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WHAT: 19th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, the 20th 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...

WHAT:
19th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, the 20th 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: Maple Grove Raceway, Mohnton, Pa. Track is located off the Pennsylvania Turnpike (Exit 22), 10 miles south of Reading, Pa.

WHEN: Friday through Sunday, Oct. 3-5.

WHAT TO EXPECT: As summer's heat gives way to cooler fall temperatures, the changing of the seasons in Eastern Pennsylvania not only provides a scenic backdrop, but prime racing conditions for drag racing's elite. Top Fuel points leader Larry Dixon has been a marked man for nearly two seasons. The driver of the Miller Lite dragster finds himself atop the points standings as the 2003 campaign nears its end. Defending event champion Doug Kalitta will have a familiar face around as cousin and two-time NHRA Top Fuel champion Scott hopes to give Doug some added date. Also, don't look past Tony Schumacher and his U.S. Army dragster. Two years ago at Maple Grove Raceway, Schumacher became the first driver to surpass the 333-mph mark with his 333.08-mph blast. During the first round of qualifying on the original race weekend, Schumacher posted the quickest run in NHRA history, a blazing 4.465-second pass. He will need to produce a 4.509-second run or quicker to back it up for the official NHRA national record. The Funny Car chase is shaping up as a classic battle between Whit Bazemore and Tony Pedregon, two fierce rivals. Pedregon, who won six of the first 12 events this season, regained the lead in the standings following his win at Chicago, while Bazemore's consistent Lee Beard tune-up in the championship hunt as both drivers aim to score their first series crown. Greg Anderson has opened up a commanding lead over second-place driver Kurt Johnson in Pro Stock after claiming nine victories in 11 final round appearances. If Anderson's performance edge continues, he can earn his first NHRA championship. Anderson must win three of the remaining four events to pass Darrell Alderman for most Pro Stock victories in one season (11). In the two-wheel category, Geno Scali has raced to a solid lead over Shawn Gann, Reggie Showers and three-time champion Angelle Savoie. If Scali remains consistent, he looks certain to win his first NHRA championship. The hottest rider in the Bike class is Showers. The world's fastest amputee claimed his first career No. 1 qualifying position in Brainerd, Minn., in August and won a $15,000 bonus when he beat the seven other Pro Stock Bike competitors in the K&N Pro Bike Klash at Indianapolis. He has since followed the bonus event win up with back-to-back wins in Indianapolis during the national event and at Memphis.

FAST FACTS: Maple Grove Raceway is one of two tracks where defending Top Fuel champion Larry Dixon has yet to earn a victory in his career. At the beginning of the 2003 season there where four tracks with such a distinction, but following his victories at Seattle and Sonoma, Calif., St. Louis and Reading, Pa., are the only two cities where Dixon is winless. However, Dixon's crew chief Dick LaHaie won twice at the Pennsylvania facility (1986-'87) and team-owner Don "The Snake' Prudhomme also was victorious at Maple Grove (1991)...Funny Car driver Dean Skuza has two career wins in 13 career final round appearances. His last win was in 1998 at Maple Grove...Greg Anderson, Kurt Johnson and Jeg Coughlin are the top three Pro Stock drivers in the NHRA POWERade standings and also are the only three drivers to qualify for ever NHRA national event this season. Coughlin holds the longest consecutive qualifying streak in the category at 32 straight events...Only four different riders have ever won the Pro Stock Bike category at Maple Grove Raceway (Dave Schultz, 1993-'94; John Myers, 1995; Angelle Savoie, 1996, '98, '01-'02; and Matt Hines, '97, '99-'00).

ABOUT THE TRACK: The track was a collaborative effort between Alfred Stauffer, who owned several hundred acres of farmland, and local racer George Weiler. Stauffer and Weiler, along with several members of the Eastern Custom Car Association, planned the layout and necessary facilities. A thin strip of asphalt, measuring 30-feet wide and 2,500-feet long, was laid in preparation for racers in 1962. Initially the track was a one-fifth-mile course instead of the standard quarter-mile due to the limited shutdown area. Maple Grove Raceway holds the distinction of recording many of the NHRA's most historic performances. Those memorable moments include Joe Amato and Shirley Muldowney making the first side-by-side four second Top Fuel pass (1989); the first side-by-side Top Fuel race where both drivers eclipsed 300 mph (Mike Dunn/Blaine Johnson); the first Top Fuel driver in the 4.70s (Cory McClenathan); the first Pro Stock driver in the 6.70s (Darrell Alderman); and the first Pro Stock Bike rider in the 7.00s (Matt Hines).

TICKETS: For tickets call (610) 856-7200. Tickets also are available at maplegroveraceway.com.

GENERAL ADMISSION (includes pit pass) - Friday: Adult, $15; Junior (6-12 years), free. Saturday: Adult, $40; Junior (6-12 years), $10. Sunday: Adult, $45; Junior (6-12 years), $10. Child (5 years and under), free in general admission and pit areas each day.

RESERVED SEATS (includes pit pass) - Saturday: Adult, $50; Junior (6-12 years), $20; Child (5 years and under), $10. Sunday: Adult, $59; Junior (6-12 years), $24; Child (5 years and under), $14.

-nhra-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Shirley Muldowney , Matt Hines , Jeg Coughlin , Larry Dixon , Mike Dunn , Darrell Alderman , Kurt Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Dean Skuza , Whit Bazemore , Tony Schumacher , Joe Amato , Doug Kalitta , Greg Anderson , Reggie Showers , Shawn Gann , Cory McClenathan , Dick LaHaie , Geno Scali