NHRA teams rally for votes for eighth spots in the NHRA Traxxas Nitro Shootouts
Saturday, August 25, 2012
The fields for the Top Fuel and Funny Car NHRA Traxxas Nitro Shootouts, which will be contested at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis next weekend, are almost all set. Seven qualifiers in each class are locked into their first-round pairings for the lucrative bonus events, but the eighth and final spot in each class is still up for grabs.
The NHRA and Traxxas decided that the eighth and final spot would be left up to the fans, via a Facebook fan-choice vote, and to chance, thanks to a weighted lottery that will take place at the NHRA Fan Fest on Wednesday, Aug. 29, at noon at Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis.
To be eligible for the eighth spot, drivers needed to have competed at each of the 16 events before Indy and not won an event or won after the seventh different winner in the class. Six drivers are in the Top Fuel fan vote (Khalid alBalooshi, Brandon Bernstein, Shawn Langdon, Terry McMillen, Clay Millican, and Bob Vandergriff Jr.) and eight drivers in the Funny Car fan vote (Alexis DeJoria, Courtney Force, Matt Hagan, Todd Lesenko, Cruz Pedregon, Tony Pedregon, Bob Tasca III, and Tim Wilkerson).
With $100,000 on the line for each Traxxas Nitro Shootout winner, the drivers, teams, fans, and sponsors have joined forces behind their favorite eligible drivers to increase their odds in the weighted lottery drawing.
First out of the gate was Hagan’s team, which developed a multitiered campaign that included a website, vote4hagan.com; incentives for fans to vote; and a Vote 4 Hagan Across America component asking fans to download and print a special Hagan campaign poster and photograph themselves with it in a special place for a chance to win a prize. And the team even got Hagan’s most famous and ardent fan, NHRA legend Shirley Muldowney, to sign on as honorary campaign manager.
Force's Seattle win came too late to earn her a spot in the field, so her team created the I Wanna Race! campaign that includes a viral YouTube video produced by her sister, two-time Indy Funny Car champ Ashley Force Hood, as well as heavy social media and website promotion and email blasts.
Two-time Funny Car champ Cruz Pedregon’s group created a website, www.voteforthecruzer.com, to promote and send people to NHRA’s Facebook page and created a video pitch to his fans. McMillen’s team created a video parodying the old Saturday Night Live skit, “Daily Affirmation with Stuart Smalley,” which good-naturedly includes drivers against whom he is competing for votes.
Of course, a majority of the teams have turned to Facebook and Twitter based on their opt-in nature — i.e., people who follow or Like them are probably fans — with Top Fuel’sClay Millican stumping as if he were a politician in another life and Bernstein developing a Shootout-specific Twitter campaign, @BB_is4me, and a website, bbis4me.com, that seemed to be paying off well as he was the early leader. Bernstein also had his good buddy and popular Food Network star Guy Fieri issue a celebrity endorsement through social media channels.
Tony Pedregon’s team has banner ads on the website of sponsor K-LOVE, which also has been airing commercials that ask for its listeners to vote for him. Wilkerson’s efforts have largely been focused on his team’s rabid fan following, communicating via a large email database and Bob Wilber's blog on NHRA.com. Ford jumped into the fray to help Wilkerson and Tasca III earn votes through Facebook and Twitter, and Tasca rallied his Tasca Ford customer base with a special newsletter and fake endorsements from famous folks.
Jim Dunn Racing driver Lesenko has been stumping for votes onTwitter, and so has the Al-Anabi Racing duo of alBaolloshi and Langdon as well as C&J Energy Services driver Vandergriff.
NHRA put together a special version of its weekly online show, NHRA Now, dedicated to the NHRA Traxxas Nitro Shootout, and each of the drivers in the fan vote told fans why they should vote for them.
Campaigning for votes will only get these drivers so far, but the higher percentage of votes the drivers get, the more lottery balls they will have in the random drawing. Make sure to head to www.Facebook.com/nhra to cast your vote for your favorite driver in the fan vote. Voting is live until Tuesday, Aug. 28, at noon ET.
Khalid alBalooshi: www.twitter.com/alanabiracing
Brandon Bernstein: www.twitter.com/BBis4me; www.BBis4me.com; www.Facebook.com/MLRTopFuel
Alexis DeJoria: www.twitter.com/adrnitro771; www.Facebook.com/AlexisDeJoria; www.youtube.com/alexisdejoriaracing
Courtney Force: www.twitter.com/courtneyforce; www.youtube.com/JFRRacing; www.Facebook.com/TeamJFR
Matt Hagan: www.twitter.com/matthaganFC; www.vote4hagan.com; www.facebook.com/matthaganFC
Shawn Langdon: www.twitter.com/alanabiracing; www.twitter.com/shawnlangdontf
Todd Lesenko: www.twitter.com/JimDunnRacing; www.Facebook.com/JimDunnRacing
Terry McMillen: www.twitter.com/terrymcmillen; www.youtube.com/terrymcmillenracing; www.facebook.com/terrymcmillenracing
Clay Millican: www.twitter.com/claymillican; www.facebook.com/ClayMillican; www.youtube.com/claymillican
Cruz Pedregon: www.twitter.com/cruzpedregon; www.voteforcruzer.com
Tony Pedregon: www.twitter.com/tonypedregon; www.klove.com; www.facebook.com/TonyPedregonOfficial
Bob Tasca III: www.twitter.com/tasca3; www.facebook.com/bobtascafanpage
Bob Vandergriff Jr.: www.twitter.com/bobvandergriff
Tim Wilkerson: www.twitter.com/teamwilkerson; www.nhra.com/blog
NHRA Now: http://ow.ly/dd7Zy