Thursday, November 12, 2009
Three out of four NHRA drivers ain't bad
National Hot Rod Assn. drivers Tony Schumacher, Cory McClenathan and Robert Hight spent Wednesday at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Pasadena talking about this weekend’s drag races at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona.
Larry Dixon, a Van Nuys High graduate and two-time NHRA top fuel champion, was supposed to be at the luncheon too, but his plane was delayed and he did not make it on time.
Schumacher, who holds a slim one-point lead over Dixon in the top fuel standings, was asked if he thought it was God’s plan to have Dixon’s plane to stay lost until Sunday.
“That’s my plan,” Schumacher said. “That’s not God’s plan. I don’t think he does that to anybody.”
The tightest NHRA championship race is in the top fuel division. Three drivers are still in contention. In addition to Schumacher and Dixon, McClenathan is in the hunt, in third place and 48 points out of the lead. McClenathan and Schumacher are teammates at Don Schumacher Racing.
“We’ve won two championships coming back that far,” Schumacher said. “It’s definitely not out of reach. It’s wide open. It’s going to be a stout battle. He’s got two good cars ahead of him. But he can be assured that these two cars ahead of him are going to be going for it on Sunday morning, and all kinds of things happen. If we can’t get it done, we sure hope he does.”
McClenathan has been the runner-up in the top fuel division four times in his NHRA career, but has never won a top fuel championship.
“But it is one of those things where you come back to a race, the final of the season, and it’s going to be the last race, and Tony has been here before, too, and won the whole thing, set a record to do it and went on to win the championship that day. So anything can happen,” McClenathan said. “I mean, I don’t wish anything bad for my teammate, but if something goes on, I’d sure like to know that he’s got my back, too, and I know he does.”
Hight has a comfortable 105-point lead in the funny car standings. His John Force Racing teammate, Ashley Force Hood, is in second place in the funny car standings.
“You know, Ashley Force, my teammate, she’s had a great race car all year long, and then they just stumbled last weekend, and it ended up being some parts problem,” Hight said. “That’s the kind of stuff that can keep us from winning this weekend. So we’ve got to stay focused and just worry about every run and do our best because it’s not that easy. These cars are tough. There’s a lot of tough competition, and just do our best to try to get qualified. That’s No. 1 for us right now.”
Photo: Tony Schumacher has a one-point lead over Larry Dixon in the NHRA top fuel standings entering the season-finale event at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona. (NHRA)