DieHard Race Week Start-Up, Las Vegas
Thursday, March 29, 2012
Well, the one thing that most of us know when it comes to Las Vegas is that there is no shortage of things to do and people to see! And as the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series gets ready to invade Sin City for the first of two visits this season, for the 13th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals, I am constantly amazed at the inane things that I find in my research.
For instance, I was blown away when I learned that Las Vegas averages 315 weddings … EVERY DAY! That’s more than 2,000 every week.
Or how about this one? Have you ever added up all the numbers on a roulette wheel? I’m told that they total a rather devilish 6-6-6. Might make you think twice about playing.
And finally, I know I’ve always wondered how a city that is perpetually in a drought can support the seemingly wasteful water features that you see. Then I learned about “gray water.” We’re talking about reclaimed water, from the sinks, showers, and bathtubs that gets filtered, cleaned, chlorinated, and reused. Sounds lovely, right? That being said, I can tell you that the “black water” goes a different route … You figure it out!
One cool thing is that you should NEVER have a problem finding a place to stay while in town for the race. With more than 150,000 rooms, Las Vegas is home to 17 of the 20 biggest hotels in the good ol’ USA. Still need race tickets? Hit up the racetrack on the Web at LVMS.com, or call them at 800-644-4444 (you’d think 4 was a lucky number!).
Antron Brown and his Matco Tools team come in as the defending event champion in a Top Fuel class that has a little different look through three races. Tony Schumacher has the U.S. Army in a familiar position, first in the standings, but he is still winless, now in 26 straight races. His last win came in Sin City back in October of 2010. Morgan Lucas and the GEICO guys continue to be the big surprise of the season and, at this point, have THE car to beat. I’m sure at some point, the Al-Anabi cars of Shawn Langdon and Khalid alBalooshi will challenge. Kudos to Candlewood Suites and Kalitta Racing for extended sponsorship on David Grubnic’s dragster for two more years. Eighteen cars are entered for this weekend, including a second Santo Rapisarda car as Damien Harris returns to team up with Cory McClenathan.
Robert Hight and the Auto Club team have won the last two NHRA national events, leading the John Force Racing quad squad that has swept all rivals in the trio of Funny Car races. Teammate Mike Neff leads the points for Castrol and Ford. The Don Schumacher Racing driver putting up the biggest fight to this point has been Valvoline’s "Fast Jack" Beckman. Surprises? How about the defending series champ Matt Hagan, who is still searching for that first round-win of the year? Tenth in points, there is no reason to panic. However, there might be reason for concern if the trend continues. Ron Capps will have competition from within his own family as brother Jon returns in the Worsham family flopper. They will be the weekend theme for our Nitro Generation segment. Other good-news items include James Day receiving a phone call from the Plueger family and Tony Pedregon announcing a 12-race title and full-time major associate sponsorship from K-LOVE.
In Pro Stock, Mike Edwards’ win in Gainesville and jump to second in the standings has helped to break up Summit Racing Equipment teammates Greg Anderson (first) and Jason Line (third). If history truly repeats itself, then Edwards could be the man to beat again this weekend; he is the two-time defending event champion.
ESPN2 is your television home for all things Full Throttle. Our two-hour qualifying show is scheduled for Saturday, March 31, at 7:30 p.m. (all times ET). Three hours of eliminations coverage begins Sunday at 7 p.m. And if you haven’t signed up for ESPN3 coverage on your computer, shame on you! You can catch Friday’s second session of qualifying live with very colorful commentary. It’s laid-back and a lot of fun, and I invite you to check it out!
As always, questions and comments are always welcome. We will do our best to get them answered in a timely manner! Hook me up on Twitter, @DaveRieffNHRA, or via email, email@example.com.