Seattle: Pre-race schedule and notes

LUCAS OIL NHRA NORTHWEST NATIONALS GENERAL INFORMATION: WHERE: Pacific Raceways, Kent, Wash. The track is 10 miles east of Interstate 5 on Highway 18. From I-5, use Exit 142A (Auburn exit) and travel east 10 miles on Highway 18, ...

LUCAS OIL NHRA NORTHWEST NATIONALS GENERAL INFORMATION:

WHERE: Pacific Raceways, Kent, Wash. The track is 10 miles east of Interstate 5 on Highway 18. From I-5, use Exit 142A (Auburn exit) and travel east 10 miles on Highway 18, following the signs to the track. From other points, use Highway 18 and exit S.E. 304th St. or S.E. 312th St.

WHEN: Friday through Sunday, July 26-28.

SCHEDULE: Pro qualifying will run at 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on July 26 and will continue at 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. on July 27. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on July 28.

TICKETS: Tickets are available for the 15th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Northwest Nationals. Call (253) 639-5927, Ticketmaster, or visit ticketmaster.com for ticket information.

TELEVISION: ESPN will televise two hours of qualifying highlights at 8 p.m. (ET) on July 27. ESPN2 will televise two hours of eliminations at 8 p.m. (ET) on July 28.

ON THE WEB: NHRA news, photos and driver information available at www.nhra.com.

CORY MAC IS LONE SURVIVOR: Cory McClenathan, who returned to action this season after a one-year hiatus, is the only active Top Fuel driver that has visited the winner's circle before at Pacific Raceways (1997). The defending event winner, three-time Top Fuel champion Gary Scelzi, is currently not competing after switching to Funny Car and eventually leaving the team after seven races. The only other active drivers to win the Top Fuel category at Seattle are current Funny Car teammates Ron Capps (1995) and Tommy Johnson Jr. (1993), who ironically both scored the first victories of their career at Pacific Raceways.

PEDREGON ADDS CONSULTANT: Cruz Pedregon, the only Funny Car driver other than John Force to win a championship (1992) in the past 12 seasons, recently added drag racing veteran Bill Schultz to his Advance Auto Parts Racing team. Pedregon is hoping the addition of Schultz will enable him to improve on his first half performance which included just three elimination round wins and three DNQ's (did not qualify).

"Our race team has great potential," stated Pedregon. "We are a young team capable of making good, solid runs. Adding Bill brings a new perspective to our race team that will help take us to the next level. We have high expectations of Bill and feel he will play an integral role in terms of what we want to accomplish by the end of the season."

DRY SPELL FOR KJ: Kurt Johnson, who has won twice at Seattle (1993, 1995), including his first-ever national event victory during his rookie campaign, has not won an NHRA national event since the 2001 season-opener at Pomona, Calif. The 22-time event winner has two runner-up finishes (2001, Denver; 2002, Houston) since his last win and is coming off a career-worst ninth place finish in the 2001 Pro Stock standings.

"We've been testing on the dynamometer and freshened up all of our engines," said Johnson. "We took every used transmission gear out of the trailer and put in all new parts. I hope we've finally exterminated all of the gremlins that have been biting us.

"I scored my first national event victory in Seattle, and I'd really like to get back in the winner's circle there. It's a very fast race track, but it's also rough. The key to winning in Seattle is to make smooth runs and to apply every bit of horsepower to the track. I had the quickest E.T. in the first qualifying session there last year, and I've still got my notes on how we set up the car. We need a good performance to get this program back on the right track."

WEST COAST SWING PIVOTAL FOR BAZEMORE: Funny Car driver Whit Bazemore used a win at Seattle last season, his first of three on the year, to begin a second half surge that would leave him in a career-best second place in the final standings. When the NHRA makes its way into the Seattle area, 13 events will be completed with 10 remaining on the schedule. With Force Racing occupying the top two spots in the standings heading into Seattle, a win at Seattle would be quite a boost for Bazemore's championship hopes.

"We're not out of (the POWERade championship race) by any means," said Bazemore. "In fact, we're more focused than ever because our backs are against the wall. We have to perform, and in order to win this championship we have to start making it happen now. We cannot afford to give away any more points by going out early. The whole team knows that and we're determined to have the same second half of the season as we did last year. We need to get round wins and outright race wins under our belt. If we can do that, we can move to the top."

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Cruz Pedregon , Cory McClenathan , Tommy Johnson Jr.