Tulsa: Round four preview

Champions shine at Tulsa Raceway Park Last year's IHRA Sooner Nationals provided a pivotal turning point in the IHRA championship point battles. All three eventual point champions in Top Fuel, Pro Modified and Elite Motorsports Pro Stock...

Champions shine at Tulsa Raceway Park

Last year's IHRA Sooner Nationals provided a pivotal turning point in the IHRA championship point battles.

All three eventual point champions in Top Fuel, Pro Modified and Elite Motorsports Pro Stock claimed victories at the legendary Tulsa Raceway Park, providing a key boost in their championship chases.

This year, drivers will once again be looking to make a statement when Nitro Jam invades Oklahoma for the annual IHRA Sooner Nationals presented by SafeAuto June 13-14 at Tulsa Raceway Park.

"Dan Gutterman and his staff at Tulsa Raceway have come a long way since the first year and I know that they have been working hard on continually improving the facility so that everyone has a great weekend," said IHRA Vice President of Racing Operations Scooter Peaco. "Tulsa has a great racing surface and we've moved the date earlier in the year this season to try and get a break on the weather.

"This will be a fast track in early June and the fans should be treated to a great show by our pro racers."

Always one of the marquee events on the Nitro Jam schedule, the Sooner Nationals once again promise to provide non-stop drag racing action as many of the world's best driver's flock to the Sooner State for a shot at an IHRA Ironman and chance to make a statement in their bid for a world title.

The Sooner Nationals presented by SafeAuto is the fourth event on the 10-race 2009 Nitro Jam schedule. It will feature three professional classes of racing, including the world's fastest machines in Top Fuel, IHRA's own Pro Modified class and the quickest and fastest Pro Stock cars on the planet competing in Elite Motorsports Pro Stock.

Last year, Spencer Massey (Top Fuel), Kenny Lang (Pro Mod) and Pete Berner (Pro Stock) all took home Ironman trophies from Tulsa and used that momentum to help them claim the championship in their respective classes.

While Massey is no longer turning tires in IHRA Top Fuel competition, Lang and Berner will both be back to defend their titles while a slew of others will be looking to challenge them as the 2009 Nitro Jam tour approaches mid-season.

Leading that list is a man who will be representing his home state next weekend in Tulsa, Holdenville, Okla. native Cary Goforth.

Goforth leads the Elite Motorsports Pro Stock standings with one win and a runner-up finish in three races so far this season. He has compiled an impressive 9-2 round win-loss record and will be extremely hungry to taste victory lane at his home track.

Other point leaders entering the Sooner Nationals include Top Fuel rookie sensation Del Cox Jr. and defending IHRA Pro Modified champion Kenny Lang.

All three classes feature tight battles as the season enters a pivotal point in each drivers bid for a world title.

Sportsman racing will also be featured at the event as drivers from IHRA's seven sportsman classes will have another chance to punch their ticket to the brand new year-end Tournament of Champions.

Tulsa will be especially exciting for the sportsman racers who have found it tough in the past to compete on a national level.

"Tulsa's location makes it tough to travel so we've never really seen those sportsman competitors able to compete on the national stage in the past," Peaco said. "Now each class winner will qualify for the Tournament of Champions so I am personally looking forward to seeing the best racers in the region compete for those exclusive spots in the world championship race.

"There are already 10 past world champions qualified for the world championship tournament and I'd bet there are many sportsman racers in the Tulsa area looking forward to getting into the mix."

The action will get underway at 8 a.m. on Saturday, June 13 and will feature sportsman qualifying and two rounds of professional qualifying throughout the day capped off by the Warren CAT Night of Fire at 7 p.m. Saturday night.

The Warren CAT Night of Fire will feature professional qualifying under the lights and the awesome show-stopping spectacle that is the 20,000 horsepower "X-Treme Machine" jet semi. Saturday's show will also feature the 220 mile per hour return of Nitro Harley's.

"The Night of Fire is always the highlight of any Nitro Jam event and once again we have a show that won't disappoint," said IHRA Director of Media Larry Crum. "From the thunderous Top Fuel cars and 'X-Treme Machine' to the insane Nitro Harley's and everything in between, the Tulsa Nitro Jam is going to be a very exciting event."

The Sooner Nationals will wrap up with the most exciting day in all of racing -- Championship Sunday. Sunday's action will begin at 8 a.m. with pro eliminations set to get underway at 11 a.m. and ending with final eliminations for all classes at 4 p.m.

"We always look forward to coming to Oklahoma and putting on a great show and this year is no exception," Peaco said. "Last year this race played a big part in the championship standings and we expect the same kind of drama and exciting racing this season as many of the best drivers in the world try to conquer Tulsa's tricky track.

"I can't wait to see what happens this year."

Tulsa Raceway Park always provides thrilling drag racing action, so don't miss your chance to see the fastest cars in the sport in just a few days in Tulsa.

-credit: ihra

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Series Drag
Drivers Kenny Lang , Spencer Massey