|11-08-2011, 06:54 AM||#1|
1200 Mini Sprint Correspondent
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Championships up for grabs heading into the final race of the season
Monday, November 07, 2011
NHRA’s 2011 season will come to a close Nov. 10-13 as the teams head back to where it all started in February, Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, for the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals.
When the Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s playoffs, was introduced in 2007, the goal was to provide a platform for dramatic season finales, and this season, multiple teams in both fuel classes are in position to claim world-championship titles.
DieHard Dodge driver Matt Hagan is the Funny Car leader but has just a single-point lead over Don Schumacher Racing teammate Jack Beckman. Not far behind is two-time world champ Cruz Pedregon, who trails by 26 points. Two-time world-championship-winning crew-chief-turned-driver Mike Neff is 34 points back. Neff’s John Force Racing teammate Robert Hight and Hagan’s teammate Ron Capps are also still mathematically alive to win the Full Throttle championship.
The Top Fuel leader, Spencer Massey, has exactly double the lead of Hagan, but those two points could easily be made up in qualifying bonus points by second-place driver and Southern California native Del Worsham. Massey’s DSR teammate Antron Brown is 14 points behind, and Worsham’s Al-Anabi Racing teammate and 2010 champ Larry Dixon is 44 points back.
“I’ve got 21 years and building here,” Worsham said. “I’ve never personally been in this position to go into the last race of the year and have a legitimate chance to be able to win the championship. We’re going back to Pomona; I’m from there, and I’m awful lucky to be in this position.”
The battle in Pro Stock Motorcycle is also still undecided as 2008 world champ Eddie Krawiec has a 69-point lead over rookie Hector Arana Jr. The one championship battle that is over is in Pro Stock. The 2006 champ, Jason Line, clinched his second world championship last weekend in Las Vegas.
“It feels unbelievable to win my second championship,” Line said. “Timing is everything in our sport, and we got hot at the right time. The second championship definitely means more to me because as I’ve gotten older, I’ve really learned to appreciate it and realized how hard these things really are to get.”
In addition to all the intense championship battles, the most successful Funny Car pilot in NHRA history, John Force, will be honored at the track where he clinched his 15th world championship one year ago. The Southern California native is easily one of the most recognized names in the sport and will be celebrated for all of his contributions to the great sport of NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing.
Among the highlights of NHRA’s 60th Anniversary themed activities at the Auto Club NHRA Finals will be meet and greets and autograph sessions with Force, the highly popular Track Walk with a Legend (featuring Force), the final round of the Don Garlits-Darrell Gwynn match races in specially designed dragsters, dozens of nostalgia cars, and the John Force Ultimate Car Show.
The John Force Ultimate Car Show will feature some of the most recognized race cars ever driven by Force as well as some of the cars that have been driven by many members of his team, including daughters Ashley Force Hood and Courtney and Brittany Force; Hight; and Neff. The cars that will be on display for fans to see include Force’s 1990 Castrol GTX Oldsmobile, the first of his 15 world-championship cars; his ever-popular Brute Force 1976 Monza Funny Car; the impressive Superman Ford Mustang; the special Elvis Tribute Mustang; Force’s Driver of the Year Mustang; Force Hood’s famous pink Rookie of the Year Mustang; and Hight’s L.A. Dodgers Tribute Mustang. In total, 28 JFR vehicles will be showcased at the event.
In honor of Veterans Day, which falls on Friday, Nov. 11, and as a special thanks to the brave men and women who serve this country in the armed forces, NHRA will offer free general-admission tickets to both active and retired military for Friday’s racing action. One complimentary Friday qualifying ticket per person will be issued to military members at the main ticket gate at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. Proof of active or retired military status will be required to receive the complimentary general-admission ticket.
Also, to introduce the next generation of drag racing fans to the sport, children 12 and younger can receive free tickets to the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals. To take advantage of the offer, which is good on both reserved and general-admission tickets when the child is accompanied by a paying adult, log on to www.NHRATix.com.