Pomona II: Season finale preview

Hines Aims For First NHRA POWERade World Championship as Newly Crowned Champs Seek New Goals POMONA, Calif. -- Pro Stock Bike racer Andrew Hines has one thing left to do this season. He has to qualify for the final race of the 2004 NHRA POWERade...

Hines Aims For First NHRA POWERade World Championship as Newly Crowned Champs Seek New Goals

POMONA, Calif. -- Pro Stock Bike racer Andrew Hines has one thing left to do this season. He has to qualify for the final race of the 2004 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

It sounds simple, but there is a lot riding on this simple task. If Hines qualifies for the upcoming 40th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals, he will clinch the 2004 NHRA POWERade Pro Stock Bike world championship. It would be the first for the 21-year-old Hines, who would become the youngest NHRA champion in history -- breaking the current record set by his brother, three-time champion Matt Hines, who was 25 when he won his first world championship in 1997.

The Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Pomona Raceway will be held Nov 11-14 at historic Pomona Raceway. Kenny Bernstein, Del Worsham, Greg Anderson and Craig Treble are the defending winners in their respective professional categories for the $1.7 million race, the final of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

"Being able to take Matt's name off the record books just makes it more fun," the youngest Hines said. "We tease each other about it. But he's worked very hard on this team, so of course he wants me to clinch the title.

"What makes it even more exciting is our new motor. We have a great motor and if the weather conditions are right, we could set a record. Treble went 7.07 last year and if we have the same conditions, we could find ourselves in the six-second range. No matter what, it's going to be a great race."

Hines isn't the only racer looking for good numbers. Anderson clinched the Pro Stock world championship at the Dallas event in September -- the earliest anyone has ever clinched a title. Since then, Anderson has been looking at a new set of numbers to pad his extensive list of records.

Anderson just earned win No. 14, eclipsing the previous record set by John Force (13) in 1996. Anderson also has the high marks for final round appearances (18), No. 1 qualifiers (tied with Warren Johnson at 15). His 72 elimination round wins beats his old record from '03 (67).

Anderson also can make the jump from seventh to third on the top 25 career won-lost records among active drivers. Going into the final race of the season, Anderson (.738) is third behind career leader Angelle Savoie (.762) and Force (.744). He also made a dramatic climb up the career wins list. Going into the '04 campaign, Anderson was tied with Bruce Allen in the No. 29 spot with 16 career victories. With one race left, Anderson is tied with Matt Hines in the No. 13 position with 30 wins.

With 32 career No. 1 qualifying awards, he is now in the No. 13 spot on the top 25 career list -- a list he wasn't on prior to 2004. Anderson also has a 721-point lead after 22 events, erasing the record for largest margin of victory for a championship title that he set last year (463 points over Kurt Johnson).

"As soon as we clinched the championship we were actually capable of looking at some records," Anderson said. "Winning the championship is always the top priority, but now that we've done that, we're having more fun with the numbers game.

"Winning the 14th race of the season was pretty special. I'm not sure if anything can top a championship season with 14 wins."

Tony Schumacher may have similar thoughts with one race left on the schedule. The 1999 Top Fuel champion clinched his second series crown at the Reading, Pa., event in October. With nine victories in 12 final round appearances, Schumacher is tied with Larry Dixon (2002) and Gary Scelzi (2000) for the most Top Fuel victories in a season.

While Force secured his 13th Funny Car world championship two weeks ago in Las Vegas, the battle for the $100,000 second place position may get intense between two of the hottest drivers in the category during the second half of the season. Worsham and Gary Scelzi enter the race tied for second, with 1,490 points each. Scelzi has won the last two events, but defending winner Worsham has run well at his home track over the years and is a perfect five-for-five in final round appearances this season.

Not all the records that could be set at Pomona are good ones, however. Warren Johnson may end some long-standing streaks in his distinguished career. He has earned at least one victory each season for 22 consecutive seasons but has yet to post a win in 2004. He has finished in the top five for 22 consecutive seasons -- but heads to Pomona in the No. 12 spot with 802 points, behind Mike Edwards (11th with 816) and Rickie Smith (10th, 859).

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Matt Hines , Larry Dixon , Kenny Bernstein , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Gary Scelzi , Greg Anderson , Craig Treble , Bruce Allen , Andrew Hines , Mike Edwards