Dallas Teams Chase Championships into Texas

NHRA TEAMS CHASE WINSTON CHAMPIONSHIPS INTO TEXAS ENNIS, Texas - As NHRA teams ride into the Texas Motorplex for one of the biggest drag racing shootouts of the season, all thoughts turn to championships and record-setting performances. As...

NHRA TEAMS CHASE WINSTON CHAMPIONSHIPS INTO TEXAS

ENNIS, Texas - As NHRA teams ride into the Texas Motorplex for one of the biggest drag racing shootouts of the season, all thoughts turn to championships and record-setting performances.

As the clock on the wall ticks away for title contenders in each professional category, those thoughts are filled with a sense of urgency. Those with a chance of claiming Winston championship glory will want to take advantage of the all-concrete quarter-mile, posting times and speeds not yet seen by the drag racing world. However, while 4.5 second runs at over 320 mph will provide thrilling sensory experiences for all, victory will be the most important objective for every team.

The championship picture has become clear as the season draws to an end. In Top Fuel, one of the most competitive seasons in the history of the sport could become a little clearer if one of the six title contenders pulls away with a dominating performance. In Pro Stock, several drivers are chasing the leader, who could dash dreams with a solid run. Four drivers gaze at the possibility of a championship in Pro Stock Truck. In Funny Car, the only battle that remains is the fight for second place, as one driver is closing out his decade of dominance in grand style.

Pride, teamwork and emotion will fill the air at the 14th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec, Oct. 21-24 at the state-of-the-art Texas Motorplex, near Dallas.

Gary Scelzi, John Force, Warren Johnson and Larry Kopp are the defending professional category winners at the $1.8 million race, the 20th of 22 events in the $40 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.

Scelzi, from Fresno, Calif., drove his Team Winston dragster to the Top Fuel victory last season in dramatic fashion, defeating Mike Dunn in the final. Scelzi and Dunn are among several drivers in the category chasing the Winston championship. Five-time season winner Joe Amato, Kenny Bernstein and current points leader Tony Schumacher headline the list of top contenders. Force, from Yorba Linda, Calif., recorded the quickest pass ever for Funny Car with a 4.787 second blast during qualifying and used that momentum to defeat Dean Skuza in a close final round. Force, an eight-time winner this season, will be looking to put the finishing touches on his ninth NHRA Winston championship with a good showing at the Motorplex, while Whit Bazemore, Tony Pedregon, Frank Pedregon and Del Worsham will be busy chasing the leader.

Johnson, from Buford, Ga., defeated Jim Yates here last year in a classic match-up between arch-rivals. Jeg Coughlin Jr. has been strong in recent events, trying to track down Johnson's lead in the point standings. Kurt Johnson, Mark Pawuk and Richie Stevens also are among top contenders. Kopp, from Baltimore, used a victory at this event to vault him on to the NHRA Winston championship in Pro Stock Truck. A quartet of drivers, including points leader Mark Osborne, Brad Jeter, Bob Panella and Randy Daniels, have been setting the pace in the category this season.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Frank Pedregon , Jeg Coughlin , Bob Panella , Mike Dunn , Kenny Bernstein , Brad Jeter , Mark Pawuk , Warren Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Dean Skuza , Del Worsham , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Joe Amato , Gary Scelzi , Larry Kopp