Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Vickers says worst tracks are behind him

In an exclusive interview, Brian Vickers said his worst tracks are behind him and he hopes to make up some ground in the next few races of the Chase.
Vickers, the driver of the No. 83 Toyota for Red Bull Racing, is making his first Chase appearance. His first two races haven't been that impressive and he sits 10th in the Chase standings. But he said he wasn't expecting to have great finishes at Dover or New Hampshire, tracks that have given his team troubles in the past.
He said he is looking forward to the races at Kansas Speedway, Lowe's Motor Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway and Auto Club Speedway, tracks that have been kinder to him in the past and tracks where his team has posted some productive finishes.
Auto Club Speedway in Fontana is similar in distance and design to Michigan International Speedway, the site of Vickers only NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win this season. The Fontana race is Oct. 11 and the fourth race in the Chase.
More to come...

Photo: Brian Vickers (83) and Denny Hamlin (11) were the lowest two finishers among Chase drivers, finishing 18th and 22nd, respectively, Sunday at Dover International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

NASCAR West Series crew chief fined

Robert Dixon, the crew chief for Eric Schmidt's team in the NASCAR Camping World Series West, was fined and suspended after his driver's car did not pass post-race inspection at All American Speedway in Roseville on Saturday night.
Schmidt finished second in the West Series season-finale race, his best finish of the season.
Dixon was fined $500 and placed on suspension until the fine is paid.

Eric Schmidt, driving the No. 34 car in the Toyota/Copart 150 at All American Speedway in Roseville, finished second, but his car did not pass post-race inspection. (Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Monday, September 28, 2009

No one hotter than Hight in NHRA funny cars

National Hot Rod Assn. funny car driver Robert Hight was the last one invited to the drag racing playoff party, but he has been the beau of the ball since it started two weeks ago.
Hight won for the second week in a row and vaulted into the lead in the NHRA funny standings. After going winless through the regular season, Hight has won the first two races of the Countdown to One, the six-race playoff to determine champions in the four national drag racing divisions.
Hight won at zMax Dragway in North Carolina, the first race of the Countdown, and followed that up with a victory at Texas Motorplex on Sunday. It was also his third straight finals appearance. He lost to teammate Ashley Force Hood at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis over Labor Day weekend.
“This is probably the best race car I have ever had,” said Hight, a driver for John Force Racing. “We have won races and been close to winning the championship but to be this dominant and this consistent and steady. It is going down the track every single run. The only person to beat me was my teammate Ashley Force Hood in the final at Indy. We had a malfunction. It kind of blew up. It is not hurting itself. It is running fast we had top speed here. Jimmy Prock definitely has a handle on this Mustang. We still have to give it to Guido and Ron Douglas. Without them we would not be where we are now. They helped us and I thank God Jimmy listened to them and worked with them. That is what is great about our team we all listen and work together.”
Hight defeated Jack Beckman in the finals at Texas Motorplex. Hight beat Tim Wilkerson and Force Hood en route to the championship. But his win over Sweden’s Leif Helander in the first round had the biggest impact on Hight through the races at Texas.
“Something kind of hit me this morning actually last night,” Hight said Sunday after winning at Texas Motorplex. “My first round match up was with Leif Helander from Sweden. He came by after I came by the press room and he introduced himself. He told me his story. He reminded me of that movie, ‘The World’s Fastest Indian.’ We have had controversy here lately. We have had drivers arguing. Talking with a guy like that puts it in perspective what we are doing out here.”
Hight has a 13-point lead over Force Hood in the funny car standings. Beckman is in third place, 45 points behind Hight. Tony Pedregon, who held the lead in the funny car standings when the Countdown started, is in fourth place, 59 points out of first.
"I have to tell you, losing in the final round stinks," said Beckman, a driver from North Hills and a driver for Don Schumacher Racing, “but we recognize what we did here and everybody on this Valvoline/MTS Dodge crew has that look in their eye right now. We did what nobody could do all day, we got down that right lane. And our goal on that one -- what Johnny (West, crew chief) wanted to do -- was make them beat themselves.”
In other races, Tony Schumacher defeated Larry Dixon in the top fuel final to win at Texas Motorplex. Schumacher has a 33-point lead over Dixon, a Van Nuys High graduate, in the top fuel standings.
Greg Anderson defeated Johnny Gray in the pro stock final. Mike Edwards leads the pro stock standings by 65 points over Jeg Coughlin.
Hector Arana defeated Eddie Krawiec in the pro stock motorcycle final. Arana leads the pro stock motorcycle standings by 27 points over Krawiec. Karen Stoffer, a graduate of St. Geneveive High School in Sun Valley, is seventh in the pro stock motorcycle standings.

Photo: Robert Hight won the NHRA funny car portion of the races at Texas Motorplex on Sunday. It was his second win in a row and his third straight final appearance. With the win at Texas, Hight took over the lead in the funny car standings. (NHRA)

Harraka wins West Series race, Bowles wins West Series championship

Jason Bowles, a driver from Ontario, won the NASCAR Camping World West Series championship on Saturday night at All American Speedway in Roseville.
Bowles nearly missed getting collected in a crash on lap five and finished fourth in the season-finale West Series race.
“There were a few wrecks right there that I didn’t want to see happen, because they were all right in front of me it seemed,” said the 26-year-old Bowles driving for Bob Bruncati’s Sunrise Ford Racing team. “I was really watching in front of me tonight, trying to keep my nose clean and be real, real careful.”
Eric Holmes, the 2008 West Series champion and only driver with a chance at catching Bowles in the West Series standings, was collected in the lap 5 crash. He completed 108 laps of the 150-lap race and finished 16th.
Paulie Harraka won the West Series race at Roseville, leading 149 laps. It was his second win of the season and his second win in three races to close out the season.
“The NAPA AutoCare/Adaptive One Brakes Toyota was great,” said, Harraka, who won the Sunoco Rookie of the Year award in the West Series. “Duane (Knorr, crew chief) and the team did an awesome job. I never had to use 100 percent of the race car at all. That was the key to pulling away at the end.”
Harraka, a driver from Fairlawn, N.J., won a NASCAR Super Late Model championship at Roseville in 2008.
Greg Pursley, a driver from Canyon Country finished third in the race and was third in the West Series standings.

Photo: Paulie Harraka jumps from his car in Victory Lane in celebration of his win. (Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Hornaday leaves Las Vegas with a smaller lead in NASCAR Truck Series standings

Ron Hornaday Jr. saw his lead in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series trimmed a bit in Las Vegas over the weekend.
Hornaday finished sixth in the Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday night. Matt Crafton, the second-place driver in the Truck Series standings, finished second at Las Vegas and closed the gap by 20 points for the lead.
“It was a really good run for the Copart Chevrolet,” said Hornaday after the race. “I felt like our truck was better than where we finished. It is just so tough to make the call in these races with this new pit (road) strategy. Our truck just ended up too tight on that last run to compete with those guys. I’m really happy for Johnny (Sauter) to get his first Truck Series win. It’s really cool to see all these young kids come into our series and make a name for themselves. We have a nice little break coming up here and then we will head to Martinsville (Speedway) and see what we can do with them there.”
Johnny Sauter, Crafton’s teammate at ThosSport Racing, won the first Truck Series race of his career. Sauter, considered a rookie in the Truck Series despite three wins in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, became the first rookie to win a Truck Series race since Scott Speed did it on May 30, 2008, at Dover International Speedway in Delaware.
“It’s unbelievable, man,” Sauter said. “This is a big deal for me. Last year at this time, all I was doing was start-and-parks in the Nationwide Series. We’ve had speed all year, but we haven’t been able to close the deal. Our truck has been phenomenal for the last two months.”
Hornaday, winner of a Truck Series best six races, has a 197-point lead over Crafton in the Truck Series standings. There are five races remaining in the Truck Series season. Hornaday is in search of his fourth Truck Series championship.
“It was a decent points day, but the thing that makes me happy is finishing 1-2 for Duke and Rhonda Thorson,” Crafton said. “It's the first time we've finished 1-2.”

Photo: Johnny Sauter celebrates his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. (Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images)

Joanides wins 100-lap NASCAR Super Late Model race, set of springs

With $5,000 and a set of Eibach Springs on the line, Nick Jonaides of Woodland Hills won the 100-lap NASCAR Super Late Model race at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale on Saturday night.
The season-ending race for the Super Late Model drivers was a non-points race. Joanides, the recently crowned Super Late Model champion at Irwindale, took the lead from Rip Michels of San Fernando on the second lap of the race and led the remaining 99 laps.
It was the 14th Super Late Model win of the season for Joanides. He finished in the top five in all 22 Super Late Model races at the track including the 100-lapper on Saturday night. He was the runner-up or winner of 21 of 22 races this year.
Ricky McCray of Highland was second, his best finish of the season. He won $2,000 and a set of Eibach Springs. Ryan Partridge of Rancho Cucamonga was third. He won $1,700 and a set of Eibach Springs.
In other races, rookie Jeremiah Wagner of Las Vegas won the ASA Speed Truck Challenge race. It was his third ASA Speed Truck Challenge win at Toytota Speedway at Irwindale. Chris Birdsong of Las Vegas was second, followed by Cole Cabrera of Exeter in third.
Randel King of Riverside moved into first place in the ASA Speed Truck Challenge standings with a seventh-place finish. He and Joey Licata of Van Nuys entered the race tied for first in the ASA Speed Truck Challenge standings. Licata finished 17th.
King pulled double duty at the track. He also won the S2 stock car race, his third in a row and fifth in six races at Irwindale. Ryan Reed of Bakersfield was second, followed by Andrew Anderson of Lancaster in third.
Daryl Scoggins of Sunland won his second NASCAR Mini Stock race in a row. It was the sixth win of the season for Scoggins. Tyler Rogers of Riverside was second, followed by Ryan Bragdon of Beaumont in third.
Mike Colato Jr. of Chatsworth won the Classic Stocks race and snapped the five-race winning streak of Ken Michaelian of Lawndale, the leader in the Classic Stocks standings at the track. Michaelian finished second, followed by Tommy Agosta of Chino in third.
Tom Landreth of Alta Loma, the reigning Legend Cars champion at Irwindale, won the Legend Cars race, his first of the season. It was the 42nd Legend Cars win of Landreth’s career. Donny St. Ours of Upland was second, followed by Reed in third. Reed, the runner-up in the S2 stock car race, is also the leader in the Legend Cars standings at Irwindale.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Irving snaps Johnson's four-race NASCAR Late Model win streak at Irwindale

Mike Johnson of Covina had his four-race win streak in the NASCAR Late Model division snapped at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale on Saturday night.
Johnson was rear-ended by Dallas Colodny in the first of two Late Model races at the track. Johnson’s car suffered rear-end damage and a flat tire which resulted in a 17th-place finish.
Johnson didn’t fare much better in the second race, coming in 10th place.
Nick Joanides of Woodland Hills, the leader in the Late Model standings at the track, posted a pair of top fives to maintain his lead. He was second in the first race, fourth in the second race, and holds a 34-point lead over Tim Huddleston of Agoura Hills, the reigning Late Model champion at the track.
Travis Irving of Corona won both Late Model races. He has three wins on the season and recorded his first victory at the track since April 25.
Dalton Kuhn of San Marcos won the South West Tour Trucks race, his fifth win in six races at Irwindale. Jeff Williams of Newbury Park was second, followed by Christian Copley of Santa Ynez, the leader in the South West Tour Trucks standings, in third.
Pat Mintey Jr. of Quartz Hill won the NASCAR Super Trucks race at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale on Saturday night and gave himself a little breathing room atop the Super Trucks standings at the track.
Mintey, the reigning Super Trucks champion, has a 10-point lead over R.J. Johnson of Canyon Country with two races remaining.
Mintey won his fourth race of the season and his first since July 25. Johnson has six wins in the Super Truck division and won three in a row in June. His last win came on Sept. 5.
Valencia’s Joe Anderson was seventh and Canyon Country John Watkinson was 11th in the 17-truck field.
Rich DeLong III of Santa Clarita was fifth in the NASCAR Super Stocks race. Larry Cerquettini of Redlands won the race, his eighth of the season. Cerquettini opened the season with seven wins in a row. His win Saturday night was his first since July 18.
DeLong, winner of two Super Stocks races this year, is third in the Super Stocks standings at the track, 36 points behind Cerquettini.

Friday, September 18, 2009

A drive to succeed : Racing : Ventura County Star

Louie Pagano, a 14-year-old go-kart racer from Santa Rosa Valley, will compete for a spot on America's Team at the Rotax Grand Nationals in Norman, Okla., and a chance to race for a world championship in Egypt in December.

A drive to succeed : Racing : Ventura County Star

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Nick Joanides wins NASCAR Super Late Model championship at Irwindale

Nick Joanides of Woodland Hills wrapped up the NASCAR Super Late Model championship at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale on Saturday night. He won the Super Late Model championship last year and leads the NASCAR Late Model standings at the track.
He posted a pair of top-five finishes in the final points races of the season at Irwindale. He was fifth in the first race, second in the second race and needed only eight points to capture his second straight Super Late Model championship. He has 13 wins and 21 top-five finishes in 21 races.
Joanides finished in third place in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national standings. Bill Leighton Jr., who races at I-80 Speedway in Omaha, Neb., and Junction Motor Speedway in McCool Junction, Neb., and Joanides entered the night tied for third place with 803 points each. Leighton has nine wins and 27 top five finishes in 33 starts, but his race at I-80 Speedway was rained out. The national standings are determined by the drivers’ best 18 races.
Phillip Morris of Ruckersville, Va., won his third NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship. He entered the night with a 19-point lead over Keith Rocco of Wallingford, Conn.
Joanides won the NASCAR Whelen All-American California State Championship and the Lucas Oil Slick Six championship at Irwindale.
Rip Michels of San Fernando won the first of two NASCAR Super Late Model races at Toyota Speedway. It was his third win of the season and his 60th career win at the track. Michels has won more races than any other driver at Irwindale.
Travis Thirkettle of Fillmore won the second Super Late Model race. It was his first win of the season and his first win since winning the abbreviated, rain-delayed All-Star Showdown at Irwindale in January. He was the runner-up in the first Super Late Models race.
Dallas Montes, a rookie driver from Bakersfield, won his fourth Legend Cars race in a row. Ryan Reed of Bakersfield, the leader in the Legend Cars standings, was second. Brent Scheidemantle of Alta Loma was third.
Randel King of Riverside won his second S2 stock car race in a row and his fourth of the season. He leads the S2 standings by 18 points over Andrew Anderson of Lancaster.
Reed, pulling double duty at the track in the Legend Cars and S2 stock cars, posted his second runner-up finish of the night. He was second in the S2 race. Kendell Lopez, a driver from Independence, Mo., was third.
Billy Ziemann of Bloomington won the figure 8s race. He was followed by Steve Stewart of Long Beach in second and Tony Curtis of Hawthorne in third.
Ken Mets won the demolition derby.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Another first for Ashley Force Hood

Ashley Force Hood became the first woman to win the U.S. Nationals in the National Hot Rod Assn. funny car division on Monday.
She beat John Force Racing teammate Robert Hight in the final of the funny car portion of the races in Indianapolis.
Force Hood joins Shirley Muldowney and Angelle Sampey as the only women to win an NHRA U.S. Nationals championship. Muldowney won in top fuel and Sampey won in pro stock motorcycle.
It was the second win of the season for Force Hood, who is third in the funny car standings.
“I am really excited. This has been a great weekend for Team Force,” said Force Hood. “Winning the race couldn’t get any better for me. We have struggled in the summer and haven’t done as well as we’d hoped we would. Two weeks ago in Reading (Penn.) we really had a tough one. We came into this racing looking to get back into our groove. Let’s do what we know we can do. Let’s go rounds. Let’s get this car down the track.”
The Countdown to One, the six-event playoffs to determine the NHRA champions on top fuel, funny car, pro stock and pro stock motorcycle begin on Sept. 17 in North Carolina. Force Hood will be the third-seeded driver in the Countdown behind Tony Pedregon, the leader in the funny car standings, and Ron Capps.
“I can’t give (co-crew chiefs) Ron (Douglas) and Guido (Dean Antonelli) enough credit,” Force Hood said after winning in Indianapolis. “They have had a lot on their shoulders this weekend. They were trying to figure out the track and working really hard. My team is the best bunch of guys out here. I couldn’t ask for any more from them. I am just so proud to have won the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals. Again I just can’t believe it happened.”
Even though Hight, the winner in Indianapolis a year ago, lost in the final to Force Hood, he was able to secure the 10th and final spot in the Countdown.
“It is unbelievable,” Hight said. “At the beginning of every season your biggest fear is to not make this Countdown. When you look at the class and the field of these funny cars and how good the cars are that are out there it is not that easy to make this top 10. Cruz Pedregon is a great racer, reigning world champ. He is an awesome driver. They have a great team over there. It just shows you how tough this is. We just pulled this out. What is best though is we are getting to go to the finals against our teammate Ashley Force Hood so a John Force Mustang will win this race. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
Hight passed Cruz Pedregon and Matt Hagan to get into 10th place in the funny car standings at the U.S. Nationals this weekend.
In other divisions, Tony Schumacher defeated Larry Dixon in the top fuel final to win his eighth U.S. Nationals championship. He Schumacher tied “Big Daddy” Don Garlits for the most top fuel U.S. Nationals wins.
“I’m a little speechless right now,” said Schumacher. “It’s a little tough to comprehend just what we’ve accomplished here today.”
Karen Stoffer, a graduate of St. Genevieve High School in Sun Valley, was eliminated in the second round of the pro stock motorcycle division, but secured enough points for 10th place in the pro stock motorcycle standings. She earned the 10th and final seed in the pro stock motorcycle Countdown.

Photo: Ashley Force Hood became the first women to win the NHRA funny car U.S. Nationals. She is only the third women driver to win an NHRA U.S. Nationals championship. Shirley Muldowney won in top fuel and Angelle Sampey won in pro stock motorcycle.

Mayhew wins NASCAR West Series race at Iowa Speedway

David Mayhew, a driver from Atascadero, won the NASCAR Camping World Series West race at Iowa Speedway on Friday night.
It was Mayhew’s first win of the season and earned him a spot in the Toyota All-Star Showdown at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale in January.
Mayhew’s team had to play some catch-up to prepare for the race. The team’s truck and equipment arrived at the track late.
“The day started off a little shaky, with our truck not making it here in time for the first practice,” Mayhew said. “We had all kinds of trouble getting to the track. As soon as we put the car on the track, the car was awesome. All the guys at the shop did a great job of prepping everything. We qualified third, in our 10th lap on the track all day and then got lucky with a move to the front row, with Greg moving to the back.”
Greg Pursley, a Canyon High graduate and driver for Gene Price Motorsports, set fast-time in qualifying and won the second pole of his West Series career, but had to start from the back of the 27-car field because his team had to switch engines after the first practice.
“The crew was flawless in changing the engine,” Pursley said. “All we really lost was some track time as the car was really good.”
Pursley was seventh in the race, his 10th top-10 finish of the season.
Jason Bowles, a driver from Ontario, was second. Bowles leads the West Series standings by 78 points over Eric Holmes of Escalon with one race remaining in the West Series schedule.
The race also featured Brian Ickler of San Diego, Patrick Long of Thousand Oaks and Brian Wong of Newport Beach. Ickler was eighth, Wong was 14th and Long was 15th.
The season-finale race is Sept. 26 at All American Speedway in Roseville.

Photo: Greg Pursley displays the Coors Light Pole Award he won at Iowa. (Photo Credit: David Purdy/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Hornaday finishes 4th at Iowa, extends NASCAR Truck Series lead

Ron Hornaday Jr. made his first visit to Iowa Speedway a top-five performance. Hornaday finished fourth in the inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Iowa Speedway on Saturday night.
Mike Skinner won the race, his second of the season.
Hornaday increased his lead in the Truck Series standings to 225 points over Matt Crafton. Hornaday, driver of the No. 33 Chevrolet Silverado for Kevin Harvick Inc., is in search of his fourth Truck Series championship.
“The guys on this Longhorn Silverado did a great job,” said Hornaday, a former Saugus Speedway champ. “We didn't have the truck to beat, Skinner did. We just fought loose-in, tight-off all night. Actually, we really struggled the last two days, but this is why this KHI team is championship caliber. It was a lot of fun here. We didn’t give up and with eight races to go, we still have our lead. Crafton was good and I am not sure how we gained five points on him, but we’ll take it.”

Photo: Colin Braun driver of the No. 6 Con-Way Freight Ford visits with Kevin Harvick Inc's Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 Longhorn Chevrolet) during qualifying for Saturday night's Lucas Oil 200. Braun finished the race third while Hornaday ended his night in fourth. (Photo Credit: David Purdy / Getty Images for NASCAR)

Johnson Wins Again at Toyota Speedway

Mike Johnson of Covina captured his fourth straight feature win in the Auto Club Late Model series at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale on Saturday. The win was Johnson’s fifth of the season. Johnson guaranteed he would win every remaining race after winning on July 25 and so far he has followed through. Johnson took the lead from pole-sitter Travis Motley on lap two of the race. Motley, from Tucson, Ariz., led his first lap ever in the division and held on for a career best second place. Rookie Beau Debard of Reno, Nev., finished third. Points leader Nick Joanides of Woodland Hills finished sixth after being involved in a lap one incident that also included Johnson, Travis Irving, Debard, and reigning series champion Tim Huddleston. Huddleston, a driver from Agoura Hills, sustained the most damage and finished 14th. The result allowed Johnson to move into second in the Late Model standings, just 26 behind Joanides with four races left.
Rod Johnson Jr. of Canyon Country won his sixth race of the season in the King Taco Super Trucks division. The win was also his second straight. Johnson took the lead from Grant Hebner of Fallbrook on lap seven and never looked back. A last lap incident involving Hebner and Jeff Peterson of Riverside severely altered both the finishing order and the standings. Coming to the checkered flag, Hebner slid up the track into Peterson in a battle for second. The two bounced off the wall, allowing Ryan Partridge to sneak bye for second. Peterson came home third, while series points leader and two-time champion Pat Mintey Jr. of Quartz Hill went from seventh to fourth. Hebner ended up fifth, while Mason Britton and Ron Peterson both lost spots, finishing sixth and seventh. Had the finishing order not changed, Johnson would have taken the lead in the Super Trucks standings, Jeff Peterson would have maintained second and Mintey would have fallen to third with Ron Peterson not far out in fourth. As a result of the crash, Mintey maintains a slim lead of six points, with Johnson in second and Jeff Peterson just eight points back of the leader in third. Ron Peterson sits fourth, 18 points from the top spot, with just two races left.
Dallas Montes, a rookie from Bakersfield, won his third consecutive race in the Legends Cars. Montes passed Brent Scheidemantle of Alta Loma with two laps remaining to take the win. Scheidemantle held on for second, while series point’s leader Ryan Reed of Bakersfield finished third. Reed holds a commanding 56-point lead over Brandon Toy of Bakersfield with three races remaining in the season.
Dalton Kuhn of San Marcos captured the South West Tour Truck race. Kuhn passed overall series points leader Christian Copley of Santa Ynez with two laps left after Copley had a right front tire go flat. Copley held on for second while bouncing off the wall twice on the final lap. Jeff Williams, the three-time defending series champion from Newbury Park, finished third. Kuhn holds a 14-point lead over Copley for the track championship with two races left on the schedule.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Karen Stoffer clinging to final Countdown spot in NHRA pro stock motorcycles

Karen Stoffer expects a battle for the last spot in the pro stock motorcycle Countdown to One playoffs. She is in 10th place and has a two-point lead over 11th-place Steve Johnson. Only the top 10 drivers in the pro stock motorcycle standings will qualify for the Countdown.
Stoffer was in a similar position last year, needing to win her first-round race at the U.S. Nationals to earn a berth in the Countdown. This year is a little different. She just has to stay ahead of Johnson all weekend to clinch a spot in the playoffs.
“To tell you the truth, I really do not like being here again, but now that we are, we are focused on solidifying our spot,” said Stoffer, a graduate of St. Genevieve High School in Sun Valley. “I’m not giving up. Don’t give up on us.”
There are less than 100 points separating the eighth place driver from the 12th place driver in the pro stock motorcycle standings. It’s possible three drivers in the top 10 won’t qualify for the Countdown.
“We just need to get our head in the game,” Stoffer said. “We have had a tough year and now is our last chance to turn it around. We were in the same spot last year, and made it to the chase, so we know how to do it.”

NHRA driver Jack Beckman sees room for improvement

Jack Beckman has a pair of goals in mind at the NHRA U.S Nationals in Indianapolis this weekend. First, he wants to improve in his runner-up finish from a year ago. Second, he wants to improve his position in the funny car standings before the Countdown to One playoffs begin.
Beckman advanced to the finals of last year’s U.S. Nationals, losing to Robert Hight.
“A lot of times you’d be pretty pleased to make it into the final round, but to get to the final round in Indy and not win is definitely unfinished business,” said Beckman, a driver for Don Schumacher Racing and a driver from North Hills.
Beckman has two funny car wins and is fifth in the funny car standings.
“We have a great shot at locking in fourth place,” Beckman said. “Right now we’re in fifth, but if we can do well in Indy we can seal fourth place, which is good. Even though NHRA tightens the points up for the playoffs, every 10 points means a lot at the end of the year.”

Photo: Jack Beckman has two wins and is in fifth place in the NHRA funny car standings entering the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis.

Ashley Force Hood say NHRA funny car championship up for grabs

Ashley Force Hood is looking to position herself for an NHRA funny car championship run this weekend at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis. She is third in the NHRA funny car standings, 164 points behind leader Tony Pedregon. The U.S. Nationals are the last race of the regular season before the NHRA’s Countdown to One playoffs begin Sept. 17 in North Carolina.
For Force Hood, her team is still recovering from a spectacular explosion in the last race at Maple Grove Raceway in Pennsylvania.
Force Hood is one of several drivers who have led the funny car standings at some point this season. Ron Capps, Pedregon and Force Hood have all spent time in first place in the funny car standings this year. Del Worsham, Jack Beckman and Tim Wilkerson have posted at least one win in the funny car division this year.
“If you look at all the drivers in our category, there’s not one dominant person,” Force Hood said. “It could be anybody’s championship. That’s exciting for us because we are a newer team. You wouldn’t think that, going up against teams that have been racing longer than I’ve been alive, we would be thinking about a championship, but in our sport, anything can happen. I think we have a great shot at it.”

Photo: Ashley Force Hood is one of three NHRA drivers to lead the funny car standings this year.

Dixon bypasses tests, ready for NHRA U.S. Nationals

National Hot Rod Assn. driver Larry Dixon is so confident in his car and team right now that he didn’t test last weekend in Indianapolis in preparation for the U.S. Nationals.
A number of NHRA teams spent last week at O’Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis testing for this weekend’s U.S. Nationals.
But Dixon’s Al-Anabi Racing team, owned by Alan Johnson, decided against testing after two straight final appearances and a win in the races at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa. It was his fifth win of the season and his sixth finals appearance.
“We tested before Brainerd, and we have two finals and a win,” said Dixon, a Van Nuys High graduate. “The car is definitely responding the way he and Alan would like it to respond, and for that reason, we didn’t test this past week at Indianapolis.”
Dixon is second in the NHRA top fuel standings and has already secured a berth in the Countdown to One, the playoffs that determine the NHRA champions. Dixon has advanced to the semifinals in nine of the 17 races so far this season. He is also a three-time champion in the U.S. Nationals, winning in 1995, 2001 and 2005.
“It’s always exciting to race at Indy,” Dixon said “It’s obviously the biggest and most prestigious race on our tour and you want to be piquing right now. We have a really good car going into this race. I’m honored that I’ve won the U.S. Nationals. As a kid growing up in the sport, going to that race with my dad for so many years with my family top fuel car, we never did the full tour, but we always went to Indy. That’s where everyone congregated on Labor Day weekend.”

Photo: Larry Dixon has five NHRA top fuel wins and is second in the top fuel standings entering the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis.