NHRA Full Throttle coverage is presented by Sonny's Racing Engines.

 

November 10-13, 2011

(#'s courtesy NHRA and DRC)

Auto Club NHRA Finals
November 10 - 13, 2011

Pomona coverage is here.

 

New teams and enteresting scenerios from Vegas leading into Pomona.

We did a few sidebar pieces on some of the more interesting racers and cars at the Big O Tire Nationals, but failed to follow their stories to conclusion; at least the conclusion of the event. Most of the racers in question are here in Pomona so it's merely a
matter of continuing to follow them. Let's start with the fuel cars and work down.

PETER & HELEN RUSSO - NITRO FUNNY CAR

Melbourne, Australia's Peter Russo appeared in Las Vegas with a brand-new, never been down the track before, Murray Anderson (a fellow Melbournian) chassis underneath the venerable 2006 Monte Carlo body that he's been using for the past few years. Actually, using might not be the best description for it as the car has been more or less parked since the 2007 fall race at Las Vegas, other than a couple of short burnout and launch tests a year ago at Calder Park Raceway (Australia).

The car is sporting a lot of new parts besides the chassis and topping it is the new sponsorship from SuperCheap Auto Parts, an Aussie institution. Even though the team has a lot of experience it's been a while since they've fired a real shot in anger and the new chassis was finished literally days before shipping out to Los Angeles. Still using a pickup truck as a prime mover and a very small enclosed trailer that would usually be found in the far reaches of the sportsman pits, the Russo's are the very definition of "hard triers".

Enthusiasm was in abundance as they prepped the car on the Thursday of the Big O Tires event, but a series of small glitches kept them from making a lap on the first day of qualifying. Sensing the problem lay in the ignition system, a wholesale change of gear put that problem to rest, but their initial pass on Saturday saw the "tyres" smoking early and to make matters worse, the RacePak data recorder failed to do its job, leaving them with no data to work with for their second and final attempt. Discretion being the wiser course of action saw the team stay in the pits, preparing to regroup and test on the Monday following the race.

Unfortunately we don't have any news on how that session went but we'll do our best to find out when we catch up to them in the staging lanes at Pomona tomorrow. Assuming all went well at Las Vegas, that is.

TODD LESENKO - NITRO FUNNY CAR

This is turning into a bit of a success story in a hurry, as Lesenko has made two appearances in a "big show" fuel coupe and qualified solidly both times. He hasn't turned on a winlight yet but at the rate the car/team is improving, and with the seriously experienced help he's getting (The Worshams and Steve Pleuger) it's only going to be a matter of time. But that probably means next year as this weekend's Auto Club Final is... well... the final race of the 2011 season.

Todd's served a solid apprenticeship in a series of blown alky nostalgia floppers and a nostalgia nitro funny car that's been running with most of the big dogs in that class for the last two seasons. He's even made a lap or two in a nostalgia rear-engine Top Fuel car just to stay busy. While the previous two events (Vegas and Phoenxi) were run in a Worsham - Parallax chassisied car, this final outing of the year is in a brand-new Pleuger-built car that's been in the making for nearly a year.

We're not sure what style of tuneup Todd will be utilizing at this race, but if it's more of the same - the same being his first two national events - then he's sure to be in thick of the action and a threat to the other racers in funny car eliminator.

ALEXIS DEJORIA - NITRO FUNNY CAR

Her story is quickly moving up the charts into top tier status, as Ms. DeJoria has proven herself quite the capable nitro funny car pilot very quickly. Truthfully though, "quickly" is not quite the operative term, as she's made literally dozens of test runs in a Kalitta team car over the past year before debuting at the Dallas race two months ago. After a DNQ at that race, it's been a series of improvements, run after run, that has seen her qualify at the past two national events and saw her near the top of the field on the first day of qualifying at Las Vegas.

She kept up the performance right into elimninations and with the tuning help provided by the Oberhofer brothers and Connie Kalitta himself, this young woman is ready to start winning rounds and making some real noise. Some people may feel that a lot of this has been handed to her on a platter - and that is true to a certain extent - but Alexis has earned every bit of success she's achieved in drag racing and looks set to continue on that upward trajectory race after race.

The final piece in the puzzle will be her breaking through into serious non-automotive sponsorships, other than those provided by her family connections. Along with the other new generation of female drivers, like the Force girls, Leah Pruett, and Melanie Troxel, Ms. DeJoria has a solid chance to break down the barriers that have formed over the years, keeping drag racers from making mass market connections with the general public.

CHRIS KARAMESINES - TOP FUEL DRAGSTER

After decades without a sniff of victory, let alone a round win for nearly two decades, the oldest active NHRA drag racing competitor - in any eliminator, let alone the fuel ranks - is still at it, still showing up and trying to qualify despite some pretty long odds. The "Greek's" appearances this season have been on an upward curve, both in quantity of races attended and in the quality of the runs he's made, but the mid-season addition of Lucas Oil as his first major sponsor ever has still not paid the dividends that it appeared set to when the deal was signed in early August.

We're not sure just how big the agreement is; whether it's allowed Karamesines to make a wholesale change in his running gear or simply add a lot of badly needed spares. We do know that the money certainly hasn't gone into a new tow rig as the old Chaparral trailer and dualie pickup is still the motivation of choice for this team. That style of transport was state-of-the-art in the 1970's, but hasn't been the choice of serious racers for nearly 30 years now. However, the old adage about racing the car, not the truck and trailer still holds true and whenever he's in the pits, you can count on Karamesines to put up the best effort he can.

MARK WOLFE - PRO STOCK

Making his season debut and only fourth-ever start in Pro Stock, Marysville, Washington's Mark Wolfe showed the big boys that he could really run with them. After buying a low-mileage Jerry Haas car earlier this year and putting Buddy Perkinson behind the wheel for a few races, Wolfe decided that the time had arrived to see if he really had what it takes to compete with the pros. Taking the reins back from Perkinson and leasing an engine from master engine builder Larry Morgan, Mark enlisted what help he could find in the Northwest, namely his girlfriend Dana and fellow Comp Eliminator standout Brandon Huhtala, loaded everything in the tractor-trailer and headed for
Las Vegas.

Meeting him on the day before qualifying began, Wolfe showed me no fear of just what he was attempting to do, feeling that since he had good equipment, a good tuneup from Larry Morgan and the experience of running a very fast (6.3-second, 224 mph AA/AT) comp car, that there was a good chance to qualify with only 20 cars in the pits. He opened qualifying with a solid 6.77, improved to a 6.70, then in the first session on Saturday cranked out a 6.65 to hang on to the #16 spot going into the final qualifier.

Even though he shook and shutoff on that attempt, the hot and slippery track conditions bit many of the other racers too and no one erased his 6.65 pass from the final order, leaving him with the task of taking on ex-world champion Mike Edwards in the first round. No worries in the Wolfe camp as they set the car up to run as good as the track and air would allow, without going "over-center" and shaking the tires, and that's just what they did.

While Edwards may have cut a fairly safe light, Wolfe did too and stayed side-by-side with the K&N Filter car until nearly half track, when the superior Edwards horsepower gradually put some distance between the two cars. Even with that disadvantage, Wolfe only trailed Edwards by two car lengths at the finish line, and had to be very pleased indeed with his real Pro Stock debut. What lays in store at Pomona? With Huhtala running his own Comp car at this race, Wolfe may be a little more short-handed than ever, but he's looking to make the necessary adjustments for the different conditions at the Fairplex and continue in the direction he's going. The right direction, that is.

JOEY SEVERANCE - TOP ALCOHOL DRAGSTER

Just two weeks ago, this Woodburn, Oregon based racer looked poised to snatch the national/world championship away from points leader Duane Shields. With two more national events available to him at which to claim points, and a first-round loss at a national event that could be erased with a better performance at Las Vegas, plus a second-round loss that could be replaced with a better finish at Pomona, the chances to surpass Shields seemed almost assured.

What could possibly go wrong? Only about a million things, ranging from a broken $2 part to literally any number of little mistakes in preparation or tuneup, that no matter how they are executed, can happen to the very best racers at the most inopportune times. Like shaking the tires and getting out of shape in the first round of eliminations against a car that wasn't capable of outrunning Severance on a heads-up basis. And that's exactly what happened to Severance at Vegas as he fell to Megan McKernan in the A/Fuel car of Jerry Darien.

The chance to close the 44-point gap on Shields and leave himself in a good position to take the championship at the final race was gone, just that quickly. All was not lost however as Severance still has a chance to overtake Shields, but his only option is to win the Pomona event outright - win four rounds of eliminations - to take the title. A much more difficult task than the one that faced him going into Las Vegas. Now there's zero chances for mistakes, or drops in performance, or breakage, or literally anything, other than winning.

Are Joey, his father Joe Sr. and the rest of the team up to the task? Yes, but they've got some very tough competition facing them at the Auto Club Finals, with some very quick blown alky cars (Demke and Whiteley) and a host of dangerous A/Fuel cars to get past. Almost any one of them could upset the championship aspirations of Severance and company.

DUANE SHIELDS - TOP ALCOHOL DRAGSTER

This is a story that has flown below the radar for so long that it hardly seems real anymore. Doesn't it seem like Shields has been in the top alky ranks like forever? Running both combinations: blown alcohol and injected nitro and running well with both and winning lots of races and division championships along the way. But a world championship? It hasn't happened yet and despite some great performances over the years, with long-time crew chief Dana Hopewell tweaking the tuneup in the right direction, it just looked like it was never going to happen.

For the past three years Shields has made Division Two his home, despite living in Boulder City, Nevada. Early each year the car, truck and trailer are loaded up and hauled east to a series of temporary homebases during the racing season. The reasons are several, starting with the most obvious: slightly easier competition in that area; a more compact racing schedule with less travel between events; and good proximity to a number of national events that again are well spaced geographically and calendar-wise.

Shields has finished well up in the Top Ten each year, but it seems every time he gets close to the points lead, someone like Jim Whiteley or Bill Reichert or Chris Demke has jumped up and overtaken him. But this year everything seemed to fall into place. Some dominating victories on the divisional level put Shields at the top of the heap early, and the racers expected to catch him simply didn't. Shawn Cowie suffered that terrible road accident to put himself out of contention, Chris Demke ran into some serious breakage problems, Jim Whiteley lost races that he appeared set to win.

And most of all, five-time defending champion Bill Reichert just didn't quite get on top of his tuneup this season, finishing with a lower, but still good, point total than previous seasons. All the doors opened to Shields and he took advantage of his chances and put up the wins and gathered in the points necessary to hold the lead for the entire season. Until this weekend when all he has to do is fight off one last challenge from Severance and that first big championship wally will be his.


UNFINISHED BUSINESS FROM LAS VEGAS

Pomona coverage is here.


Despite the title for this section, we could look back throughout the season and even years past to see how unfair or
inequitable the current pro qualifying system can be during the first day of a national event. You know how it works: only
the top 12 cars in each class get to keep their elapsed times from the Friday, and everyone below that magic line has to
start over on Saturday with only two chances to make the field. It's been that way for four years now and it's certainly not
about to change so the racers have come to accept it, sometimes more than a little grudgingly.

Additionally, after last year's late season rash of oildowns, NHRA re-instituted their oildown penalties, levying fines, loss
of points, lane choice, and most critical of all in some cases, disallowing of the offending run's e.t. Nowhere did that penalty
strike harder than at this year's US Nationals, where Terry McMillen had the 20 winning points from his first round victory over
"Hot" Rod Fuller reduced to 10 due to a big explosion and subsequent oiling of the track. While he was able to keep the round
win, the loss of points kept him out of the countdown to the championship by a mere eight points. A very heavy penalty indeed.

These two factors, the top 12 and the oildown penalties, have combined to put another roadblock in the way of the lightly funded and occasional competitors. Maybe that's the way it should be: survival of the fittest and all, but with short or barely full fields at some events this year shouldn't racers be encouraged to get their cars out and compete?

Looking back at the just-completed Big O Tires Nationals, the first day of qualifying in Top Fuel saw 23 of the 27 cars
record a 3-second elapsed time. But due to the 12-car cutoff, only those with an e.t. of 3.890 or better were allowed to
keep their times for final qualifying purposes. As it turned out, a slightly slower e.t. (3.897) was good enough to hold
the bump spot in the final order. But a number of very good performances from the first day were tossed out as they didn't
meet the 12-car threshold.

Examples abound, as Thomas Nataas (all the way from Norway) laid down a first lap of 3.93 - 308 mph on Friday and followed
it up with a 3.97 in the second session. He ended up #17 on the list and lost both passes. On Saturday the team smoked the
tires on their first attempt, then ran a very good 3.91 at 308 mph to end up in the 19th spot on the final list. Three good
runs out of four attempts and they didn't qualify.

Hardluck guy Terry McMillen had a similar weekend. He opened up with a 3.97 at more than 312 mph on Friday, backed up with a better 3.94 - 306 mph in the second session and was still seven spots out of the Top 12. Saturday saw the Hoosier team start with a tire-smoker (a very common malady in that session) and finish their weekend with a 3.93 - 313.51 lap that left them 22nd in the final order. Three out of four passes in the 3's, two over 312 mph, and they end up sixth alternate. It
doesn't seem fair, does it?

Other examples of good runs being lost were Canada's Ike Maier who made three consecutive 3-second, 300 mph plus passes, (losing the e.t. from the third one due to an oildown) before smoking the tires on his final attempt and ending up #26 on the list, and at a quick glance looking pretty weak with a 7.29 best, but that certainly wasn't the case.

Even Cory Mac in Santo Rapisarda's car put down four decent, and improving passes, with three straight 3.90's, one of them
at 316 mph and what did he get for his troubles? The first alternate "thanks for trying" cheque and a "better luck next time".
Several more examples of this situation could be brought up but I'm sure you've got the picture now.

On the other hand, when you have 27 cars fighting for 16 spots in a field, then there's bound to be some pretty good cars
falling by the wayside. And this weekend's 28-car field will feature more of the same. With better atmospheric conditions on
tap, the qualifying numbers will almost certainly drop well into 3.80 zone before a 12-car field is established on Friday
afternoon.

The big question in my mind is this sudden - and unexpected - resurgence of competitor numbers in Top Fuel going to continue into the 2012 season? Sadly, probably not, as some teams that are appearing in Pomona and Vegas have been saving money and parts for just these two back-to-back races, and some others only run the west coast events and can't afford to follow the Full Throttle tour on anything like a full-time basis.

It's been a very long time - like 30 years - since the last 32-car Top Fuel field and the likelihood of ever seeing one again
is just not in the realm of possibility. Besides, with today's television constraints and the short attention span of fans, can
you see yourself sitting still for 16 pairs of cars in a first round that might take more than two hours to complete? And remember: that's just Top Fuel.... there's still all those other classes in the staging lanes.


Team Press

Arana Jr. will change nothing in final push for '11 title


POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 9) – Hector Arana Jr. has gotten to second in the championship battle by trying to make fast, consistent passes every time down he zooms down the track on his Lucas Oil Buell Pro Stock Motorcycle. And he has no intentions of changing now.


Arana Jr. heads to the final race of the 2011 season, the Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway, 69 points behind leader Eddie Krawiec. The 22-year-old Arana Jr. has won three times in his rookie season and has qualified No. 1 a class-leading seven times, including the last four races in a row.

A stumble in the most recent race in Las Vegas caused Arana Jr. to lose some points to Krawiec, but the championship is still within reach.

"We're not going to change anything up," Arana Jr. said. "We've been doing really well this whole season. We've been consistent. All we've got to do is go out there and do our thing."

Arana Jr.'s amazing rookie season has him in line to win the Auto Club Road to the Future Award as the NHRA's top rookie. Still, Arana Jr. has been surprised at his success this season.

"Most definitely," Arana Jr. said. "I never expected to get three race wins, let alone two back-to-back, and all those No. 1 qualifiers.

"The only thing bad about it is when I don't get No. 1 and I don't win the race now, I get upset. Even though we still did well, you want to keep winning. When you lose after you've won, it's harder to accept."

Arana Jr. will tackle Pomona for the first time – like he's done at every track this season – as he guns for the Pro Stock Motorcycle title.

"Pomona's fast," Arana Jr. said. "They say it has a really short and bumpy shutdown. Hopefully, everybody's safe out there and can get slowed down and stay on the bike."


Last chance for a pewter Wally motivates Lucas Oil's Arana Sr.


POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 9) – The 2011 Pro Stock Motorcycle season comes to a close with this weekend's Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway, but Lucas Oil Buell driver Hector Arana Sr. still has something he wants to accomplish.

While son Hector Arana Jr. has won three times this year, Arana Sr. is without a special-edition, 60th anniversary pewter Wally, and he wants one badly.

"I haven't won a race in two years," said Arana Sr., who last won in Dallas in 2009. "I've been thinking about that lately: 'Wow, two years have gone by. I've accomplished some things, but I haven't won.'"

Arana Sr. has been focused on his son's efforts for most of this season, but that's changed recently. Dad has been convinced that his son doesn't necessarily need him on race weekends, leaving Arana Sr. to concentrate on his own Lucas Oil Buell.

"The last couple of races, especially Phoenix, Hector Jr. showed me I don't have to worry about him," Arana Sr. said. "He's doing an excellent job and is aware of what's going on down the race track after he makes a pass. I'm more relaxed now, and I can focus on my program."

Arana Sr. debuted a new motorcycle at Indianapolis and has shown plenty of speed with it. He's qualified in the top half of the field in all six races with the new bike, including the last five qualifying fourth or better. Plus, in the last two races, Arana Sr. has raced to the semifinals each time.

While 2011 is almost over, Arana Sr. has his eye on 2012, too.

"I'm looking forward," Arana Sr. said. "It's the end of the season, and I know we have a short time off, but I'm gearing toward to next year already. I'm excited because Gainesville is right around the corner, and we'll be back to racing. I want to see if we can go even quicker and get another national record."



GEICO Suzuki pro Stoffer smiling 'til the end


POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 9) – Karen Stoffer and her GEICO Suzuki Pro Stock Motorcycle team plan to celebrate this weekend, no matter the result of the NHRA World Finals.

That's because Stoffer has had a career season on the GEICO bike, winning once and ranking in the top five in points. Though mechanical problems have plagued the team lately, Stoffer prefers to look at the body of work rather than recent races.

"It's definitely been the most emotional, roller-coaster season we've ever had," Stoffer said. "We started out so well, and we ended up so low. Ultimately, the wonderful thing about it is the team is strong, the team has held together. We have our original team we've always had, and it seems like we've gotten stronger and closer and more synergistic during all the problems we've been having. The guys have been working their butts off.

"I'm going to celebrate no matter what. This isn't the celebration and the outcome that we wanted or thought we were going to have. As I look at the whole season and how strong our team is and how well we worked together, I'm going to celebrate, no matter what."

Stoffer led the Pro Stock Motorcycle points standings as recently as Sonoma in late July. She had won once, in Denver, and reached three other final rounds and made one semifinal round in the first seven races of the season.

But then mechanical gremlins crept in, and the team changed engines at least once in each of the last eight races. The team's fifth engine, "Blazin,'" will be in the GEICO Suzuki this weekend.

"Right now, the hope is to qualify," Stoffer said of Pomona. "We've got one motor, and hopefully it'll last. We've had eight races that have gone by where we put more than one motor in our bike. This will be unique if we can make this motor last for the entire event.

"We have faith in it, and it should be a pretty good motor. Hopefully, we'll be able to qualify and get in the show. We'll work with what we have and do the best with what we have."

Stoffer saw her streak of qualifying for 118 races in a row – what was the fifth-longest current streak in NHRA – come to an end in Las Vegas. But her confidence in her team hasn't wavered, and neither has her team's chemistry and work ethic.

"That doesn't even need to be said," Stoffer said. "The team's been phenomenal. It doesn't show in our rankings now, but the team has worked very hard. It's just been weird stuff that's happened to us that put us in the predicament we're in. (Crew chief) Gary (Stoffer) is good at getting the tuneup. I'm a little concerned that we won't have four hits considering the weather, but Gary's so good at it, and hopefully, we'll be able to hit the tuneup early on."

 


Morgan wants to power Lucas Oil Mustang into winner's circle


POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 9) – Lucas Oil Ford Mustang driver Larry Morgan would like nothing better than to go into the off-season as the Pro Stock winner of this weekend's Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway.

For starters, winning in the competitive Pro Stock class would be a satisfying proposition, as only seven drivers have visited victory lane this season. Plus, Morgan last won in 2009, and the veteran would love for that drought to end.

Finally, since Pomona is the last race of the season, there's added incentive, since momentum would last three months to the 2012 season-opener.

"If you win that race, it's like you're the world champion," Morgan said. "You've got all winter before you go back there. It's good."

Morgan has already started preparing for 2012, as he's fielded a new car that Buddy Perkinson drove in Las Vegas. Perkinson will continue breaking-in the new Mustang in Pomona, with Morgan in his usual Lucas Oil Ford Mustang.

Morgan will also support the efforts of Mark Wolfe, making for a three-car Larry Morgan Racing team in Pomona.

"I've got to do something to make a living and to try to get better," Morgan said. "I've got to do what I've got to do. We're trying to develop the new car, too."


Pomona goosebumps still happen for Enders


POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 9) – ZaZa Energy driver Erica Enders studied business at Texas A&M, but she's also a student of history – NHRA history.

The 28-year-old Enders knows all about the rich history of the site of the final Pro Stock race of the season, Auto Club Raceway, which hosts the Auto Club NHRA Finals this weekend.

"There's a ton of history there, and I love going to this track," Enders said.

Pomona held its first race in 1953 after a local car club convinced the city to allow a proper place for hot-rodders to race their cars. The track has become synonymous with drag racing in the years since.

Enders got goosebumps the first time she raced at Pomona. She was 20 years old and in her rookie season driving for Cagnazzi Racing. The feelings are as fresh as if they happened yesterday.

"I remember my first time rolling around the corner to pull on the track as a professional driver – and the feeling I had there," Enders said. "I thought, 'Wow, this is happening. It's for real.' There were so many feelings. As a driver, you don't think in the car. But when I fired and pulled around the corner and saw the fans and all the crew members and the TV cameras, it was awesome.

"I was 20 years old, and that was my dream. I worked hard for it, and I finally got there. It was one of those feelings like, 'This is it. I made it.'"

The memories are rich for Enders, and she'd love to add to them with her first Pro Stock victory there.

"A lot of memories at Pomona," Enders said. "I'm hopeful to get my first win there."

Enders has raced to her best season as a professional in 2011, reaching three final rounds and qualifying No. 1 twice. She's been a consistent threat every race and sits sixth in the Pro Stock points standings. She's only one point out of the top five and seven from fourth place.

Whatever happens in Pomona, Enders and her ZaZa Energy team will have smiles on their faces.

"The fans are great, the weather's usually always awesome, and I enjoy going there," Enders said. "I'll have my whole family there, and all the ZaZa guys will be out there. We're going to celebrate at the banquet after the race.

"Plus, my Jr. Dragster's in the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum there, so I'm going to pay her a little visit. I'm sure she misses me."


FireIce racer Payne desires success at his hometown track

POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 9) – This weekend's Auto Club NHRA Finals might be the last race of the season, but it doesn’t mean that Jay Payne, driver of the FireIce Ford Mustang Top Alcohol Funny Car, is out of goals.

"We've not won a National event this year," said Payne, who has collected more than 100 national and divisional victories in his career. "We'd definitely like to close out the season with one."

In preparation to meet that goal Payne said he and his team took the car completely apart following his semifinal loss at last week's divisional race in Las Vegas.

"At both Texas and Las Vegas, the car didn't run up to its potential," Payne said. "We took it completely down to the bare frame. We changed the crank and we changed motors. We put it all back together and went through everything. It's all fresh and hopefully the FireIce car will come out running strong."

The end of the season is a bittersweet time for Payne and his family, who help work on the car and attend every race.

"Everyone enjoys going to the races, but once we get to this part of the season, everyone is kind of tired of traveling," Payne said. "You get wore out and ready for a break. There's a sigh of relief when the end comes.

"Of course that only lasts about two weeks before you are ready to get back out there and start racing again."

Payne, of nearby Ontario, Calif., said the 2012 season will start soon enough.

"Thanksgiving and Christmas fly by then suddenly you are getting ready to go testing," Payne said. "We really don’t have that much time off.

FireIce is using this race to salute Korean War veteran Keril Keiser on his 80th birthday. Keiser serves as a Wildland Fire Coordinator near his native Pinon Hills, Calif., and works closely with FireIce to help local and state authorities contain the wildfires that routinely occur throughout the state.

"Keril is an amazing guy," Payne said. "We're lucky to have him as a part of the FireIce family which include more than 1.1 million firefighters across the country."

Aside from supporting Payne's racing efforts and the Angel Faces charity (www.angelfacesretreat.org), FireIce is a corporate partner to the Leary Firefighters Foundation (www.learyfirefighters.org) and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (www.firehero.org).

Recently added to the United States Forest Service's Qualified Products List, FireIce is an environmentally friendly fire suppression gel firefighters add to water to help extinguish fires much quicker than with water alone. FireIce was created by GelTech Solutions, a publicly traded corporation (OTCBB: GLTC).


Troxel and In-N-Out Burger team primed for Pomona success


POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 8) – Drag racing superstar Melanie Troxel and the In-N-Out Burger Toyota Funny Car team will try to end the 2011 season in winning style at this weekend's Auto Club NHRA Finals.

"We've come a long way since the last time we were in Pomona back in February," Troxel said. "The car really struggled back then, but we've really made a lot of progress throughout the season.

"I think we've got a car capable of playing spoiler this weekend, and we'll certainly do our best to knock out some contenders on our way to the winner's circle on Sunday."

At the start of the season the R2B2 Racing team had trouble getting their car to simply go down the track. Over the past month, Troxel has been regularly qualifying in the top half of the field, a marked improvement.

"Aaron Brooks, John Medlen and the rest of the guys have put a lot of work getting the car together," Troxel said. "We can make good runs when we need to. Now we just need a little more consistency and some luck. There is no better place to get both than in the back yard of In-N-Out Burger."

Before the race gets started Troxel will meet fans from 5-6 p.m. Wednesday at the In-N-Out Burger store at 1261 S Lone Hill Ave. in Glendora, Calif.

"Besides eating a Double-Double, the in-store appearances have become one of my favorite parts or racing in In-N-Out country," Troxel said. "You get to meet so many people who aren’t necessarily drag racing fans. They are always impressed seeing an 8,000 horsepower Funny Car sitting out front and we always wind up with more fans at the end of these appearances."

Qualifying for the Auto Club NHRA Finals get under way on Thursday at noon PST with a single session. Qualifying continues Friday with a single session starting at noon and Saturday with two sessions starting at 11 a.m. Sunday's eliminations start at 11 a.m. ESPN2 will air the qualifying show starting a 10:30 p.m. EST on Saturday and the elimination show starting at 7 p.m. EST.


 

 

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