Series round three preview

Las Vegan

LINE’S BOLD PREDICTION HOLDING TRUE SO FAR AS NHRA FULL THROTTLE SERIES HEADS TO LAS VEGAS FOR SEASON’S THIRD RACE

LAS VEGAS – After winning the season-opening Kragen O’Reilly Winternationals, Pro Stock racer Jason Line said his goal was to win every race of the season.

“If you don’t win the first one, you can’t win ‘em all,” he boldly told the media after claiming his 22nd career victory.

Then the driver of the Summit Racing Pontiac GXP beat teammate Greg Anderson in the final round of the Tire Kingdom Gatornationals in Florida two weeks ago to check another race off of his season-long mission and notch career victory No. 23. The former NASCAR engine builder needs to win only 20 more races to make his lofty prediction come true.

Line will try to keep the streak going at the 12th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, April 1-3. Larry Dixon (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car) and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) are the defending winners of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event which will be televised on ESPN2 HD.

“So far so good,” Line said. “But I've got a feeling it’s going to get a little bit tougher. But it’s still fun to be off to such a good start.”

Line, a winner of this event in 2008, will have a lot of things motivating him to get the job done and keep his streak going in Las Vegas. Not only is it a race that his primary sponsor Summit Racing Equipment supports, but Las Vegas is also the hometown of his longtime team owner Ken Black, who is continuing the recovery process after suffering a stroke last year.

“It’s huge for me,” Line said. “I’ve won it once before and I think it was the first Summit sponsored event I had ever won. So I kind of have fond memories of that. It’s a big deal, and especially right now it’s a big deal for Ken, because when we are doing well it definitely motivates him and he’s really working hard and he’s trying to get better and get out of that wheelchair. With Ken, he’s more than our team owner. We love the guy, and he loves us, and he’s been so many more things to me and all of us here than just a team owner.”

Line, who won the world championship in 2006, is back at the top of the points standings following his strong start. Defending world champ Anderson is right behind him in second place. After bringing former crew member Jeff Perley back on board to work alongside veteran crew chief Rob Downing and top tuner Tommy Utt, the KB Racing team has served notice to the NHRA Pro Stock community that they are once again at the top of their game like they were when Anderson and Line combined to win four consecutive championship titles from 2003-’06.

“I don’t know if it’s a surprise or not, but it’s definitely a nice thing for sure and we have always felt like we have had the team to do this, but sometimes aligning all of those things together and actually putting it together on the racetrack and talking about it are two very different things,” Line said. “But either way, it’s a nice way to start the year, and hopefully we can carry that through.”

And given some of the challenges the team had last year with Black’s health issues, a major fire at Anderson’s residence and one of the team transporter trucks catching fire on its way home after the season-ending race, Line says the entire team was looking forward to a fresh start in 2011.

“We always have high expectations but the truth of it is, this offseason was a breeze compared to the one before, because you know with Ken having a stroke, it really had a profound effect on all of us,” Line said. “Things can slip away from you in a hurry.”

While Line and Anderson lead the charge in the 200 mph category, other pre-race favorites include perennial threat Greg Stanfield, national E.T. record holder Rodger Brogdon, tough Mopar driver Allen Johnson who is currently outside the top 10, past champ and defending event winner Edwards and Erica Enders, who recently set the national speed record at more than 213 mph in Gainesville in her Za Za Energy Chevy Cobalt.

Del Worsham and Morgan Lucas won the first two races of the season in Top Fuel and will be among those to watch in the 7,000 horsepower category. Defending world champ Dixon has won this race four times and seven-time world champ Tony Schumacher has won six races at the Vegas track. Antron Brown, Spencer Massey, Brandon Bernstein, Shawn Langdon and Doug Kalitta are also major threats to win.

In Funny Car Mike Neff has his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang running strong while pulling double-duty as both tuner and driver. His victory in Florida moved him to the top of the point standings for the first time in his career. If he wants to stay on top he will have to hold off a host of challengers, including his boss and 15-time champ John Force, ultra-quick Matt Hagan, Robert Hight, two-time world champ Cruz Pedregon, Ron Capps and Bob Tasca.

  • SCHEDULE: Full Throttle Drag Racing Series qualifying sessions are scheduled for 12:30 and 3 p.m. on Friday, April 1 and 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 2. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday, April 3.


  • TICKETS: Tickets are available for the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals. Call The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway at (800) 644-4444 or visit www.lvms.com.


  • ON TV: ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise two hours of qualifying highlights at 7 p.m. (ET) on Saturday, April 2. ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise two hours and 30 minutes of eliminations coverage beginning at 4:30 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, April 3.


  • LUCAS OIL SERIES: The SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals also will feature competition in seven categories in the NHRA Lucas Oil Series, where the future stars of the NHRA Full Throttle Series gain experience. Lucas Oil Series qualifying begins at 8 a.m. on April 1. Lucas Oil Series eliminations begin at 8 a.m. on April 2.


  • GET SCREENED AMERICA PRO MOD SERIES: NHRA’s popular Pro Mod touring series will make its second start of the 10-race 2011 season at the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals. The series features some of the world’s fastest and most unique doorslammer cars, with an eclectic mix of vintage and late-model body styles, in quarter-mile competition. Two of three scheduled rounds of qualifying will be held on Friday, April 1 at 2 and 5:30 p.m. The final round of qualifying is set for 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 2. The first round of eliminations is scheduled for Saturday, April 2 at 3:30 p.m. Eliminations will continue on Sunday, April 3 at approximately 2:30 p.m.


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FULL THROTTLE SERIES POINTS LEADER NEFF PULLING DOUBLE-DUTY IN FUNNY CAR; SEEKING MORE SUCCESS IN LAS VEGAS

LAS VEGAS – As NHRA celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2011, many of the legends who made the sport popular in the early years are being honored throughout the season. Some of those legends, like “Big Daddy” Don Garlits among others, were so talented in the high performance arts that not only did they drive the machines, they also built and tuned them as well.

Although he’s not a legend yet, Funny Car racer Mike Neff is proving to be a real throwback to the early days of the sport. The driver of the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang is turning back the clock this season and pulling double-duty as both crew chief and driver of his 7,000-horsepower Funny Car.

After two races the combination is working for the Southern California native who now calls Fishers, Ind. home. A victory at the Tire Kingdom Gatornationals in Florida and a semifinal run at the season-opening Kragen O’Reilly Winternationals have Neff out front in the points lead for the first time in his driving career. Neff has won two championships as a crew chief – guiding Gary Scelzi to the 2005 title and John Force to the crown last year – but would be over the top on the emotion meter if he could guide his new driver to the title this year.

Neff will focus on a second win for the season and maintaining his position atop the points order as the circuit heads to the 12th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, April 1-3. Larry Dixon (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car) and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) are the defending winners of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event which will be televised on ESPN2 HD.

Neff, who qualified third, set top speed of the event and had his car running consistently quick during each round of eliminations at the Gatornationals, says that weekend was one of the top moments for him in the sport, but also one of the most draining.

“It was really exciting to win Gainesville, doing both (crew chief duties and driving) and just the pressure of it all, and just having a great weekend like that, it was probably without a doubt the best day of racing I’ve ever had in my life,” Neff said. “You know, even the whole week, it just was a lot of stress and a lot of nerves and to just see it all, fall up through and end up winning that the way we did it was just very gratifying and just a great experience, great feeling.”

Neff’s victory was a fourth consecutive for the John Force Racing team dating back to the 2010 season. Force, with Neff tuning, won the final two races of the year to claim his 15th world championship title last November. Robert Hight opened the year by winning the tradition-rich Winternationals and then Neff followed with the win in Florida. With all three of the Force cars running so well and Neff and Hight in the top three in points, Neff is certain it will be very soon that Force will move up from his current ninth place spot and be in the title hunt as well.

“All of these cars, they are all pretty much the same, and I know he’s maybe not off to the start that he wanted, but that’s just kind of the growing pains when you go to a different car, different team,” said Neff about his boss, who moved over to the Mustang left vacant by daughter Ashley who is taking the season off as she and husband Danny Hood are expecting their first child.

“But he’ll be right back in the fight in no time,” Neff continued. “There’s no question, that’s a great team over there, with Ashley’s car with (crew chiefs) Dean Antonelli and Ron Douglas over there. There’s no doubt John Force will be swinging back here real fast because he definitely wants to win.”

Just like Neff does. He says doing both jobs actually might be a good distraction as he moves on into the season.

“I believe that the worst thing a driver can do is start thinking,” Neff said. “When you get up there and psychologically, I need to do this, I need do that; it seems like the more you think, the more trouble you get yourself into. So the one positive thing is that now I’ve gotten so much stuff going that I don’t have time to sit around and worry about the driving or my reaction times or anything like that. And I think that almost helps me, because when it’s time to finally get in there, you just go and do it and it doesn’t feel like I’m playing all of those mind games with myself like I used to the last time I drove.”

In addition to the trio of Force cars, which list Force and Hight as past winners in Las Vegas, other top contenders in Funny Car include Cruz Pedregon, Ron Capps, Jack Beckman and Tim Wilkerson, all past winners at the The Strip. Other pre-race favorites are Matt Hagan in the DieHard Dodge Charger and Bob Tasca, who drives the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Shelby Mustang.

In Top Fuel, Del Worsham and Morgan Lucas claimed the first two races of the season and will be among those to watch in the 7,000 horsepower category. Defending world champ Dixon has won this race four times and seven-time world champ Tony Schumacher has won six races at the Vegas track. Antron Brown, Spencer Massey, Brandon Bernstein, Shawn Langdon and Doug Kalitta are also major threats to win.

In Pro Stock, Jason Line has won both races to open the season and leads the point standings in front of teammate Greg Anderson, the four-time and defending world champ. Other pre-race favorites include perennial threat Greg Stanfield, national E.T. record holder Rodger Brogdon, tough Mopar driver Allen Johnson who is currently outside the top 10, past champ and defending event winner Edwards and Erica Enders, who recently set the national speed record at more than 213 mph in Gainesville in her Za Za Energy Chevy Cobalt.

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SUMMITRACING.COM NHRA NATIONALS FACT SHEET

WHAT: 12th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals, the third of 22 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. Drivers in three categories - Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock - earn points leading to 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series world championships. NHRA is celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2011 and will pay tribute to the evolution of the hot rod and honor its legendary racers as well as the sport’s current stars.

WHERE: The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas. Track is located approximately 15 miles north of downtown Las Vegas off Interstate 15.

WHEN: Friday through Sunday, April 1-3

SCHEDULE:

FRIDAY, April 1 - LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying at 8 a.m.

GET SCREENED AMERICA PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

FULL THROTTLE SERIES qualifying at 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m.

SATURDAY, April 2 – LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations begin at 8 a.m.

GET SCREENED AMERICA PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 12:30 p.m. and first round of eliminations at 3:30 p.m.

FULL THROTTLE SERIES qualifying at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

SUNDAY, April 3 - Pre-race ceremonies, 10:15 a.m.

FULL THROTTLE SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.

GET SCREENED AMERICA PRO MOD SERIES eliminations continue at approximately 2:30 p.m.

TELEVISION:

Saturday, April 2, ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise two hours of qualifying coverage at 7 p.m. (ET).

Sunday, April 3, ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise two and a half hours of coverage starting at 4:30 p.m. (ET).

2010 EVENT WINNERS: Larry Dixon, Top Fuel; John Force, Funny Car; Mike Edwards, Pro Stock.

MOST VICTORIES: Larry Dixon, 4, TF; Greg Anderson, 3, PS; Jeg Coughlin, 3, PS; Kenny Bernstein, 2, TF; Tony Schumacher, 2, TF.

TRACK RECORDS:

Top Fuel - 3.781 seconds by Tony Schumacher, Oct. ’08; 325.61 mph by Schumacher, Oct. ’10.

Funny Car - 4.030 seconds by Matt Hagan, Oct. ’09; 313.88 mph by Hagan, Oct. ’09.

Pro Stock –- 6.623 seconds by Mike Edwards, Oct. ’09; 208.04 mph by Allen Johnson, Oct. ’10.

NATIONAL RECORDS:

Top Fuel - 3.770 sec. by Larry Dixon, Feb. ’11, Pomona, Calif.; 327.03 mph by Tony Schumacher, Feb. ’11, Pomona, Calif.

Funny Car - 4.011 sec. by Matt Hagan, Oct. ’10, Reading, Pa.; 316.38 mph by Ashley Force Hood, March ’10, Charlotte, N.C.

Pro Stock - 6.495 sec. by Rodger Brogdon, March ’11, Gainesville, Fla.; 213.57 mph by Erica Enders, March ’11, Gainesville, Fla.

TICKETS: For tickets call Las Vegas Motor Speedway at (800) 644-4444, or visit www.LVMS.com.

GENERAL ADMISSION (includes pit pass) - Friday: Adult, $34; Junior (6-12 years), $11. Saturday: Adult, $55; Junior (6-12 years), $11. Sunday: Adult, $55; Junior (6-12 years) $16. Children five years and under admitted free to general admission and pit areas each day.

RESERVED SEATS (includes pit pass) - Friday: Adult, $44; Junior (6-12 years), $21; Child (Five and under), $10. Saturday: Adult, $65; Junior (6-12 years), $26; Child (Five and under), $10. Sunday: Adult, $65; Junior (6-12 years) $26; Child (Five and under), $10.

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2011 NHRA FULL THROTTLE DRAG RACING SERIES STANDINGS

Updated 3/13/2011 (Following the second of 22 events; Season victories in parentheses)

TOP FUEL

Place Driver Points

1. Del Worsham, Chino Hills, Calif., Al-Anabi Racing dragster (1) 186

2. Tony Schumacher, Chicago, U.S. Army dragster 162

3. Shawn Langdon, Indianapolis, Lucas Oil/Speedco dragster 148

4t. Larry Dixon, Indianapolis, Al-Anabi Racing dragster 147

4t. Morgan Lucas, Indianapolis, GEICO Powersports/Lucas Oil dragster (1) 147

6. Antron Brown, Indianapolis, Matco Tools dragster 141

7. Spencer Massey, Indianapolis, Prestone/FRAM dragster 136

8. Steve Torrence, Kilgore, Texas, Capco Racing/Tuttle Motorsports dragster 87

9. Doug Kalitta, Ypsilanti, Mich., Kalitta Motorsports dragster 85

10. Terry McMillen, Elkhart, Ind., Amalie Oil dragster 79

FUNNY CAR

1. Mike Neff, Indianapolis, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang (1) 201

2. Matt Hagan, Christiansburg, Va., DieHard Dodge Charger R/T 175

3. Robert Hight, Yorba Linda, Calif., Auto Club Ford Mustang (1) 170

4. Cruz Pedregon, Indianapolis, Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry 161

5. Jack Beckman, Corona, Calif., Valvoline/Aaron’s Dodge Charger R/T 116

6. Ron Capps, Carlsbad, Calif., NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T 105

7. Jeff Arend, San Dimas, Calif., DHL Funny Car 104

8. Johnny Gray, Artesia, N.M., Service Central Dodge Charger 100

9. John Force, Yorba Linda, Calif., Castrol GTX High-Mileage Ford Mustang 88

10. Bob Tasca, Hope, R.I., Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Shelby Mustang 85

PRO STOCK

1. Jason Line, Charlotte, N.C., Summit Racing Pontiac GXP (2) 230

2. Greg Anderson, Charlotte, N.C., Summit Racing Pontiac GXP 182

3. Greg Stanfield, Bossier City, La., Safety Sentry Pontiac GXP 148

4. Rodger Brogdon, Tomball, Texas, Attitude Apparel Pontiac GXP 138

5. Ron Krisher, Warren, Ohio, Valvoline Chevy Cobalt 131

6. Erica Enders, New Orleans, ZaZa Energy Chevy Cobalt 115

7. Kurt Johnson, Lawrenceville, Ga., Johnson Racing Pontiac GXP 85

8. Shane Gray, Artesia, N.M., Tire Kingdom Pontiac GXP 83

9t. Ronnie Humphrey, Charlotte, N.C., Genuine Hot Rod Hardware Pontiac GXP 82

9t. Vincent Nobile, Melville, N.Y., Mountain View Tire Dodge Avenger 82

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE (following 1 of 16 events)

1. Eddie Krawiec, Indianapolis, Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson (1) 124

2. Hector Arana, Milltown, Ind., Lucas Oil Buell 104

3. Karen Stoffer, Minden, Nev., GEICO Powersports Suzuki 100

4. LE Tonglet, Metairie, La., Nitro Fish Suzuki 74

5. Andrew Hines, Indianapolis, Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson 62

6. Matt Smith, King, N.C., Al-Anabi Racing Buell 54

7t. Shawn Gann, Stoneville, N.C., Gann Speed Buell 53

7t. Jerry Savoie, Cut Off, La., White Alligator Racing Suzuki 53

9t. David Hope, Mike Berry, Jim Underdahl, Angie Smith 32

- source: nhra

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Series NHRA
Tags funny car, las vegas, pro stock, summit, top fuel