February 29, 2004 Winternationals coverage is here

Feb. 20, 2004

Winternational coverage is here.

Nitro, Nitro, Nitro

THE PRO Meeting held today during the rain was a very spirited affair with many different topics of discussion on the table. The Most talked about was the price increase of nitro and the monopoly that VP now has. The Professional teams are not just mad about the increase they are mad that it was given with little or no notice and they could not budget for what could amount to a 50-100k extra tab for the larger teams. All parties involved are passing the buck when it comes to them stating the reason for the increase. NHRA says they are not benefiting from the official status anymore than what they were prior to this ruling as VP was already the official Fuel of NHRA. VP is saying that the suppliers are controlling the price to them, and the Suppliers are saying the costs have risen to the point they are at now. Who do you believe. Probably none of them to a certain degree. But it all falls on the backs of the teams. And the A/Fuel teams are just as bad on because of a lack of sponsors, and the pitiful pay at divisional events. So after the heated discussion VP agreed to a three year contract on price and THE HUGE PRICE DROP IS: This year is $850.00 per barrel, 2005 is $875.00 and 2006 is $900.00. While the teams are NOT happy, they are a little less pissed at the whole scenario. A POSSIBLE 10K LESS OUT OF THEIR POCKET BOOK AT YEARS END. We will have more on this and other news when it is reported to us.

Feb. 18, 2004

2004 Season Preview............ the winners (and losers) are.........(story by Jamie Clerf, Pat Harden, Larry Pfister, Guy Van Syckle Dean Murdoch and Bob Wilson's. Photos courtesy of Mark King, Guy Van Syckle, Dean Murdoch and Brian Losness)

I hope you are sitting down. This is both a lighter side to the 2004 season and the serious picks for who we perceive to have the edge. Hey, Guys just wanna have fun. Note, No Drivers, crew members nor owners were hurt in the making of this "2004 Season Preview"

The 2004 season promises to be on of the most competitive in memory. I know, I know, you hear that all the time, but we firmly believe, this year's version of the NHRA POWERade tour will be one of the most exciting for all three Pro classes in history. In Funny Car, the rivalry between Eric Medlen and Tony Pedregon will be talked about all year; which one will finish higher in the standings. Will Force regain his domination, the surging Schumacher Funny Car drivers Whit Bazemore and Gary Scelzi and let's not forget the other flopper combatants, team "CSK" and team "Skoal", the other Pedregon and everyone else. In Top Fuel, this looks to be wide open and the possibility of having more than five different winners is not only probable, I am going on as saying, it is guaranteed. The different winners this year should include Dixon, Schumacher, two Kalittas, Bernstein, Baca, Darrell Russell and Cory Mac. Pro Stock will not be a dominating year like last year. The new beadlocks and new found power from a few other teams will see a return of parity to the go fast (super class like) door car class. Pro Stock Bike will be a good battle as well. Rookie lady Angie McBride could take some of the limelight away from the golden girl Angelle Savioe (which won't make her too happy), and the other players, Antron, Craig, Shawn, Andrew and oh ya the champ Geno will all get wins in 2004.

Here are the speedzonemagazine.com resident experts picks for the 2004 season:

We have the lighter side (which include the pronostigators serious picks, and a little fun put in as well as the serious side which also includes that writers legitimate picks:

And the trusty scribes are:

Jamie "the king of the 'plex" Clerf
Guy "the photog extraordinaire" Van Syckle
Bob "what me worry" Wilson (tricky dipster)
Pat "the way I see it" Harden
Larry "the westcoast 'vid phenom" Pfister
and Dean "the foot in mouth" Murdoch

All picks are the opinion's of each individual and not the opinion of speedzonemagazine.com. We hold no responsibility for the opinions of the various contributors.

Here are Jamie's picks:

Top Fuel: 2004 Champion: Larry Dixon - yeah Tony Schumacher and Doug Kalitta can run 4.4's (seemingly at will) and are the sexy picks in '04, but can they get down
Columbus in June? Sure there are a lot of nice tracks on the NHRA circuit
where you can indeed run 4.4's, but there is an almost equal amount of
"junk" tracks (like Columbus) where a blah 4.60 will do the trick. LaHaie
may not know how to get 4.4 second elapsed times (at least not yet), but he
knows how to get Dixon down through the junk and will get him enough round
wins for a third consecutive championship.

Low ET for the year: 4.38...when the cool weather finds one of the following
tracks...Chicago, Reading, Dallas, or maybe even venerable 'ol Pomona...

Top Speed for the year: 336...and the NHRA will moan about the cars going too fast while at the same time praising the achievement. Make up your minds, fellas.

Funny Car: Whit Bazemore...again going against the grain a little with this
one...everyone seems to think that Force will bounce back after losing out
on his first championship since '92 (yes, you read that factoid correctly)!
But battle tested Bazemore (does that count as drag racing alliteration?),
who narrowly lost out to former Force protégé Tony Pedregon in '03, will
take home his first ever championship. "Baze" and "Beard" and the rest of
the Matco Tools gang have fully gelled and are poised (at long last) to take
the title. Just don't call track security to break up the winner's circle
celebration for this one...

(Clerf extras) Low ET for the year: 4.67...A number of cars were knocking on the 4.6 second zone barrier late last season...Hard to pick who's gonna doing it (Scelzi? Force?) I just know somebody is... Top Speed for the year: 331...Yet another barrier just barely hanging on (329.18 Scelzi) ...may happen the same time the first 4.6 second pass does...

Pro Stock: Jeg Coughlin Jr...The best pure drag racer in all of drag
racing...Coughlin who used his "spare" time in the off-season to win the
prestigious Moroso championships bracket event will edge out '03 class
kingpin Greg Anderson for another Pro Stock title. Low ET for the year: 6.68: They say the new beadlock wheels are going to slow the cars down...This may be true, but somebody's still going run a 6.68 (or better). Top Speed for the year: 207.11

Pro Stock Bike: Craig Treble
Low ET: 6.98...one of the last big barriers in drag racing goes down.

Guy's Picks:

Top Fuel: Tony Schumacher, good financial backing, no one ran better at the end of 2003. And Alan Johnson tuneup. Tough class, with Dixon, Kalittas, and Bernstein all contenders for the top spot.

Funny Car: John Force--HUNGRY. Most $$$ and technology in the class. 2 teammates to get info from. And Austin Coil.

Pro Stock: Greg Anderson--If he figures out the beadlocks. No one ran stronger than G A in 2003. W J should contend as well. Lots of pre-season testing. Testing yielded strong e.t. and mph numbers for W J.

Pro Stock Bike: Angelle Savoie. Like Force, hungry. Won't forget how disappointing 2003 was. Well funded, and she know's how to win it all. Surprise contender--Angie MacBride. Some bike success already, and teaming up with a multi championship owner/tuner.

Larry's picks:

Top Fuel: Kalitta: I like guys who either go fast or blow up...or both. After
becoming a nice guy after his year off awhile back Snake is back to being
an overintense, outspoken owner. The bud guys? Now there's a happy, happy,
joy, joy group. This IS supposed to be fun right?

Funny Car: Scelzi: 'Cause I knew everybody else would pick Force, this sport is getting way too predictable. I mighta picked Twit, but Scelzi's a lot more fun after the race. If he wins it'll be the drag racing party of all time.

Pro Stock: KJ: I like WJ, but he's too freekin old, Jegs are boring, Greg was just
plain stupid good last year, besides this class needs injection and turbos...watch the fans when these clones come to the line.

Pro Mod: What? it's not a real class? Oh rite carbs an cookie cutter cars
are bettern these....which way to Edmonton?

Pro Stock Truck: What? don't even mention them on this site? cause have caused enuf trouble already?

Pro Stock Bike: You mean Pro Street: C'mon....I don't care about that non nitro bike class...wut? Ya ok. Other than the "Angel", I don't even know any of these people. Ok, I'll pick that other one, Angie sumthin.

Pat's Picks:

Top Fuel: It pains me to say it, but I gotta go with Larry Dixon. In my
view, the only team that can consistently mount a serious challenge to Dick
LaHaie and the gang is that of Brandon Bernstein, but I predict that Brandon
will encounter a few hiccups in his "Rookie Season Take 2" and will come up
just a tad short come November. Expect periodic, perhaps frequent, strong
showings by Darryl Russell, Tony Schumacher and Doug Kalitta, but flashes of
brilliance won't get the job done. I do expect (and hope) to see David Baca
win a race or two as well.

Funny Car: John Force, again! Money talks, bull@#%$ walks, and Force still
has the deepest pockets, and the best brain trust, in the business. Young
Eric Medlen will win some races with his Team Force power, and the Snake
will pack a mean one-two punch with Capps and T.J. in the "Camarocarlos",
and I look for them to have more of an impact than last year, but like Top
Fuel, I don't expect that to be enough at the end of the season. Look for
Force to come out strong and be looking good by mid-year for championship
#117 or whatever it is!

Pro Stock: Greg Anderson. Unless he was up to something last season that
increased scrutiny by tech will either detect or cause them to back away
from using in fear of being caught, he'll probably continue to have a few
hundredths on everyone else, and that, coupled with good lights, is what it
takes to be a consistent winner in Pro Stock. 'Nuff said.

PS Bike:: (Pass)

Bob Picks:

Top Fuel: Huh? It's 2004 already? What happened to the 1970's? Are my flared jeans out of style already? Who won? OK, I'm awake....zzzzzz.... Honest!
Sharp as a flat tax and twice as ugly; where's the coffee?
So, in keeping with the newer, leaner, meaner style of reporting (as evidenced by the slimmed-down Natural Drugstore that slipped into the mailbox yesterday) here's the top of the pop chart picks for oh-fore:

(1) Larry Dixon - unless Lahaie suddenly goes senile or the IRS shuts
down Prudhomme and seizes all his assets for operating on the proceeds
of tobacco and booze (remember this is supposed to be fun right?). This team has it all: good driver, very smart
tuner - not earth-turning, but able to extract maximum performance
consistently, all the funding required and winning experience.

(2) Doug Kalitta - Decent, but not the greatest, driver; unlimited
funding; good tuner(s); now part of a three-car team, but handicapped by
the original wild-child: Conrad Kalitta (a sometimes brilliant guy who
lets his desire and ego get in the way of victory from time to time).
Still, they have won the championship more than once (Scott Kalitta and
that old, and thankfully retired chick, Cha-Cha).

(3) Tony Schumacher - Seemingly has all the ingredients to make it
happen: more sponsors than anyone in the class, an extremely smart
crewchief (Alan Johnson) and a very good driver. Again, the weakness is
at the top: Don Schumacher - a man who's composed of equal parts ego,
wallet and helium. When Johnson keeps his tuneup one notch short of
nuclear they can rotate the earth, but can this team keep it all
together for an entire season?

Dark-horse pick: Brandon Bernstein - if the old man was driving the car
still, it would be in the top three, but junior hasn't shown the
maturity to steer this rocket into the winner's circle on a consistent
basis - yet. By the end of the season they should be in the top five.


Darker-horse: David Baca - if they can continue to invent enough funding
(just how much dough can American Racing pump into them) and keep on the upward trajectory they've been on since coming into the class - they could
challenge for top five status also.


Funny Car: (1) John Force - could anyone seriously expect him to go two years
without the championship? Not a chance, unless his pancreas explodes or
he carves up his hands smashing trophies or chainsaws off his arms while
cutting up old bodies to flog on e-Bay. Or maybe all the sponsors might
suddenly evaporate? Or Coil and Fedderly suddenly announce their gay
marriage and move to Monte Carlo? Say what? [Wilson, are you drinking
this early in the day?] The race is over - Force's name will be in the
number one spot this season - starting this weekend.

(2) Del Worsham - this is a team who's time is coming, and maybe it's
going to be this year. A very good driver, good tuner(s), serious
funding and lots of experience. With three-car data and blocker
possibilities on tap, they could give the old cab (or truck) driver a run for his

(3-4) in no particular order: Tony Pedregon, Whit Bazemore. Both
well-funded, experienced but enough deficiencies in both their programs
to prevent them from winning. Pedregon is putting together his own team
for the first time, while Bazemore is part of the Schumacher Electric
conglomerate. 'Nuff said?

Dark-horse pick: Gary Scelzi - check out Bazemore and Schumacher for
reasons why he won't succeed. But he is an excellent driver - despite
the intimations from AJ about his abilities at the end of their
association - and the car has shown world-beating potential at times.

Pro Stock: (1-10) in no particular order - Johnson, Johnson, Johnson, Anderson (Anderson Jr... oh ya Line), Coughlin, Coughlin, Jenkins, Sox, Nicholson, Alderman.

If they don't find the nitrous bottle in Anderson's car; if Warren
doesn't spend more time litigating than innovating; if Kurt doesn't put
on any more personal ballast and upset the balance of the car; if the
Jeg's jeggernaut isn't busted for........being way too wealthy; if Alan Johnson
promises not to use "golly bum" in conversation anymore; if, if, if....
ad infinitum. Suffice to say that someone in a two-door coupe with
left-hand steering and a carbureted engine will win.

Pro Stock Bike: If it doesn't use a blower or burn fuel, or better yet, both - what's the point? But Bob, isn't Angelle still riding? OK, she's a good choice.
No Bob, we're talking about winning. Oh, then how about Ron Houniet; he
runs pretty hard. No, his combo isn't legal for PROfessional bike
racing. Oh, to heck with it. It will be someone on a two-wheeled thingie
without a blower and burning gasoline winning. BORRRRRiiinnnnngggg......


As always, take these choices with a large grain of low-sodium salt, and
remember that humour and outrageous hyperbole sometimes reads better
than fact or truth. Enough verbiage, let's get on with the season. As
always, it should be another one full of upsets, sure bets, surprises
and same-olds. Fire the FIRST pair!

Dean's Picks:

Top Fuel: Tony Schumacher. It is a tough choice this year, as many teams look real strong. Bernstein car was the most consistent to end 2003, but they lacked the power, according to Kenny. The new blowers and other changes to the team plus a probable more cautious Brandon in the car, will keep them from sitting atop the totem pole. Dixon and LaHaie do not have the horses to win this year. Yes, they are the most consistent and will win in the middle part of the season, put track prep is getting better and high horsepower will prevail. Doug or cousin Scott Kalitta will runner-up in 2004

Low et for the year: 4.403 Top Speed: 335.21

Funny Car: John Force. How can you not pick the Force-Meister to not get revenge on the class. While he lost the championship to his team mate who was in John's mind return to the team, the #1 is not with "Team Force" and Johnny is not happy. He will get revenge on everyone in the class. (This commentary does not mean John does not understand or respect what Tony is trying to accomplish, but I'm sure his feelings are hurt, and in turn he will put the hurt on a bunch of flopper pilots)

Low ET of the year: 4.667 Top Speed: 331.65



Pro Stock: Team Johnson..... Okay I'll go with Kurt Johnson in 2004. 2003 was a title for him in previous years if it wasn't for Anderson's incredible season. Picking Anderson, either Johnson and/or Coughlin is not a long shot. I just happen to like Kurt's chances.

Low ET for the year: 6.640. Top MPH 206.87

PS Bike: Craig Treble: last season final couple racers Treble was shot out of a cannon, and with what he learned from riding Matt Hine's bike with serve him well for his own program in 2004.

Low ET for the year: 7.021, no six second time slip this year.

The Alcohol classes are in their Zone

Speedzone.com coverage for the Winternationals for the pro classes is here


POMONA, Calif. - Larry Dixon is the two-time defending NHRA POWERade Top Fuel champion. He has been in the No. 1 spot following all but one race during the last two championship seasons. The Miller Lite dragster driver has earned 17 wins in 27 final rounds.
If he can defend his title and earn a third Top Fuel championship, he will join Joe Amato (1990-'92) as the only Top Fuel drivers in NHRA history to win three consecutive season championships. Of course, if the rest of the Top Fuel class has their way, Dixon won't join Amato in the record books.
The only thing the Top Fuel drivers do agree on is judging the level of competition heading into the 2004 season. It's high, and it could be very tricky to win multiple races this season.
Top Fuel will start its championship battle at the 44th annual K&N Filters Winternationals, Feb. 19-22, at Pomona Raceway. The race is the first of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
"The championship always goes to the team that wins the most rounds and is the most prepared," Dixon said. "I think everybody on our team works hard toward keeping that goal. Time will tell if we're prepared or not. I don't think there is anything owed to us. You've got to go out and work hard for every round win."
There were five different winners in Top Fuel during the 2003 season. Dixon earned eight victories, while Doug Kalitta, Tony Schumacher and Kenny Bernstein collected four wins each and Brandon Bernstein had three wins. The three wins helped the younger Bernstein earn the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future award even though he missed the final 15 races of the season. He suffered season-ending back injuries during a crash at Englishtown, N.J., after he picked up three wins to start the season.
Brandon said there are numerous cars that are capable of winning races in 2004.
"All of the teams such as Dixon, Tony Schumacher and Kalitta have excellent cars," Bernstein said. "But you also have to throw in Darrell Russell and David Baca. The Kalittas and the Schumacher teams came on real strong with their power and performance at the end of the season. It could be a dogfight this season. It's not going to be one of those beer wars between two cars. It is going to be very interesting to see how it all plays out. There are going to be a lot of cars out there that can run in the 4.40s all day long if the conditions are right."
Schumacher not only won four races, but he set the national record for elapsed time, going 4.441 seconds at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa.
"I think it is going to be the most exciting year Top Fuel has seen in a long time," Schumacher said. "That's hard to say too because 1999, even though that we were the team that won (the championship) it was such a tough year. When we went to Indy there were 10 cars that could have left Indy with the points lead. That is tight and that is the kind of competition people look forward to.
"This year is going to be different. There are going to be a handful of teams that can win. In 1999 you would go out and win the race but there wasn't as many side-by-side wins as there will be this year. Last year Kalitta and I proved that you can run side-by-side in the 4.40s. This is going to be one of the most incredible seasons and inches will determine victories."
* SCHEDULE: Pro qualifying sessions are scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 19 and 20. Qualifying continues at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 21. Final eliminations start at 11 a.m. Feb. 22.
* TICKETS: Tickets are available for the 44th annual K&N Filters Winternationals. Call (800) 884-6472, or call Ticketmaster for ticket information.
* ON TV: ESPN2 will televise two hours of qualifying coverage of the K&N Filters Winternationals at 9 p.m. (ET) on Feb. 21. ESPN2 will televise two hours of final eliminations coverage at 10 p.m. (ET) on Feb. 22.

Feb. 8, 2004

Pictures and results from the weekend at Firebird start here for funny car and here for Top Fuel and Pro Stock. Follow all the links on those pages for the rest of the coverage

Jan. 31, 2004

All Saturday Pro numbers and pictures are here.

All Saturday Sportsman numbers and pictures are here.

Jan 30, 2004

Vegas Testing is here


Archives 2003

January 2003 NHRA Zone
February 2003 NHRA Zone
March 2003 NHRA Zone
April 2003 NHRA Zone
May archives are here
June archives are here
July and Aug archives here
Sept Archives are here
Oct archives are here
Nov/Dec archives are here

2004 archives

Jan.04 NHRA Zone



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