Las Vegas: Pre-race review

NHRA Returns To The Strip At Las Vegas Motor Speedway LAS VEGAS - Las Vegas has hosted everything from major sporting and entertainment events to high wire acts and stuntmen jumping their motorcycles over hotel fountains. In 2000, the...

NHRA Returns To The Strip At Las Vegas Motor Speedway

LAS VEGAS - Las Vegas has hosted everything from major sporting and entertainment events to high wire acts and stuntmen jumping their motorcycles over hotel fountains. In 2000, the city added another ingredient to its already successful mix of luster and lure: Nitromethane. The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway opened its doors to the National Hot Rod Association and its 6,000-plus horsepower machines that cover a quarter-mile in less than five seconds at speeds in excess of 300 mph. Thousands of fans were on hand as the NHRA came into the state-of-the-art facility and displayed the power and excitement that produces the greatest side-by-side racing the motorsports world has to offer. Another sellout crowd is expected when the NHRA returns to the city that never sleeps for the second annual NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals, April 5-8, at The Strip at LVMS. Kenny Bernstein, Jim Epler, Jeg Coughlin Jr. and Bob Panella are the defending event winners in their respective pro categories for the $1.9 million race, the fifth of 24 events in the $50 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series. Five-time Winston champion Bernstein, from Lake Forest, Calif., won a smoke-filled NHRA veteran final round when he outlasted fellow 56-year old five-time Top Fuel series champ Joe Amato for the win. Amato retired at the conclusion of the 2000 season but his replacement driver, Darrell Russell won his first pro start and is a serious threat for all competitors. Defending Winston champ Gary Scelzi, Yankee dragster driver Mike Dunn, Doug Kalitta and Tony Schumacher will be vying for the win. Chandler, Ariz.'s, Epler ended a seven-year winless drought here last year when sped down the quarter-mile flawlessly for the Funny Car win as his opponent, Tony Pedregon, lost traction en route to the finish line. In order for Epler to repeat last season's performance in arguably the most competitive Funny Car field ever, he will have to withstand challenges from new owner and teammate Chuck Etchells, 10-time Winston champ John Force, season-opener winner Bruce Sarver and a host of two car teams aiming for the series crown. Coughlin, from Columbus, Ohio, continued his early season dominance defeating Warren Johnson in the Pro Stock final for his third win in the first four events. With the introduction of new Pontiac, Chevrolet and Dodge body styles to Pro Stock in 2001, drivers such as Coughlin, Johnson and his son Kurt, Darrell Alderman and Mark Pawuk are all serious contenders in the ultra-competitive category. Panella, from Stockton, Calif., drove past fellow Chevy driver and rival Randy Daniels for the Pro Stock Truck win here one year ago. The victory propelled Panella back in the points lead en route to his second straight NHRA Winston championship. Daniels, Jeff Gracia, Greg Stanfield and Mike and John Coughlin look to visit the winner's circle for the first time at The Strip.

Nhra Summitracing.Com Nationals General Information SCHEDULE: Pro qualifying sessions are scheduled for 2:30 and 5:30 p.m. on April 6 and continue at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on April 7. Final eliminations start at 11 a.m. on April 8. TICKETS: Tickets are available for the second annual NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals. Call (800) 644-4444, nhra.com, or Ticketmaster for ticket information. ON TV: ESPN2 will provide two hours of eliminations coverage on April 8 at 8 p.m. (ET). In addition, ESPN2 will also televise two hours of qualifying highlights on April 7 at 9:30 p.m. (ET). ON THE WEB: NHRA news, photos and driver information available at www.nhra.com.

-NHRA-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Bruce Sarver , Jeg Coughlin , Bob Panella , Mike Dunn , Darrell Alderman , Kenny Bernstein , Mark Pawuk , Warren Johnson , Jim Epler , Tony Pedregon , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Joe Amato , Gary Scelzi , Jeff Gracia , Randy Daniels , Chuck Etchells , Greg Stanfield