Pomona II: Season finale preview

WHAT: 39th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals, the final of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. Professional competitors in four categories earn points leading to 2003 NHRA POWERade ...

WHAT: 39th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals, the final of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. Professional competitors in four 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.

WHERE: Pomona Raceway, Pomona, Calif. Track is located off I-10 at Fairplex Drive. Go north on Fairplex drive to the Fairplex.

WHEN: Thursday through Sunday, Nov. 6-9.

WHAT TO EXPECT:

All but the Pro Stock Bike champion has been crowned for the 2003 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series campaign. The race in the two-wheel category has shaped up as a battle between Geno Scali, who has experienced a breakthrough season in 2003 claiming three victories, and three-time consecutive category champion Angelle Savoie. Scali enters the race with a 117-point advantage over Savoie and is all but ensured the championship if he makes the cut for Sunday's eliminations. Two-time consecutive Top Fuel champion and Southern California native Larry Dixon has his eyes on Saturday's $100,000 Budweiser Shootout and the $50,000 double-up bonus offered by the NHRA to any driver that wins the Shootout and the Auto Club Finals. The Miller Lite driver earned the $150,000 payout at the season-opening event at Pomona Raceway. Dixon starts the Budweiser Shootout from the No. 2 position and will face John Smith in the opening round. Tony Pedregon became the first driver not named John Force to claim the NHRA Funny Car championship since 1992. The Southern California native and teammate of Force will look to sweep Pomona Raceway this season and earn his ninth victory on the year. Greg Anderson has accomplished just about every possible feat in 2003. Anderson clinched the Pro Stock title at Dallas in October, won the prestigious U.S. Nationals, set both ends of the national performance records at Englishtown, N.J. in May (6.670 seconds at 207.18 mph) and now he looks to break Darrell Alderman's (1991) category record of 11 victories in one season.

FAST FACTS:

2003 NHRA POWERade Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon has won two consecutive NHRA championships in the Miller Lite dragster, and was the runner-up to Kenny Bernstein for the 2001 season. Dixon has been either first or second in the NHRA POWERade standings following his win at the 2001 Mac Tools Gatornationals at Gainesville, Fla. Since he has already clinched the 2003 title, Dixon is guaranteed to have been among the top two in the standings for 66 consecutive races...Dixon also has set a career-best for round wins this season (58, tied for fifth all-time) and could become the fifth driver ever to win at least 60 rounds in one season if he advances to the semifinals at Pomona...If Pro Stock champion Greg Anderson wins the Auto Club Finals, he will establish a new single-season Pro Stock win mark (12). He also can surpass Funny Car driver John Force for the most elimination round wins in one season (66) if he advances to the finals. He will tie Force's record by advancing to the semifinals. Force won 65 elimination rounds in 19 events in '96.

NOTES OF INTEREST:

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 get the chance to get up-close-and-personal with drag racing icons like John Force, Don 'The Snake' Prudhomme, and Kenny Bernstein. They get the chance to 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 midway provides an on-site shopping experience for 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.

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 weather information as well as forecasts.

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 wins 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. Recently, in a survey published in SportsBusiness Journal, NHRA was ranked as the best value for the money by sponsors in a report that included 15 other major sports, including the NFL, NASCAR, NBA and the PGA Tour. The television coverage of the fastest form of auto racing on the planet 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 form 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 up new 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.

ABOUT

THE TRACK: Originally opened as a way to convince street racers to compete in a safe environment, Pomona Raceway was built with the combined efforts of the Pomona Valley Timing Association, Pomona Police Chief Ralph Parker and the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds. Through fundraisers, these three entities opened the track that began as a dirt parking lot with an asphalt drag strip down the middle. Bleachers that held no more than 300 spectators were in place next to a timing tower that was merely a scaffolding with a roof on top. Pomona Raceway built its first permanent timing tower in 1968, a small three-story building that housed race control, the track office and a small media room. The small three-story tower that stood for more than 25 years gave way to a 14,600-square foot tower complete with corporate suites and a modern press center. In 1992, Pomona Raceway entered the final phases of the $4.5 million modernization project, which included the installation of 40,000 permanent grandstand seats, with 20,000 of those having seat-backs. In 2001, Pomona Raceway's entire 1,320-foot racing surface was repaved to extend the concrete launch-pad from 300 to 660 feet.

AUTOMOBILE CLUB OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA NHRA FINALS GENERAL INFORMATION:

* SCHEDULE: Pro qualifying sessions are scheduled for 2 p.m. on Nov. 6, 1:45 p.m. on Nov. 7, and 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 8. The Budweiser Shootout for Top Fuel will have three rounds (noon, 1:45 and 4 p.m.) on Nov. 8. Final professional eliminations start at 11 a.m. Nov. 9.

* TICKETS: Tickets are available for the 39th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals. Call (800) 884-6472, go online at nhra.com or call Ticketmaster for ticket information.

* ON TV: ESPN2 will televise two hours of qualifying highlights of Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at 10 p.m. (ET) on Nov. 8. ESPN2 will broadcast NHRA 2Day, a 30-minute weekly news magazine show, at noon on Nov. 9. ESPN2 will televise three hours of early eliminations coverage at 4 p.m. (ET) on Nov. 9 before ESPN2 will show 90 minutes of final eliminations at 7 p.m. (ET) that evening.

* ON THE WEB: NHRA press releases, photos and all race information are also available on nhra.com

-nhra-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Larry Dixon , Darrell Alderman , Kenny Bernstein , Tony Pedregon , Del Worsham , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Doug Kalitta , Greg Anderson , Don Garlits , Geno Scali