COUNTDOWN CONTINUES AT TEXAS MOTORPLEX Schumacher, Wilkerson, Anderson and Smith Hold No. 1 Countdown Spots ENNIS, Texas (Sept. 3, 2008) -- Texas Motorplex fans will witness blazing speeds as the quickest and fastest racers gather Sept. 18-21 ...
COUNTDOWN CONTINUES AT TEXAS MOTORPLEX
Schumacher, Wilkerson, Anderson and Smith Hold No. 1 Countdown Spots
ENNIS, Texas (Sept. 3, 2008) -- Texas Motorplex fans will witness blazing speeds as the quickest and fastest racers gather Sept. 18-21 for the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event just south of Dallas.
The 23rd annual O'Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals is one of the final six races in the Countdown to the Championship. Only the top 10 racers in each of the four professional categories -- Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle -- have earned the right to compete for the 2008 NHRA POWERade championships.
All professional racers had 18 events to battle their way into the top 10. Now the pressure is on to earn points, earn victories and clinch the championships.
Greg Anderson leads the Pro Stock points after the first 18 races of the season and has a 30-point lead over Kurt Johnson. He has claimed two victories (2003, '05) and one runner-up position (2007) at the Texas Motorplex. Anderson is aiming to add to his three NHRA Pro Stock championships.
"This is an exciting time of the season and every event is important," Anderson, driver of the Summit Racing Equipment Pontiac GXP said. "We need to make up for last year's runner-up finish and a win is the only way to do that. The track surface is capable of handling a lot of power and our guys will be anxious to get there and see what we can do this year."
Larry Dixon won the Top Fuel title at the Texas Motorplex in 2007 and is one of the 10 drivers in the Countdown. Two of the Top Fuel racers that will be competing against Dixon for the Texas Motorplex win and the NHRA crown are Tony Schumacher and Antron Brown.
Schumacher and Brown have a lot in common these days. They are both in the top 10 (though Schumacher holds the points lead and has a 30-point advantage over second-place Brown). They have both earned wins this season -- Schumacher has seven wins this season to Brown's two victories.
They also both earned their first career victories at the Texas Motorplex in 1999. Brown, however, won his on a two-wheeled entry. Brown earned 16 national NHRA event wins in the Pro Stock Motorcycle category before making the move to Top Fuel at the start of the 2008 season.
"It feels good to go back to the site of my first race win way back in 1999," Brown, driver of the Matco Tools dragster, said. "It would be great to spark some momentum and get another big win at the Motorplex since it's the second race of the Countdown and we feel we have a chance to win the title this season. It's also a great track to run these fast nitro cars on and that's exciting for all the fans."
Schumacher also claimed his first professional victory at the Texas Motorplex in 1999. The reigning Top Fuel champion (fourth consecutive and fifth overall) drives the U.S. Army dragster.
"I love going down to the Texas Motorplex every year," Schumacher said. "Of course, that track will always have a special place in my heart since that's where I got my first pro win. The fans really come out for the race and we truly appreciate that. Hopefully we'll be able to put on another great show for them this year."
Track owner Billy Meyer said facility upgrades and NHRA's work with the teams will keep the fans even happier this year.
"NHRA is working with the teams, trying to have less accidents and engine breakdowns and I think this year the racing is going to be closer than ever and the fans are going to be rewarded with some incredible races," Meyer said. "We have made more room for everyone to get around in the pit and concession areas. We made some great safety improvements to the track itself and in general, I think this is going to be one of our best events."
Tony Pedregon knows that winning -- again -- will make it a great event -- again. This time, however, he is hoping that racing legends John Force and Kenny Bernstein won't tangle during eliminations. Last year Force and Bernstein collided at the finish line. Bernstein was uninjured but Force was severely injured, spent 27 days in the hospital and was unable to finish the season.
Pedregon, the driver of the Q Racing Chevy Monte Carlo, earned the Funny Car victory at the Texas Motorplex last season and is hoping he gets to celebrate without the heartbreak of the Force accident. Tim Wilkerson holds the Funny Car points lead following 18 events, but Pedregon has qualified for one of the Countdown spots, sitting in second place and just 30 points behind Wilkerson. Force is in the No. 8 position, 90 points out of first place.
"Last year was a pivotal win," Pedregon said. "John's accident made the win bittersweet, however, but this event did set the stage for the Countdown. I expect his year's event will be just as important. I love racing at the original supertrack."
Anderson lost to Dave Connolly in the '07 Pro Stock finals. Connolly, driver of the Charter Communications Chevy Cobalt, has also earned a Countdown position (he is No. 6 in the standings, 70 points out of first place).
"It's good to be going back to Dallas because we'll be in the playoffs again and we hope to continue our success of last year," Connolly said. "The Texas Motorplex is a critical stop in the Countdown and we want to do well there."
Sportsman qualifying begins at 10 a.m. on Sept. 18. The first of four rounds of professional qualifying is scheduled for 3:45 p.m. on Sept. 19, continuing at 6:45 p.m. that evening. Qualifying wraps up with sessions at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Sept. 20. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Sept. 21.
Tickets for all four days of racing can be purchased by phone at 800-MOTORPLEX (688-6775) or at the track.