Rahal helps Ganassi team claim another Rolex 24: Graham Rahal’s association with Chip Ganassi Racing already is paying dividends.
Rahal, who will drive the No. 38 Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing entry in the IZOD IndyCar Series this season, co-drove the No. 01 TELMEX/Target Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates car to victory in the Rolex 24 At Daytona. It came 30 years after his father, Bobby, joined Brian Remond and Bob Garretson in Victory Lane.
“Most drivers who compete in this event, and there have been thousands, will never get the opportunity to win this race,” Rahal said. “And to have the chance to win it, and to have that chance at 22 with a great team, this is pretty sweet.”
The 1981 sports car endurance race was Bobby Rahal’s breakthrough victory in a career marked by his 1986 Indianapolis 500 title and CART championships in 1986, ’87 and ’92. He had 24 open-wheel racing victories and 88 podium finishes.
He watched from pit lane as the No. 01 car, co-driven by Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas and Joey Hand, held off the No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates entry by 2.46 seconds.
“I thought about (Graham winning) this whole weekend, of really how cool would that be if he was able to do it,” Rahal said.
The victory gave team owner Chip Ganassi consecutive victories in the Daytona 500, Indianapolis 500, Brickyard 500 and the Rolex 24 (from February 2010).
“I don’t drive the cars, I don’t change the tires and I don’t work on the engines,” Ganassi said. “There are lots of people, lots of great competitors, who make up this team. I just get to stand up here and talk about it.”
IZOD IndyCar Series stars Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon co-drove the No. 02 Daytona Prototype with Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray to the runner-up finish. The SunTrust Racing car co-driven by Ryan Briscoe (Team Penske) finished fifth overall, while the Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian car co-driven by Justin Wilson (Dreyer & Reinbold Racing) was sixth. Also, 2004 Indy 500 winner Buddy Rice co-drove the Action Express Racing car that finished ninth. Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Autosport) teamed with 2009 IZOD IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year Raphael Matos to finish 11th in the Level 5 Motorsports car.
The race was slowed 23 times for 141 laps. There weren’t any major incidents, but morning fog led to 2 hours, 47 minutes (57 laps) running under caution.
Indy car winners of the Rolex 24
2011 – Graham Rahal
2006 – Scott Dixon (Finished fourth in IZOD IndyCar Series points with wins at Watkins Glen and Nashville
2006 – Dan Wheldon (Finished second in IZOD IndyCar Series points with wins at Homestead and Chicagoland)
2002 – Max Papis (Ran selected CART events with best finish of third at Long Beach and Milwaukee.
1998 – Arie Luyendyk (Finished eighth in IZOD IndyCar Series points. Won season finale at Las Vegas)
1996 – Scott Sharp (Won IZOD IndyCar Series co-championship)
1989 – John Andretti (Ran selected CART events with best finish of 12th at Laguna Seca)
1988 – Raul Boesel (Finished eighth in CART points, with best finish of fourth at Milwaukee)
1987 – Al Unser Jr. (Finished third in CART points)
1986 – Al Unser Jr. (Finished fourth in CART points, won season-finale at Miami)
1985 – A.J. Foyt (Ran selected CART events, with best finish of 20th at Miami)
1983 – A.J. Foyt (Finished 31st at Indianapolis, his only start of the season)
1982 – John Paul Jr. (Made his Indy car debut at Road America, started 8th, finished 21st)
1979 – Danny Ongais (finished sixth in CART Indy Car points; Best finish:4th at Indianapolis 500)
Nitro Jam and IHRA coming to Tucson
Southwestern International Raceway to host third stop on 2011 Nitro Jam tour
Norwalk, Ohio, January 31, 2011 – After a few weeks of deliberation culminating with a unanimous vote by the racers, the International Hot Rod Association and Feld Motor Sports is proud to announce that Tucson, Ariz. based dragstrip Merles Southwestern International Raceway has joined the IHRA family of member tracks.
Merles Southwestern International Raceway has confirmed that the venue will be sanctioned by the IHRA and, according to new owner LJ Motorsports and CEO Bernie Longjohn, the IHRA affiliation will bring with it many racer friendly programs including the Summit SuperSeries and Teen Championship Racing, culminating with the southwestern United States debut of the fastest growing motorsports event in the country as Nitro Jam comes to SIR the weekend of March 25-26 with one of the biggest shows of the year.“We here at Merles Southwestern International Raceway are thrilled to be teaming up with the International Hot Rod Association in bringing great racing, great shows and a fresh start to the Tucson area,” Longjohn said. “This is a great partnership, not just for local racers, but for the entire region as we welcome an incredible Nitro Jam show to the track the last weekend of March and present many great racing options for the fans. It is sure to be a great event and a great year for everyone here at SIR.”
The Tucson region has always had a rich tradition of great motorsport events and now Merles Southwestern International Raceway can proudly say that the best is coming March 25-26 as the Arizona Nitro Jam invades Tucson with the world’s fastest cars and stars and a show that is sure to rock southwestern Arizona. It will also be the farthest west the IHRA and Nitro Jam has ever traveled ithe United States.“We are thrilled to welcome SIR to the IHRA family and we are even more excited to bring a Nitro Jam to the western part of the United States and give those fans a unique show they can’t see anywhere else,” said IHRA President Aaron Polburn. “We have an incredible show lined up for Tucson that includes four nitro classes and a finale Arizona fans won’t soon forget.
“We will also be working with Southwestern International Raceway to bring other unique and exciting programs to the track in the future as the IHRA continues its expansion west.”
The 2011 Arizona Nitro Jam Tour will feature the world’s fastest race machines as Top Fuel dragsters invade the Arizona strip, in addition to championship Prostalgia Nitro Funny Cars, insane Nitro Harleys, out-of-control Fuel Altereds, flame-throwing jet dragsters and the “Cool Bus” wheelstanding school bus. And it will all be capped off with a historical finale as, for the first time ever, fans as SIR will witness the legendary Grave Digger monster truck take on a 30,000 horsepower jet semi in a showdown between two of the most exciting trucks in the world.
In addition to the Arizona Nitro Jam, Merles Southwestern International Raceway will also welcome the Summit SuperSeries, which provides local racers an opportunity to compete for a world championship, and many other great racer programs.
For more information about Southwestern International Raceway visit the track website at www.sirdragstrip.com or check out www.nitrojam.com to learn more about the Arizona Nitro Jam the weekend of March 25-26.
About Feld Motor Sports, Inc.
Feld Motor Sports, Inc. is the world leader in specialized arena and stadium-based motor sports entertainment. Feld Motor Sports, Inc. productions include Monster Jam®, Monster Energy® Supercross, AMA Arenacross Series, Freestyle Motocross, and IHRA® Nitro Jam®. Feld Motor Sports, Inc. is a division of Feld Entertainment, the world’s largest producer of live family entertainment. For more information on Feld Entertainment, visit www.feldentertainment.com.
JFR HEADS TO DRAG RACING’S BIGGEST PRE-SEASON EVENT AT PBIR
Jupiter, Fla. (January 31, 2011) – Palm Beach International Raceway is excited to announce it will be hosting the inaugural Pro Winter Warm-up Friday February 4 and Saturday February 5 at the all-concrete championship drag strip. The winter warm-up will be professional drag racing’s biggest preseason testing event and the only opportunity for drag racing fans in South Florida to see the sport’s biggest names. John Force Racing will be participating in the inaugural event as well as testing the next three days at the PBIR facility.
“A number of professional drag racing teams have used our facility to test in the past few years but this year we’ve decided to step it up,” said Jason Rittenberry, president of Palm Beach International Raceway. “Usually the sessions are closed to the general public, but we’ve changed that this year. Seeing these nitro cars under the lights is an incredible experience for race fans and I’m happy the teams have agreed to invite the public to get a real taste of professional drag racing. We’ve got a great lineup of teams that will be participating.”
Professional drag racing teams already committed to participate include John Force Racing, Kenny Bernstein Racing, Kalitta Racing, Don Schumacher Racing, R2B2, Bob Tasca Racing, Morgan Lucas, Racing, Vandergriff Motorsports, Terry McMillen and Cruz Pedregon Racing.
Additionally, the website http://bangshift.com/blog/BangShift-to-Provide-Live-Streaming-From-the-PRO-Winter-Warm-Up-Biggest-Nitro-Pre-Season-Test.html is also covering the event.
The two-night event will feature side-by-side runs and a shootout between the two quickest Top Fuel Dragsters and the two quickest Funny Cars. Gates will open at 4 p.m. both Friday and Saturday with runs scheduled at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased at the gate. No advance tickets will be offered. Adult single day tickets are $25, children 6-12 years old are $10 and children 5 and under are free. A special two-day adult ticket can be purchased for $40. Bring your ticket stub from the Nitro Jam event on January 28 or 29 and receive $5 a single day ticket.
Lagana blasts to victory at Palm Beach Nitro Jam
Romine posts first Nitro Jam victory in a decade; Manners, Turner and Maroney record wins
JUPITER, Fla. (January 30, 2011) – In more than 12 years of Top Fuel drag racing, Bobby Lagana Jr. had posted only two runs of over 320 miles per hour in his entire career.After Saturday night, he has a few more to add to his totals.Lagana, in front of a huge southern Florida crowd, blasted to the best weekend of his entire career with four consecutive runs of over 320 mph, including a career best lap Saturday night, and a weekend sweep of the quickest category in drag racing to give the defending Top Fuel champion an incredible start to the 2011 season at the Palm Beach Nitro Jam Saturday night at Palm Beach International Raceway.“This was absolutely the best Top Fuel show the IHRA has ever seen,” Lagana said. “I had two 320 mile per hour passes in my life before this weekend and now I have six. Actually all eight runs between the two of us were over 300 miles per hour so that was great for the fans and great for us. Bruce did a great job and so did our group.”
For the second year in a row Bobby Lagana swept Top Fuel atPalm Beach International
Lagana, behind the wheel of the Service Central dragster, posted four impressive laps on his way to winning both nights at the Palm Beach Nitro Jam for the second consecutive year. Other big winners from Saturday night included three-time Top Fuel champion Paul Romine who returned to Nitro Jam competition with a victory in the Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car class, Mike Manners (Pro Fuel), Jay Turner (Nitro Harley) and Ron Maroney (Fuel Altered).Sportsman winners from this weekend’s Palm Beach Nitro Jam included Matthew Buck (Lantana, Fla.) in Top Sportsman, Robert Snowball(Loxahatchie, Fla.) in Top Dragster, Mark Nowicki (Gaylord, Mich.) in Super Stock, Nick Folk (Durand, Ill.) in Stock, Jim Morrison (Kinderhook, N.J.) in Quick Rod, Jason McCandless (Naples, Fla.) in Super Rod and Bill Clarke (Merritt Island, Fla.) in Hot Rod.Despite not coming away a winner, the other big storyline of the day waproduced by Trinidad racer Sheldon Bissessar who set a new Top Dragster world record Friday night with a 5.684-second lap in qualifying.All seven sportsman winners earn instant entry into the season ending Summit Racing Tournament of Champions at the World Finals in Virginia. They will join other winners from around the country to determine the champions in each sportsman class in October.And one champion who didn’t wait long to get the season started was Lagana.
After three years away, former Top Fuel champion Paul Romine returned to Nitro Jam competition with a win SaturdayAfter winning Friday night, Lagana didn’t hold anything back on day two with a pair of impressive laps including the one that mattered most in the finals as he roared around Litton with a 4.737-second lap at 321.35 miles per hour. Litton ran a 4.920, 316.90 in the runner-up effort.
“This thing is a brand new car that was actually built for Dom (Lagana) so I had to trim up just to get in the thing,” Lagana said. “We have Service Central and Tire Kingdom on the car this weekend and we had several people out to see us so it was just a great weekend for everyone.”Despite coming up just shy, Litton pushed the defending champ both nights with four impressive laps of his own including a weekend-best 4.735, 315.42 lap in round one Saturday night. The other driver to make history Saturday was Paul Romine who placed the “Man-O-War” Mustang in a Nitro Jam winner’s circle for the first time in a over a decade. Romine, a three-time Top Fuel champion, bested Pete Gallen in the final with a pass of 6.016, 237.80. Gallen and the “Poverty Stricken” team put together a 6.149, 244.96 in the runner-up effort. “It has been 10 years since I last raced IHRA and 10 years since I won oneof these things,” Romine said. “The format has changed a lot over the years, but we had a lot of fun. The track was perfect, the fans were great and we beat Gallen so what more could you ask for.“Gallen and Sanders are both very tough competitors and of course ‘Mr. Explosive’ got us last night, but we got Gallen tonight. Actually, going back over the last few times we have raced Gallen, he was one up on me in wins so now I think we are one up on him so that is definitely a good ending.” Romine also found himself in Friday’s final, falling to Mark Sanders in thmatchup. And the Nitro Jam newcomers certainly put on a show as both drivers won three of four rounds during the weekend with the pair splitting the victories.
The new Nostalgia Fuel Altered class was a hit at the Nitro Jamseason opener
The other big player Saturday night was Gallen who made up for a huge misstep on Friday with a monstrous lap in the opening round of Prostalgia Funny Car to place himself in the final. Gallen ran a 5.729, 250.37 in the win, powering around last year’s winner Greg Jacobsmeyer. The battle for the other final round spot was a tough one as Hartman, McIntire and Romine all put down tremendous laps, but it was Romine that was the big winner for the second night in a row with a 5.818, 244.78 lap to edge McIntire by less than a hundredth of a second.Friday night winner Sanders was eliminated from contention in a loss to Hartman. In Pro Fuel competition Mike Manners did the unthinkable by besting BilEvans in the championship round, snapping Evans’ streak of nearly four years without a loss at the Palm Beach track. Evans had won every matchup at the track including sweeping last year’s Palm Beach Nitro Jam and winning on Friday, but Manners put that streak to a halt with a big win on Saturday.“We didn’t have quite the finish to last night that we had hoped, but we werable to turn that around tonight,” Manners said. “The car has been running great and we put down some laps we were happy with. We will take what we learned tonight and hopefully keep the momentum going throughout the year.”
Manners ran a 5.332, 270.48 in the championship pairing to pull out thewin after Evans ran into problems at the line. The win was the fifth of Manners’ career.In addition to pulling out the win, Manners also dominated the scoreboard as, for the second night in a row, the driver of the “Shredder” machine was the fastest Pro Fuel dragster on the property. In addition to his blistering lap in the final, he also roared down the track on a 5.395, 266.00 lap in round one. Evans was just off that pace with a 5.446, 272.83 in a win over Samsel.
Rounding out the night were the two new classes to Nitro Jam competition as Jay Turner upset Friday winner Steve Dorn to win the Nitro Harley title and Ron Maroney bested Ron Hope in the new Nostalgia Fuel Altered class.While Dorn took the win on night one, it was all Turner on Saturday as he blasted down the track with a 6.302, 217.84 lap, an easy win after Dorn ran into trouble. Jay also had a big lap in round one to advance to the finals, running a 6.484, 200.83 in a win over Mike Scott.
In Nostalgia Fuel Altered Maroney ran a 7.208, 205.57 in the victory as both he and Hope ran into trouble during their runs.While Maroney and Hope met up in the finals, it was actually Jason Richey and Chris Bennett that produced the low elapsed times of the first round, but neither could make the call for the final propelling their opponents into the championship matchup per Nitro Jam rules. Despite not making the call, Bennett had low elapsed time of round one with a 5.930, 235.97 pass.
After another huge weekend in Palm Beach, the Nitro Jam tour will now pack up and head a few hours west to State Capitol Raceway in Baton Rouge, La. For the Mardi Gras Nitro Jam the weekend of February 19-20.
Sanders wins east versus west Prostalgia Funny Car showdown
Lagana, Evans own Palm Beach once again; Dorn, Bennett win in debut
JUPITER, Fla. (January 28, 2011) – Just about the farthest point you can get from the sunny beaches of West Palm Beach, Fla. in the continental United States is the great state of Washington on the Pacific coast.
Approaching nearly 4,000 miles from the southern tip of Florida to the capitol city of Seattle, the differences between the two locations are great and the distance even greater. Still, despite the vast amount of land separating the two locations, it was a Seattle man that found himself in victory lane Friday night in Florida as Mark Sanders drove his race rig all the way across the country to lay claim to the first victory of the 2011 season at Palm Beach International Raceway Friday night.
Sanders, spending the past seven days on the road just to reach PBIR, defeated another newcomer, east coast native Paul Romine, in the Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car championship at the Palm Beach Nitro Jam on opening night. Other winners from Friday included Bobby Lagana (Top Fuel), Bill Evans (Pro Fuel), Steve Dorn (Nitro Harley) and Chris Bennett (Fuel Altered).
NEFF BACK IN THE COCKPIT, FORCE TAKES A NEW SEAT FOR 2011 TITLE BID
YORBA LINDA, CA (January 25, 2011) – In the wake of daughter Ashley Force Hood’s announcement that she is temporarily stepping away from competition in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series to focus on family and other responsibilities, John Force said Tuesday that Mike Neff will be back in the cockpit of a John Force Racing Ford Mustang in 2011.
Nevertheless, with his usual flair for the dramatic, Force announced that instead of climbing into the seat of the Mustang being vacated by Force Hood, Neff will drive the car in which Force himself won the 2010 championship – and he’ll tune it, too
Neff, the 2008 NHRA Rookie-of-the-Year, was a Top 10 finisher in both 2008 and 2009. He won the season-ending 2009 Auto Club Finals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona to become the first driver in 40 years to win an NHRA tour event in an all-Ford Funny Car – a Mustang powered by the JFR-developed BOSS 500 Ford engine.
When the economy compelled Force to downsize in 2010, reducing his rolling inventory from four Funny Cars to three, Neff hung up his helmet and assumed primary tune-up responsibilities on the Force-driven Mustang that had won just once in the two previous seasons.
Force won his first race with Neff at the helm, then sealed the championship by winning the last two events of the 2010 season, giving Neff the unusual distinction of becoming the first to win a Funny Car race (the Auto Club Finals) one year as a driver and the next as a crew chief.
“Neff showed me that he could do double-duty two years ago,” Force said. “When John Medlen had to step back for his health, that team never missed a beat with Neff tuning it and driving it. That’s how it used to be, back in the match race days. You did everything. You financed it, you tuned it, you drove it and then you drove the truck to the next race. Neff has that mentality. If anybody can wear both hats, it’s h
Neff’s new driver-tuner designation means that the team that directed Force to six 2010 victories and a record 15th individual championship essentially will remain intact with primary sponsorship from Castrol GTX and Ford. The only significant change will be Dan Hood’s new responsibilities in assisting with the tune-up, the first step in his development as a Next Generation crew chief. Force, meanwhile, will move over one pit spot to drive for crew chiefs Dean “Guido” Antonelli and Ron Douglas and the team that sent Force Hood to consecutive victories in the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals and second and third place finishes in Full Throttle points in 2009 and 2010, respectively.
After his success in 2010 with a special paint scheme recognizing his 25 years with Castrol sponsorship, the 15-time Auto Racing All-America selection’s newest Mustang will return to familiar Castrol GTX High Mileage livery this season.
While changes abound within the Castrol GTX and Castrol GTX High Mileage teams, the supporting cast for 2009 Full Throttle Champion Robert “Top Gun” Hight essentially is the same as it was a year ago with Jimmy Prock as crew chief, Eric Lane as assistant crew chief and the Auto Club of Southern California as primary sponsor.
The team that owns the quickest Funny Car times at both the quarter mile and 1,000 foot distances (4.636 and 4.005 seconds, respectively) will try this year to extend to seven the number of consecutive seasons in which they have won multiple NHRA tour events.
First step toward achieving that goal will be pre-season testing in which all the JFR Fords, including Courtney Force’s BrandSource Mustang, will participate, Feb. 5-9, at Palm Beach International Raceway, West Palm Beach, Fla.
ROBERT HIGHT NAMED JFR PRESIDENT, DEAN ANTONELLI ELEVATED TO GM
YORBA LINDA, CA (January 25, 2011) — Fifteen-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force announced today that he is reorganizing John Force Racing, Inc., and, effective immediately, is promoting his son-in-law, 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Champion Robert Hight, to president of the Yorba Linda-based drag racing dynasty that has won 17 of the last 21 NHRA Funny Car titles.
Speaking at a press conference at JFR corporate headquarters, Force outlined the new structure in which he will assume the position of CEO.Hight, who started his career at John Force Racing as a crewman in 1995, steadily assumed more responsibilities including Facility Manager of the Yorba Linda shop, test driver and, finally, driver of the Auto Club Ford Mustang in which he has won 18 NHRA tour events.
“Robert and my daughter Adria (Hight’s wife and current JFR CFO) will run this company long after I am gone,” Force said. “Adria has been with this company her whole life. She used to sit in my lap and steer my truck. She had been running the business side with my brother-in-law David Arritt for over a decade. “Robert is a strong leader and he understands every side of this company. He lives it just like I do every day of the year. At Thanksgiving, he and I always wind up going off in a corner and talking about business,” said Force. For Hight, this is just another acknowledgment of his dedication to John Force Racing and particularly to his father-in-law.“I have the highest respect for John. He never stops thinking about how to make this company better for everyone – from the crew guys to the crew chiefs to the sponsors to the fans. There is no way I could ever replace him and, trust me he isn’t going anywhere. I am excited to continue learning from him. This is an exciting day for me and Adria,” said Hight.
Hight won his first race as a crewman at John Force Racing (Denver, 1995) and his third race as a driver (Houston, 2005). He is the first driver in NHRA history to win multiple events in each of his first six pro seasons. He was NHRA Rookie of the Year in 2005, Full Throttle Champion in 2009 and owns the quickest times at both the quarter mile (4.636 seconds) and 1,000 foot (4.005 seconds) distances.
In addition to the new position for Hight, Force also announced that long-time JFR crewman and current crew chief Dean “Guido” Antonelli will take over as General Manager of the John Force Racing Brownsburg, Ind., facility. Antonelli has been instrumental in overseeing and managing the 150,000 square foot shop since it was opened in 2
“‘Guido’ has been running the Brownsburg shop with his wife, Kelly (JFR’s marketing director) for me for a couple of years now,” said Force. “I am just making it official. This is about moving the Next Generation of leaders up in my organization. We will still work as a team but every team needs a leader. ‘Guido’ used to be the team leader on my Funny Car and now he has his own team as crew chief. Having him run the Brownsburg shop was a natural fit.”
Antonelli was Team Leader on Force’s car for 12 seasons and in nine of those seasons Force won the championship. In four seasons as co-crew chief to Ashley Force Hood, along with partner Ron Douglas, he sent the second generation driver to 16 final rounds, four wins and 15 No. 1 starts culminating in back-to-back wins at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals and Top 3 finishes in 2009 an “Having John give me this opportunity is a real honor,” Antonelli said. “He is one of the best drivers I have ever seen and his passion for growing the sport is unmatched. When you look at what he has created in Brownsburg with our shop and The Eric Medlen Project, it is just amazing. My goal is to continue the positive momentum John has started and to build and expand our business model for both our own success and the success of our partners.”
Outlaws Know Quick Start at Volusia Key to Championship Race
DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH kicks off battle for World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series crown
CONCORD, NC – Jan. 27, 2011 – Points. In motorsports, those numbers are what separate champions from the rest of the field. The past two years on the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series tour, the margin between title contenders has never been closer for a longer period of time.
Those points earned on the first night of the season Feb. 11 at Volusia Speedway Park are just as important as the points that will be earned on Nov. 5 at The Dirt Track at Charlotte in the season finale. Last year at the DIRTcar Nationals by University of Northwestern Ohio, Tony Stewart Racing’s Donny Schatz and Steve Kinser put themselves in the title chase with Jason Meyers, Joey Saldana and Jason Sides by topping the World of Outlaws events during the 12-night kickoff to the 2011 dirt track racing season.
Meyers needs a strong start at Florida to begin his title defense because Schatz and Kinser, with 24 championships between them, know what it takes to win a crown. And nobody will be as motivated as Saldana, who is trying to give car owner Kasey Kahne his first World of Outlaws crown.
All that leads into a breakdown of the Outlaws, by their 2010 finishing order, entering the season opener Feb. 11 at Volusia:
- Can Jason Meyers pick up where he left off in Charlotte? Meyers dominated the World Finals in November, capturing both A-mains to become the first Californian to win the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series championship. A single-car operation that prides itself on its teamwork and dedication to winning against bigger multi-car teams, the Elite Racing Team with Meyers behind the wheel won’t rest on its 2010 accomplishments, which led to Meyers being named Driver of the Year by the North American 410 Sprint Car Poll. Determined to repeat like the champions before him, Meyers knows he will need a strong effort at Volusia to continue the momentum he had at the end of last season.
- Donny Schatz had a huge surge down the stretch last season to close within striking distance of Meyers at the World Finals and carried it into the winter with big wins in Australia. In the past, that combination has led to a strong start for Schatz at Volusia, where he earned a World of Outlaws victory last season, and could spell trouble for the rest of the field as the North Dakota native aims for his fifth title. A new-look color combination on the #15 machine might be just the spark he needs.
- Steve Kinser was rejuvenated last season, coming ever so close to an unreal 21st championship and refueling the legend for another title run. Kinser earned a victory last season at Volusia on the series’ second night and that momentum combined with his new Tony Stewart Racing ride helped keep the King of the Outlaws at or near the points lead throughout the season. A resurgent Kinser created a buzz everywhere the Outlaws raced, highlighted by his spectacular Kings Royal last-lap victory. Nobody knows the value of a strong start more than Kinser, and he’ll no doubt be ready to roll Feb. 11.
- Ask many experts and Joey Saldana is their pick to win his first World of Outlaws championship in 2011. The Kasey Kahne Racing driver was atop or near the top of the standings for nearly the entire 2010 season, winning a series-high 13 races, before a freak accident in the fall at Eldora cost him a night of racing and made it almost impossible to have a shot at the title. Saldana is one of the best racers at Volusia every February, finishing on the podium seemingly every night. Another strong start by Saldana and it could be trouble for the rest of the Outlaws in ’11.
- Jason Sides started coming on strong at the end of the 2009 season and had a breakout year in 2010, winning on tracks requiring many different skills and finishing in the Top Five in points for the first time in his career. That success will no doubt raise Sides’ expectations this year. To contend he knows a fast start is crucial, and he has continued to put the pieces in place to be a threat to win every night. Don’t be surprised to see Sides, one of the most fan friendly drivers in Sprint Car racing, take the next step toward a title this season.
- Paul McMahan’s 2010 season will be one he never forgets. He took over the Kasey Kahne Racing #91 Great Clips ride after Cody Darrah was injured in an off-track accident and turned in one of the best seasons of his stellar career. McMahan was tied with Meyers to lead the series with 10 quick times and tied with Schatz to lead the series with 8 pole positions. McMahan moves into the #83 car this year in a partnership between Kasey Kahne and longtime car owner Dennis Roth. A strong showing at Volusia will guarantee an even bigger battle for the World of Outlaws title in 2011 as the series races its way west in March to McMahan’s – and Roth’s -native California.
- Every season opener at Volusia, Craig Dollansky is one of the drivers keep an eye on. A quick start in 2009 launched him to the top of the standings and he’ll look to duplicate that performance as he begins his second season in the Big Game Treestands #7 car. One of the most intense drivers in the pits, Dollansky is primed to attack the championship race this season after a strong winter of competition Down Under.
- Lucas Wolfe is ever so close to winning his first World of Outlaws race, and Volusia is exactly the type of big, fast track where he can accomplish that feat. A native of Mechanicsburg, Pa., and the 2008 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year winner, Wolfe set three track records in 2010 as he’s progressed up the standings in each season he’s toured with the Outlaws. Kerry Madsen earned his first World of Outlaws win during the 2008 DIRTcar Nationals, this might be the year Wolfe does the same thing.
- The World of Outlaws 2001 champion Danny Lasoski will unveil a new ride at Volusia, and his competitive edge will no doubt make him a force. He’s had success in the past and if anybody knows the importance of starting fast and finishing strong it’s Lasoski.
- Kraig Kinser , the 2005 Knoxville Nationals champion, moves into the #6 Casey’s General Stores car in 2011. A fast start at Volusia will be the spark he needs to climb into the wide-open championship race.
- Like Wolfe, Sam Haferetpe Jr. also is on the verge of his first World of Outlaws victory. The Texas native topped time trials six times last year to go with three pole positions and three track records. He’s fast everywhere but seems especially quick on the big, high-speed half-miles like Volusia. A victory at Volusia could launch Hafertepe’s career to the next level.
- Always a fan favorite, Jac Haudenschild earned five World of Outlaws victories in 2010. He enters Volusia, where he’s gone wheel-to-wheel for some of the most exciting finishes in recent years, knowing he’s one of the drivers everybody will be watching. His high-side racing style combined with the fast top-side at Volusia makes the Wild Child a threat to win on every night.
- Chad Kemenah knows how to get around Volusia, having raced to victory on opening night in 2006. The Ohio native and four-time O’Reilly Auto Parts All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Car Series champion came one strong in the fall and will look to carry that momentum into the DIRTcar Nationals.
- No driver progressed more in 2010 than Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year winner Ben Gregg. Following a year on the road with Outlaws, Gregg will no doubt put that experience to work at Volusia.
- Canadian Toni Lutar fulfilled a life-long dream in 2010, touring with the World of Outlaws at every event. Like Gregg, the experience will help Lutar take on the expected huge field of Sprint Cars at the DIRTcar Nationals.
- Cody Darrah will be the front-runner for the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award. An injured knee sustained in a car accident on his way to the track for the 2010 opener prevented Darrah from climbing into his Kasey Kahne Racing ride. A year later, Darrah is ready to restart his career with the Outlaws. Only 21 years old, Darrah has already earned a World of Outlaws victory at his home track of Williams Grove in 2009, a season when he turned heads with his on-track performance and caught the eye of Kasey Kahne. Everybody is eager to see how Darrah will compete in 2011, but no one doubts he’ll be one of the fastest racers on the tour right off the trailer at Volusia.
So will Meyers be able to make it two in a row? Can Schatz add a fifth trophy to the display case? Will Kinser get his coveted 21st crown? Or will Saldana, Sides, Dollansky, McMahan or another Outlaw win their first title? The story of the 2011 season begins Feb. 11 at the 40th DIRTcar Nationals by UNOH at Volusia Speedway Park. Tickets are available by calling the event ticket hotline at www.DIRTcarNationals.com, the official online home of the DIRTcar Nationals that includes news, directions and lodging information.or by clicking the Buy Tickets button at
JOHN FORCE RACING ROAD SHOW TO HIT NHRA FULL THROTTLE TRAIL IN 2011
YORBA LINDA, CA (January 25, 2011) — John Force will be the first person to admit that he has some P.T. Barnum DNA running through his veins. In fact, the 15-time NHRA Funny Car champion is known as much for his verbal prowess in the pressroom as he is for his on-track success. He once dressed up as the Wendy’s restaurants namesake complete with dress and red wig to seal a sponsorship deal and even went so far as to eat a newspaper article to settle a wager with award-winning motorsports journalist John Sturbin.
Force is taking that promotional power and enthusiasm for NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing on the road in 2011.Force today unveiled the John Force Racing Road Show, a multiple-trailer caravan that will travel the country in conjunction with Force’s four Ford Mustang Funny Car teams, spreading the gospel of NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing at drag race events, movie theaters, malls, airports, car shows and anywhere else Force thinks he can get a crowd and sell the sport with which he fell in love as a young man in Southern California “I love this sport and I want as many people to see my hot rods as possible,” said the 15-time Auto Racing All-America selection. “Last year, we added a sponsor trailer to help our sponsors like Castrol, Auto Club, Ford, Mac Tools and BrandSource activate at the track with us. I want to take it to the next level and activate for my sponsors away from the track in the cities where we are racing.
“I know once fans see my Mustangs and maybe watch a video, they will want to see more. We have a great sport and NHRA is a great partner. I want to do everything I can so my sponsors, my drivers and our sport can continue to succeed,” said Force.
The John Force Racing Road Show will consist of multiple Ford Mustang show cars as well as an apparel trailer and interactive displays it will travel in conjunction with the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. In most instances, the JFR Road Show will set up on Wednesday or Thursday and be open free to the public through the race weekend.
On Sunday night or early Monday morning, the trailers will load up and, just like the Barnum and Bailey Circus, will leave town. In select markets, the BrandSource Funny Car, which will be part of the road show, will be tested by up-and-coming Funny Car driver Courtney Force as the 22 year-old works towards her license.