SEMA eNews Vol. 12, No. 9, March 5, 2009

NHRA: Pro Stock Riders Prep for Gatornationals Season Opener

NEWS NUGGETS  

BIKES SET FOR RETURN AND START OF SEASON AT ACDELCO NHRA GATORNATIONALS: It’s a tradition as old as the class itself. Since it became a professional category in 1987, the Pro Stock Motorcycle class has begun each season under the warm Florida sun at the historic Gainesville Raceway. The 2009 Full Throttle Drag Racing season will be no exception as the 190-mph class prepares to officially kick off the season at the 40th annual ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals, March 12–15 in Gainesville, Florida.

Typically the third stop for Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock drivers, Pro Stock Motorcycle riders spend the entire three-month off-season tuning, testing and prepping for the historic and revered stop on the Full Throttle circuit.

“Right now, we’re at the shop, working every day,” said Snap-On Tools Suzuki rider and 2005 Gatornationals winner, Steve Johnson. “We’ve got a new bike for 2009, and we’re trying to get it finished. It’s full speed ahead to get ready for Gainesville.”

The scene in Johnson’s shop is similar to that in every Pro Stock Motorcycle shop around the country with teams making last-minute changes before the event. For many drivers, the off-season saw new life with new teams.

The 2007 Full Throttle World Champion, Matt Smith, was one of those riders. Smith, who had spent most of his Pro Stock Motorcycle career tuning and working on his own bikes, made the move from his family-owned team to the famed and legendary Don Schumacher Racing stable. The move also put Smith on a Suzuki—a change from the Buell-powered bikes he has run the past two years.

“I’m excited,” said Smith. “I’m looking forward to working with Steve (Tartaglia, crew chief) and Don (Schumacher) this year and seeing what we can do on that Suzuki. And try to win some races and win a championship.”

Defending Full Throttle World Champion Eddie Krawiec is also hoping to get the boost he knows he’ll need to defend his title.

“Going into Gainesville is a little bittersweet,” said Krawiec. “It’s the first race defending the championship, but I also know I have a target on my back and they’ll all be gunning for me. My main focus is to represent Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson to the best of my ability and to help the team maintain the consistency we’ve shown since the second part of last season. This is what it will take to defend the championship.”

Krawiec, Johnson and Smith will join the rest of the Pro Stock Motorcycle category as it makes its 2009 NHRA Full Throttle season debut at the 40th annual ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals.

GAINESVILLE ENTRIES ON THE RISE: With the 40th annual ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals just two weeks away, competitors from around the country are preparing for this popular and historic East Coast event and fields are filling up fast in all four Full Throttle series categories. The pre-entry lists for Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle have more than enough entries to field the traditional 16-car fields, and fans will have the opportunity to see some of the best and favorite drivers of the NHRA Full Throttle Series, with many full- and part-time teams making the trip to Florida.

Fan-relief programs offered for Friday, Saturday and even Sunday racing will give families the opportunity to spend a weekend at the dragstrip. 

COMING ATTRACTIONS

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). 

O’REILLY NHRA SPRING NATIONALS, HOUSTON RACEWAY PARK, MARCH 27–29: Heading back to the Lone Star State, all four categories in the NHRA Full Throttle Series will compete for points towards the Countdown to the Championship. Defending event winners include Antron Brown (Top Fuel); Del Worsham (Funny Car); Greg Anderson (Pro Stock); and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle). 

SUMMITRACING.COM NHRA NATIONALS, THE STRIP AT LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY, APRIL 2–5: NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing returns to Las Vegas for the annual spring event. Defending event winners include Cory McClenathan (Top Fuel); Tim Wilkerson (Funny Car); and Jason Line (Pro Stock). 

HE SAID, SHE SAID

HUNGRY FOR A WIN: Budweiser/Lucas Oil dragster pilot Brandon Bernstein, on pursuing his first win in almost 19 months: “Our goal was to start the season strong and so far we’ve accomplished that. We’re hungry for a win, but we are staying focused and attacking race day one round at a time. Consistency is the name of the game.”

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

21: That’s how many years, since it was made a professional class in 1987, that the Pro Stock Motorcycle class has begun its season at the ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals.

DID YOU KNOW…

…that since its first race as a professional category, the Pro Stock Motorcycle class has only had three back-to-back event winners at Gainesville Raceway. Terry Vance ('87-’88), John Myers ('94-’95) and Dave Schultz ('96-’97). Matt Guidera hopes to be the fourth with a second win at the ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals this year.

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