Englishtown: SuperNationals pre-event notes, schedule

34th annual K & N Filters SuperNationals, the eighth of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. Professional competitors in four categories earn points leading to 2003 NHRA POWERade championships. Sportsman competitors in...

34th annual K & N Filters SuperNationals, the eighth of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. Professional competitors in four categories earn points leading to 2003 NHRA POWERade championships.

Sportsman competitors in seven categories earn points leading to 2003 NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series championships.

Old Bridge Raceway Park, Englishtown, N.J. From the North, take N.J. Turnpike South to Exit 9, follow the signs to Rt. 18 South. Go six miles to the Englishtown exit. Take Rt. 527 South five miles. Make a left onto Pension Rd. Go ¼ mile, track entrance on left.

Rookie Brandon Bernstein hopes to keep the winning streak alive of the famed Budweiser car over the past two years. Larry Dixon has again been impressive in the Miller Lite dragster and he is seeking his first career win at Englishtown. The beer cars will find a formidable challenger in the Mac Tools dragster driven by Doug Kalitta, and Top Fuel legend Shirley Muldowney, who will be making her final NHRA trip to the Garden State during her retirement tour.

Tony Pedregon has been the dominant driver in Funny Car this season, with team-owner John Force playing catch-up all year. Defending event winner Gary Densham gives Force Racing three contenders, but Whit Bazemore and the Matco Tools Dodge Stratus will challenge, as will Ron Capps and Del Worsham.

Unlike last year, Pro Stock has a couple of drivers emerging as the front-runners in the competitive category. Defending event winner Greg Anderson and current points leader Kurt Johnson have made early strides to distance themselves from the rest of the competition. Current and former POWERade champions Jeg Coughlin, Warren Johnson and Jim Yates all figure to contend until the end.

The competitiveness in Pro Stock Bike is nearing that of Pro Stock, with more than 30 bikes trying to qualify at the first three events of the 2003 season. Current points leader Geno Scali will try and hold off a worthy bunch of riders as the season progresses. Angelle Savoie hasn't missed a beat with her new team and teammate, defending event winner Antron Brown. Matco Tools Suzuki rider Craig Treble is coming off a career-best year and looks to be the first rider in NHRA history to make a pass under seven seconds and young Andrew Hines would like to earn his first career victory and put Harley-Davidson in the winner's circle.

FAST FACTS:

Defending POWERade Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon has never won at Englishtown...Force Racing has accounted for five of the last seven Funny Car victories at Englishtown. Gary Densham won last year and Tony Pedregon beat John Force in 2001. Force won three times (1996, 1998-'99) and was the runner-up to Cruz Pedregon in 2000. Force also won at Englishtown in 1993...With a victory, Angelle Savoie can tie legendary Pro Stock Bike riders John Myers and Dave Schultz for the most career wins in her category at Englishtown (four)...Warren Johnson, Larry Morgan and Bob Glidden have each won the Pro Stock King Demon Crown three times. Jeg Coughlin, Bruce Allen, Kurt Johnson and Jim Yates each have two wins and Darrell Alderman has one victory in the special event.

Notes of Interest:

Young Bernstein Off to a Fast Start - Last season Kenny Bernstein ended a driving career that saw him etch his name into the NHRA record books numerous times. The first driver to eclipse the 300-mph barrier and the only driver to ever win championships in both Top Fuel and Funny Car, Bernstein handed the keys to the famed Budweiser dragster to his son Brandon for the 2003 season and beyond. The younger Bernstein wasted no time in getting acclimated with the winning ways of the Budweiser team, visiting the winner's circle in his second, third and sixth professional starts (Phoenix, Gainesville, Fla., and Bristol, Tenn.) and was the runner-up in the Budweiser Shootout at Pomona, Calif. After earning the Division 7 Top Alcohol Dragster crown in 2001, the younger Bernstein spent the entire 2002 season as a crewmember on his father's team, learning the intricacies of a nitromethane-powered dragster. It took him only two professional starts before scoring his first Top Fuel win, and with crew chief Tim Richards making all the tuning decisions, the younger Bernstein is well positioned to challenge the rest of the field for Top Fuel supremacy. Brandon is currently second in the POWERade standings, 40 points behind his new rival Larry Dixon.

Perennial Funny Car Champ Force Continues to Struggle - What's going on with 12-time Funny Car champion John Force? The NHRA icon has three first round losses and has advanced to the semifinals once in seven events. With a three-car operation, Force's Ford Mustang is the one that is struggling. His two other drivers, Tony Pedregon and Gary Densham, currently occupy first and fourth place in the standings respectively and have combined for five wins in seven races. Force recently moved back into the top 10 in the standings (eighth) and is 317 points behind Pedregon.

Student Leads Teacher - Pro Stock driver Greg Anderson is the former crew chief for six-time NHRA Pro Stock champion Warren Johnson. After competing in the Pro Stock category on a limited basis from 1998-2001 (racing 21 out of 22 races in 1999), Anderson left Johnson's team and committed himself to the entire NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series beginning in 2002. After a career-best finish in the POWERade standings (No. 3), final round appearances (six), No. 1 qualifying positions (two), and won-loss record in eliminations (32-19), Anderson has established himself as a top contender for the 2003 Pro Stock crown. W. Johnson defeated Anderson in the final round at Atlanta to close the gap in the point standings. Anderson is second in the standings, two points ahead of his former employer.

Can Angelle Win a Fourth Title? - Defending POWERade Pro Stock Bike champion Angelle Savoie had an interesting offseason following her third straight NHRA title. She and longtime crew chief George Bryce had a mutual parting with Savoie announcing she would join fellow three-time champ Matt Hines on the sideline for the 2003 season. Surprisingly, the day after announcing her intentions to not compete this year, Savoie joined forces with friend and family member (through marriage) Antron Brown to form a two-bike team for this year's run at the title. Savoie quickly put to rest her skeptics at the season-opener for the two-wheelers, blasting her way to the No. 1 qualifying position, then earning the win on her new bike at the very first event with her new team. She followed that performance with a victory at Houston to extend her lead in the standings as she continues her quest for a fourth series crown. Her first round loss at Atlanta dropped her to second in the standings, four points out of first. Savoie already is the winningest female in NHRA history (30 career wins) and is tied with the legendary Shirley Muldowney with the most NHRA championships earned by a female competitor. She wants her fourth title in a row and is off to a very impressive start.

Regarding Weather -- In drag racing weather plays a vital role as crew chiefs examine data and tune their race cars for maximum performance. Most teams have sophisticated weather stations on board their team transporters so they can access up-to-the-minute weather information as well as forecasts.

Fan Accessibility - No other major motorsport offers the kind of fan accessibility like the NHRA. Every ticket, general admission or reserved, is a pass to the pit areas of all of our professional and sportsman competitors. Fans get the opportunity to get up close and personal with their favorite drivers and teams. They get to interact with the various competitors, talk shop, or just hang out and watch the teams work. Fans have access to the pits as teams fire up their engines in preparation of their next pass down the track. With the continued growth of the NHRA, nothing helps separate the drag racing's premier sanctioning body, like fan accessibility.

Safety Safari-- These men and women are a team of professionals dedicated to making the sport safe for the competitors and keeping the action on the track moving for the fans. Spend the day or a few hours with this crew and watch as they take care of preparing the race track for competition, responding to crashes and cleaning up oil and debris on the racing surface.

ABOUT THE TRACK:
Old Bridge Township Raceway Park opened in July of 1965, and has since become the Northeast's premier drag racing facility. Conceived by Vincent Napp Sr., his brother Louis, along with Vincent's sons Richard and Vincent, Jr., the former 308-acre farm was converted into a drag strip in just over a year's time. A great success from the start, "Englishtown", as race fans worldwide know it, was selected to be an official stop of NHRA's national event tour in 1968, when it held the NHRA Springnationals. The NHRA national event tour returned to Raceway Park in 1971 with the NHRA Summernationals. Now known as the K & N Filters NHRA SuperNationals presented by Pep Boys, the event was moved to May in 1993 to accommodate fans with cooler spring weather and provide drivers with ideal racing conditions. Constant reinvestment, renovations and expansion of the property have kept Raceway Park in the forefront of drag racing and the entire motorsports community. In 1975, a one-mile motocross track was added to the grounds. In 1996, an eighth-mile drag strip was built to host the NHRA Jr. Drag Racing League, a program created at Raceway Park. In 2000 Raceway Park added a motocross practice facility and in 2002 a karting oval and road course were opened. Now in it's 38th year of operation, the facility is still owned and operated by the Napp Family and has become an icon in the world of drag racing.

K&N Filters SuperNationals presented by Pep Boys GENERAL INFORMATION

SCHEDULE: Pro qualifying is scheduled for 3:30 and 6 p.m. on May 16 and will continue at 12:45 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. on May 17. The King Demon Crown bonus event for Pro Stock will be held at 12:30, 2:30 and 4 p.m. on May 17. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on May 18.

TICKETS: Tickets are available for the 34th annual K&N Filters NHRA SuperNationals presented by Pep Boys. Call Old Bridge Township Raceway Park at (732) 446-7800. Tickets are also available through Ticketmaster.

TELEVISION: ESPN will televise two hours of qualifying highlights at 6 p.m. (ET) on May 17. ESPN2 will televise three hours of eliminations at 7 p.m. (ET) on May 18.

ON THE WEB: NHRA news, photos and driver information available at nhra.com.

-nhra-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Antron Brown , Matt Hines , Jeg Coughlin , Larry Dixon , Darrell Alderman , Kenny Bernstein , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Del Worsham , Ron Capps , John Force , Doug Kalitta , Greg Anderson , Larry Morgan , Gary Densham , Bob Glidden , Cruz Pedregon , Craig Treble , Geno Scali , George Bryce , Brandon Bernstein , Andrew Hines , Tim Richards