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Ennis Texas

Sept 22-25, 2011

(NHRA communications)

Sunday wrap up

ENNIS, Texas

Cruz Pedregon raced to his first win of the season and moved into the third spot in the Funny Car point standings as racing came to an end Sunday at the AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals at Texas Motorplex.
Bob Vandergriff, Jason Line and Michael Phillips were also winners in their respective categories at the second of six races in the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship, the six-race playoffs to determine the world championships.

Pedregon held off an impressive line-up of cars to reach the final round, driving his Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry past Todd Simpson, Bob Tasca and Melanie Troxel on his way to a final round matchup with Ron Capps. In the final Pedregon drove to an impressive 4.200 seconds at 302.48 mph past Capps to secure his first win of the season and 29th of his career. The win also propelled Pedregon from fourth to third in the point standings, just seven points behind leader Mike Neff with four races left in the season.

“The car was just so good all weekend,” said Pedregon. “I think this is probably the best race car I’ve ever had, with the exception of one run. We slipped up in the semi’s against Melanie. The track was hot, the hottest it’d been all weekend, and we got a little too aggressive with it. But other than that, the car was great, and I think I felt more pressure because we had such a great car. But it was great to win, finally.”

Funny Car points leader Neff lost in the first round to second-place driver in the standings Matt Hagan. Hagan was unable to get around Melanie Troxel in the second round though and only four points separate first-place Neff from Hagan.

In Top Fuel, Vandergriff raced to his first win in his 14th final round appearance, ending the longest streak of final round appearances before a win in NHRA history. Vandergriff powered his C&J Energy Services dragster to a 4.243 at 238.44 to hold of hometown favorite Spencer Massey in the final round.

“We’ve lost finals every way, and you begin to question it,” said Vandergriff. “But I’ve got a great bunch of guys with me now, and I knew it was going to happen, I was just hoping it was this time. I don’t think I could take another speech where I say, ‘Well, it’s all right,’ because it’s not all right. But it’s great. I’m just a little overwhelmed right now.”

Massey’s final round appearance moved him to the top of the Top Fuel standings, just seven points ahead of second-place driver Antron Brown, who fell to Massey in the semifinal round of eliminations. Massey is the 41st different driver in NHRA history to lead the points in Top Fuel.

In a repeat matchup from the Pro Stock final round in Charlotte just one week previous Jason Line and Kurt Johnson met again in the finals, but this time it was Line who powered his Summit Racing Pontiac GXP to a 6.633 at 208.46 to get his fifth win of the season and 26th of his career. The win also helped strengthen Line’s lead to 112 points over second-place driver and KB Racing teammate Greg Anderson, who lost in the first round.

“It was a huge day for us,” said Line. “Right now, I guarantee you that there is no way that anybody can be happier than me right now. It’s just not possible. It was a big day for us. The fact that we could actually get it done was amazing. I drove like garbage all day long. I was the worst I’ve driven all year. Finally, I managed to pull myself together for the final, the time that we needed it, and made a great run at the same time. It was just a really big day for us.”

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Phillips held off rookie rider and Mac Tools U.S. Nationals winner Hector Arana Jr. when he rode his Racers Edge Suzuki to a run of 6.979 at 194.96 to secure his first win in over a year and move up to the seventh spot in the point standings. Arana Jr. moved to the third spot in the standings with his runner-up finish to Phillips.

“Having my mother, Aline, here this weekend made the win real sweet,” said Phillips. “I had talked to her on Monday about coming to the races, and at first she said it was too hot. Then on Friday morning, just before we were ready to run, she popped up at the race track. My mom made my weekend, even if we had not won. I’m still a ‘Momma’s Boy.’”

NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing will return to action next week at the Auto-Plus® NHRA Nationals, Sept. 29-Oct. 2 at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa.

Sunday's final results from the 26th annual AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals at Texas Motorplex. The race is the 18th of 22 in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series-

Top Fuel -- Bob Vandergriff, 4.243 seconds, 239.44 mph def. Spencer Massey, 5.200 seconds, 145.48 mph.

Funny Car -- Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Solara, 4.200, 302.48 def. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.270, 293.66.

Pro Stock -- Jason Line, Pontiac GXP, 6.633, 208.46 def. Kurt Johnson, GXP, 6.663, 207.85.

Pro Stock Motorcycle -- Michael Phillips, Suzuki, 6.979, 194.46 def. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 7.010, 192.30.

Top Alcohol Dragster -- Chase Copeland, 5.344, 275.62 def. Aaron Tatum, 5.546, 257.43.

Top Alcohol Funny Car -- Tony Bartone, Ford Mustang, 5.638, 260.06 def. Roger Bateman, Mustang, 5.667, 254.14.

Competition Eliminator -- Bruno Massel, Chevy Cobalt, 7.898, 130.92 def. Clint Neff, '23-T Ford, foul.

Super Stock -- Jerry Emmons, Chevy Cavalier, 9.865, 132.33 def. Chris Chaney, Cavalier, 9.863, 130.75.

Stock Eliminator -- Gary Emmons, Pontiac Firebird, 10.774, 114.55 def. Slate Cummings, Firebird, 10.472, 124.98.

Super Comp -- Richard Pierson, Dragster, 8.909, 167.14 def. Michael Johnston, Dragster, 8.898, 169.47.

Super Gas -- Tommy Phillips, Chevy Corvette, 9.947, 152.80 def. Jay Peppler, Ford Probe, 9.978, 147.23.

Top Dragster -- Phil Unruh, Dragster, 6.518, 202.64 def. Allen Constantine, Dragster, 6.689, 196.42.

Final qualifying

ENNIS, Texas -- NHRA Fall Nationals

Tony Schumacher raced to the No. 1 qualifying position in Top Fuel Saturday at the AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals and will try to end one of the longest winless droughts of his career on Sunday.
Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also will lead their respective categories into tomorrow's 11 a.m. eliminations as the No. 1 qualifiers at the second of six events in the Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship, NHRA's playoffs.

Schumacher claimed his sixth No. 1 of the season and 67th of his career by powering to a 3.863 second run at 319.07 mph in his U.S. Army dragster. The seven-time Top Fuel world champ, who has five wins at the famed all-concrete drag strip including the last two seasons, will try to earn his first victory of the year when he meets Scott Palmer in the first round of eliminations.

"I have to win because I've always said I don't what to have more No. 1s than wins," said Schumacher, who also has 67 career victories, his last coming last October in Las Vegas. "But really, this is awesome. We've got a great race car. I won my first race here in '99 and I'd been in eight finals before that, and I almost feel like that again. But it is what is it is. We were fourth [quickest] that last session, and we were way off. It had so much more in it, so I'm comfortable. We've got to beat Scott Palmer first, then see what happens. I'd love to have the trophy."

Schumacher has posted six runner-up finishes this season, including a stretch of four in a row from Denver to Brainerd. He hasn't been shut out of the win column for an entire season since 2001, when he finished eighth in points and had only one runner-up. Since then he's averaged seven victories per season.

"We can't try any harder," Schumacher said. "We've gotten beat in some crazy ways this season, but I think you win championships by recognizing that those things are going to happen. We've won championships just about every way you can with the exception of not winning a race, and I don't want to try that. We have the best car this weekend, and we didn't only do it last night, we did it today, so we know how to go down a hot racetrack."

Del Worsham's leading run from Friday of 3.869 at 319.07 in his Al-Anabi Racing dragster fell to second and Rod Fuller improved to third with a 3.880 at 319.52 in his Yas Marina/C&J Energy Services dragster. Series leader Antron Brown, who has won four of the last five races, will start 11th in his Matco Tools dragster.

Two-time Funny Car world champ Pedregon earned his fifth No. 1 of the season and 44th of his career as no one was able to improve on his Friday performance of 4.086 at 307.86 in his Snap-on Tools Toyota Solara. Pedregon's car was among the top five quickest in both sessions on Saturday.

"I'm just so happy right now," said Pedregon, who has earned two victories in six finals at the Motorplex in his career. "It one thing to make a great run, but it's another to come out and make good respectable runs, which is something we really haven't done this year. Hopefully, it will show well for us tomorrow. We've been good at making one or two good runs, but then we fizzle out during the race. We made good decisions and the track hung in there even with the heat. Texas Motorplex still has plenty of grip."

Pedregon's last win here came in 1994, so he's eager to end the drought. With series leader Mike Neff (fifth) and No. 2 points-sitter Matt Hagan (12th) paired in the first round, Pedregon hopes he can improve on his fourth place points position with a good showing tomorrow.

"I remember coming here with the McDonald's car and later with Joe Gibbs, and we brought some good cars here, but this is probably one of the best cars I've ever had here, and we're going try like heck to close the deal," Pedregon said. "There's a lot of competition, and there are some interesting first-round matchups with points implications that could be good for us, but we need to do our part, too."

Johnny Gray and Jon Capps held on to the second and third spots in the lineup, while Alexis DeJoria failed to qualify in her debut event behind the wheel of the Patron Toyota.

In Pro Stock, Line earned his sixth No. 1 of the season, and fourth consecutive, with a track record performance of 6.553 at 211.20 in his Summit Racing Pontiac GXP.

"When we got here in the morning we thought we might have a chance [to go quicker], but it didn't happen," said Line, who has never won at the Motorplex. "But it worked out good. We're happy about qualifying No. 1 four times in a row because I've never done that before. It was pretty cool, and we know we have a good car."

Mike Edwards had the quickest car in both of today's sessions, but will start third based off his Friday best of 6.561 at 211.16. Series leader Greg Anderson, Line's teammate and a four-time winner at the Motorplex, will start second with a 6.559 at 210.67 in his Summit Pontiac.

"Mike Edwards ran better today than I thought he was going to run," Line said. "He ran really well. For the first time in a while, we don't have the best car going into Sunday. We definitely need to work on it and try to go a little faster because Mike made a couple of really good runs today."

Auto Club Road to the Future Award candidate Arana Jr. earned his fourth No. 1 qualifying position of the season in Pro Stock Motorcycle, setting a track record time of 6.828 with a speed of 195.42 on his Lucas Oil Buell.

"We found our tune-up and got back to where we needed to be," Arana Jr. said. "The one thing we did different today was to leave [the starting line] at a higher rpm. The bike just came to us. The power has always been there, but we had been lost on the starting line. But we got that straightened out, and now, as you guys can see, we're back on the pole.

Andrew Hines dropped to second with his Friday run of 6.850 at 196.62 on his Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley Davidson and Hector Arana Sr. was third on his Lucas Oil Buell with a 6.856 at 195.76. Series leader Eddie Krawiec will start sixth on his Harley-Davidson.

Two Countdown to the Championship playoff contenders - Morgan Lucas in Top Fuel and Shane Gray in Pro Stock - failed to qualify for Sunday's eliminations.


September 20, 2011

Event preview

The 26th annual AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals,18th of 22 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series and the second of six races in the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship. The top 10 drivers in four categories - Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle - earn points leading to 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series world championships. NHRA is celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2011 and is paying tribute to the evolution of the hot rod and honoring its legendary racers as well as the sport’s current stars.
WHERE: Texas Motorplex, 7500 W. Hwy. 287, Ennis, Texas. Follow I-45 or I-35E to Hwy 287, then follow 287 to the track.

WHEN: Thursday through Sunday, Sept. 22-25

SCHEDULE: THURSDAY, Sept. 22-LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying at 10 a.m.

FRIDAY, Sept. 23-LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations at 8:30 a.m. FULL THROTTLE SERIES qualifying at 2:15 p.m. and 5:15 p.m.

SATURDAY, Sept. 24-LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations begin at 8 a.m. FULL THROTTLE SERIES qualifying at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

SUNDAY, Sept. 25 - Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m. FULL THROTTLE SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.

TELEVISION: Sunday, Sept. 25, ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise 45 minutes of qualifying highlights at 1:15 a.m. (ET). Sunday, Sept. 25, ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will re-air one hour of qualifying highlights at 2 p.m. (ET). Sunday, Sept. 25, ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise three hours of race coverage starting at 7 p.m. (ET).

2010 EVENT WINNERS: Tony Schumacher, Top Fuel; Matt Hagan, Funny Car; Greg Anderson, Pro Stock; LE Tonglet, Pro Stock Motorcycle.

TRACK RECORDS: Top Fuel - 3.784 seconds by Brandon Bernstein, Sept. ’10; 312.96 mph by Tony Schumacher, Sept. ’10 Funny Car - 4.062 seconds by Matt Hagan, Sept. ’10; 309.49 mph by Del Worsham, Sept. ’10 Pro Stock - 6.578 seconds by Ron Krisher, Sept. ’10; 209.79 mph by Allen Johnson, Sept. ’10 Pro Stock Motorcycle - 6.899 seconds by Eddie Krawiec, Sept. ’10; 195.03 mph by Krawiec, Sept. ’10

NATIONAL RECORDS: Top Fuel - 3.770 sec. by Larry Dixon, Feb. ’11, Pomona, Calif.; 327.90 mph by Tony Schumacher, Sept. ’11, Charlotte, N.C. Funny Car- 3.995 sec. by Matt Hagan, Sept. ’11, Charlotte, N.C.; 318.99 mph by Jack Beckman, Sept. ’11, Charlotte, N.C. Pro Stock - 6.495 sec. by Rodger Brogdon, March ’11, Gainesville, Fla.; 213.57 mph by Erica Enders, March ’11, Gainesville, Fla. PS Motorcycle - 6.777 sec. by Hector Arana, March ’11, Gainesville, Fla.; 199.26 mph by Eddie Krawiec, March ’11, Gainesville, Fla.

TICKETS: For tickets call (800) MOTORPLEX (668-6775). Tickets also are available at texasmotorplex.com.

RESERVED SEATS - Thursday: Adult, $10; Youth (12 years and under), $5. Friday: Adult, $30-50; Youth (12 years and under), $5-22. Saturday: Adult, $30-60; Youth (12 years and under), $5-30. Sunday: Adult, $32-66; Youth (12 years and under), $5-33.


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