Championships on the line

GLENDORA, Calif. (Oct. 1, 2003) - Larry Dixon, Greg Anderson and Geno Scali have moved into position to mathematically clinch NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series championships in their respective categories prior to the final race of the ...

GLENDORA, Calif. (Oct. 1, 2003) - Larry Dixon, Greg Anderson and Geno Scali have moved into position to mathematically clinch NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series championships in their respective categories prior to the final race of the season.

While it is a long shot for him, defending NHRA Top Fuel champion Dixon can claim his second consecutive series crown at this weekend's NHRA Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway in Mohnton, Pa. Dixon, who holds a 323-point lead over closest challenger Doug Kalitta, can clinch the championship title by earning 92 points more than Kalitta during the course of the event. A few scenarios would allow the Miller Lite dragster driver to accomplish the goal.

Kalitta, driver of the Mac Tools dragster, is currently not qualified in the field of 16 at the rain-delayed event. Should Kalitta fail to make the starting lineup by not running quick enough in either of the two qualifying sessions on Saturday, he would earn only 10 points for the event. Dixon, who is currently qualified third, would then need to win the event to earn the series title, or post a runner-up finish and set a national elapsed time record. If Kalitta qualifies in any position and loses in the first round, Dixon would need to win the event and set a national record to secure the championship. If Kalitta advances to the second round, Dixon's championship hopes will be put on hold until Dallas, where he will need to finish the Texas event with a 277-point lead to clinch the championship.

Anderson, a multi-time champion as a crew chief for Warren Johnson, is in position to claim his first NHRA POWERade Series title in Pro Stock as a driver, but it cannot happen until the O'Reilly Fall Nationals at Dallas. Like Dixon, Anderson needs to leave the Lucas Oil Nationals with a lead of 415 to earn the championship. However, it is mathematically impossible for that to happen. Anderson, who leads by 286, can only gain a maximum of 128 on Kurt Johnson at Maple Grove, which would only give him a lead of 414 at the event's conclusion, and leave him one point shy of clinching the crown at that event. To clinch the title in Dallas, Anderson needs a lead of 277 at the end of the event, and if the drama carries over until the tour moves to the penultimate event in Las Vegas, Anderson can clinch if he finishes the event with a lead of 139.

There are many riders in the Pro Stock Bike category who are still mathematically eligible to claim the POWERade Series crown, but four at the top of the points order have the best chance. Geno Scali, rider of the Trim-Tex Suzuki currently holds a 133-point lead over his closest challenger, Shawn Gann. Thanks to a late season charge, double-amputee Reggie Showers has moved into third position on his PDI Suzuki, 163 behind the leader. Three-time defending series champion Angelle Savoie, rider of the U.S. Army Suzuki, is fourth, 181 out of first.

Scali cannot gain enough points to clinch the championship this weekend at Maple Grove Raceway. If he maintains or increases his current points lead following this weekend's event, he will have his first opportunity to clinch the championship at Las Vegas, where he will need a 139-point lead by event's end to accomplish the goal.

In Funny Car, it appears that Tony Pedregon and Whit Bazemore are headed for a showdown at the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Pomona (Calif.) Raceway in November. With his win last weekend in Chicago, Pedregon regained the series lead, taking a 69-point advantage over Bazemore, who held a seven-point lead for one week following the event in Memphis, Tenn. With a maximum of 552 points up for grabs for each driver before season's end, 12-time series champ John Force is still mathematically in the hunt for title No. 13. Force is currently third in the points order, 223 behind Pedregon. If Pedregon can increase his points lead during the next two races as he did last weekend in Chicago, it is possible for him to clinch the crown in Las Vegas, where he would need to finish the event with a lead of 139 points.

The following lists current POWERade Series leaders in each pro category and point lead totals needed for each to clinch series titles at upcoming events: <pre>

                        Reading  Dallas Las Vegas Pomona
TF:  Larry Dixon        415      277    139       1
FC:  Tony Pedregon                      139       1
PS:  Greg Anderson               277    139       1
PSB: Geno Scali                         139       1


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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Doug Kalitta , Greg Anderson , Reggie Showers , Shawn Gann , Geno Scali