BODE RACES TO FIRST CAREER WIN; DIXON TO NINTH FOR THE SEASON IN BRAINERD: It took more than 10 seasons to accomplish, but Funny Car driver Bob Bode was able to hold off some of the top drivers in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Sunday in Brainerd, Minnesota, as he drove his Alard Machine Chevy Impala to his first career win at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals. Bode held off such highly recognized drivers as former two-time world champion Cruz Pedregon, Bob Tasca, Tim Wilkerson and Jack Beckman in the final round to secure his first career Wally and visit to the Winner’s Circle.
“All of this is kind of like a dream I’m afraid I’m gonna wake up from,” said Bode. “I didn’t know if it would ever happen, but now that it did, I can’t believe it happened. It’s the best thing that ever happened to me in my entire life in the racing world.”
Bode was joined in the Winner’s Circle by Top Fuel pilot and current points leader Larry Dixon. Dixon showed once again why he has the dominant car in the category as he drove past Cory McClenathan in the final round to pick up his ninth win of the season, 57th of his career and third at Brainerd International Raceway. Dixon now enters the Countdown to 1 playoffs with a 30-point lead over second place McClenathan.
“We’ve won finals so many different ways this year, and there are so many variables that if you have just one hiccup, someone else wins,” said Dixon. “I’ve had seasons where I haven’t won one race, so to win nine is overwhelming. These races are so hard to win; to win nine period let alone win nine straight in finals, is something.”
For more results from Sundays Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, visit www.NHRA.com.
COUGHLIN SCORES FOURTH WIN OF THE SEASON; HINES ALSO GETS FOURTH AND POINTS LEAD IN BRAINERD: Pro Stock driver and former world champion Jeg Coughlin raced to his fourth win of the season Sunday at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, Minnesota. It was Coughlin’s fourth win at Brainerd International Raceway and 52nd career win in Pro Stock. Coughlin held off Auto Club Road to the Future Rookie of the Year candidate Shane Gray in the final round after a red-light.
“I’d have to say, the Gray family has done an unbelievable job, and they’re getting a program from nothing to several final-round runnings between the two of them,” said Coughlin. “Shane did a heck of a job, and had he turned that thing green by a couple of hundredths, he would have smoked the yellow and black car. We got away with one there because I was late on the Tree in the final.”
Coughlin was joined in the Winner’s Circle by former Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion Andrew Hines. Hines held off up-and-coming rider Jim Underdahl to not only pick up his fourth win of the season, but also move around defending world champion Hector Arana and secure the top spot in the point standings heading into the Countdown to 1 playoffs. Hines will enter the first race of the playoffs, the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil, with a 30-point lead over Arana.
“Big win,” said Hines. “I’ve never been No. 1 going into the playoffs, so it’s nice to be in this position. Three or four races ago, we were looking at the points, and Hector had something like a 160-point lead, and we just wrote it off that we wouldn’t make it there. Luck turned to our side, the motorcycle started performing better, and Hector faltered a little bit, and we capitalized on it.”
For more results from Sunday’s Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, visit www.NHRA.com.
FINAL SPOTS SECURED AS COUNTDOWN TO 1 BEGINS: As racing came to an end Sunday at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, Minnesota, the final spots in the Countdown to 1 playoffs were finally secure, with the Countdown field set for the beginning of the playoffs, the prestigious Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil at historic O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis in three weeks. Top Fuel pilot David Grubnic was able to grab the 10th and final spot in the field with his semifinal-round finish.
“I’m so proud of the effort that Connie (Kalitta, team owner) and our whole team put forth to get us in the Countdown,” said Grubnic. “Now we’ve made the Countdown and we’ll continue with our goal, and that’s to go out and win every race.”
Former two-time world champion Tony Pedregon secured the 10th spot in Funny Car when both he and 11th-place Jeff Arend lost in the first round. Rodger Brogdon used his second-round appearance to lock up the 10th and final place in Pro Stock, while Pro Stock Motorcycle riders Eddie Krawiec, LE Tonglet, David Hope, Karen Stoffer and Craig Treble were able to take the final five positions in the category with their eliminations appearances on Sunday.
“I think we’ve got a fair shot at the title,” said former world champion Krawiec. “I think anything can happen.”
Of the 40 drivers competing for the Full Throttle world championship in their respective categories, 13 are former world championship winners, with seven of those having two or more titles to their name. In the top two classes, Top Fuel and Funny Car, 15 of the 20 drivers are competing for their first world championship.
The action and excitement of the NHRA Countdown to 1 playoff begins September 2 at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil at historic O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis.
MAC TOOLS U.S. NATIONALS PRESENTED BY LUCAS OIL, O’REILLY RACEWAY PARK AT INDIANAPOLIS, September 1–6: The famed Labor Day event at historic O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis is the first of six races in the Countdown to 1 playoffs. Defending event winners include Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel); Ashley Force Hood (Funny Car); Jeg Coughlin (Pro Stock); and Hector Arana (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
O’REILLY AUTO PARTS NHRA NATIONALS, zMAX DRAGWAY, September 16–19: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes its second stop of the season in North Carolina and second stop of the Countdown to 1 playoffs. Defending event winners include Cory McClenathan (Top Fuel); Robert Hight (Funny Car); Mike Edwards (Pro Stock); and Hector Arana (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
O’REILLY SUPER START BATTERIES NHRA FALL NATIONALS, TEXAS MOTORPLEX, September 23–26: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes its second stop in the Lone Star State and third stop of the Countdown to 1 playoffs. Defending event winners include Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel); Robert Hight (Funny Car); Greg Anderson (Pro Stock); and Hector Arana (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
HE SAID, SHE SAID
JOINING THE 500 CLUB: Top Fuel pilot Cory McClenathan on collecting his 500th career round win Sunday at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd:
“Coming in here knowing we had a chance to go 500 rounds, that was pretty cool, but it wasn’t what I was thinking about, obviously. We knew we had to go around Tony (Schumacher) to be able to get in second place. We knew we were going to have to take it away from him and go on to try to win the semis. We completed that, and I got my 500th round win.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
2: That’s the number of drivers since the Countdown to the Championship began in 2007 that have held the points lead after the regular season and have gone on to win the world championship at the end of the year. Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Matt Smith did it in 2007 and Top Fuel pilot Tony Schumacher did it in 2009.
DID YOU KNOW…
…that of the Top 40 drivers competing in the Countdown to 1 playoffs, only 16 have won the prestigious Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil at historic O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis?