Road to the Future Award nominees announced

GLENDORA, Calif. (Oct. 13, 2004) -- Three National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) rookie drivers, representative of Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock categories, have been selected as the candidates for the 2004 Automobile Club of Southern California...

GLENDORA, Calif. (Oct. 13, 2004) -- Three National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) rookie drivers, representative of Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock categories, have been selected as the candidates for the 2004 Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award, it was announced today by officials from the NHRA and Automobile Club of Southern California.

Jason Line (Pro Stock), Morgan Lucas (Top Fuel) and Eric Medlen (Funny Car) were nominated for the prestigious award, which annually recognizes the top rookie competitor in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series and offers a $20,000 prize and sleek ceremonial trophy to the winner.

The Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award will be presented during the NHRA's annual championship awards ceremony on Monday, Nov. 15 at the scenic Westin Mission Hills Resort in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

"For more than 100 years the Automobile Club of Southern California has represented integrity, commitment and professionalism to our millions of members. The Road to the Future Award has come to symbolize these same attributes in the sport of NHRA POWERade Drag Racing," said Thomas V. McKernan, president and CEO of the Automobile Club of Southern California. "To be nominated recognizes not only that a rookie driver had a noteworthy first season, but also that they demonstrated exceptional potential for the future. We congratulate all three of the nominees for this year's award and look forward to enjoying their achievements both on and off the race track for many years to come."

Line, 35, from Terrell, N.C., drove his KB Framers Pontiac Grand Am to four victories this season in six final round appearances. He posted one top qualifying effort and his 36-17 elimination round record boosted him to second in the NHRA POWERade Pro Stock points standings with two races remaining on the schedule. Line, who also serves as the primary engine builder for the team, clocked a performance best of 6.669 seconds at 207.40 mph.

Lucas, 21, from Upland, Calif., was selected by team owner Joe Amato to drive his team's dragster in August following the tragic death of Darrell Russell. Lucas, one of the youngest drivers to pilot a Top Fuel dragster in NHRA competition, stepped into the situation and responded by posting two semifinal finishes and a career-best performance of 4.559 seconds at 323.43 mph in his Lucas Oil/DeeZee dragster. Despite competing in only eight events, Lucas has advanced from 29th to 17th in the POWERade point standings.

Medlen, 31, from Yorba Linda, Calif., scored one victory in two final round appearances and was the No. 1 qualifier in his category at two events, Englishtown, N.J. and recently at Reading, Pa. His seven semifinal appearances have placed him firmly in fifth position in the NHRA POWERade Funny Car standings with two races remaining. He clocked a season-best performance of 4.739 seconds at 328.22 mph in his Castrol Syntec Ford Mustang.

In 2002 the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award and the NHRA Rookie of the Year Award were combined to create one award recognizing the future stars of the sport. Past winners of the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award have developed into some of NHRA's biggest stars, including Tony Pedregon (1996, Funny Car), Ron Capps (1997, Funny Car), Doug Kalitta (1998, Top Fuel), Antron Brown (1999, Pro Stock Bike), Melanie Troxel (2000, Top Fuel), GT Tonglet (2001, Pro Stock Bike), Gene Wilson (2002, Pro Stock) and Brandon Bernstein (2003, Top Fuel).

Recent NHRA Rookie of the Year winners have included the late Darrell Russell (2001, Top Fuel), Don Lampus (2000, Top Fuel), Scotty Cannon (1999, Funny Car), Jeg Coughlin (1998, Pro Stock), Gary Scelzi (1997, Top Fuel) and co-winners in 1996, Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and Matt Hines (Pro Stock Bike).

Rookie drivers in all four of NHRA's professional categories are eligible to win the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award. More than 100 of the nation's most distinguished auto racing journalists will select the winner through a voting system based on the following criteria: number of events participated, performance on and off the race track, participation in NHRA promotions and relationships with fans, sponsors and media.

In addition to the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award, the company is the title sponsor for the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals, Nov. 11-14 at historic Pomona Raceway. The company also is a major sponsor for John Force Racing, providing primary sponsorship for the Mustang driven by Gary Densham, as well as associate sponsorship for the Ford Mustangs driven by Force and Medlen. In addition, the company is the presenting sponsor for the California Hot Rod Reunion, contested each year in early October at Famoso Raceway in Bakersfield, Calif.

The Automobile Club of Southern California is the largest affiliate of AAA. Today, the Auto Club's members benefit by the organization's emergency road service, financial products, travel agency and trip planning services, highway and transportation safety programs, insurance products and services, automotive pricing, buying and financing programs and automotive testing and analysis.

Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., the NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. It presents 23 national events through its NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. The NHRA has 80,000 members and 140 member tracks. The NHRA-sanctioned sportsman and bracket racing series' provide competition opportunities for drivers of all levels. The NHRA develops the stars of tomorrow by offering the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, NHRA Summit Racing Series, NHRA Summit Sport Compact Drag Racing Series and the NHRA Street Legal Program. The NHRA also offers the NHRA O'Reilly Auto Parts Jr. Drag Racing League for youths ages 8 to 17.

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Antron Brown , Matt Hines , Jeg Coughlin , Ron Capps , Joe Amato , Gary Scelzi , Doug Kalitta , Gary Densham , Gene Wilson , Melanie Troxel , Brandon Bernstein , Don Lampus , Morgan Lucas , Jason Line , GT Tonglet , Mike Edwards