:::::: Feature Stories ::::::

HIGHT SEEKS TO PIECE TOGETHER THE PERFECT SEASON

As the newly appointed President of John Force Racing, Robert Hight knows a thing or two about the computer process of cut and paste. Now, if he could just 01_27_2011_robert_hightapply the process to the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle season,  the veteran driven and son-in-law of John Force could be enjoying a second NHRA Full Throttle Championship come November.

“If I’m looking at the past two seasons; if I could put together the first half of last year with the last half of 2009 then it’s a season like John Force had in 2010,” Hight said. “When you have a season like that you’re going to win championships so that’s what our main goal is this year; to be steady all year long.”

Not that his title defense was a slug, there were some impressive moments as Hight won four out of five finals and qualified No. 1 six times. However, as important as these feats were, in the championship picture, they didn’t mean a whole lot outside of an invitation to the dance.

MORGAN LUCAS: A NEW CHAPTER BEGINS IN 2011

01_27_2011_morgan_lucasHalfway through the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle season one could have hardly faulted Top Fuel dragster driver Morgan Lucas if he was looking forward to the end. By the time the end arrived, Lucas wasn't nearly ready.

In a few short months, Lucas and his team were having fun again.

“I really love what I do and I wouldn’t trade anything for the world but it makes it easier to love what you do when you go to the starting line and think you’re going to win,” explained Lucas, who was one of ten NHRA Top Fuel drivers to qualify for the Countdown to 1 playoffs.

“At Pomona I really felt good, especially after first round. We made that great run on Saturday night and we go in the first round and I felt like we made a really good run then too. It just gave us so much more to go into the winter based on. It’s like now seeing all the little things that are going on around here and the stuff that’s being approached in a common sense light. It makes me look for the long term in this whole deal.”

BRYCE'S FIRE BURNING TO RACE AGAIN

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When team owner George Bryce left NHRA’s Pro Stock Motorcycle ranks following the 2008 season, it was on his own terms.

Now, Bryce, a six-time world champion owner, is ready to get back in the class in 2011.

“Last weekend, the activity to buzz again, and the juices started flowing again (about getting back into racing),” the 56-year-old Bryce said. “We never quit doing research and development. We still do Suzuki engines for customers and the S&S Buell engines like Hector Arana runs. We have all that stuff and we a great 18-wheeler and a good team, and all we lack is a little bit of a budget to go (racing).”

CORY MAC PREPARES FOR THE HARSH REALITY

This is certainly unfamiliar territory for Cory McClenathan.
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Cory Mac, with the exception of 2001, has been competing full-time on the NHRA’s Top Fuel circuit since 1991.

Presently, the standout driver is trying to put together a deal, part-time or full-time, so he can go racing again in 2011. The upcoming season begins Feb. 24-27 at the Winternationals in Pomona.

PRO STOCK’S AJ FIRED UP OVER 2010 SHORTCOMINGS

To say Allen Johnson is on the “chip” is a major understatement.
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“Yeah I’m mad,” Johnson, the veteran Pro Stock driver from Greeneville, Tenn., admits.  “I guess that makes you fired up don’t it?”  

The source of his ire, or new found determination, is a 2010 season chock full of missed opportunities.

Johnson has taken inventory of his arsenal, including new cars and a new team driver with Vincent Nobile, and he’s hit the testing circuit so hard that he plans for the reverberations to be felt from Pomona to Englishtown with every stop on the tour bearing the brunt of his hunger for redemption.

JIM ROCKSTAD REMEMBERS: SEATTLE'S 64 FUNNY CARS, PT 5

 It’s interesting to note that in all the research I did to complete this story of the early 1970s, Funny Car events were very popular in all parts of the country. But Acewinnowhere could I find where the shows were much more than match races with two, four, six, or maybe eight funny cars.  Orange County International Raceway (OCIR) had the manufacturers’ team race annually but nothing in the format, size and impact that 64 Funny Cars was about to have at SIR.

Nowhere was there going to be any event even close to the scale of the “Seattle Giant”.

The cars in these early times were able to run at events up to four times a week in the highly-populated East Coast, but SIR was the only place where this monster event was about to take place. It sure made sense to me that many of the named stars of the sport would want to be involved with the biggest Funny Car event anywhere, and of course, winning it would be one major accomplishment.

DRIVERS REACT TO WEDNESDAY’S NHRA ANNNOUNCEMENT

At their core, NHRA Full Throttle Series national events are entertainment.
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Thus, to improve the quality of their races for the fans, the sanctioning body announced Wednesday it is implementing stiffer penalties to reduce lengthy downtime because of oildowns and improve track preparation.

In 2011, when Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle drivers oildown the track, they will be subject to fines and championship point deductions.

For its part, the NHRA is increasing its track prep and oildown clean-up capabilities by adding additional equipment to the Safety Safari, including a second drag tractor.

Lee Beard, a championship crew chief and team manager, applauded the NHRA for taking action. Beard is returning to his familiar role as a crew chief in 2011 as the wrench boss for the new Funny Car team with driver Johnny Gray at Don Schumacher Racing. Beard also will remain in his position as DSR’s team manager.

DESPITE CHANGES, TASCA FORGES AHEAD IN 2011

Usually when an NHRA Top Fuel Funny Car team completely changes its engine program during a season, success is hard to achieve.

Driver Bob Tasca III and his Motorcaft/Quick Lane Ford team, however, didn’t let the overhaul sabotage their 2010 campaign. Tasca finished a career-best fifth in the season points chase, highlighted by his win at the NHRA Supernationals in Englishtown, N.J., in June.

“2010 was a roller-coaster for us in a lot of ways,” Tasca said. “We worked all winter of 2009 with a certain setup. Then, we worked real hard with that setup through testing and we opened up the 2010 season with that setup. Then, we made that big announcement (in March) with the ‘One Ford’ approach. We switched over to the Boss (500) engine platform. That was a pretty massive undertaking. You start a season out and I think we were four or five races into the (2010) season and we had done all this testing and when we ended the season, not a bolt was the same on the car as it was going into the season.”

The ‘One Ford’ approach focuses on all Ford sponsored teams having the  same availability to the Ford engineered technology and equipment, which will in turn make all Ford Mustang Funny Car teams more competitive.

AND THE WINNERS ARE ... THE 12TH ANNUAL DOT COM AWARDS

01_06_2011_dotcoms_winnersEach year, since 1999, CompetitionPlus.com has conducted its annual Dot Com Awards as a means of allowing race fans and readers of the Internet magazine to select the best [and worst] of the recently completed season.

The winners we are about to announce are 100-percent reader VOTED achievements. This year produced an incredible year of votes from our respective ballots with over 10,000 votes cast in a four week period of time. 

OMG … IT’S THE POLITICALLY INCORRECT DOT COMS

1-8-11politicallyincorrectdotcomsIn addition to the annual 100-percent reader voted Dot Com Awards, the staff of CompetitionPlus.com produces a not so politically correct Dot Com Award section. Over the course of a year we see stuff and while we report factually and unbiased what we see, there are a few things where we have tongue in cheek opinions that we don’t express at the time.

Well … that time is now.

Read at your own risk.

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