February 20-22, 2009
2nd of 24 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Events
Schedule | Entry List | Team Reports | NHRA Results: Detailed Article | Competition Plus Coverage
2008 Winners: TF Larry Dixon ~ FC Jack Beckman ~ PS V. Gaines
NHRAs annual duel in the desert has been a Southwest fixture since 1985, when it joined the tour in a late fall slot. Since 1990, it has been the second stop on the tours westward march and a place for teams to redeem mistakes made at the opener. Charlie Allen, a former Funny Car racer, constructed a track that makes people forget it sits at 1,100 feet above sea level. The facility is also known for its annual NHRA teams' preseason testing.
Antron Brown, Ron Capps and Jeg Coughlin Win Lucas Oil Slick Mist NHRA Nationals 02.22.09 Phoenix, Arizona --
Coughlin, Brown and Capps
Antron Brown in Top Fuel, Ron Capps in Funny Car and Jeg Coughlin in Pro Stock won the 25th annual Lucas Oil Slick Mist NHRA Nationals. Brown and Capps were making back-to-back final round appearances and each leaves with the points lead in their respective class. Coughlin, with his win, will leave Firebird International Raceway in second place, just two points behind Jason Line.
Brown, in the Matco Tools dragster, defeated Brandon Bernstein when Bernstein's car went up in smoke around 150 feet down the track. Brown collected his third "Wally" in Top Fuel with the win. Brown, who qualified third, defeated Del Cox Jr. in round one and Morgan Lucas in the quarterfinals. In the Semifinals, Brown defeated defending Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher, making the quickest pass of the round. After an off-season full of changes for Brown, he got his new team owner Mike Ashley and new crew chiefs Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald their first win as a Top Fuel dragster team.
"This just shows how strong our team really is here at MAR (Mike Ashley Racing)," Brown said. "With all the adversity we dealt with this off season, this is just an awesome feeling. Lee Beard left us with a great race car and with Brian Corradi and Mark Oswald in here, there was no doubt in my mind that we'd do well.
"After testing, here in Phoenix last month, our team just really gelled. We didn't need any glue or adhesive we just stuck together. We just need to get more laps and to be more consistent. We've got an awesome race car. We were bummed to not win at Pomona last race because we really had the car to beat, but you can't count anyone out in this sport. To run that 3.81 in the semis today was awesome to show we can run with (Larry) Dixon and Tony (Schumacher) and all the top dogs. It's going to be a fun year in Top Fuel, but it'll be tough to win races with so many great teams."
Capps, in his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T, opens the 2009 Full Throttle Drag Racing season with back-to-back wins in Funny Car, the first time this has happened since 1997, when John Force opened the season with consecutive wins. This is the 27th National event win for Capps and the first time he has won after qualifying number one. Capps won the final when Mike Neff broke on the burnout and Could not back up to the starting line. Capps defeated Jeff Arend, Don Schumacher Racing teammate Matt Hagan and Del Worsham on his way to the final.
Capps credited his crew chief Ed "Ace" McCulloch for the NAPA team's newfound success this season. "He's the man," said Capps in the winner's circle. "He's done well in his career, driven Funny Cars, Top Fuel dragsters. He's my hero. I can't tell you how I feel right now. More than anything [this win is great] for the NAPA guys and for Ace. He really worked hard in the off season and kind of started from scratch with the tune-up.
"It's like a really good cook learning how to cook again completely differently. The car is just so different to run, to feel, and it puts me in the trunk at half-track. It's so much fun to drive and when the win light comes on, it's even better.
"To run the 4:04 in the final was awesome. Ace could've just tried to go down the track, but he wanted to give the fans the best run this weekend.
2007 and 2008 Pro Stock Champion Coughlin, in the JEGS.com Chevy Cobalt, won in Phoenix for the second time in his career, defeating Kurt Johnson in the final round. This was the first time in eight final rounds against Johnson that Coughlin took the win light, even though he holds an overall head-to-head advantage against Johnson.
"That's a crazy stat," Coughlin admitted. "Any time you race Kurt you know you're in for a battle and it definitely means a little more to beat a driver of his caliber. I'll have to make sure and give him a hard time about this."
Coughlin put Steve Spiess, Jason Line and Ron Krisher in the trailer on his way to the final round.
"Sometimes you really have to fight your way through a race and that was certainly the case this weekend," said Coughlin, a 42-time winner in the Pro Stock class. "We're still trying to fine-tune this new Chevy and we're not at full speed just yet. My Dad and Roy (Simmons, crew chief) just kept at it every pass and the car was there for me. It's really cool to win for them and for my little man, Jeggie III, who came along this weekend. He's always good luck." # SNIP #
- - Courtesy Drag Race Central by Rick Green
Wed, 02.25.09: Now That Was Better
- - Lucas Oil Slick Mist NHRA Nationals Post-Event Review. Very good wrap-up article with numerous photos. I'm glad the author, Bob Frey, said something about the very large number of nitro engine explosions and out of control fires during qualifying (see my comments in next post) as follows: "The racing was good in every class at Phoenix, although I must admit there seemed to be more oil-downs than I can remember at recent events, especially the 1,000-foot races. I hope that's not a pattern that will repeat itself at future races." <> FlA Says: Bob has been around drag racing since the '60's and is highly regarded. Here's a good NHRA article about him, 04.29.07: For newest generation of fans, Frey is 'the voice' of drag racing.
Sat, 02.21.09: Father and Son Crew Chiefs Steals Firebird Spotlight - Ed and Jason McCulloch
Jason McCulloch joined his legendary father Ed "the Ace" McCulloch in tuning his driver Larry Dixon to the No. 1 qualifying position at a National event Saturday, marking the first time in NHRA history such a feat has occurred. Just two races since being named crew chief of Larry Dixon's Al Anabi Racing Top Fuel dragster, Jason tuned Dixon to a class-leading 3.807 at 313.95 mph, while NHRA legend Ed (NHRA 19th Greatest Driver) guided Ron Capps to the top slot in Funny Car with a 4.023 at 305.63 mph in his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T.
"I'm so happy for Jason," Dixon said. "It's his first pole and he's part of something real special with the first father/son duo to get the pole at the same race. That's really cool. Normally the drivers get the credit, right or wrong, but today it needs to go to those two guys. It's well deserved." Dixon and crew held off a Saturday charge from six-time champion Tony Schumacher, who jumped up to second place with an improved 3.826 at 314.46 mph in the U.S. Army dragster.
Like Dixon, Capps made his record run Friday, but that didn't diminish his enthusiasm for his longtime tuner's special moment. "Jason obviously soaked it all up from his old man," Capps said. "We all knew he'd be a great crew chief when he got the chance and I'm sure "Ace" is proud of him. "It's funny because those two are old school all the way, real gruff and all. Well a long time back I started making "Ace" give me a hug every day when I left the track. You know he didn't like it at first but it's kind of become our deal. Now I just say, "Okay, I'm outta here," and he'll automatically stand up to give me a hug. One day I said, "Do you hug Jason like this, and he was like, nah - Too funny." # SNIP # - Credit RDRN, Edited by FlA
Home: The FR 2009 NHRA Championship Drag Racing Thread
FlAttorney's FR Racing
posted on 03/14/2009 7:23:59 PM PDT
(See my comprehensive FR Profile "Straight Talk" Page)
Event Results, FlA Says:
From the TV broadcast, other videos, and detailed track reports, Friday and Saturday nitro qualifying was very rough due to excessive engine explosions and fires. I can't remember the last time there has been this many. It was odd because many nitro teams tested at Firebird before the start of the 2009 season. However, the problems didn't surprise me because of NHRA's very bad decision to suspend track oildown monetary fines and points penalties for the 2009 season. The teams easily trashed $500,000 in parts during qualifying. Part of the problem was the left lane was bad for the entire event. Also, some inexperienced/less impressive drivers/teams were involved in engine explosions and fires. Maybe the Top Fuel crew chiefs and drivers just wanted to test the new NHRA mandated automatic safety shutoff controller *sarcasm*. The following nitro drivers experienced engine explosions and/or fires during qualifying, with none seriously injured - (R)ight Lane, (L)eft Lane:
== Top Fuel ==
Arley Langlo(L) - Major fire
Morgan Lucas(R)(L) - Two flash fires
Doug Kalitta(L) - Flash fireball. Had huge fire during Winternationals qualifying
Mike Strasburg(L) - Major explosion and fire
Troy Buff(L) - Flash Fire
Steve Faria(L) - Major fire
David Baca(L) - Major explosion and fire
== Funny Car ==
FC Tony Pedregon(R) - Explosion and very serious top-end fire that he had trouble getting under control.
Ashley Force(L) - Flash fire that came into the cockpit and around her helmet visor. She did a great job managing the incident.
-- List Compiled by FlA & Co.
Sunday's Final Eliminations went much better. Like Friday and Saturday, the weather was great but the left lane continued to be a major problem with about 95% of the wins coming in the right lane. Many nitro cars, and some pro stock cars, had trouble getting left lane traction with some experiencing major starting line tires shake/wheels hop. Great funny car event win by one of my favorite drivers Ron Capps. Two wins in a row for Ron with his NHRA legendary co-owner/crew-chief, and my No. 1 favorite active NHRA legend, Ed The Ace McCulloch. Unfortunately, the funny car finals was one of those situations where I wished both drivers could have won. Capps was up against Team Force's Mike Neff who had an outstanding weekend, despite his crew-chief John Medlen being in the hospital with heart problems.
Below is the info on Erics(RIP) fathers situation. Latest report states John is doing alright but doesn't know when he will be released. Unfortunately, Mike's car broke(clutch linkage failure) during his burnout and his weekend was over. On his solo run, Capps didn't hold back and made a huge pass. Mike was the second Team Force funny car to experience mechanical problems in the Finals. After John Force's burnout, his engine was leaking fuel at the starting line. His crew finally got it stopped so he could stage. When the light went green, John lost traction and his weekend was over. John was very upset. I'm sure there was some butts kicked back at his pits. - fla
02.22.09: ESPN Video: Ron Capps Wins Two In A Row | Phoenix: Ron Capps Final Report
If you don't know about Top Fuel winner Antron Brown(website)
, he was Angelle Sampey's Pro Stock Motorcycle teammate until he moved to Top Fuel in 2008 because he and Angelle lost their U.S. Army sponsorship, as drivers for Don Schumacher Racing (largest NHRA racing team). As teammates, Antron and Angelle were very close. With his high pitched voice you wouldn't think he has the cojones to be a good drag racer, but he is. In PSM, Antron consistently had the lowest starting line reaction times I've ever seen. He had a great 2008 Top Fuel season finishing 5th in points, with two wins, and qualifed No. 1 three times. He's the only driver in NHRA history to win races in Top Fuel and Pro Stock Motorcycle.
Pro Stock winner Jeg Coughlin, is another outstanding driver and individual with four NHRA Pro Stock World Championships, 2008, '07, '02, '00, 42 PS "Wallys"(event win trophies), and 69 Finals round appearances. This decade, Jeg, my main man Greg Anderson (2003, '04, '05 PS World Championship) and Greg's teammate 2009 Winternationals winner Jason Line (2006 PS World Championship) have dominated Pro Stock. There's no reason not to believe that one of these three will be the 2009 PS World Champion.
02.19.09: John Medlen admitted to Indianapolis hospital
- - Long-time John Force Racing crew chief John Medlen was admitted to an Indianapolis hospital for discomfort in his chest late Wednesday night. After an examination by doctors a routine medical procedure was performed and a stint was inserted into his heart. This is the second such procedure for the 59-year-old Medlen. In 2002, Medlen had a stint inserted as a precaution and, as a result, missed the NHRA national event at Seattle. He returned a week later to resume his responsibilities at Sonoma, Calif. A year later, he won the NHRA POWERade championship for JFR with driver Tony Pedregon.
"John Medlen like everyone in my organization is an extremely hard worker," said team owner John Force. "We have been having meetings and working around the clock to start this season off as successfully as possible for all our sponsors. I know Medlen has already been talking with (driver) Mike Neff about how to run the Ford Drive One Ford Mustang this weekend. Incidents like this are why John Medlen wanted to bring Mike Neff on board.
"Neff won the 2005 championship as a crew chief with Gary Scelzi so obviously he in a good position to step in to help out. Medlen wanted to have a back-up in the crew chief position on his team like I do with our other teams and now it is really paying off for us. Well have the whole crew chief brain trust working on that Mustang this weekend with input from Medlen in Indy."
posted on 03/14/2009 7:37:58 PM PDT
(See my comprehensive FR Profile "Straight Talk" Page)
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