FYI WIRZ: NHRA Season roars to a finish this weekend in Pomona
NHRA RACE PREVIEW By Dwight Drum
Web work by Larsen & Drum Images by Gary Larsen and Drum
NHRA Mell Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship will blast into history through this weekend during the 51st annual Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California.
Nine competitors in the professional ranks shared their thoughts going into the final race of the year. Two who commented are already champions, twice crowned now, but it’s hard to detect any revelry. It seems it’s always the next challenge that’s most important to champions with multiple trophies.
Top Fuel and Pro Stock Car are decided, but Funny Car and Pro Stock Motorcycle have at least two competitors each who could claim season trophies this weekend.
Fans can learn a lot from those who contend and make it to the top in their sport.
Top Fuel Dragster
Antron Brown also got his second NHRA Top Fuel championship and added much to the diversity that the sanction has been known for over the years. Brown is among other African-American standouts in NHRA, but he achieved special accomplishments over his career. He commented on his fast rides.
“We’re still trying to make a little bit more history before this year’s out,” he said. “I mean, we would love to end the year with a win. Even though we have won the world championship – it’s all said and done – people may think that your work is done, but our work’s not done. It’s not complete, yet. We have one more race on the table.
“Now we can go in there and let our hair down, but I don’t have no hair to let down, so we’ll give it all we’ve got, have some fun with it, go out and be aggressive.”
Tony Schumacher has turned many victories into NHRA Top Fuel championships. He couldn’t overcome teammate Brown this year, but he shared noble words anyway.
“Unfortunately, there will be no coming back for the U.S. Army team this time,” he said. “But, like we have done every single time we have had the honor of representing the U.S. Army at the racetrack for the last 15 years, we are going to show up with our heads held high and we are going to try to win this last race of the season.
“Second place was not our goal at the beginning of the season but, if we go out and execute and have one of our typically great weekends, we can leave Pomona feeling proud.”
Brittany Force is relatively new to the pro ranks, but grew up in NHRA environments while dad, John Force, raced his way to iconic status. She talked about goals.
“Finishing in the highest place we can is exactly our team’s plan,” she said. “Everyone is so close in points that anyone can make big moves and we are hoping to reclaim our number three position we had back in St Louis. The key to moving up in points is consistency.
“I absolutely love racing at my home track in Pomona. Our first win at my home track would be an absolute dream.”
Erica Enders >>>>> Greg anderson in car
Pro Stock Car
Erica Enders earned back-to-back championships in the Pro Stock Car class after Las Vegas. She took her gender and skills to another level in the highly competitive PS field. Enders share her thoughts.
“We accomplished what we wanted to as far as the championship is concerned,” she said. “That pressure is off of us. But we definitely want to go out there and finish the season strong.”
Enders also discussed earning her second championship.
“The first is always the best and the most memorable. But having the second and doing it back-to-back is pretty cool because I wanted to prove so badly that it wasn't a fluke and that we do mean business. My guys are perfectionists and extremely competitive. To be able to do it back-to-back says so much about our team and what we're capable of.”
Tony Schumacher >>>>> Jack Beckman in car
Del Worsham has a Top Fuel championship and is 38 points ahead of Jack Beckman racing for the Funny Car championship. This competition should excite many throught the weekend. Worsham spoke about his chances.
“All season long, we were building this combination, the team was getting together, we were making final rounds,” he said. “A real goal of ours, especially at the beginning of the season, was just to get to the finals with an opportunity to win the championship, the opportunity that if you win the race, you could be the Mello Yello NHRA champion. We accomplished that, got there. If we win the race, we will be the champions, I believe. It's just kind of in our hands.”
John Force may not be in contention for another championship this year, but as usual he is rarely shy with words. He defined his championship expertise.
“You can’t hurt the heart of a champion,” he said. “I race from the heart and that is where I get my motivation. These young guys that have been working on my race car all year motivate me, and when I put on my fire suit I feel like I am 20 years old again.”
Courtney Force, like dad, hasn’t given up at all and commented on this year and next.
“I can’t believe this is the final race of the year, and really hope that we can pick up a win,” she said. “I’m excited for one last weekend in my Funny Car for the year, but also already looking forward to next year. I’m already anxious to start testing for next season.”
Pro Stock Motorcycle
Andrew Hines sits on top of the Pro Stock Motorcycle point peak with a 46 point buffer for closest competitor Jerry Savoie. He defined his strategy well.
“I’m trying to not put any pressure on myself,” he said. “I feel like I have a good Harley and I just need to go out and try to do my job. If I get a fifth (championship) that would be fantastic, but I’m trying to treat it like any other race. It’s something I’ve tried to do over the last couple years and it’s worked really well.”
Jerry Savoie knows the Screaming Eagle team of Hines and Krawiec well, and understands his challenge.
“Those guys are as solid as a rock,” he said. “They’re seven-time world champions between them and you don’t win that many on luck. Those guys are good, and they’re in the position they are for a reason. I have a lot of respect for them and I call Andrew ‘Iceman’ because you can’t rattle him.”
Andrew Hines >>>>>>> Eddie Krawiec
Fans without tickets to see the blitzing speeds and hear thunderous sounds all weekend at the Pomona strip can view eliminations broadcast at 9 p.m. by ESPN2.
FYI WIRZ is the select presentation of topics by Dwight Drum at Racetake.com. Unless otherwise noted, information and all quotes were obtained firsthand or from official release materials provided by sanction and team representatives.
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