Funny Car driver Mike Neff earned his first win of the 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season in Houston, and his victory was the sixth of the season of six NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series races for his John Force Racing team.
“There are a lot of high expectations, especially when you are on a top team like John Force’s team,” Neff said. “John Force Racing is built on winning. Everyone knows what’s at stake here, and anything can happen out here. You get one shot at it, and you either get it right or it’s over with, and we got it right.”
As the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series heads south May 4-6 for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway, JFR looks to continue its dominating performance one race at a time. Neff’s win snapped his JFR teammate Robert Hight’s impressive span of four race wins in a row.
“That was a heck of a string he had going,” Neff said. “That’s hard to do in Funny Car or any class for that matter. I’m just glad I could keep the string going for John Force Racing.”
Neff earned his first win of the season in his third final-round appearance, defeating Don Schumacher Racing driver Ron Capps and his NAPA Auto Parts Funny Car. Capps made his second straight final-round appearance after struggling early in the season and suffering a tough DNQ in Las Vegas.
“That’s two finals in a row for this NAPA team, and that’s great,” Capps said. “This crew is just top-notch. Like I said all weekend, Rahn Tobler [crew chief] could make this car go down the return road.”
Capps’ DSR teammate and the defending event champ at Atlanta Dragway, Jack Beckman, struggled in Houston, where he failed to qualify for the first time in 87 races, which was the longest qualifying streak of active drivers. Last season, Beckman defeated Neff in the final round in Atlanta, and he hopes for the same success this year. DSR’s other two Funny Car drivers, defending Funny Car world champ Matt Hagan and Johnny Gray, have struggled this season as well but plan to turn that around in Atlanta.
Snap-on Tools driver Cruz Pedregon is coming off a semifinal finish and his second No. 1 qualifying position of the season as the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series heads to Atlanta, where the two-time world champ has earned one victory, in 1998, beating none other than John Force.
Rookies Courtney Force and Alexis DeJoria are still working to make their impact on the 7,000-horsepower class. DeJoria’s Kalitta Motorsports teammate, Jeff Arend, is coming off his first semifinal finish of the season, and Pedregon’s teammate and brother, Tony, is looking to earn his first round-win of the season. Despite all of the JFR dominance this season, the top 10 is still up for grabs with 10 races left before the Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s championship playoffs, which kicks off in Charlotte in September.
Matco Tools Top Fuel driver Antron Brown is coming off his fifth final of the 2012 season and regained the championship points lead even after losing to GEICO/Lucas Oil driver Morgan Lucas, who is in third place. Brown’s DSR teammates, Spencer Massey and Tony Schumacher, are in second and fourth place, respectively, and Al-Anabi Racing driver Shawn Langdon is fifth. Capco Contractors pilot Steve Torrence, who is coming off his second straight semifinal-round appearance, is in sixth place, followed by Doug Kalitta, Bob Vandergriff Jr., David Grubnic, and Clay Millican.
In Pro Stock, the Summit Racing duo of Greg Anderson and Jason Line are still atop the points standings, and sophomore sensation Vincent Nobile moved up to third after his win in Houston. Former Pro Stock world champ Mike Edwards is fourth, Nobile’s Dodge teammate Allen Johnson is in fifth, Erica Enders sits sixth, Ronnie Humphrey is seventh, Greg Stanfield is eighth, Rodger Brogdon is ninth, and Larry Morgan is 10th.
The two-wheel class heads to Atlanta for its third appearance of the season with the Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson duo of Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec leading the championship points standings. Lucas Oil Buell rider Hector Arana Jr. is right behind them in third, followed by GEICO Suzuki rider Karen Stoffer. Matt Smith, Hector Arana Sr., Scotty Pollacheck, LE Tonglet, Michael Ray, and John Hall.
* SCHEDULE: NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series qualifying sessions are scheduled for 3:30 and 6 p.m. on Friday, May 4, and 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 5. Final Professional eliminations will begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday, May 6.
* TICKETS: For tickets for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals, call NHRA, 800-884-6472, or log on to NHRATix.com.
* ON TV: ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise two hours of qualifying coverage at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 5. ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise three hours of eliminations coverage at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 6.
* LUCAS OIL SERIES: The Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals also will feature competition in seven NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series categories, where some of the future stars of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series are born. Lucas Oil Series qualifying begins at 8 a.m. on May 4. Lucas Oil Series eliminations begin at 8 a.m. on May 5 and continue through May 6.
* 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 NHRA.com. Visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.