitro Funny Cars has helped IHRA?
MILLICAN: Oh, absolutely. I think the grandstands
had more people. I think there are a lot of people who never went to
IHRA races before, and some of them that can this year was because of
the Funny Cars. I think it was a great addition.
DON SCHUMACHER – MULTI-CAR TEAM OWNER/PRO BOARD
MEMBER: You mean the Chase for the Championship? I’d say I disagree
with the change after 17 races, but we’ll see how that is. But, I do not agree
with the change prior to Las Vegas (when the contenders are cut from eight to
four) because only four cars will run for the championship and only
have two races to do it in.
COMPPLUS: Did you know about this in advance; were you consulted as a PRO Board member?
SCHUMACHER: No, I was not.
MIKE EDWARDS – PRO STOCK OWNER/DRIVER: Well, I
think some parts of it are good, but some of it ain’t. I don’t mind the Top 8,
not sure about that just four cars with just two races to go. I
don’t particularly care for that. I kind like changing it up a
little bit, but I don’t like changing it down to four cars with just
two races. I they oughta let the 8 guys go after Indy, pair ‘em up
and see what happens.
MATCO TOOLS GONE FROM SCHUMACHER AS MAJOR SPONSOR IN 2007
(9-1-2006) - Torco's CompetitionPlus.com has learned from reliable sources that Don Schumacher Racing has parted ways with Matco Tools as a major sponsor for 2007. The company will likely remain with DSR as an associate sponsor but that is not final.
Don Schumacher confirmed that he was unable to reach an agreement that would keep the Whit Bazemore Funny Car running. With that said, the writing may be on the way for Bazemore's employment at DSR.
Expect the official announcement to come some time today.
CAGNAZZI RACING TO PARTNER WITH JEG'S AND SLAMMERS FOR 2007
(9-1-2006) - Three-time NHRA champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. announced Friday he will return to the POWERade Drag Racing Series full-time in 2007 behind the wheel of a second Slammers Ultimate Milk Chevrolet Cobalt. Coughlin, a 47-time national event winner, will be driving for Victor Cagnazzi.
"Our goal is to win championships," said the 36-year-old Coughlin, who won Pro Stock titles in 2000 and 2002. "We strongly feel we are capable of doing just that and I couldn't be more excited. Victor is a great guy, he's running a top-notch organization, and the talent he's assembled is second-to-none. I'm proud to become a member of the Slammer's Ultimate Milk Team.
"I've worked with a couple of his guys (Roy Simmons and Nick Ferri) in the past and I certainly know (chassis builder) Todd Bevis and (engine builders) Joe Hornick and Steve Johns. We've all seen what they've done with their cars and their current success with Evan Knoll's Torco Fuels/Skull Gear car driven by Dave Connolly. It's obvious they can put a competitive car on the racetrack."
"We couldn't be more excited to have a person like Jeg to represent Slammers Ultimate Milk," said Bravo! Foods Internationals CEO Roy Warren. "Slammers is 'Milk With An Attitude' and Jeg has a great winning attitude both on and off the track."
After running under the family's JEGS Mail Order umbrella for most of his career, Coughlin spent the 2005 season driving for Don Schumacher Racing, which was highlighted by a race win at the season finale in Pomona, Calif. Coughlin took this year off from Pro Stock but still managed to win several high-dollar bracket races around the country. He'll begin testing a custom-built Cagnazzi Cobalt next week at Virginia Motorsports Park.
"I got fitted for the car a few months ago and it's ready to run," Coughlin said. "We plan to test prior to running the last three national events this year in Richmond (Va.), Las Vegas, and Pomona.
"We've actually been talking about doing this for some time. I've been racer friends with Victor since the early '90s when he was the first guy I knew of to use his RacePak computer system with a laptop. I wanted to learn how to do that so I went to him then. We've been friends ever since.
"Victor knew I was taking a year off so it gave us time to put a deal together. Slammers and Bravo are having a record year and they attribute a significant portion of that to their racing program. The thought was that two cars will be better than one. I'm excited to enhance what they already have."
Coughlin said his family's company will be offering Slammers
Ultimate Milk products through JEGS Mail Order's 1-800-345-4545 phone number and
JEGS.com. The system Slammers has to sterilize and bottle their product allows
this milk to be stored and shipped without refrigeration through the JEGS
distribution network. Customers will now be able to order a twelve-pack and have
it in their hands within two days.
"We're excited about the partnership and I know the associates at JEGS will be happy," Coughlin said. "They like to watch us run on ESPN2 and do well.
"I've met with Roy Warren, Mike Edwards, Ben Patipa, and many others and I really like the family feel in their organization. I think that's a crucial element when you're going to spend as much time together as it takes to run this tour. Both Victor and Roy are solid guys and we've all gotten along so well throughout this process. It's been very exciting.
"The next step is to get up and running and get these two Slammers Ultimate Milk Cobalts in the winner's circle as often as possible."
KENNY BERNSTEIN RETURNING IN 2007
(9-1-2006) – He’s well-known throughout the motorsports community. He holds the unique distinction of being the only race team owner to have collected wins in each of Americas’ three major motorsports series – NHRA drag racing, NASCAR and IndyCar racing. There’s hardly a major NHRA award he hasn’t won, and most he’s won in multiples, but he’s decided his collection is a little short.
Six-time NHRA champion Kenny Bernstein announced today that he will partner with Monster Energy drinks to “Unleash the Beast” to stage a 2007 comeback tour in the Funny Car category.
“I thrive on competition and I still love the sport,” said Bernstein. “I’ve been searching for the perfect opportunity and the perfect sponsor to field a competitive team to get back into the sport, and Monster Energy drinks provided the ideal scenario. I’m as excited as I was the first time I ever sat in a Funny Car.”
“At Monster Energy we are all about going extreme in everything we do and NHRA Funny Car racing is about as extreme as it gets,” said Monster Energy Drink president Mark Hall. “When we decided to get into the sport, we looked to partner with an athlete who fits our image and shares our competitive spirit. Kenny Bernstein is a fierce competitor with a proven track record of success. The fact that Kenny has a relationship with our new partner for distribution, Anheuser-Busch, was a bonus. We look forward to a long successful partnership with Kenny Bernstein Racing and are confident Kenny will be a great representative of the Monster Brand.”
Bernstein, who is famous for building Budweiser brand identity in the motorsports community will now attack Monster Energy brand-building with the same zeal.
“NHRA drag racing will provide a tremendous amount of exposure for Monster,” said Bernstein. “Monster does have a common ground and cross-over with Anheuser-Busch because Monster is distributed by many Anheuser-Busch wholesalers. It was a natural fit. We have a multi-year commitment and we will work in every market we visit along the way to try to increase Monster sales, using the same business philosophy my father taught me at a young age, the principles I’ve used through the years.
“Plus Monster aligns itself with extreme sports and there’s nothing more extreme in motorsports than a 7,000 horsepower nitro car.
“It’s been no secret that it’s been difficult for me to sit on the sidelines. I’ve been in the cockpit for so many years that at first, I couldn’t even find a comfortable spot to stand at the starting line. And I really missed the competitive side. I can’t explain the rush and the kick you get from driving a 330 mile-per-hour nitro car down a quarter-mile, but that’s a feeling you can’t replace or find a substitute for. Thankfully, I’ve been blessed with good health and still feel that I can be very competitive.”
Bernstein will run the Monster Energy Funny Car operation under Kenny Bernstein Racing, Inc.
“I will still be the owner and play a major active role in the Budweiser/Lucas Oil team as I always have,” said Bernstein. “It will remain intact as you know it. We feel that adding a second car will strengthen our position.”
Second generation driver Brandon Bernstein is pleased about his father’s return to the cockpit.
“I know he still has the itch to drive,” said Brandon, “and this is about the best scenario you could ever hope for because Monster is connected to Anheuser-Busch. He has coached me and helped me through the learning curve of driving the Top Fuel car and I talk to him after every run. I’m sure we’ll have even more information to trade now that he’ll be driving.”
“Because we know how fast rumors spread,” said Kenny, “we wanted to take a proactive approach to go on record to announce our partnership with Monster Energy drinks.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us to get ready for 2007, but we’re energized and excited about getting back in the saddle. It will be fun mixing it up with John Force, Ron Capps, Gary Scelzi, and all the others in the Funny Car class.”
Bernstein, known for his lightning-quick reaction times, dominated the Funny Car category for much of the 1980s, winning four consecutive championships from 1985 through 1988. His last year behind the wheel of the Funny Car was 1989 before he switched to Top Fuel in 1990.
Bernstein has amassed 69 career victories while driving for Budweiser, 30 in Funny Car and 39 in Top Fuel. Besides four Funny Car championships, he also accrued two Top Fuel championships, 1996 and 2001.
“We’re happy for Kenny that he has an opportunity to climb back into the driver’s seat. He’s proven to be a great owner of the Budweiser team, but he’s obviously a racer at heart and has a passion for driving,” said Tony Ponturo, vice president, Global Media and Sports Marketing, Anheuser-Busch, Inc. “We’re excited he’s working with a mutual partner in Monster, and we agree with Brandon that sharing information between the two teams will only help the Budweiser team achieve its goal of winning a championship.”
After retiring at the end of the 2002 season, he came back to finish the 2003 season after Brandon suffered season-ending injuries in a first round crash May 18 in Englishtown, N.J. Kenny competed in 15 races that season, winning four of the last five events, scoring six semifinal appearances, and accumulating enough points to finish an unbelievable sixth in the final point standings that year.
Bernstein climbs back into the cockpit of the Top Fuel car annually to make enough runs to keep his NHRA nitro license current.
He has made his mark, but his expertise goes far beyond wins and losses. He is first and foremost a businessman and he is focused on helping to build awareness and sales for Monster Energy drinks and Budweiser.
Monster Energy was launched in 2002 and in just three short years has become the number two brand in the exploding energy drink category. Monster Energy provides consumers seeking a boost of energy to fuel their active lifestyle with a proprietary blend of vitamins, herbs and amino acids that packs a vicious punch with a smooth flavor that’s easy to pound down.
VALVOLINE TO PARTNER WITH DON SCHUMACHER RACING; WILL RETURN WITH ROD FULLER IN 2007
(9-1-2006) - In a press conference on Friday, Valvoline announced a marketing partnership with Don Schumacher Racing which will put the company's logo on all DSR entries. Valvoline has also renewed the sponsorship of David Powers Motorsports Top Fuel team and driver Rod Fuller. Ron Krisher's program will likewise be intact for next season.
Valvoline's sportsman programs will remain intact with Bob Newberry, Jay and Shelly Payne, Sherman Adcock, Jr., Dan Fletcher, Tony Fuller, David Tatum, Jimmy Ayers and Bernie Cunningham.
Valvoline will have primary sponsorship paint schemes with DSR at several events during the 2007 NHRA season.
GILBY'S NEW LOOK
(9-1-2006) - Bob Gilbertson’s Autolite flopper is one of
the freshest in the pits. Thursday afternoon saw co crew chief Tommy Delago and
a couple of crew members just down the road from ORP at Indy Custom Shops where
Carey Bewley’s team applied the flashy new Jungle Jim themed paint. The team
were there to apply the minor sponsor and contingency decals to the
This one is not a vinyl wrap as are a number of the graphic packages of recent memory but rather a true custom paint application. For those on hand at the event it is worth taking a close look at the body and some of the subtle images incorporated into the base color which is considerably brighter than what has been Gilby’s staple so far this season. - Keith Burgan
SHIRLEY MULDOWNEY OFFERS OPINION ON THE NHRA'S NEW POINTS STRUCTURE
(8-31-2006) - Shirley Muldowney, a three-time NHRA Top Fuel champion and drag racing icon, has certainly earned the right to speak her mind on the state of drag racing. She admits she's done her best to be supportive of the sport and those who make the decisions, but the NHRA's latest program which basically cuts the championship battle down to two races at the end of the season has her up on the tire.
"What in hell are they thinking?" Muldowney asked. "This is definitely where the car owners need to stand their ground...if they have any balls now is the time to show it.
"You frigging race your ass off for eight races and then some
leaker gets lucky the last three races in the season and walks off with the
money? What the <ooops> are they thinking?
"Oh, right, "let's copy Nascar." That'll make us look like we're big time. This makes no sense at all."
Muldowney is just one of many team owners, drivers and former drivers who have contacted our office to complain about this new program. Word comes from at least one major sponsor that NHRA's heirarchy is already on the defensive in an attempt to spin public opinion in their favor.
KNOLL CLOSES IN ON IHRA STOCK PURCHASE
(8-31-2006) - Live Nation had the rights to first refusal of Bill Bader's 25% ownership in the company. All that Knoll needed to complete that purchase was the blessing of Live Nation and it came today.
"I want to do business with IHRA and Live Nation. After what has happened this week, there is no doubt the IHRA has the potential to be the hottest property in drag racing. I'm certainly going to do my part to ensure that comes to pass.”
MORGAN LUCAS TO RUN LUCAS OIL STADIUM DRAGSTER
(8-30-2006) - With the talk of NHRA Pro Football player Duce Staley soon to field an NHRA Pro Stocker, yet another team has unvieled their NHRA connection. Morgan Lucas Racing will unveil a tribute to the construction and the 2008 grand opening of the Lucas Oil Stadium in the form of a special Mac Tools U.S. Nationals paint scheme.
“I think it’s exciting,” said Lucas. “I think our relationship with the Indianapolis Colts is just as good as our relationship as we developed with the NHRA and drag racing. There is a lot of focus and things that can benefit drag racing from the Colts and many things from the Colts that can benefit drag racing. We’re going a different avenue and our intent is solely good in marketing our company. In a way, it can actually activate our sponsorship with drag racing a little more and vice versa with the Colts to show that, we are a prominent oil company and we’re serious about our business. Bottom line – we’re here to sell Lucas Oil. We’re serious players, and we want people to understand that.
“We decided on this paint scheme because my whole family is from this beautiful state. The city of Indianapolis is not given enough credit as one of the great cities in the nation. Its community minded and people oriented. It’s a good place to be. We want to express to the city and people of the state that we actually care and we’re giving something back in trying to promote this team and promote what we’ve done with it to show we want to be part of this for a long time.”
NHRA COPYCATS NASCAR WITH “COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP”
(8-30-2006) – The NHRA has followed the lead of
NASCAR with a new multi-tiered “Countdown to the Championship” in all four
professional categories of the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series which mimics
NASCAR’s Nextel Cup Chase. This program will feature features three distinct
periods during the 23-race NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series when competitors
will be eliminated from the championship hunt in a playoff-style format.
“The ‘Countdown to the Championship’ is an inclusive program whereby more competitors will have a chance to win an NHRA POWERade World Championship than ever before,” said Tom Compton, president, NHRA. “This historic change in our championship point structure will add more excitement and drama to the entire season, and magnify the spotlight during the season’s final six races, for our fans and the entire racing community.”
“After the grueling 17-race schedule, the field will be reduced to the top eight in the points standings, for a four-race playoff series to determine the field of four who will ultimately vie for NHRA POWERade World Championships. This format makes every race in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series schedule that much more important,” said Compton. “There is nothing in motorsports that rivals the traditional Sunday elimination brackets that have been a part of NHRA POWERade Drag Racing for years. By applying that elimination concept to determine the series points standings, we have by far the most intriguing and suspenseful battle for any championship in all of motorsports.”
In the “Countdown to Eight,” representing the first 17 races of
the season, competitors in all four NHRA POWERade professional categories, Top
Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle, will battle each and every
race to secure a position in the Top Eight in the points standings, with the
final race to reach the “NHRA POWERade Countdown to the Championship” being the
Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa., Aug. 16-19.
Once set, the “Countdown to Four” begins at the most prestigious drag racing event in the world, the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at historic O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis, Labor Day weekend. The Top Eight in each category will have their points adjusted. First place in the standings will begin the countdown with 2,070 points; second place with 2,060 points and so on to eighth place starting with 2,000 points.
The “Countdown to Four,” will consist of four races with the last race being the Torco Racing Fuels NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park near Richmond, Va., Oct. 5-7. Following that race, the “Countdown to One” begins when the top four in each category have their points adjusted yet again. First place in the standings will begin the final two races with 3,030 points; second place with 3,020 points; third place with 3,010 points and fourth place with 3,000 points.
The final two races of the season, the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals, at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Oct. 18-24, followed by the season finale, the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Nov. 1-4, will see the final four competitors battling it out for the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing World Championship.
No team has ever come back from outside the Top Eight with six races remaining to win the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series World Championship under the current point system.
“Traditionally, prior to the final six races of the season only a few teams still have had a shot at winning a POWERade World Championship. Under this new program, eight teams in each of the professional categories will have a legitimate chance to win,” said Compton.
Beginning in 2007, the NHRA POWERade World Champion in Top Fuel and Funny Car will receive a $100,000 Countdown Bonus making the total payout to win the POWERade World Championship $500,000 in each category. In Pro Stock, the POWERade World Champion will receive a Countdown Bonus of $50,000, making the total payout $250,000 and, in Pro Stock Motorcycle, the Countdown Bonus will be $25,000, making the total payout $75,000 to win the POWERade World Championship. In addition to announcing the POWERade Countdown to the Championship, NHRA will increase the total year-end payouts for the Top Eight in the four professional categories to more than $2 million.
The format at all 23 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series national events will remain the same and feature competitors in the professional categories qualifying for spots in the 16-car fields for Sunday’s elimination round.
NHRA RELEASES 2007 SCHEDULE
(8-30-2006) - NHRA announced its new 23-race NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series schedule for 2007 Aug. 30. During the announcement, the world’s largest motorsports sanctioning body announced the addition of Norwalk Raceway Park, which sits between Cleveland and Toledo, Ohio, to the 2007 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series schedule.
Also announced was the addition of a 16th event for the Pro Stock Motorcycle category, to take place at Texas Motorplex near Dallas.
In all, six national events have been moved on the schedule. The series will continue to book-end the 23-race, 10-month season at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California, officially kicking off the season Feb. 8-11 with the CARQUEST Auto Parts Winternationals and concluding the season and crowning the NHRA POWERade Series World Champions at the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals, Nov. 1-4.
The schedule features only one stretch where the competitors are off for more than one week, that being between the Checker Schuck’s Kragen NHRA Nationals in Phoenix, Feb. 23-25, and the traditional East Coast opener, the ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., which will be held March 15-18.
Among the many changes to the 2007 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series schedule is the relocation of the Pontiac Performance NHRA Nationals from National Trail Raceway in Hebron, Ohio to Norwalk Raceway Park, one of the premier drag racing facilities in the country, June 28-July 1. Located near Cleveland, Ohio and not too far from the metropolitan markets of Toledo, Ohio and Detroit, Mich., the new summer race optimizes the 23-race schedule bringing the excitement of the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing to not only the entire state of Ohio, but residents of Southern Michigan.
NHRA also announced significant changes to its schedule, moving the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway to April 26-29, followed by the O’Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway International Raceway in St. Louis, May 4-6. The O’Reilly NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol (Tenn.) Dragway, which traditionally held a late-April date, will move to May 18-20, while the NHRA Supernationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J., just outside New York City, will continue to run June 21-24.
Another change to the schedule will be the move of the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa. to Aug. 16-19, which will be the last race to determine the Top Eight positions for the NHRA POWERade Countdown to the Championship.
The O’Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka (Kan.), will move off Memorial Day weekend to the following week, becoming a three-day event, June 1-3, followed by the NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway, just south of Chicago.
The world’s largest, most prestigious and longest running drag racing event, the 53rd annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, will be held once again on Labor Day weekend, Aug. 29 – Sept. 3 at O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis. The race, which already features two lucrative bonus events, the Skoal Showdown and Ringers Gloves NHRA Pro Bike Battle, will deliver further excitement as it will be the first race of the NHRA POWERade Countdown to the Championship.
The O’Reilly NHRA Mid-South Nationals at Memphis (Tenn.) Motorsports Park, will move to be included as part of the NHRA POWERade Countdown to the Championship, Sept. 14-16.
The final race to secure the top four teams remaining in the Countdown to the Championship will be the Torco Racing Fuels NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park near Richmond, Va., Oct. 5-7. NHRA also announced that the Pro Stock Motorcycle class will add a 16th event to its current schedule, competing at the O’Reilly NHRA Fall Nationals at Texas Motorplex outside Dallas, Sept. 20-23.
The Western Swing will remain in tact, beginning with the Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway near Denver, July 13-15, followed by the Schuck’s Auto Supply NHRA Nationals presented by Lucas Oil, July 20-22 at Pacific Raceways in Seattle and the FRAM-Autolite NHRA Nationals at Infineon Raceway, in Sonoma, Calif., July 27-29.
The final two races of the season, the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Oct. 18-21, and the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals in Pomona, Calif., Nov. 1-4, will represent the Countdown to One in the drag racing world competing for the claim to the NHRA POWERade World Championship.
2007 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series schedule
47th annual CARQUEST Auto Parts Winternationals
23rd annual Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals
38th annual ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals
Gainesville, Fla. (PSM)
20th annual O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals
March 30- April 1
8th annual NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals
27th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals
11th annual O'Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals
St. Louis (PSM)
7th annual O'Reilly NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals
19th annual O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals
10th annual NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway
38th annual NHRA SuperNationals
Englishtown, N.J. (PSM)
Inaugural Pontiac Performance NHRA Nationals
June 28-July 1
Norwalk, Ohio (PSM)
28th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals
20th annual Schuck's Auto Supply NHRA Nationals
20th annual FRAM-Autolite NHRA Nationals
Sonoma, Calif. (PSM)
26th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals
Brainerd, Minn. (PSM)
23rd annual Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals
Reading, Pa. (PSM)
53rd annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals
Aug. 29- Sept. 3
20th annual O'Reilly NHRA Mid-South Nationals
Memphis, Tenn. (PSM)
22nd annual O'Reilly NHRA Fall Nationals
2nd annual Torco Racing Fuels NHRA Nationals
Seventh ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals
Las Vegas (PSM)
43rd annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals
Pomona, Calif. (PSM)
(PSM) - Event will include Pro Stock Motorcycle
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