Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Brown, Johnson Head to O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals with Opportunity to Sweep Western Swing
by Anthony Vestal
KENT, Wash. -- For the fourth time in the history of NHRA’s famed Western Swing, multiple drivers head to the third and final race of the grueling three races in three weeks trek with an opportunity to make history.
Top Fuel’s Antron Brown and Pro Stock’s Allen Johnson could become the first duo to sweep the Western Swing simultaneously. Brown, who was the last driver to sweep the Swing in 2009, has an additional carrot on the table; he could become the first driver to sweep the Swing twice.
Only seven drivers have broken out the traditional broom in the Winner’s Circle celebration at the end of the Western Swing. In addition to Brown, they are Joe Amato (1991), John Force (1994), Cory McClenathan (1997), Larry Dixon (2003), Greg Anderson (2004) and Tony Schumacher (2008).
On three previous occasions there were multiple drivers chasing the goal. When Force did it in ’94, Scott Kalitta and Darrell Alderman each came up short in their quests. When McClenathan swept Top Fuel in 1997, Jim Yates just missed becoming the first Pro Stock driver to do it. And in 2003 when Dixon accomplished the feat, Force missed the chance to become the first driver to sweep the Swing two times.
Brown and Johnson are certainly riding a strong wave of momentum as they prepare for their opportunity to sweep the Western Swing at the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries, Aug. 3-5 at Pacific Raceways near Seattle. Del Worsham (Top Fuel), Tim Wilkerson (Funny Car) and Jason Line (Pro Stock) were the 2011 winners at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event that will be televised on ESPN2HD.
Brown, who has been there before, says a little bit of Zen practice is what’s required to make it happen.
“We’re going to take the same approach this time like we did the last time,” Brown said. “We aren’t going to look into the future and we’ll just focus on the here and now.”
Brown, who squeaked past Brandon Bernstein for the win at Denver and then had to face red-hot Steve Torrence in the first round at Sonoma and later beat four-time season winner Spencer Massey in a photo finish in a thrilling side-by-side final round, knows the competition is simply too good to try and make predictions about possible outcomes.
“We aren’t going to talk about (sweeping the Western Swing),” Brown said. “We can talk about sweeping if we get to the final round at Seattle. First we have to qualify. Then we have to get past first round. There are a million little things that can go wrong on these cars at any time. We have to take it one round at a time. We need to keep our head down and keep digging.”
Johnson’s Team Mopar Dodge Avenger seems to be picking up steam with each event. He’s earned the most No. 1 qualifying positions in the category, including the last five in a row, and is now tied for the class lead in victories, with four. Johnson outran fellow Mopar driver V. Gaines in the final round at Denver and then overcame a holeshot start by Anderson in the final to take the win at Sonoma.
His confidence seems to be growing and he’s getting more comfortable being called the Full Throttle Series points leader.
“We’re learning how to win, round by round by round,” Johnson said. “And we’re taking it one round at a time.”
A strong stable of competitors in the 200-mph factory hot rod class will be working hard to end Johnson’s streak, including Anderson, Line, Mike Edwards, Vincent Nobile and recent first-time winner Erica Enders.
However, with a victory and two runner-up finishes to his credit in recent seasons at Pacific Raceways and also given how well his car is performing at the moment, Johnson really likes his chances to become the second Pro Stock driver to sweep the Swing.
“We’ve got an awesome race car and a great team making decisions,” Johnson said. “It’s a sweet feeling knowing every time you go up there you are going to be the fastest car. You just have to be consistent as a driver. I was able to do that (in Denver and Sonoma) and hopefully I can carry that on into Seattle.”
* TICKETS: For tickets for the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries, please call 800-884-NHRA (6472) or log on to www.NHRATix.com
* ON TV: ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise 90 minutes of qualifying coverage at 10:30 p.m. (ET) on Saturday, Aug. 4, and three hours of eliminations coverage at 6 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, Aug. 5.
* LUCAS OIL SERIES: The O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries will feature competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, where the future stars of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series are born. Lucas Oil Series qualifying begins at 9:15 a.m. on Aug. 3 and eliminations begin at 9:15 a.m. on Aug. 4 and continue through Aug. 5.
* ON THE WEB: Get live timing, scoring, multimedia and the latest news updates from every NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event on the Internet at www.nhra.com. Visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
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O’REILLY AUTO PARTS NHRA NORTHWEST NATIONALS PRESENTED BY SUPER START BATTERIES FACT SHEET
WHAT: 25th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries, the 15th of 23 events in the 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. Drivers in three categories - Top Fuel, Funny Car, and Pro Stock- earn points leading to NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series world championships.
WHERE: Pacific Raceways, Kent, Wash. The track is located 10 miles east of Interstate 5 on Highway 18. From I-5, use Exit 142A (Auburn exit) and travel east 10 miles on Highway 18, following the signs to the track. From other points, use Highway 18 and exit S.E. 304th St. or S.E. 312th St.
WHEN: Friday through Sunday, Aug. 3-5.
FRIDAY, Aug. 3- LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying at 9:15 a.m.
FULL THROTTLE SERIES qualifying at 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
SATURDAY, Aug. 4- LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations begin at 9:15 a.m.
FULL THROTTLE SERIES qualifying at noon and 3 p.m.
SUNDAY, Aug. 5- Pre-race ceremonies at 10 a.m.
FULL THROTTLE SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
Saturday, Aug. 4, ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise 90 minutes of qualifying coverage at 10:30 p.m. (ET).
Sunday, Aug. 5, ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise three hours of eliminations coverage starting at 6 p.m. (ET).
SATELLITE (Digital HD feed):
Saturday, Aug. 4, Midnight - 12:30 a.m. (ET), AMC 1 / Transponder 10C
Saturday, Aug. 4, 10 - 10:30 p.m. (ET), AMC 1 / Transponder 10C
Sunday, Aug. 5, 10:30 - 11 p.m. (ET), AMC 1 / Transponder 10C
(3720 MHz, horizontal; Data Rate: 40.461470554 Mbp; Symbol Rate: 29.27 Ms; FEC: ¾; Bandwidth: 36 Mhz)
Video news release contains race action highlights each day and winners’ interviews on Sunday.
2011 EVENT WINNERS: Del Worsham, Top Fuel; Tim Wilkerson, Funny Car; Jason Line, Pro Stock.
MOST VICTORIES: John Force, 7, FC; Bob Glidden, 6, PS; Joe Amato, 5, TF; Tony Schumacher, 4, TF; Warren Johnson, 4, PS.
Top Fuel–3.802 seconds by Tony Schumacher, July ’08; 322.19 mph by Schumacher, July ’10.
Funny Car–4.056 seconds by Robert Hight, July ’08; 308.85 mph by John Force, Aug ’11.
Pro Stock–6.531 seconds by Jason Line, Aug ’11; 211.69 mph by Allen Johnson, Aug ’11.
Top Fuel - 3.735 sec. by Del Worsham, Oct. ’11, Reading, Pa.; 332.18 mph by Spencer Massey, April ’12, Charlotte, N.C.
Funny Car - 3.995 sec. by Matt Hagan, Sept. ’11, Charlotte, N.C.; 318.99 mph by Jack Beckman, Sept. ’11, Charlotte, N.C.
Pro Stock - 6.477 sec. by Jason Line, Oct. ’11, Reading, Pa.; 213.91 mph by Jason Line, April ’12, Charlotte, N.C.
TICKETS: For tickets, log on to NHRATix.com; call (800) 884-NHRA or (253) 639-5927.
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NHRA FULL THROTTLE DRAG RACING SERIES WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS STANDINGS
SONOMA, Calif. -- Point standings (top 10) following the 14th of 23 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. -
Top Fuel: 1. (tie) Antron Brown, 1,174*; Spencer Massey, 1,174*; 3. Tony Schumacher, 1,048*; 4. Steve Torrence, 984; 5. Doug Kalitta, 828; 6. Morgan Lucas, 796; 7. Shawn Langdon, 741; 8. Brandon Bernstein, 734; 9. David Grubnic, 684; 10. Bob Vandergriff, 601.
Funny Car: 1. Robert Hight, 1,112*; 2. Ron Capps, 1,031*; 3. Jack Beckman, 943; 4. Mike Neff, 899; 5. Johnny Gray, 881; 6. Cruz Pedregon, 761; 7. Courtney Force, 740; 8. Jeff Arend, 717; 9. Bob Tasca III, 687; 10. John Force, 674.
Pro Stock: 1. Allen Johnson, 1,234*; 2. Greg Anderson, 1,180*; 3. Jason Line, 1,149*; 4. Mike Edwards, 974*; 5. Vincent Nobile, 940*; 6. Erica Enders, 823; 7. Shane Gray, 560; 8. Ronnie Humphrey, 550; 9. Ron Krisher, 527; 10. Jeg Coughlin, 518.
Pro Stock Motorcycle: 1. Eddie Krawiec, 842*; 2. Andrew Hines, 774*; 3. Hector Arana Jr., 655*; 4. Hector Arana, 587*; 5. Karen Stoffer, 450; 6. Michael Ray, 387; 7. Scotty Pollacheck, 381; 8. LE Tonglet, 378; 9. Matt Smith, 342; 10. Shawn Gann, 336.
*Clinched berth in NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship playoffs