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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Keeping Pace

Teams gearing up for NHRA Winter Nationals

Tony Schumacher celebrates after winning the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Top Fuel championship. (Photo courtesy of NHRA)
Tony Schumacher celebrates after winning the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Top Fuel championship. (Photo courtesy of NHRA)

NHRA teams are hard at work in preparation for the season-opening event in Pomona, Calif. set for the first weekend in February. The Winter Nationals follows the Rolex 24-Hour race in Daytona by one week and is one week prior to the Daytona 500–all three events kick off their respective series' 2010 schedules.

Courtesy: NHRA Media Relations

CHUMACHER STRONG IN PRE-SEASON TESTING: Reigning NHRA Full Throttle Series Top Fuel world champion, Tony Schumacher, drove his U.S. Army dragster to back-to-back passes of 3.759 and 3.753, unofficially the two quickest passes in history, during pre-season testing Wednesday in South Florida. Schumacher’s runs one-upped the sizzling 3.767 run posted just one day earlier by world champion runner-up, Larry Dixon. Dixon also improved on his time during Wednesday’s test session, piloting his Alan Johnson/Al-Anabi Racing dragster to a 3.763. Both Schumacher and Dixon were joined by Top Fuel standouts Cory McClenathan, who posted a 3.771 run, Morgan Lucas, who posted runs of 3.869 and 3.961, Shawn Langon, who made a pass of 3.847 and Antron Brown, who drove to a best time of the day of 3.815. Funny Car drivers Jeff Arend, Matt Hagan, Jack Beckman and Del Worsham didn’t have as much luck as the Top Fuel cars, with Beckman and Capps posting runs of 4.10. Bob Tasca, who had been scheduled to test in South Florida, was absent due to a family emergency. Testing will continue through the week in South Florida before teams begin to head west for additional test sessions in Phoenix and Las Vegas. The 2009 Full Throttle Drag Racing Series will kick off with the 50th annual Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals, Feb. 11-14 at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. For tickets, call (800) 884-NHRA (6472) or online at


TROXEL TAKES GOLD, COUGHLIN GRABS SILVER AT THE LUCAS OIL GEOFF BODINE BOBSLED CHALLENGE: NHRA star Melanie Troxel earned the gold medal, flying past the competition in her first appearance at the annual Lucas Oil Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge presented by Whelen Engineering Sunday. Not far behind Troxel was four-time NHRA Full Throttle Pro Stock world champion Jeg Coughlin, who earned the silver medal in the competition. NASCAR road-racer Boris Said took the bronze medal in the event.  “I’m shocked,” said Troxel. “That final (gold medal) run didn’t even feel that fast. It seemed like I hit the wall a lot, but I guess it was quick enough to win. There was definitely some beginner’s luck on my side today.” Top Fuel teammates Shawn Langdon and Morgan Lucas finished fifth and sixth, respectively. Langdon, like Troxel, was competing in his first Lucas Oil Bobsled Challenge. Silver-medalist Coughlin had the fastest pass of the event, reaching 102.62 kilometers per hour on the 20-turn Olympic course on Mount Van Hoevernberg in Lake Placid, N.Y. “I skidded through a few of the lower turns in both runs, and that scrubbed off a bit of speed,” Coughlin said. “But I’m really pleased with this result. Two years ago, I came in third here and got the bronze. Now I’ve got a silver medal to go with it, so we’ve improved, and that’s exciting. I guess I need to come back and get a gold to finish the set.” For more information and results from the Lucas Oil Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge, visit


 PRUDHOMME ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT FROM DRAG RACING: Don “the Snake” Prudhomme, one of the most accomplished drivers and revered team owners in NHRA history, announced his retirement from the sport of drag racing late last week. Prudhomme’s 47-year career featured him behind the wheel for 32 seasons before he retired from driving at the end of his 1994 Final Strike campaign. He then transitioned to the role of team owner. Overall, Prudhomme has an impressive combination of six NHRA world championships and 112 national event victories. “I feel very fortunate to have been able to make a living in drag racing and to have enjoyed some success along the way,” said Prudhomme. “I would like to thank all of the great sponsors we’ve worked with over the years, everyone at NHRA, the many track owners, operators, and promoters, our past employees and team members, and all of the drag racing fans that have support Snake Racing.”
“A true legend in the world of motorsports and one of NHRA’s greatest ambassadors and champions, we wish Don ‘the Snake’ Prudhomme much health and happiness in his retirement,” said Tom Compton, president of NHRA. “Throughout his nearly 50-year run in NHRA competition, Don elevated the sport with great professionalism, character, and an instinct for winning as one of the greatest drivers of all time and later as a prominent team owner.
“On behalf of everyone within the NHRA community, I want to offer our sincere thanks to Don for all he has done to help guide the sport. The NHRA will forever be extremely grateful for his undying passion, commitment to excellence, and long-term dedication to the sport.”
For more information on Prudhomme and his retirement, visit



KRAGEN O’REILLY NHRA WINTERNATIONALS, AUTO CLUB RACEWAY AT POMONA, Feb. 11-14: The 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series will kick off in sunny Southern California with the 50th anniversary of the Winternationals. Defending event winners include Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel); Ron Capps (Funny Car); and Jason Line (Pro Stock). For tickets, call (800) 884-NHRA (6472) or online at For media credentials, please contact Director of Public Relations, Michael Padian at


NHRA ARIZONA NATIONALS, FIREBIRD INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY, Feb. 19-21: The traditional second stop on the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing tour, competitors will head to the Valley of the Sun for the second race in the 2010 season. Defending event winners include Antron Brown (Top Fuel); Ron Capps (Funny Car); and Jeg Coughlin (Pro Stock). For tickets, call (602) 268-0200 or online at For media credentials, please contact Media Relations Manager Zak Elcock at 


NHRA GATORNATIONALS, GAINESVILLE RACEWAY, March 11-14: The traditional season opener for the Pro Stock Motorcycle category, the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series heads to this historic event in the swamp lands of Florida. Defending event winners include Larry Dixon (Top Fuel); Bob Tasca (Funny Car); Jason Line (Pro Stock); and Hector Arana (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call (800) 884-NHRA or online at For media credentials, please contact Senior Communications Manager Scott Smith at




I LOVE THE SMELL OF NITRO IN THE MORNING: Top Fuel pilot Antron Brown on the start of testing for the 2010 Full Throttle Drag Racing Series: “To say we’re itching to fire up our Matco Tools dragster and smell some nitromethane is an understatement. After the season that we had in ’09 and finishing the year with a win at Pomona and now with all the resources we have here at (Don Schumacher Racing), we’re ready to bring the championship home for Matco Tools and all the Matco distributors.”


31: That’s how many career wins Top Fuel pilot Doug Kalitta has in his 11-year career, yet his first NHRA Winternationals win came just this past season. It also came on the 50th anniversary of Kalitta Motorsports. “I’ve always wanted to win here,” said Kalitta, as he addressed the media after his 2009 win. “This is one of the places that ranks way up there on my list, and the Kalitta name has a long list here.”


…that NHRA Funny Car legend, John Force, will be celebrating his 25th year with his title sponsor, Castrol, in 2010. To help celebrate the 25th anniversary, fans can visit the website, opening up this week, for more information on the Castrol/Force relationship and find photos, stories and video highlights.

Keeping Pace

Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.