Dallas: Fall Nationals preview

WHAT: 18th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec, the 21st of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. Professional competitors in three categories earn points leading to 2003 NHRA POWERade ...

18th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec, the 21st of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. Professional competitors in three categories earn points leading to 2003 NHRA POWERade championships.
Sportsman competitors in seven categories earn points leading to 2003 NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series championships.

Texas Motorplex, Ennis, Texas. Track is located at 7500 W. Hwy. 287. Follow I-45 or 35E to Hwy 287, then follow 287 to the track.

Thursday through Sunday, Oct. 9-12.

The NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series' annual autumn visit to Texas Motorplex usually results in some very happy competitors who are itching at the opportunity to throw loads of horsepower at the only all-concrete quarter-mile on the circuit, usually resulting in very impressive numbers from the 6,000 horsepower beasts. In the Top Fuel ranks, Tony Schumacher has been the hottest driver on the circuit, recently driving his Alan Johnson-tuned U.S. Army dragster to victories at Indianapolis and Memphis, Tenn. Top Fuel points leader Larry Dixon will look to improve on his category-leading eight victories and extend his commanding lead over second place driver Doug Kalitta and possibly secure his second consecutive NHRA POWERade title at the Texas facility. Others to keep an eye on will be the Mac Tools duo of Kalitta and his cousin and two-time NHRA Top Fuel champion Scott. Also, 2001 NHRA Rookie of the Year and native Texan Darrell Russell in his Joe Amato-owned dragster will pose a threat. The race for the 2003 NHRA Funny Car title has shaped up as a two-man war and no, one of the drivers isn't John Force. The 12-time NHRA Funny Car champ appears locked into the third position after posting just two victories in a disappointing 2003 campaign. The battle for the $400,000 first-place check has come down to Force's teammate Tony Pedregon, who raced Force until the semifinal round at the 2002 season finale in Pomona, Calif., and Whit Bazemore. Both drivers are looking to claim their first series crown. Pedregon, who looked poised to run away with the title with six victories in the first 12 races, has been mired in a second-half slump that has seen him lose a double-digit points lead to Bazemore. Bazemore, who claimed the points lead for the first time in his career at Memphis, Tenn. in mid-Sept., has used a consistent tune-up on his Dodge Funny Car from veteran crew chief Lee Beard to put him in contention for the championship. The Pro Stock championship can also be sewed up in Ennis as a result of Greg Anderson's dominant 2003 performance in his Pontiac Grand Am. Anderson has nine wins and is on pace to break Darrell Alderman's 1991 record for the most Pro Stock victories in one season (11). Other drivers in the factory door-slammer category looking to knock off Anderson are defending series champion Jeg Coughlin and second-place driver Kurt Johnson.

Current points leaders Larry Dixon (Top Fuel) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) can clinch NHRA POWERade championships in their respective categories if they finish the event with a lead of 277 points or more. It would be Dixon's second straight Top Fuel championship and the first for Anderson...Anderson's championship would break a five-year run of either Warren Johnson or Jeg Coughlin winning the Pro Stock title...Don "The Snake" Prudhomme, Ed "Ace" McCulloch, and Mike Dunn all have won at the Texas Motorplex in both Top Fuel and Funny Car...Pro Stock driver V. Gaines has two career victories, both coming at the Texas Motorplex...Since 1992 Force has been to the final round at the event eight times, winning four.


NHRA POWERade Series championships on the line -- Larry Dixon and Greg Anderson can clinch NHRA POWERade Series championship titles in their respective categories at the O'Reilly NHRA Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec. Dixon, who leads the Top Fuel standings by 348 over Doug Kalitta, needs to finish the event at the Texas Motorplex with a lead of 277 or more to clinch his second consecutive series crown. In Pro Stock, Anderson holds a 354-point advantage over Kurt Johnson and also needs to finish the event with a 277-point lead to claim his first championship as a driver.

The NHRA Experience - Unlike any other form of major motorsport, the NHRA grants unprecedented access to each and every one of its fans. From watching the action of 6,000-horsepower Top Fuel dragsters and the 200-mph Pro Stock cars, to the unlimited access to the pit areas of the NHRA's top stars. Fans have the opportunity to get up-close-and-personal with drag racing icons like John Force, Don 'The Snake' Prudhomme, and Kenny Bernstein. They can meet and greet the next wave of NHRA superstars like Larry Dixon, Tony Schumacher, Darrell Russell, Tony Pedregon, Del Worsham, Jeg Coughlin and Angelle Savoie. The manufacturer's midway provides an on-site shopping experience featuring the latest technology in the automotive aftermarket. The newest addition to the midway area is the exciting POWERade interactive display. Fans can take their picture wearing an authentic team shirt from their favorite team, meet different drivers during scheduled autograph sessions, spin the back wheel of a Top Fuel dragster to win various prizes, including a ride in a special vehicle that gives fans a taste of life on the quarter-mile by putting them track-side for a few passes.

Kenny Bernstein Comes Out of Retirement to Sub for Injured Son-- Six-time NHRA champion Kenny Bernstein returned to the cockpit at Topeka, Kan., following his son Brandon's crash at Englishtown, N.J. which has sidelined the younger Bernstein for the remainder of 2003. At the time of the crash, Brandon was second in points with three victories on the year. Kenny showed no effects of his retirement in November of 2002. At his first event the 58-year-old Bernstein qualified No. 2 and advanced to the semifinals before losing to Doug Kalitta. He earned his first victory since his return to competition at Chicago a few weeks ago. It was his 36th career Top Fuel win, moving him into second place on the all-time Top Fuel win list, one victory ahead of Don Garlits.

NHRA Stock on the Rise - The NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series has been experiencing growth that is unprecedented in its 52-year history. The television coverage of the fastest form of auto racing is continuing to gain viewers and ratings in the third year of an exclusive partnership between NHRA and ESPN. That is due in large part to the innovative technology ESPN has introduced to the sensory-filled sport of 6,000 horsepower drag racing and the stellar competition that has been taking place on the quarter-mile drag strip. This also has presented an increasing amount of fan appeal, which draws new sponsors or increased support from current sponsors in various capacities. The NHRA and POWERade, a subsidiary of the Coca-Cola Co., joined forces prior to the 2002 season with high hopes and great expectations. The partnership has opened doors for marketing and advertising strategies that were not available in the past. Combining the product NHRA has to offer with the business capabilities of POWERade, the sport of drag racing is reaching new heights. The 23-race, $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing series has evolved beyond the wildest dreams of the organization's founder, 90-year-old Wally Parks, and the NHRA continues to increase its presence and influence in the world of motorsports.

Regarding Weather -- In drag racing weather plays a vital role as crew chiefs examine data and tune their race cars for maximum performance. Most teams have sophisticated weather stations on board their team transporters so they can access up-to-the-minute conditions and long range forecasts.

Built by Waco businessman and nitro Funny Car driver Billy Meyer, the Texas Motorplex was billed as drag racing's first "supertrack." The Texas Motorplex opened with a three-story timing tower with 24 corporate suites, permanent restrooms, concession stands and paved pit areas. Texas Motorplex is the only NHRA member track to feature an all-concrete quarter-mile surface.


* SCHEDULE: Pro qualifying will run at 2:30 and 6 p.m. on Oct. 10 and will continue at noon and 3 p.m. on Oct. 11. Final professional eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Oct. 12.

* TICKETS: Tickets are available for the 18th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec by calling (800) 668-6775, or visit texasmotorplex.com.

* TELEVISION: ESPN will televise two hours of qualifying highlights at 4 p.m. (ET) on Oct. 11. ESPN2 will televise three hours of eliminations at 6 p.m. (ET) on Oct. 12.

* ON THE WEB: NHRA news, photos and driver information available at www.nhra.com.


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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Larry Dixon , Mike Dunn , Darrell Alderman , Kenny Bernstein , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Joe Amato , Doug Kalitta , Greg Anderson , Don Garlits