PEDREGON READY FOR RETURN TO A DRY MAPLE GROVE RACEWAY
MOHNTON, Pa. -- The world's top drag racers are returning to Maple Grove Raceway for the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals, Sept. 29 -- Oct. 1. This is the second try in as many weeks to complete the $1.5 million race, which will be televised on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD, and is the 20th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
The first attempt to complete the event came during the weekend of Sept. 14-17. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans for the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series as a steady rain fell on the track from Thursday to Saturday forcing it to be postponed.
Tony Pedregon, who is the defending winner in Funny Car, does not look on the return as anything that will upset his team. He has been here before and won, so there is data that he can use.
"We won here last year, so we have some good info," said Pedregon. "We have the same team and are very familiar with the track. We will use the data we gathered last year."
Despite the setback of having to return to the beautiful Pennsylvania countryside for what will be the second of three races in as many weeks (Dallas, Mohnton, and Richmond, Va.) Pedregon is upbeat about coming back. The track will be much cooler which will provide for some exciting and fast racing down the drag strip. In the past this track has seen some record times and speeds.
"The conditions will be cooler," continued Pedregon. "This combined with the history of the racetrack being one of the quickest and fastest compliments our set-up. The three weekends in a row is no more load for our team."
Although he is sitting fourth in the points chase, 188 points behind leader Ron Capps, Pedregon has already accomplished his goals for the year. His success for the year has been complimented with three wins (Atlanta, Columbus, and St. Louis) and two runner-up positions (Sonoma and Memphis).
"We set out to make some progress from last year and be in the top five at the end of the year," said Pedregon. "Now we want to win a few more races before the year is out. We need (John) Force and Capps to cooperate for us to move up more. Our record speaks for itself. We can win."
Other defending race winners include Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel); Greg Anderson (Pro Stock); and Angelle Sampey (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
In Top Fuel, Doug Kalitta has been dominant most of the season. Kalitta, leading the points chase since Denver, has posted five victories in his Mac Tools dragster this season. Melanie Troxel has raced to two victories in seven final rounds and led the standings for most of the season in her Skull Shine/Torco Race Fuels dragster. Brandon Bernstein has four wins and seven final rounds, and Rod Fuller has claimed two wins, and both are certainly threats to win. Three-time and defending world champ Tony Schumacher earned his first victory of the season in St. Louis and posted runner-up finishes to rookie first time winner J.R. Todd at Denver and Sonoma, and could be primed for a late season championship run in his U.S. Army dragster.
Ron Capps looks to earn his first Funny Car world championship title against the likes of 13-time champion John Force, and Force's son-in-law, Robert Hight. Hight is the hot driver to beat after back-to-back wins in Indianapolis and this past week in Dallas.
Three-time world champ Greg Anderson had led the way in Pro Stock in his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO until Denver when his teammate and three-time winner Jason Line. Four-time 2006 winner Dave Connolly is making a strong move late in the season. Kurt Johnson, Mike Edwards, and former two-time series champ Jim Yates are all ones to watch, and young phenom Erica Enders continues to have the best Pro Stock season ever for a female driver.
Last year's Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion, Andrew Hines, is sitting atop familiar territory after winning at Denver and Memphis. Other winners this year have included, Angelle Sampey, Antron Brown, Chip Ellis, Ryan Schnitz, and Matt Smith.
SCHEDULE: Professional qualifying sessions are scheduled for 1 and 4 p.m. on Sept. 29, and 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Sept. 30. Eliminations start at 11 a.m. on Oct. 1.
TICKETS: For tickets, call (610) 856-7200 or www.maplegroveraceway.com. Tickets also are available at Ticketmaster.com.
ON TV: ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise two hours of qualifying at 4 p.m. (ET) on Sept. 30. ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will air NHRA 2Day, a 30-minute weekly news magazine show, at 11:30 a.m. (ET), and three hours of eliminations coverage at 7 p.m. (ET) on Oct.1.