Mardi Gras Nitro Jam presented by Domino’s Fact Sheet
Third race of 2012 Nitro Jam season gets underway May 4-5 at State Capitol Raceway
BATON ROUGE, La. (April 30, 2012) – The International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) Nitro Jam series returns to State Capitol Raceway in Baton Rouge, La. on May 4-5 for the Mardi Gras Nitro Jam presented by Domino’s Pizza.
This year’s Mardi Gras Nitro Jam features multiple professional and sportsman classes spread over the two-day weekend. The 2012 Mardi Gras Nitro Jam presented by Domino’s Pizza will feature professional competition in Pro Fuel Dragster, AMSOIL Prostalgia™ Nitro Funny Car, Nitro Harley, Fuel Altered and Outlaw Pro Modified. The event will also feature multiple exhibitions including the 30,000 horsepower Super Shockwave jet semi, side-by-side 300 mph jet dragsters and jet funny cars, wheelstanders and the Louisiana debut of the Grave Digger vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle monster truck drag race.
The weekend will also include a double Summit Racing Equipment Pro-Am Tour presented by AMSOIL weekend with competition in Top Sportsman, Top Dragster, Super Stock, Stock, Quick Rod, Super Rod and Hot Rod. Pro-Am points will be awarded both days and winners during Saturday’s Nitro Jam portion of the weekend will earn a spot in the year-end Summit Racing Equipment Tournament of Champions presented by AMSOIL.
This is the third race of the 2012 IHRA Nitro Jam season with championship points on the line in all professional classes. A spot in the year-end Summit Racing Equipment Tournament of Champions is on the line for racers in the sportsman classes on Saturday.
WHAT: The Mardi Gras Nitro Jam presented by Domino’s Pizza is the third race of the 2012 IHRA Nitro Jam season.
The event will include five professional classes including Pro Fuel Dragster, AMSOIL Prostalgia™ Nitro Funny Car, Fuel Altered, Nitro Harley and Outlaw Pro Modified, multiple sportsman classes including Top Sportsman, Top Dragster, Super Stock, Stock, Quick Rod, Super Rod, Hot Rod, Top, Mod and Junior Dragster and thrilling exhibitions including Grave Digger battling Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, the Super Shockwave jet truck, jet dragsters, jet funny cars, wheelstanders and more.
Friday and Saturday will feature sportsman racing throughout the day followed by the FanFest Pit Party at 6:30 p.m. The FanFest Pit Party features driver autographs and interactive stations for fans of all ages. FanFest and complete VIP access to the pit area is included with the price of admission. The Nitro Jam professional rounds will begin at 8 p.m. both nights.
WHEN: Friday-Saturday, May 4-5
WHERE: State Capitol Raceway – 11436 Highway 190 West, Port Allen, LA 70767
SCHEDULE (Subject to change; all times local)
FRIDAY: Spectator gates open @ 2 p.m.; FanFest Pit Party @ 6:30 p.m.; Nitro Jam @ 8 p.m.
SATURDAY: Sportsman Racing @ 9 a.m.; Spectator gates open @ 2 p.m.; FanFest Pit Party @ 6:30 p.m.; Nitro Jam @ 8 p.m.
2011 MARDI GRAS WINNERS: Pro Fuel – Robin Samsel (Sat) & Bill Evans (Sun); Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car – Peter Gallen (Sat & Sun); Fuel Altered – Chris Bennett (Sat) & Jim Maroney (Sun); Nitro Harley – Steve Dorn (Sat) & Mike Scott (Sun); Outlaw Pro Mod – Joe Palmisano; Top Sportsman – Les Herod; Top Dragster – Clayton Nance; Super Stock – Gilbert Johnson; Stock – Myron Piatek ; Quick Rod – Clayton Nance; Super Rod – Jeff Southerland; Hot Rod – Ray Todd; Top ET – Louis Gregoire; Mod ET – Eric Landry; Junior Master – Tara Elliser; Junior Advanced – Wyatt Sproles; Junior Beginner – Blaze LeBlanc
Mike Coughlin moves closer to JEGS Allstars goal
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 29) – Mike Coughlin took a giant step towards his goal of qualifying for the NHRA North Central Division JEGS Allstars team with a strong semifinal finish at this weekend’s Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series opener at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis.
Coughlin drove his JEGS.com Chevy Cobalt to three crucial round wins before dropping a close race against eventual runner-up Brian Stultz. Coughlin had a competitive .022 reaction time and ran right-on his 6.77 dial-in, but Stultz was quicker with a nearly perfect .004 light and won the round by just three-thousandths of a second.
Despite the loss the Stultz, Coughlin earned enough points with his performance to pass Donald Horne for the lead in the standings for the JEGS Allstars event, which will take place on June 30 at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill.
“I just got whipped by Brian, there’s no other way to put it,” Coughlin said. “I lost a good, close race. This class is tough and you’re going to have those races now and then. Losing was tough but I took over the lead for the JEGS Allstars, which is exactly what we wanted to do. That’s been my goal all along. I really want to be part of the Division 3 team this summer.”
Coughlin was especially pleased with the performance of his yellow and black Chevy, especially after qualifying in the No. 2 spot with a 6.70 seconds at more than 208 mph.
“We had pretty much the quickest car in the field and it went right down the track every time so obviously the work we did over the winter paid off,” Coughlin said. “It was cold and rainy this weekend but we had no problems. The car was flawless, which give me a lot of confidence heading into the summer months.”
Coughlin was not the only member of the JEGS team to enjoy a successful weekend as his sister-in-law Samantha Coughlin drove her JEGS.com dragster to a quarterfinal finish in the Super Comp class and third-generation racer Troy Coughlin Jr. posted a Round 4 finish in Super Comp.
Samantha’s day ended in Round 5 when she broke out by .007 seconds against Mike Lund.
“My car was perfect,” she said. “Like Mike, I also lost a tough race. When we left the starting line I felt like one of us was on time and I thought it was me, but unfortunately it was him. I just couldn’t get by but I’m still excited at how well we did. In my last three races here in Indianapolis, I’ve got two semifinal finishes and a quarterfinal.”
Advancing to the late rounds of the first Lucas Oil Series event of the year has also made Samantha re-think her game plan for the 2012 season. She is now contemplating a full schedule of Lucas Oil Series events.
“I’m very excited about the possibility of doing something in the points this year,” she said. “We’ll see how it goes for the next few races but this is a good start. I had a fun week racing with Mike and T.J. [Troy Jr.]. We all won some rounds and it always seemed like there was always a JEGS car in the staging lanes.”
Coming off a big win at last weekend’s high stakes E.T. bracket racing event at South Georgia Motorsports Park, Troy Jr. was looking for big things at Lucas Oil Raceway, the site of his first national event victory in 2010. After suffering a tough Round 1 loss in Top Dragster against low qualifier Troy Stone, Troy Jr. returned to win three rounds in Super Comp.
“My Top Dragster ran great but I just couldn’t judge [Stone’s] car at the finish line,” Troy said. “He’s just too fast. I couldn’t see him and then before I knew it he was ahead of me.
“In Super Comp, I was rolling along pretty well but I broke a rocker arm in the fourth round. I heard it on the burnout so I knew right away I was in trouble. Our cars are usually very reliable but when you’re dealing with 1,100-horsepower things are bound to happen every now and then. We’ll get it fixed and be ready for the next race.”
Quarterfinal finish for Coughlin in Texas
HOUSTON (April 29) – Troy Coughlin and his JEGS.com Chevrolet ran into a buzzsaw in Sunday’s second round of the NHRA Pro Mod Series presented by ProCare Rx.
Danny Rowe put down the fastest elapsed time for a winner in the quarterfinals of the NHRA Spring Nationals at Royal Purple Raceway, ending Coughlin’s day. Rowe made a pass of 5.954 seconds at 245.45 mph to beat Coughlin’s 6.041 at 247.53 mph.
“Everything worked like it’s supposed to,” Coughlin said. “We backed up from the burnout and got lined up straight, just like we always do. No issues. We pulled up and staged, and he had a fantastic light. We were not too far behind, but we just got out-ran. Bottom line. I saw a lot of black Camaro out there.”
Coughlin’s turbocharged ’68 Camaro won in the first round Saturday evening, beating Leah Pruett on a holeshot. Coughlin and crew chief Steve Petty continue to look for speed out of the car, which is in its first full season.
“You have to be patient,” Coughlin said. “There’s going to be a lot of trial and error. Obviously, we’re going through those growing pains for some reason, but we are. We’ve got to analyze all our data and figure out where the weak links are and fix them. That’s the bottom line.”
Coughlin and the team have some time to work on the car, as the Pro Mod series races next June 1-3 at Englishtown, N.J., for the Toyota SuperNationals.
“We’ll look at the videos and look at what you’ve got and try and figure out how to make it run faster,” Coughlin said. “It’s got its tongue out. It needs to pick up a good bit. We’ll try to find out what we’re doing wrong and what we’re doing right and try to capitalize on the good stuff and try to fine-tune and fix the old stuff.”
POWER WINS THIRD-STRAIGHT ON STREETS OF SAO PAULO
SAO PAULO, Brazil (Sunday, April 29, 2012) – Will Power hopes a shower of April victories can lead to a quart of milk in May.
The Team Penske driver won the Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 presented by Nestle to score his third consecutive victory of the season and the third in a row at the Anhembi circuit.
Power, driving the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car, held off Hunter-Reay on a Lap 71 restart and won by 0.9045 of a second. Takuma Sato, who started 25th because of an unapproved Honda engine change and overcame a Lap 12 pit lane speed violation penalty, earned his first IZOD IndyCar Series podium finish.
Power is the first driver since Scott Dixon in 2007 to win three consecutive races (Watkins Glen, Nashville, Mid-Ohio).
Power inherited the point when Dixon pitted under caution on Lap 64, held off Hunter-Reay on the Lap 67 restart, which quickly turned into a Turn 1 parking lot that collected, among others, Dixon. Recognizing possibly his final opportunity to overtake Power, Hunter-Reay moved to the outside in Turn 1 of the Lap 71 green flag.
Helio Castroneves overtook front-row starter Dario Franchitti on that restart to finish fourth. Franchitti’s No. 10 Lexar Media car for Target Chip Ganassi Racing was bumped from behind on a Lap 26 restart in Turn 1 to drop to 22nd.
James Hinchcliffe, JR Hildebrand and Charlie Kimball — rookies in 2011 — finished ahead of E.J. Viso in ninth and Barrichello in 10th.
Qualifying lap times for the No. 18 Sonny’s BBQ car have been voided by INDYCAR following post-race technical inspection on April 28.
Pursuant to Rule 126.96.36.199 of the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series rulebook: As requested by INDYCAR each Car must run either the cameras or dummy equipment as supplied by BSI/INDYCAR.
Justin Wilson, who had qualified sixth for the Itaipava São Paulo Indy 300 presented by Nestle in the Dale Coyne Racing car, will start from
NEFF WINS HOUSTON FOR 6th JFR WIN IN A ROW
HOUSTON — On a day when Robert Hight’s bid for a historic fifth win in a row ended in the semi-finals, Mike Neff extended the John Force Racing team win streak to six races with his defeat of Ron Capps in the final at Royal Purple Raceway. Neff won an improbable race against the quicker Capps when he drove around a tire smoking Capps at the 700 foot mark posting a winning time of 4.239 seconds at 301.67 mph.
“I don’t know what Capps ran in the final but we were running real close together. I was running all I wanted to run in the second and third rounds. I wasn’t pressing. My Castrol GTX Mustang looked great. I was doing what I needed to do to win the rounds. I tried to pick it up a little bit in the semis. He was running good but it wasn’t like he was way ahead of everybody else. I did try and pick it up. I don’t get intimidated by anybody that I race. We have a good race car and a good race team. We do our own thing,” said Neff who further extended his lead on the No. 3 driver in points, Jack Beckman.
“The business we are in is pressure. There are a lot of high expectations especially when you are on a top team like John Force’s team. John Force Racing is built on winning. There is pressure there but there is no pressure coming from John Force. He is our biggest cheerleader and supporter. Nobody beats anybody up if they make mistakes,” said Neff, the driver and tuner of the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang.
“I think anyone will tell you there is a lot of luck involved in winning these races. Sometimes it is just your day and sometimes it is not. Sometimes little things can derail you from winning. Anything can happen and that is racing. That is what is exciting about NHRA you can’t make it up in the next turn. You get one shot at it. You either get it right or catch a break or it is over with. You have to do it four times in one day.”
Neff opened his day with a win over Jim Head but even that win did not come without issues as he nearly red-lit in the first race. In the second round he outran No. 1 qualifier Cruz Pedregon for the win and in the semi’s he defeated Jeff Arend who he lost to in the final last year at the O’Reilly Spring Nationals.
“The whole weekend has been one of a kind. Not getting qualified until the last session was definitely a nail biter and first round racing Jim Head, my buddy, in the first round. The light it seemed was so long that my foot just went but I never let hold of the brake because I knew I hadn’t seen the yellow yet,” said Neff. “My foot just slipped it but fortunately I was staged so shallow that when it lunged a little but it didn’t go red. I hit it again and I looked down and I saw the green light so I knew I had not red-lit. I legged it on through there even when it started smoking the tires because I knew I did not red light. That was just a total mistake. I caught a break there.”
Last year at the O’Reilly Spring Nationals Neff was nearly unstoppable posting winning times of 4.132, 4.122, 4.133 before fouling out in the finals to Arend. Today he was 4.495, 4.199, 4.176 and 4.239 in the finals. He only had lane choice once today but collected the win nonetheless.
“Going down the track was definitely what we were trying to do in the second round and semis. The track was hot but in the final I caught another break there against Capps. He was out in front of me and I could see him out there. He was on a good run. Something happened to him. I don’t feel that good about winning like that. I like to be able to run quick in all the sessions. Today I definitely backed my way into it. It wasn’t the way we like to do it but we will take it. Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good.”
Neff was also impressed by his teammate Robert Hight’s bid for history.
“Robert put together a heck of a string. That was impressive for that AAA team. Winning four races and getting to the semis today is hard to do. It is hard in the Funny Cars or in any of the classes. I give them a lot of credit. I am just glad I could keep the streak going for John Force Racing.”
This was Neff’s seventh career win and first of 2012 after three final round appearances. Neff’s previous finals losses were to teammates John Force in Pomona and Robert Hight in Phoenix. The win locks Neff into the inaugural Traxxas Nitro Showdown and for a lucky fan they win a 55” flat screen TV compliments of BrandSource’s Win with Force contest.
“I feel good about getting into the Traxxas Shootout. That is something that everyone wants to be a part of. I am fortunate to get into that and also I am even more excited about getting the XO-1, 100 mph Radio Controlled car,” added Neff, the third qualifier after John Force and Robert Hight.
Robert Hight was about 400 feet away from racing Neff in the final and making a run at his fifth win in a row when the tires on his Auto Club Ford Mustang lost traction and Ron Capps drove around him. The loss ended at 17 rounds Hight’s win streak. He was vying to become only the fourth driver to ever win five races in a row. As it stands he is still only one of five drivers to win four in a row along with Don Prudhomme, Kenny Bernstein, John Force and Cruz Pedregon.
“When you are in a streak like this you start to get superstitious. You start thinking I have to do this because I did it last race. You get on an airplane and you think I have to sit on the right side because I did last week and the week before. The truth is none of that really matters it is all silly stuff. What really gets you here and how we won these races is hard work. If you thought superstition mattered that just takes away from the whole Auto Club team and the eight guys plus Jimmy and Eric working on this team. They made this happen. I did my share along the way,” said Hight, the run-away Full Throttle Funny Car points leader.
“It was quite a ride. If you look back it is almost May and this streak started in February. To have the kind of success we had over those months is awesome. This is just the beginning of the season. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed we didn’t tie the all-time record but it is pretty cool having Don Prudhomme, Kenny Bernstein, Force and even Cruz Pedregon all those guys say the nice things they did to the media leading up to this race. Those guys gave us all a lot of credit for what we did in this era. I still look at it as if we still have a streak going since we can still win six races in a row for JFR. Mike Neff is in a final and he has a good shot of winning. We could be the only three people locked into the Traxxas Nitro Showdown. The way Mike is running and he has a good car; he could get on a win streak too,” said Hight, before the final round.
“We’ll just move onto Atlanta and start another streak.”
Hight’s winning streak started in the desert of Phoenix moved to Gainesville, Florida, then back to the mountains of Las Vegas and finally to the hills of Charlotte, North Carolina. All four races had a variety of climate conditions and track nuances.
“It is huge that we won races in every condition. (Crew chief) Jimmy Prock and (Asst crew chief) Eric Lane have been great. Eric Lane has stepped up to really help Jimmy. He has been giving Jimmy great support and firm answers. (Track specialist) Lanny Miglizzi has been a big part too. I have a lot of confidence since I feel we can go to any track under any conditions and go rounds.”
“I also get a lot of confidence from this streak because getting these wins like Charlotte and getting as far as we did here that is a lot of pressure. People can say they don’t think about it but you do. Every run you have to focus and do your job but it is still in the back of your mind. It adds pressure and that is the kind of pressure you will have at the end of the season in the Countdown. We all did our jobs under that pressure. That just gives you more confidence at the end. We are going to come through this. It is a long season and we are headed into the summer.”
In five days Hight and the Auto Club team will try and get a new personal streak up and running at a track in Atlanta where he has won twice and been to four finals in just seven appearances.
“For all the wins we had we had at least a week off between them but now that the streak is over we can get right back to the race track in Atlanta. John is going to go into the International Motorsports hall of Fame this week and I want to congratulate him. I’ll be at the Coca-Cola Champions banquet this week and then we will get right back on the track and try to win the next race.”
Crew chief Jimmy Prock was also disappointed to see his Auto Club Ford Mustang not go more rounds but he also knows he can get it down the track.
“It was a good run for us. We have never won that many rounds in a row before so it was good. It is disappointing to see it end. We’ll have to try and start another streak.”
In the decisive semi-final round versus Capps Hight launched his Auto Club Ford Mustang but just past half-track his Goodyears began hazing the racing surface. In the previous round he had outrun fellow Ford driver Bob Tasca III from the same lane which many considered to be an inferior lane. For Prock the right lane was not a concern.
“Our stuff looked good over there. We had just made a good run over there in the second round. I didn’t want to change it. I made a little adjustment and I didn’t make one other one that I should have. That bit us. I kind of had a feeling about what happened before I got back to the pits,” said Prock.
John Force suffered a first-round loss today against fellow Ford driver, Bob Tasca III. Tasca was 7-6 to Force in prior events at the beginning of the day, but ran his quickest and fastest pass of the weekend and pulled off a win to increase his record. Force began to smoke the tires just past half-track and clicked it off early, but as soon as he climbed out of his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang he put on his hat, congratulated Tasca and went back to being team owner of John Force Racing; rooting for drivers Mike Neff and Robert Hight who were entering the semifinals.
“Mike Neff is overdue for a win. It’s exciting to see us with Castrol, Ford, Traxxas, Auto Club, BrandSource, Mac Tools and Freightliner in another final. Robert Hight, you know, sometimes a little luck will bite you. He won four straight. Not too many have ever done that, but that doesn’t mean he can’t come back and go for five straight. It happens,” said Force. “I’ve been there. It was exciting for the fans today, like this final round coming up with Neff and Robert’s search for the fifth straight win, was the two young girls going against eachother. That was exciting for me to watch. It was cool because DeJoria’s dad was out there (John Paul DeJoria) rooting his kid on just like my wife and I were rooting our kid on. There’s been some great racing here today for the fans in Houston. My car is struggling, but we’re still in the top ten.”
Courtney Force came into the day of eliminations in the top half of the field occupying the No. 7 spot. Force posted a 4.15 in the first round of qualifying on Friday which sent her to the no. 2 spot, gaining the rookie driver 2 bonus points and advancing her run at 2012 Auto Club Road to the Future “Rookie of the Year” battle.
“Today went really well. I’m proud of my team and we had a good car this weekend. Going out we ran a 4.15 in qualifying and with that gained some bonus points for jumping up to the no. 2 spot, but struggled a bit during the rest of qualifying passes, but we were trying to get some things figured out. We knew we were in the show so we tried a couple of different this just to get it going down the race track consistently,” said the youngest Force.
The youngest Force, driver of the Traxxas Mustang Ford Funny Car took on the only other female in the class today in the first round of eliminations for the first time, Alexis DeJoria. Both were quick off the tree with the majority advantage in Force’s lane, the left. Force posted a 4.126 ET at 309.98 mph to DeJoria’s 4.202 ET at 294.31 mph making the margin of victory 0.0645 seconds (approximately 28 feet).
“Going up first round we knew we had a tough competitor in Alexis. We pulled it together. We ended up running a 4.12 against her and getting that win light,” said Force.
This was the quickest and fastest pass of the weekend for the Cal State-Fullerton graduate and would send Force to face-off with Ron Capps in round two of eliminations. Capps was 1-0 against Force in prior events.
“The next thing I had to do was just to focus on second round. It was a close race. It was definitely tough going up against Ron Capps. We ran a 4.17 to a 41.6. I saw him right out my window. I was really holding on and hoping for that win light. We didn’t get it this time, but we’ll come after them again next weekend in Atlanta,” added the 23-year-old Auto Club Road to the Future “Rookie of the Year” contender.
|1||12||Will Power||Team Penske||01:21.405||112.151|
|2||10||Dario Franchitti||Target Chip Ganassi Racing||01:21.449||112.090|
|3||9||Scott Dixon||Target Chip Ganassi Racing||01:21.855||111.534|
|4||27||James Hinchcliffe||Andretti Autosport||01:21.996||111.343|
|5||28||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Andretti Autosport||01:22.241||111.011|
|6||18||Justin Wilson||Dale Coyne Racing||01:22.268||110.974|
|7||38||Graham Rahal||Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing||01:21.803||111.604|
|8||14||Mike Conway||A.J. Foyt Racng||01:21.812||111.592|
|9||67||Josef Newgarden||Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing||01:21.800||111.591|
|10||2||Ryan Briscoe||Team Penske||01:21.850||111.541|
|11||26||Marco Andretti||Andretti Autosport||01:21.850||111.541|
|12||11||Tony Kanaan||KV Racing Technology w/ SH||01:22.521||110.634|
|13||8||Rubens Barrichello||KV Racing Technology||01:22.394||110.804|
|14||5||EJ Viso||KV Racing Technology||01:22.140||111.146|
|15||4||JR Hildebrand||Panther Racing||01:22.432||110.753|
|16||83||Charlie Kimball||Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing||01:22.197||111.069|
|17||77||Simon Pagenaud||Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports||01:22.435||110.749|
|18||19||James Jakes||Dale Coyne Racing||01:22.384||110.818|
|19||7||Sebastien Bourdais||Dragon Racing||01:23.133||109.819|
|20||3||Helio Castroneves||Team Penske||01:22.414||110.777|
|21||25||Ana Beatriz||Andretti Autosport||01:23.269||109.640|
|22||20||Ed Carpenter||Ed Carpenter Racing||01:22.942||110.072|
|23||78||Simona De Silvestro||Lotus Lotus-HVM Racing||01:23.676||109.106|
|25||6||Katherine Legge||Dragon Racing||01:24.604||107.910|
|26||15||Takuma Sato||Rahal Letterman Lanigan||No Time||No Time|
HOUSTON (April 28) — Jeg Coughlin Jr. is used to winning races and claiming world titles, not failing to qualify for national events as he did this weekend in Houston. It was the five-time series champion’s second DNQ of the year.
“We’re big boys so we’ll face this head on,” Coughlin said from the JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge Avenger pit. “This is definitely not what we had on the script for this weekend. We came in here with high hopes after getting to the semis at the last race in Charlotte. We had made what we thought were good changes with the chassis and we had another new motor we were excited to run. It just didn’t work out.”
The weekend started on a decent note as Coughlin opened with a 6.634 at 209.85 mph that placed him 10th overall. Unfortunately, that turned out to be his best run of the meet as he experienced tire shake in Q2 and Q4 and only went 6.661 in Q3.
“We hurt the motor a bit in Q2,” Coughlin said. “It wasn’t too bad but it was enough that we needed to change it out. The timing of that was bad as it happened in the one big session when everyone went low.
“We put the motor we used in Charlotte back in there last night and ran it in both runs today but it was just a different animal altogether. It struck the rear tires very hard in both runs and spun like crazy in the first 30 feet, which just knocked all the momentum out of the runs.”
After talking with the media, Coughlin assembled his team for a closed door meeting.
“It was very constructive,” Coughlin said. “Believe me, no one wants to get this thing rolling more than the men in this pit, and (car builder) Jerry Haas also joined us and offered his thoughts. We’ve elected to stay and test Monday to try some different things so we’ll work from there.
“I’m bummed for our fans and supporters but I appreciate all the kind words. We’ve been in this position before and always pulled through it. I know we will this time too.”
Coughlin’s luck wasn’t much better in Stock eliminator, where he fell in Round 2 despite posting a perfect .000-second reaction time.
“It’s so tough in that class,” Coughlin said. “But it’s so fun. I’m having a blast running that car and we plan to bring it with us next weekend so I’ll have another go with it in Atlanta.”
The seventh event of the 2012 season kicks off Friday at Atlanta Dragway.
Swindell Adds to Legendary Career at Knoxville Raceway
He retakes Outlaws points lead, which is swapped for the seventh time this season
KNOXVILLE, Iowa – April 28, 2012 – Simply put, Sammy Swindell’s statistics at Knoxville Raceway are phenomenal.
Swindell claimed the first World of Outlaws feature at the famed half mile in 1979 and he picked up the lone event – not counting the Knoxville Nationals – last season. He’s a former Knoxville Nationals champion and is closing in on 50 career feature victories at the track.
“It’s a track where you’ve really got to carry the corner speed and your momentum, and really hit the marks just right,” he said. “The line gets so narrow on the bottom and the top running it that you have to be almost perfect. I think my experience and the amount of laps help make up for that.”
That was evident Saturday night as Swindell passed Brian Brown for the lead on lap 15 and cruised to his 15th career World of Outlaws victory and 48th overall at Knoxville Raceway.
The win was his third of the season and allowed Swindell to regain the points lead, which has been swapped seven times this season. Swindell holds a seven-point advantage over Donny Schatz as the top five are separated by a mere 58 points.
“I think we’ve had the car that could win the last few races,” Swindell said. “We had one at Haubstadt, but had a part break and still managed a third with a wounded car. If we keep this thing running, we’ve got a chance of winning every night.”
Swindell uncharacteristically qualified 16th quickest, which gave him the final spot in the invert and the pole position for the fourth-and-final heat race. He led all eight laps to pick up his series-best fifth heat win of the season, which locked him into the dash.
Swindell started last – 10th – and drove to seventh in the six-lap race, which aligned him on the inside of the fourth row for the 25-lap feature.
A trio of red flags within the first three laps stalled the race, but allowed Swindell to climb to fourth. He picked up third place on lap three and grabbed the runner-up position on lap five.
Chasing his first career World of Outlaws feature win, polesitter Brian Brown had driven to nearly a half-straightaway advantage when Swindell began to close the gap. As Brown battled through traffic on lap nine, Swindell edged closer.
With 11 laps remaining, Swindell rocketed off the bottom in turn four and passed Brown for the top spot at the finish line. Swindell then negotiated thick lapped traffic and a final caution with six laps remaining.
Brown, who started on the outside of Swindell on the double-file restart with six laps to go, entered turn one side by side only to lose ground as they exited the turn. Craig Dollansky passed Brown for the runner-up position on the backstretch.
“We sure would have liked to have been one spot better, but we definitely learned some things here tonight,” Dollansky said. “Sammy, he had a real good car. He’s been strong here the last couple of years.
“Second with this group of cars that were here tonight is nothing to shake a stick at.”
Joey Saldana slipped past Brown for the final podium spot with a couple laps remaining.
“It was a good, solid feature,” Saldana said. “I was a second-place car at best. We ran third and that’s about where we were. Sammy was definitely the class of the field.”
Brown finished fourth with nine-time Knoxville Raceway track champion and former World of Outlaws champion Danny Lasoski rounding out the top five with a last-lap pass on Schatz.
Knoxville regular Dusty Zomer charged from 21st to seventh and Jason Sides earned the KSE Hard Charger Award after driving from 23 rd to eighth. Brad Sweet was ninth and Terry McCarl finished 10th.
In his first career race at Knoxville Raceway, Trey Starks led all eight laps to claim his heat race. Ian Madsen, McCarl and Swindell were the other heat winners. Saldana set fast time in qualifying with a lap of 14.881 seconds and Don Droud Jr. claimed the Last Chance Showdown.
Knoxville Raceway Notebook
Troy Coughlin upsets Pruett in opening round of Pro Mod action
HOUSTON (April 28) – Winning any round of drag racing is nice, but winning one on a holeshot is extra special.
That’s what JEGS.com Pro Mod driver Troy Coughlin pulled off Saturday in the first round of NHRA Pro Mod Series presented by ProCare Rx action at Royal Purple Raceway. Coughlin turned a quick .040-second reaction time into a victory over Leah Pruett, the No. 3 driver in the Pro Mod points standings.
“Any time you can have a gameplan and can go execute that gameplan and be on the winning side of it is definitely cool,” Coughlin said. “She ran a lot faster than we did, so we’ve got a lot of work to do to try and pick it up, but it is pretty cool to get the win.”
Coughlin made a pass of 5.997 seconds at 247.70 mph, beating Pruett to the finish line by about 12 feet after Pruett ran 5.972 at 249.86 mph. The difference was Coughlin’s sizable .056-second advantage on the Tree.
“We’ve had a couple races where we haven’t had much success,” Coughlin said. “It’s coming around slowly, and we’ve still got more work to do. It ran a 5.99, and we need to run faster than that to keep winning. But to beat the No. 3 person in the points is stout. I’m pretty excited about that.”
Coughlin qualified ninth in the Pro Mod field with a pass of 6.000 seconds at 248.52 mph after posting three solid passes in qualifying.
“We keep gathering more data each run,” Coughlin said. “We made some consistent runs this weekend. It wasn’t super fast, but it was consistent. We’ll keep pecking away at getting it to run fast like it did in the beginning.”
After beating Pruett, the No. 6 qualifier, Coughlin will now face No. 2 qualifier Danny Rowe in the second round of eliminations on Sunday. Rowe beat Mike Knowles in the first round with a pass of 5.951 seconds at 244.92 mph.
Coughlin remains upbeat about advancing even further on Sunday.
“We have the opportunity and the capability,” Coughlin said. “We’ll have to try to put the right bullet in the right chamber. We have a good chance. We’ve got all the pieces and parts to do it.”
HIGHT, NEFF IMPROVE ON SATURDAY AT HOUSTON
C. FORCE VS. DEJORIA HIGHLIGHT 1ST RND MATCH-UPS
HOUSTON, TX — Robert Hight improved his position and Mike Neff raced into the show today but all eyes will be on the Courtney Force versus Alexis DeJoria first round match-up of Rookie of the Year candidates. Robert Hight and his Auto Club Mustang made the quickest run of the third qualifying session posting a time of 4.140 at 309.56. It was the quickest ET of the day and moved Hight into the No. 6 qualifying spot and into an opening round race against former teammate Tony Pedregon.
“We made one good run today- the best run of the day. That was cool, but we were hoping to get another one in. We were trying pretty hard that last run. (Crew chief) Jimmy Prock thought that we could step it up and maybe move up three of four positions. It would have taken less than a hundredth to do that, so first run looked safe and second wasn’t. We overdid it; we overpowered it tonight, but sometimes that’s a good thing; you know your limits,” said Hight.
“There are no easy ones (match-ups). Tony Pedregon made a nice run tonight. Great driver, good team. If we get our fifth tomorrow, we’re definitely going to have earned it, because if we run him and get past him, there’s going to be someone else that’s just as tough or tougher. We’ll just take it one run at a time and see what happens.”
Mike Neff was on the outside looking in until the final qualifying session. His Castrol GTX Ford Mustang raced down the right lane in his last chance effort and his time of 4.166 was the second quickest of the session. The only Funny Car quicker was Ron Capps with a 4.161 second ET. Neff will race veteran driver and friend Jim Head in the first round.
“We struggled the first few runs in qualifying. Definitely never a good situation going up there for the fourth and final session knowing you’re not in the show yet. There are so many things that could happen,” said Neff, who is No.2 in the Full Throttle Funny Car points. “It’s just hard on everyone’s nerves. We were definitely fortunate to make a good run there and get ourselves in the show. It really was a good pass and shot us up to the middle of the pack. I feel like we’re right back in it and have a good chance for tomorrow.”
Already this season Courtney Force and Alexis DeJoria have been paired up at a number of media events from Pomona to Charlotte to this week in Houston. They have never raced each other in competition however and that will change tomorrow. These two high profile rookie of the year candidates are looking forward to running side by side in front of an expected capacity crowd at Royal Purple Raceway.
Force’s Traxxas Ford Mustang ran 4.151 seconds on Friday, good enough for the No. 7 qualifying position and lane choice over DeJoria. Today her Funny Car smoked the tires both sessions on an increasingly hot track while DeJoria made consistent passes both sessions.
“First round I was in the right lane. It got a little out of the groove and it spun the tires. Second round today it was going down; I kept it in the groove and kept it straight. We just needed to make a few minor changes on the car to get the tune-up right. It was getting down there, it was going great, it was on a good run, it just decided it wanted to disagree with the race track and spin the tires at the other end so we didn’t get a great run out of qualifying today, but we did get a 4.15 and hopefully we can use that to our advantage tomorrow,” said Force.
“We do have lane choice, which is a good thing. I’m excited. I think it will be fun. I wish we had a little more consistency right now, but I have a lot of faith in my team and I know that even with a couple downfalls in qualifying we will get it together and I know my Traxxas crew members will get this car back running. We’ll be okay.”
“We have Alexis DeJoria first round which I’m excited about; two females in the first round. We’ll see what happens. It’s going to be a fun race. We both have pretty good cars. She definitely has a consistent car so she has that advantage right now over me. I did run a 4.15, but that was in some cool conditions. Hopefully we can get our Traxxas Mustang Funny Car from A to B. It doesn’t matter what the number is. I just hope we can get to the other end without spinning the tires and hopefully we’ll get a win out of it.”
Finally, team leader John Force will go into race day as the No. 14 qualifier and will race fellow Ford driver Bob Tasca III. Force’s program has been steadily improving since a final round appearance at the 3rd round NHRA Four Wide Nationals two weeks ago. The 15-time Funny Car champion who won his 100th career national event at Royal Purple Raceway will be trying to advance his Castrol GTX HIGH MILEAGE Ford Mustang and hold onto his top ten position.
“We made the show. That’s’ what we’re paid to do. We got a couple cars running good enough to win so we’ll see what happens. I gotta get mine and Courtney’s fixed,” said Force, the winningest driver in NHRA history.
“I think the (Courtney versus Alexis race) will be exciting. The fans will like to young girls running each other. I know they will be pumped up. It will be a fun race.”
With his 80th consecutive qualifying effort Force now has the longest active qualifying Funny Car streak after Jack Beckman failed to make the field in his Valvoline backed Dodge Charger. Force has the all-time qualifying streak record at 395 races from the first race of 1988 until the spring race of 2007 at Las Vegas, a record that spanned 20 seasons.
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JOHN FORCE, 62, Castrol GTX HIGH MILEAGE Ford Mustang
Qualifying: 14th at 4.212 seconds, 296.05 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0
First round opponent (W-L): Bob Tasca III (6-7)
MIKE NEFF, 45, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang
Qualifying: 9th at 4.166 seconds, 306.53 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +2 (2nd quickest of Q4)
First round opponent (W-L): Jim Head (8-0)
ROBERT HIGHT, 42, AAA Texas Ford Mustang
Qualifying: 6th at 4.140 seconds, 309.56 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +3 (quickest of Q3)
First round opponent (W-L): Tony Pedregon (7-15)
COURTNEY FORCE, 23, Traxxas Ford Mustang
Qualifying: 7th at 4.150 seconds, 306.53 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +2 (2nd quickest of Q1)
First round opponent (W-L): Alexis DeJoria (0-0)
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Sunday, April 29
Final Eliminations 11 a.m.