THE CHAMP -- Larry Dixon will begin defense of his 2010 Top Fuel championship this week at the Pomona Winternationals. Dixon enjoyed a magical season that saw him win 12 races on the way to his third Top Fuel title. Among those victories was his fourth at the prestigious Winternationals (he has five total Pomona wins).
Dixon led the series in wins (12), finals appearances (12), number one qualifiers (eight), elimination round victories (62), individual qualifying sessions led (33 of 87) and bonus points earned (130) in 2010.
PEDREGON PICKS UP WHERE HE LEFT OFF -- After closing out last season on a hot streak, winning two Countdown events (Charlotte and Reading) and qualifying in the top six in 10 consecutive races, Cruz Pedregon appears to be picking up right where he left off. The two-time Funny Car champion registered the second-quickest pass at the Nitro pre-season testing session in Palm Beach.
Cruz Pedregon: "I'm really excited because this year our car will be right at the weight limit, 40-50 pounds lighter than last year and we're running new Toyota bodies. On our second run in Florida we were planning to run just to half-track, but it felt so good I said forget it and made a full run and the board showed a 4.09. We made a few adjustments for the night run and ran a 4.040 -- my second quickest run ever!"
BROWN READY TO CHALLENGE FOR TITLE -- After an up-and-down season that culminated in a victory at the season finale at Pomona in his first full Top Fuel season with Don Schumacher Racing, Antron Brown has shown he's ready to compete for a championship in 2011. Brown registered the fastest overall run at the NHRA pre-season testing in Palm Beach with a blistering 3.765-second pass. The New Jersey native placed fourth overall in 2010, making seven finals appearances.
NO PLACE LIKE HOME - The NHRA Full Throttle Series' return to Pomona is a homecoming for five of the six Toyota-sponsored drivers in the series. Larry Dixon (Van Nuys), Del Worsham (Chino Hills), Cruz Pedregon (Torrance), Shawn Langdon and Morgan Lucas (both Riverside) all were raised in Southern California. Of course, the region also is host to Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A.'s headquarters in Torrance.
FAST TIMES AT JURUPA VALLEY HIGH -- While Southern California has long produced some of drag racing's most talented competitors, Jurupa Valley High School in Mira Loma, Calif., holds the distinction of having two classmates both finish in the top-10 in each of the past two NHRA Top Fuel seasons. Former Jaguars Shawn Langdon and Morgan Lucas have made the transition from classmates to teammates with Langdon placing a career-best fifth last season, while Lucas placed 10th. The JVHS grads closed out last season strong at their home track in Pomona where Langdon advanced to the finals and Lucas to the semi-finals.
WORSHAM MAKES THE MOVE -- After campaigning a Toyota Camry Solara Funny Car the past two seasons with Al-Anabi Racing, Del Worsham will return to the Top Fuel ranks with the team this season. Worsham has spent the majority of his 20-year NHRA career in Funny Car competition, but did compete in 22 Top Fuel races between 1993 and 1995. Worsham placed sixth overall and advanced to six semi-finals and one final during the 2010 season.
Del Worsham: "It's something new, and it's fun going fast and driving something different. As of right now, I don't know which I like better, but Top Fuel is exciting. In the dragster, it's almost like someone is behind you and pushing you; in the Funny Car, it feels like you're being pulled. It's completely different."
POMONA WINNERS - Four Toyota-sponsored drivers have previously won at Pomona. None of the Toyota contingent has had more success at the Southern California track than five-time Pomona winner Larry Dixon, who was victorious in 1998, 2002, 2003, 2008 and 2010. Antron Brown won the most recent Top Fuel run in November. He also won the 2009 season finale at the Autoclub Raceway, as well as in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class 1999. Dixon's Al-Anabi Racing teammate, Del Worsham (2001 and 2003), and Toyota Camry Solara Funny Car driver Cruz Pedregon (1995 and 2008) are both two-time Pomona winners.
-source: toyota motorsprots