NEW TEAMS, NEW DRIVERS, NEW SPONSOR; 2009 FULL THROTTLE SEASON BEGINS IN POMONA: After an almost three-month break, NHRA Drag Racing returns with new drivers, new teams and a brand-new series sponsor. The 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series begins this weekend in the same place it finished in 2008, the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, California, with the 49th annual Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals.
For many drivers, it will be the chance to begin fresh with a new team and new crew. One such driver is reigning Top Fuel world champion Tony Schumacher. Though Tony will begin the 2009 season behind the wheel of his familiar Don Schumacher Racing/U.S. Army dragster, that will be the only familiar thing for “The Sarge,” as Schumacher will begin his campaign for a seventh world championship with a brand-new crew chief, Mike Green, and new crew members turning the wrenches on the 7,000hp beast.
Schumacher’s former crew chief, the famed tuner Alan Johnson, also will see some change in 2009. Under the Al-Anabi Racing team banner, Johnson moves from the crew chief to owner spot for his new team and will field a Top Fuel entry driven by two-time world champion Larry Dixon and a Funny Car driven by fan-favorite Del Worsham.
The Johnson-owned team has already seen a bit of success during testing just two weeks ago, when Worsham ran the fastest time of the weekend among Funny Cars in Phoenix at 4.049 seconds. Another driver who saw much success during the Phoenix pre-season test was Matco Tools dragster pilot Antron Brown.
Brown posted a run of 3.781 seconds, which should help entering the Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals, as Brown begins the season with new co-crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald, and a new team owner, former Funny Car driver Mike Ashley.
PREMIUM SEATING AND FAN RELIEF PROGRAMS STILL AVAILABLE FOR KRAGEN O’REILLY NHRA WINTERNATIONALS: With the kick-off to the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle season this weekend at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, many seat packages are still available for the Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals. Top Eliminator Club tickets, one of the best values in drag racing, are still available and offer fans reserved-seat starting-line grandstand tickets for all four days of the race, daily complimentary catered meals, complimentary soft drinks and access to the climate-controlled TEC hospitality center with private restrooms and closed-circuit broadcast of the race, as well as complimentary parking.
A limited number of west-side $20 adult general-admission tickets remain available for advance purchase for all four days of the event as well as military appreciation day tickets, which give active-duty military one complimentary adult reserved ticket for Friday qualifying with a valid ID.
On Saturday and Sunday, the first 1,000 fans through the gates will receive a coupon good for $10 off a purchase of $25 or more of NHRA-branded or Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals merchandise at NitroMall. To take advantage of these ticket prices and programs, call 800/884-6472 or visit www.ticketmaster.com.
JOHNSON TAKES WIN AT LAS VEGAS PRO STOCK SHOWDOWN: Pro Stock driver Allen Johnson continued to prepare for his pursuit of the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle world championship with a win at the annual Las Vegas Pro Stock Showdown at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Johnson drove past defending world champion Jeg Coughlin to pick up his first win at the annual pre-season testing event.
“We’ve been testing a lot of different things this weekend, even in the final, but we didn’t get way off base,” said Johnson. “We’re here to get faster for Pomona. We’re not content right now, but I think we’ll be in pretty good shape.” Johnson will look to collect his first Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals win this weekend.
KRAGEN O’REILLY NHRA WINTERNATIONALS, AUTO CLUB RACEWAY AT POMONA, FEBRUARY 5–8: The 2009 NHRA Full Throttle season gets underway in sunny Southern California as drivers in three professional categories begin their bid for the NHRA Full Throttle world championship. Defending event winners include Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel); Robert Hight (Funny Car); and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock).
NHRA ARIZONA NATIONALS, FIREBIRD RACEWAY, FEBRUARY 20–22: The 2009 NHRA Full Throttle series makes its second stop of the season in the warm desert of Phoenix, Arizona. Defending event winners include Larry Dixon (Top Fuel); Jack Beckman (Funny Car); and V Gaines (Pro Stock).
ACDELCO NHRA GATORNATIONALS, GAINESVILLE RACEWAY, MARCH 12–15: The Pro Stock Motorcycle category opens its 2009 season at the Gatornationals, annually one of the most popular stops on the NHRA Full Throttle Series tour. Defending event winners include Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel); Tony Pedregon (Funny Car); Jeg Coughlin (Pro Stock); and Matt Guidera (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
HE SAID, SHE SAID
‘SUPERMAN’ VISITS THE SUPER BOWL: 14-time Funny Car world champion, John Force, on visiting Super Bowl XLIII: “I was amazed at the amount of football fans that love their drag racing. The autograph line went for three hours, and it was exciting. I have never been to a Super Bowl before, so it was great to see all the events.
"I was a guy that played football but never really accomplished much on the field, but today I got to talk with Jason Campbell, the quarterback for the Washington Redskins. He was a nice kid.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
62: That’s the number of Full Throttle vehicles that will compete in the Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals: 21 Top Fuel entrees, 18 Funny Car entrees and 23 Pro Stock entrees.
DID YOU KNOW…
…that Funny Car driver Robert Hight helped kick off the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle season Monday by serving as Grand Marshall for the NHRA Parade of Vehicles. The parade included 12 haulers, three Safety Safari trucks, two Pontiacs and two L.A. County Sheriffs and toured the Greater Los Angeles area.
For more information, visit www.nhra.com.