KENT, Wash.- As the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series hits the West Coast for the second of three consecutive races, many drivers will be happy to be surrounded by the fresh air and wilderness supported by the northwest. The Lucas Oil NHRA ...
KENT, Wash.- As the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series hits the West Coast for the second of three consecutive races, many drivers will be happy to be surrounded by the fresh air and wilderness supported by the northwest.
The Lucas Oil NHRA Northwest Nationals can provide a little relief during the normally hot and sticky environment provided by the events scheduled during the summer months.
Since 1993 Top Fuel driver Cory McClenathan has earned one victory and three runner-up finishes at the event located just outside of Seattle. Driving the Centennial Batteries Dragster, McClenathan will be looking to add another win to his Seattle statistics during the 15th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Northwest Nationals, July 26-28, at Pacific Raceways. Gary Scelzi, Whit Bazemore and Mark Osborne are the defending winners of the $1.8 million race. It is the 14th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
"I have always had pretty good luck in Seattle," McClenathan said. "There are a few things about racing at that track that you need to be aware of, like the bump in the left lane. But I really like racing there. I think it is pretty neat racing at a track that is surrounded by the woods. They also have a really good group of fans that support the race.
"I know the track was just purchased by new owners and I think that is great because I think we are going to see some real positive changes over the next few years there. I look forward to racing there every year."
Funny Car driver Ron Capps also has fond memories of racing in the Northwest Nationals. Capps started his career in a Top Fuel dragster in 1995. His first professional victory came at the 1995 Seattle event. His winning ways didn't stop when he switched to a Funny Car as he notched the Funny Car victory at Pacific Raceways in 1998.
"I have always loved that track," Capps, driver of the Skoal Green Racing Camaro, said. "It's a special place because that is where I got my first Top Fuel win, but I have always liked racing there anyway."
Being the defending champion of the Funny Car category is just one reason why Bazemore is looking forward to being back in the Seattle area. Behind the wheel of the Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird, Bazemore has two wins in 2002 and sits in the No. 5 spot of the standings. In 2001, Bazemore went on a hot streak that catapulted him into second place. Bazemore earned the No. 1 qualifying position in nine of the last 12 races of the season, earning three wins and four runner-up finishes to end the year. He's hoping a repeat performance is on the horizon.
"It's going to be nice to get out West, there's no question about it," Bazemore said. "Seattle is exciting with all of the changes they are making. It's a race in a market that I believe has tremendous potential for the NHRA POWERade Series. To now have owners at that facility that are serious about their track and our sport is rewarding not only for us, but for all of the fans too.
"I'm excited for the fans because over the next few years they are going to see a track that is going to turn into a first-class facility. That's what they deserve and that is what our sport deserves."