Championship contenders in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series circuit are ready to take a gamble and go all in as they head to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the penultimate race of the Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship.
The battles for world titles in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, and Pro Stock Motorcycle are getting intense as drivers are preparing for the 12th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals, Oct. 25-28. Del Worsham (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock), and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were winners last year at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event that will be televised on ESPN2HD.
Antron Brown has taken his Matco Tools dragster to the winner’s circle six times thus far in 2012, and teammate Spencer Massey and his FRAM/Prestone team have grabbed four Wallys. They currently sit 1 and 2 in the championship standings; Brown holds a 104-point lead. Tony Schumacher, Shawn Langdon, and Brandon Bernstein are all still mathematically alive and have a shot at winning the title.
“We’re basically going to the last two races keeping our head down, and we want to stay on the offensive side, keep attacking,” Brown said. “We have got to keep attacking if we want to have the hopes to actually bring this championship home.”
In Funny Car, Jack Beckman took over the points lead following his record-setting performance in Reading. Ron Capps fell to second in the standings but is only 23 points out of the lead, and third-place contender Mike Neff looks to continue his momentum following his win in Reading. He is 54 points behind Beckman in third.
“With only eight rounds left and in a sport where when you lose you don't get those next few rounds, if somebody goes out second round at Vegas, they lose out on three rounds,” Beckman said. “We want to be able to contest all eight rounds to have a legitimate shot for the championship, so you can't have any screw ups, mechanical issues, or tune-up question marks.”
Allen Johnson has led the Pro Stock points since the start of the Western Swing in Denver in his Team Mopar Dodge Avenger. However, Jason Line started off the Countdown strong with a victory in Charlotte and sits 82 points behind Johnson. Four-time season winner Erica Enders is also in contention for the title at 125 points back in third place. The veteran Tennessee driver knows he will need to be on top of his game to put the finishing touches on his first world championship title.
“I'm looking at it as there's no lead at all, the way Jason and Erica both are running,” Johnson said. “I'm taking it one round at a time qualifying and racing, just trying to get every single point I can get. But I think it's just like I heard Antron say, you go out there and stub your toe first round, and those guys can leave Vegas ahead of you. I'm looking at it as I've got to go to the semi's at least to win this thing, both races.”
It has been the Eddie Krawiec and Andrew Hines show all season long in Pro Stock Motorcycle. The Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson duo have a combined 12 victories and seven No.1 qualifying positions throughout the 2012 season. As they sit 1 and 2 atop the points standings, only 17 points separate them, making this the tightest points battle among the Pro classes.
“We're moving into the final two races of the year, and I know Andrew is excited, and I know I'm excited,” Krawiec said. “We're looking forward to it. I have a great track record at Pomona, he has a great track record in Vegas. I am thinking these last two races are going to be really interesting, and it would be awesome to be in two more all-Harley-Davidson finals.”
The event also will feature the season-ending race for the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx. The battle for the championship is tight as Mike Castellana leads the points heading into the finale, and Rickie Smith and Troy Coughlin still have a shot at winning the title.
In observance of Nevada Day, children 12 and younger will be admitted free with a paid adult on Friday, and fans attending the event will have the opportunity to see two powerful jet dragsters make their first set of exhibition runs. As part of the many special off-track activities during the weekend, Rock Ridge Music/Warner Music Group singer Chelsea Bain will perform a concert near Club Nitro on Saturday.
To kick off race weekend, one of the largest NHRA Fan Fests of the season will take place at the Third Street Stage at Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas on Thursday, Oct. 25, from 5 to 7 p.m. This free event will feature race cars on display as well as one of the biggest driver autograph sessions of the year. More than 30 of the biggest personalities on the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series circuit will make an appearance at the autograph session, including 15-time Funny Car world champion John Force, Courtney Force, Top Fuel pilots Massey and Langdon, Pro Stock fan favorites Johnson and Enders, and three-time Pro Stock Motorcycle champion Hines. A special NHRA-themed light show will be presented on the popular Fremont Street Experience canopy throughout the Fan Fest.
*SCHEDULE: Full Throttle Drag Racing Series qualifying sessions are scheduled for noon and 3 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 26, and 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 27. Final eliminations will begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 28.
*TICKETS: Tickets are available for the 12th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals. Please call The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway at 800-644-4444 or visit www.lvms.com.
*ON TV: ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise one hour of qualifying coverage at 4 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, Oct. 28, preceded by one hour of coverage at 1:30 a.m. ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise three hours of eliminations coverage at 8 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, Oct. 28.
*LUCAS OIL SERIES: The 12th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals also will feature competition in seven categories 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 8 a.m. on Oct. 25 and continue through Oct. 26. Lucas Oil Series eliminations begin at 8 a.m. on Oct. 27.
*NHRA PRO MOD SERIES PRESENTED BY PROCARE RX: NHRA’s popular Pro Mod touring series will make its final start of the 2012 season at the 12th annual Big O Tires NHRA Nationals. The first two qualifying sessions will be Oct. 26 at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Qualifying will continue on Saturday, Oct. 27, with a session at 10:30 a.m. and will be followed by the first round of eliminations at 4 p.m. Eliminations will continue Sunday, Oct. 28, at 2:30 p.m.