Top Teams Ready for Assault on Florida Strip Palm Beach to feature several Nitro Jam firsts NORWALK, Ohio (January 19, 2010) -- While some 16 race teams will be making their International Hot Rod Association debut at Palm Beach Nitro Jam next ...
Top Teams Ready for Assault on Florida Strip
Palm Beach to feature several Nitro Jam firsts
NORWALK, Ohio (January 19, 2010) -- While some 16 race teams will be making their International Hot Rod Association debut at Palm Beach Nitro Jam next weekend, a few veteran teams are preparing for their shot at making history and setting records at the season opening event at Palm Beach International Raceway.
At stake at the inaugural race is an opportunity to claim the first two victories under the new Nitro Jam format and take an early lead in the battle for the 2010 championship. Race teams will also be attacking the beautiful Florida facility with everything they have in an attempt to set new records at one of the fastest tracks in the entire country.
"I can't wait to get down there. The place looks amazing and based on recent testing the track is incredible and we are going to put down some big numbers. It is going to be a great race," said Top Fuel driver Bobby Lagana.
Lagana is one of four Top Fuel veterans vying for a win at the inaugural Palm Beach Nitro Jam event at PBIR. Featuring two separate races each night Lagana, Bruce Litton, Del Cox Jr. and Mitch King will be attempting to put their name in the history books as the first driver to win under the new format.
Each driver will also be looking to take an early lead in the 2010 Top Fuel standings.
Bobby Lagana Jr. finished third in 2009 and is looking for a fresh start at Palm Beach
"The competition in this series is so close and every little point matters so much that you can't let your guard down. Everyone puts so much emphasis on the last few races when it comes to determining a champion, but in reality the championship starts right here in Palm Beach," said Bruce Litton, driver of the Lucas Oil Top Fuel dragster.
Litton finished a close second last season under the old format behind rookie and series champion Del Cox Jr. Bobby Lagana was third in the final standings and Mitch King finished fourth.
"Last year was a dream come true. We had high hopes for the season, but never in my wildest dreams did I ever think we would have the kind of season we had," said Cox. "Now we have a chance to go out and back that up with another championship. I am looking forward to having that opportunity."
Cox won a remarkable five times in 2009 on his way to a 35-point victory over Litton who had three wins of his own. Combined the two drivers won eight of 10 races last season and qualified first at seven different events.
Easily the two fastest cars on the circuit, every time Litton and Cox met it produced fireworks on the track as the two rivals split their season series at two races apiece.
Finishing just behind the duo of Cox and Litton last season was Top Fuel vet Lagana. Lagana finished with two runner-up finishes in 2009 and had an overall winning record in round-by-round competition minus rounds run against Cox. Against Cox Lagana won just once in five meetings last year.
Rounding out the Top Fuel standings in 2009 was King. As a team owner King has produced a remarkable nine wins over the past two seasons and two Top Fuel championships with Spencer Massey and Cox, but until recently his own driving career has been rather unremarkable.
In 2009 King had a breakout season with his first career final round appearance and a top five finish in points as he tries to guide himself and his sophomore pilot to a third straight TF title in 2010.
Bruce Litton is looking for a little revenge after falling just short of the Top Fuel title last year
"It has been a great ride the last couple seasons with Spencer and Del winning all those races and taking home two championships and hopefully we can do it all over again this season," King said. "With the improvements my team saw last year I think we can join them in the hunt for the title this season."
But Top Fuel is only part of the story at Palm Beach.
Two brand new classes will make their debut at Palm Beach International Raceway and with that two new chapters will be added to the IHRA history books. Drivers in Pro Fuel and Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car will join the Top Fuel crowd as they try to become the first ever winners in their respective categories.
"It would be great to add that accomplishment to your resume. Records are always going to be broken, but being able to say that you were the first to do something -- that can never be taken away," said John Dunn, driver of the Dunn and Gone '73 Duster Prostalgia NFC.
John Dunn runs one of the top Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car teams
Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car and Pro Fuel, two nitro-powered racing classes, will feature eight car fields with a winner both Friday and Saturday night. Just like Top Fuel, these two new classes will see many heavy hitters vying for a shot at the championship.
Rounding out the Palm Beach debuts are a pair of classes from the sportsman ranks. While drivers from the Top Sportsman and Top Dragster categories are not new to the Nitro Jam show, what is new in 2010 is the debut of the Elite 8 series.
The Elite 8 series will pit the top qualifiers from Friday night in a heads-up competition on Saturday to determine the best driver in each category. While the concept of heads-up sportsman racing is certainly not new, the usage of the "Quick 8" program at national events has decreased over the past few years.
In 2010 that is going to change as the two quickest and fastest sportsman categories return to national prominence with a stage at all Nitro Jam events this season.