NHRA Series press release
Hometown favorite Massey hungry for first Top Fuel victory at Texas Motorplex
ENNIS, Texas — Spencer Massey, who grew up in nearby Fort Worth, Texas, and continues to call the famed steer city home today, is feeling no pressure as he heads to the Texas Motorplex as a top contender in round two of the Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s postseason playoffs.
With lots of family and friends watching and an overwhelming desire to do well at his home track, one would think that Massey might be feeling a little stressed to try to get the job done and claim the Top Fuel win so he could celebrate Texas style in what many say is by far the rowdiest winner’s circle on the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series circuit.
Sure you want to win races, and we’ve won three, but the title as champion is the ultimate prize.
As far as Massey is concerned, there is no extra pressure because he’s already claimed a few trophies at the famed all-concrete Motorplex, drag racing’s first supertrack. When he started his driving career — in 1998 — he raced to victory in the NHRA Jr. Drag Racing League at the track and claimed the Jr. championship there.
So when Massey hits the Texas Motorplex for the AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals, Sept. 22-25, he’ll have plenty of confidence that he knows how to perform on the ultrafast drag strip. Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and LE Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are the defending winners of the event, which will be televised on ESPN2HD.
However, that’s not to say that Massey will be so relaxed that he won’t be giving it his all. He doesn’t know how to race any other way. His patented aggressive “stab and steer” style is what led him to three victories in six final rounds and at one point during the season an amazing stretch when he reeled off more than 40 consecutive error-free runs down the track in his FRAM/Prestone dragster.
Massey hopes he can use his years of experience racing at the Motorplex in the Jr. category and then as a top NHRA sportsman competitor to his advantage. He is one of a few drivers on the circuit who will have a home-track advantage during the playoffs. In his two Top Fuel starts at the Motorplex, Massey has posted a first-round loss (2008) and a semifinal finish (2009). He hopes to take it one round further this time around.
“I saw my first national event at this track, the first track at which I saw a Top Fuel dragster,” Massey said. “It was THE Motorplex from when I was a kid, and I’ve been going there since it opened in 1986. Winning there would be huge. Of course, my family and friends will be there, so winning in front of them would be awesome, and we have this thing called the Countdown, so winning in Dallas would be a huge boost to our championship effort.”
After starting his Top Fuel driving career late in 2008 with Don Prudhomme, Massey went on to score two victories in five final rounds and earn top rookie honors in the series in 2009 and finish sixth in the point standings. However, after that season, Prudhomme parked his racing operation due to lack of sponsorship, and Massey found himself on the sidelines. After sitting out the 2010 season, Massey was hired by Don Schumacher to drive the FRAM/Prestone dragster this season, and the results have been impressive.
“If you work at something hard enough, you have a chance to achieve your dreams,” Massey said. “I still find it hard to believe I’m in this position, driving this car for Don (Schumacher, team owner) and the folks at FRAM/Prestone. It’s also unbelievable I’m sitting ahead of the likes of Tony Schumacher and Larry Dixon, the guys who have won every Top Fuel championship for the last 10 years. I don’t want to be pinched and wake up from this dream.”
After finishing third in the regular season, then posting a runner-up finish at the opening race of the Countdown to the Championship, the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals in Charlotte, N.C., Massey is in prime position to continue living the dream.
“This is what it’s all about — going for the championship,” Massey said. “Sure you want to win races, and we’ve won three, but the title as champion is the ultimate prize.”
Massey has a strategy for the Countdown and for racing at the Texas Motorplex, which will be a very busy race for the Texas native.
“We have to approach this as just another race,” Massey said. “We need to qualify well for the points, for lane choice on Sunday and to get data for race day. And I have to go to the starting line concentrating on my job and not worrying about who’s in the other lane or what the outcome means. I have to get a good light and then stab (the throttle) and steer because I’m confident Todd (Okuhara) and Phil (Shuler, co-crew chiefs) will give me a great car. Yes, the pressure is on because this is the Countdown. I just have to go up there and run my race, go rounds and do well. I really think we have a good shot at that championship.”
Massey’s competition includes Schumacher, who has dominated at this event recently behind the wheel of his U.S. Army dragster, winning the race five times since 1999, including the last two seasons. Red-hot Antron Brown, the point leader and winner of the last three races, also is among the favorites, as well as two-time event winner and defending world champ Dixon. Dixon’s teammate, Del Worsham, will be trying to join featured NHRA Legend Kenny Bernstein, Mike Dunn, Prudhomme and Ed McCulloch as the only drivers to win in both nitro categories at the Motorplex. Dallas native Brandon Bernstein, who won here in 2006, ’02 winner Doug Kalitta, Morgan Lucas and Shawn Langdon will also be looking for playoff victories.
In Funny Car, 15-time world champ John Force is the most prolific winner at the Texas Motorplex with seven victories, his last in 2005. Last season, Hagan powered his DieHard Dodge Charger to the win over Force in a dramatic final round and hopes to follow up his record-setting three-second pass in Charlotte and race win with a second Countdown victory in Dallas. The 2009 world champ, Robert Hight, is a two-time winner at the Motorplex in his Auto Club Ford Mustang, and several other Countdown favorites have also won at the sport’s first stadium supertrack, including Cruz Pedregon, Ron Capps and Tim Wilkerson. Regular-season point leader Mike Neff is looking for his first visit to one of the Full Throttle Series circuit’s wildest winner’s circles.
Defending Pro Stock world champ Anderson gained the momentum necessary to win his series crown with a victory here last year, his fourth at the Motorplex. Once again, he is in championship contention in the 200-mph category and will be working hard to hold off a strong group of Countdown challengers, including his teammate and point leader Jason Line, ’98 winner Mike Edwards, ’08 winner Greg Stanfield, rookie phenom Vincent Nobile, Houston native Erica Enders and the always-tough Team Mopar driver Allen Johnson.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, defending winner and world champ Tonglet is back in the Countdown playoffs mix on his Nitro Fish Suzuki. He will be trying to hold off the strong Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson team of point leader and Charlotte winner Eddie Krawiec and three-time world champ Andrew Hines, who posted a runner-up finish here last season. Others to watch in the two-wheel category are rookie Hector Arana Jr., who claimed his first victory at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil, along with past world champs Hector Arana Sr., who won this race in 2009, and Matt Smith. Karen Stoffer, Indy runner-up Jerry Savoie, Michael Phillips and Jim Underdahl are also hungry for a win at the Texas Motorplex.
Hight looking to gain countdown momentum with strong showing at AAA Texas NHRA fall nationals
Robert Hight knows all about Countdown momentum.
In 2009, he used three victories in the Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship — NHRA’s six-race postseason playoffs — to claim his first world-championship title in Funny Car.
I heard they are giving custom cowboy hats to the winners now, and I would love to get one of those this year.
One of those victories came at the Texas Motorplex in round two, and it enabled Hight to get out in front of the Funny Car pack and capture his first series crown. It was an important win for Hight because he started the playoffs in 10th place. His dramatic run continues to stand as a great example for his peers that any of the top 10 drivers can win a championship title in the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship.
Though Hight entered the playoffs in a much better points position this season, he knows that there are no guarantees and he’ll need to earn victories if he’s to claim his second world-championship trophy.
Hight hopes to gain momentum and score another victory at one of his favorite tracks on the circuit with a strong showing at the AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals, Sept. 22-25 at the all-concrete Texas Motorplex. Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and LE Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are the defending winners of the event, which will be televised on ESPN2HD.
Hight, who won four races and claimed one No. 1 qualifying position during the 16-race regular season, believes that his team is in prime position to make another run for the championship.
“Going to the Texas Motorplex is an important race for us for a number of reasons,” Hight said. “Starting the Countdown with three races in a row is big because you want to get momentum for the championship. Getting a win at Texas Motorplex would be huge. Every qualifying point and round-win counts so much now, and you want to race your best at the best facilities. You can put up big numbers on that all-concrete track that Billy Meyer built. That race is also my sponsor’s race, AAA Texas. You want to do well in front of your sponsors, and I want to get another Funny Car championship. Getting a win in Dallas will be a big step towards that.”
Hight, a two-time winner at the Motorplex, understands the important role the track has played in NHRA history and how it continues to be one of the quickest and fastest racetracks on the circuit.
“You look at the history of the Texas Motorplex, and it is an important facility for NHRA,” Hight said. “It was the first supertrack. Now we have great facilities all over the country, but the first one was Texas Motorplex, and Billy Meyer did a great job with that track. It has stood the test of time. I have won at Dallas, and the crowds there are great. I heard they are giving custom cowboy hats to the winners now, and I would love to get one of those this year.”
He says grabbing every point will be critical during the Countdown.
“Our focus on the next (five) races is to look at qualifying bonus points and round-win points as the most important things,” Hight said. “I honestly think if you can average semifinal finishes, you will have one of the best shots at the championship. What you almost have to avoid is first-round losses.”
For Hight to win the season title, he’ll need to outrun a host of strong Countdown to the Championship contenders, including his boss, 15-time world champ John Force, the most prolific winner at the Texas Motorplex with seven victories, his last in 2005. Several other Countdown favorites have also won at the sport’s first stadium supertrack, including Hagan, who made NHRA history last weekend when he posted the first three-second run in Funny Car en route to the event win in Charlotte, N.C., Cruz Pedregon, Ron Capps and Tim Wilkerson. Point leader Mike Neff is looking for his first visit to one of the Full Throttle Series circuit’s wildest winner’s circles.
“This year, any one of the Funny Cars in the Countdown could get hot and rip off a couple wins in a row,” Hight said. “I plan on that car being my Auto Club Ford Mustang.”
In Top Fuel, Schumacher has dominated at this event recently behind the wheel of his U.S. Army dragster, winning the race five times since 1999, including the last two seasons. If he’s going to three-peat, he’ll need to hold off local favorite Spencer Massey, a Fort Worth, Texas, native and resident who would like to grab a Countdown playoff victory in front of a bunch of his family and friends. Red-hot Antron Brown, the point leader and winner of the last three races, also is among the favorites, as well as two-time event winner and defending world champ Larry Dixon. The regular-season point leader, Del Worsham, will be trying to join featured NHRA Legend Kenny Bernstein, Mike Dunn, Don Prudhomme and Ed McCulloch as the only drivers to win in both nitro categories at the Motorplex. Dallas native Brandon Bernstein, who won here in 2006, ’02 winner Doug Kalitta, Morgan Lucas and Shawn Langdon also are certainly capable of closing the deal.
Defending Pro Stock world champ Anderson gained the momentum necessary to win his series crown with a victory here last year, his fourth at the Texas Motorplex. Once again, he is in the hunt in the 200-mph category and will be working hard to hold off a strong group of Countdown challengers, including his teammate and point leader Jason Line, ’98 winner Mike Edwards, ’08 winner Greg Stanfield, rookie phenom Vincent Nobile, Houston native Erica Enders and the always-tough Team Mopar driver Allen Johnson.
AAA TEXAS NHRA FALL NATIONALS
WHAT: 26th annual AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals,18th of 22 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series and the second of six races in the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship. The top 10 drivers in four categories - Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle - earn points leading to 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series world championships. NHRA is celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2011 and is paying tribute to the evolution of the hot rod and honoring its legendary racers as well as the sport’s current stars.
WHERE: Texas Motorplex, 7500 W. Hwy. 287, Ennis, Texas. Follow I-45 or I-35E to Hwy 287, then follow 287 to the track.
WHEN: Thursday through Sunday, Sept. 22-25
THURSDAY, Sept. 22-LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying at 10 a.m.
FRIDAY, Sept. 23-LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations at 8:30 a.m.
FULL THROTTLE SERIES qualifying at 2:15 p.m. and 5:15 p.m.
SATURDAY, Sept. 24-LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations begin at 8 a.m.
FULL THROTTLE SERIES qualifying at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
SUNDAY, Sept. 25- Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m.
FULL THROTTLE SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
Sunday, Sept. 25, ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise 45 minutes of qualifying highlights at 1:15 a.m. (ET).
Sunday, Sept. 25, ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will re-air one hour of qualifying highlights at 2 p.m. (ET).
Sunday, Sept. 25, ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise three hours of race coverage starting at 7 p.m. (ET).
2010 EVENT WINNERS: Tony Schumacher, Top Fuel; Matt Hagan, Funny Car; Greg Anderson, Pro Stock; LE Tonglet, Pro Stock Motorcycle.
Top Fuel - 3.784 seconds by Brandon Bernstein, Sept. ’10; 312.96 mph by Tony Schumacher, Sept. ’10
Funny Car - 4.062 seconds by Matt Hagan, Sept. ’10; 309.49 mph by Del Worsham, Sept. ’10
Pro Stock - 6.578 seconds by Ron Krisher, Sept. ’10; 209.79 mph by Allen Johnson, Sept. ’10
Pro Stock Motorcycle - 6.899 seconds by Eddie Krawiec, Sept. ’10; 195.03 mph by Krawiec, Sept. ’10
Top Fuel- 3.770 sec. by Larry Dixon, Feb. ’11, Pomona, Calif.; 327.90 mph by Tony Schumacher, Sept. ’11, Charlotte, N.C.
Funny Car- 3.995 sec. by Matt Hagan, Sept. ’11, Charlotte, N.C.; 318.99 mph by Jack Beckman, Sept. ’11, Charlotte, N.C.
Pro Stock- 6.495 sec. by Rodger Brogdon, March ’11, Gainesville, Fla.; 213.57 mph by Erica Enders, March ’11, Gainesville, Fla.
PS Motorcycle- 6.777 sec. by Hector Arana, March ’11, Gainesville, Fla.; 199.26 mph by Eddie Krawiec, March ’11, Gainesville, Fla.
TICKETS: For tickets call (800) MOTORPLEX (668-6775). Tickets also are available at texasmotorplex.com.
RESERVED SEATS- Thursday: Adult, $10; Youth (12 years and under), $5. Friday: Adult, $30-50; Youth (12 years and under), $5-22. Saturday: Adult, $30-60; Youth (12 years and under), $5-30. Sunday: Adult, $32-66; Youth (12 years and under), $5-33.
NHRA FULL THROTTLE COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP POINT STANDINGS
Point Standings (top 10) for NHRA professional categories following the 17th of 22 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series and the second of six races in the Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship, NHRA's six-race playoffs -
Top Fuel: 1. Antron Brown, 2,187; 2. Spencer Massey, 2,171; 3. Del Worsham, 2,149; 4. Larry Dixon, 2,142; 5. Tony Schumacher, 2,132; 6. Doug Kalitta, 2,095; 7. Brandon Bernstein, 2,084; 8. Shawn Langdon, 2,051; 9. Morgan Lucas, 2,036; 10. David Grubnic, 2,032.
Funny Car: 1. Mike Neff, 2,209; 2. Matt Hagan, 2,187; 3. Jack Beckman, 2,156; 4. Cruz Pedregon, 2,113; 5. Robert Hight, 2,103; 6. Ron Capps, 2,082; 7. Jeff Arend, 2,064; 8. John Force, 2,063; 9. Bob Tasca III, 2,055; 10. Tim Wilkerson, 2,052.
Pro Stock: 1. Jason Line, 2,186; 2. Greg Anderson, 2,155; 3. Vincent Nobile, 2,132; 4. Mike Edwards, 2,125; 5. Erica Enders, 2,103; 6. Allen Johnson, 2,080; 7. Greg Stanfield, 2,071; 8. Rodger Brogdon, 2,062; 9. Shane Gray, 2,061; 10. Ron Krisher, 2,010.
Pro Stock Motorcycle: 1. Eddie Krawiec, 2,237; 2. Karen Stoffer, 2,174; 3. Matt Smith, 2,121; 4. Andrew Hines, 2,113; 5. LE Tonglet, 2,111; 6. Hector Arana Jr, 2,103; 7. Hector Arana, 2,066; 8. Jim Underdahl, 2,055; 9. Jerry Savoie, 2,052; 10. Michael Phillips, 2,042.