Madsen Takes Top Honors at Belleville High Banks
The Australian wins his second World of Outlaws feature in the last six races
BELLEVILLE, Kan. – June 29, 2012 – Kerry Madsen was as patient as anyone during the nearly 90-minute delay for track work prior to Friday’s feature.
Once he hit the track, it was a different story. Madsen picked up his second World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series victory in the past six races to cap a blistering day that featured temperatures in the triple digits at Belleville High Banks.
“That was well worth the wait,” he said with a big smile. “The track was awesome, wide open around the cushion.”
Madsen started sixth in the 25-lap feature – only the third ever for the World of Outlaws at the famed high-banked, half-mile oval – but didn’t stay there long. He secured fourth place on the third lap and slid Joey Saldana in turn four for third place on lap six.
Madsen rocketed to the runner-up position on a restart midway through the race before a caution on lap 16 provided a unique opportunity. Polesitter Sammy Swindell, who built a sizeable lead during the first half of the feature, was called for jumping the restart. He was penalized one row and Madsen advanced to the lead.
“As it turned out he went a little early and gave us the preferred line on the restart,” said Madsen, who chose the outside lane for the double-file restart. “It would have been good. I was right on his bumper and I felt like one little bobble and I was going to make a slide-job attempt.
“We caught a break and we took full advantage of it.”
Craig Dollansky, who timed in quickest during qualifying with a lap of 14.407 seconds, restarted second and Swindell third. The duo appeared to touch wheels in turn two on the restart, with Swindell winning the battle for second and Madsen driving into an advantage of half a straightaway.
The drivers entered traffic with five laps remaining, but Madsen was too strong and Swindell was unable to overcome the penalty. He held off Steve Kinser, who maintains the championship points lead, for second place. Swindell declined to comment following the race.
Dollansky finished fourth and Saldana was fifth. Donny Schatz placed sixth, Kraig Kinser seventh, Mark Dobmeier eighth, Bill Rose ninth and Cody Darrah rounded out the top 10. Patrick Stasa earned the KSE Hard Charger Award after charging from 24th to 15th.
Steve Kinser, Chad Kemenah and Madsen each picked up a heat race win.
Belleville High Banks Notebook
NOTES – Craig Dollansky set quick time for the fourth race this season. … Steve Kinser and Chad Kemenah each won their seventh heat race, and Kerry Madsen picked up his sixth heat win of the season. … Sammy Swindell claimed his third dash of the year.
WINNERS – Sammy Swindell – 5 (Red River Valley Speedway on June 16, Eldora Speedway on May 5, Knoxville Raceway on April 28, Missouri State Fair Speedway on April 20 and Merced Speedway on March 30); Craig Dollansky – 4 (I-96 Speedway on June 2, Hagerstown Speedway on May 20, Tri-State Speedway on April 21 and Volusia Speedway Park on Feb. 19); Kraig Kinser – 3 (Dodge City Raceway Park on June 23, River Cities Speedway on June 15 and Kokomo Speedway on June 5); Steve Kinser – 3 (Dodge City Raceway Park on June 22, Orange County Fair Speedway on May 19 and Williams Grove Speedway on May 12); Joey Saldana – 3 (The Dirt Track at Charlotte on May 25, Paducah International Raceway on April 13 and Perris Auto Speedway on March 10); Donny Schatz – 3 (Farmer City Raceway on April 25, Silver Dollar Speedway on March 23 and Volusia Speedway Park on Feb. 19); Tim Kaeding – 2 (Thunderbowl Raceway on March 16 and The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 8); Chad Kemenah – 2 (Lawrenceburg Speedway on May 28 and Eldora Speedway on May 4); Kerry Madsen – 2 (Belleville High Banks on June 29 and Knoxville Raceway on June 9); Danny Dietrich – 1 (Lincoln Speedway on May 10); Danny Lasoski – 1 (Volusia Speedway Park on Feb. 18); Paul McMahan – 1 (Rolling Wheels Raceway Park on May 16); Fred Rahmer – 1 (Williams Grove Speedway on May 11); Brad Sweet – 1 (Clay County Fairgrounds on June 8).
TIME TRIALS – Craig Dollansky was the fastest qualifier around the half-mile oval with a time of 14.407 seconds to earn five championship points. Also earning points were Kraig Kinser (4 points), Joey Saldana (3), Bill Rose (2) and Cody Darrah (1).
Belleville High Banks Statistical Report; Belleville, Kan.; June 29, 2012
A-Main – (25 Laps) – 1. 29-Kerry Madsen  [$10,000]; 2. 1-Sammy Swindell  [$5,500]; 3. 11-Steve Kinser  [$3,200]; 4. 7-Craig Dollansky  [$2,800]; 5. 9-Joey Saldana  [$2,500]; 6. 15-Donny Schatz  [$2,300]; 7. 11K-Kraig Kinser  [$2,200]; 8. 13-Mark Dobmeier  [$2,100]; 9. 6-Bill Rose  [$2,050]; 10. 4-Cody Darrah  [$2,000]; 11. 5W-Lucas Wolfe  [$1,500]; 12. 83-Tim Kaeding  [$1,200]; 13. 6R-Ryan Bunton  [$1,100]; 14. 74X-Josh Hodges  [$1,050]; 15. 11S-Patrick Stasa  [$1,000]; 16. 7K-Robby Wolfgang  [$900]; 17. 10C-Jeremy Campbell  [$800]; 18. 91-Jeff Stasa  [$800]; 19. 5-Jason Schroeder  [$800]; 20. 81-Jon Freeman  [$800]; 21. 97-Brian Herbert  [$800]; 22. 2J-Zach Blurton  [$800]; 23. 8W-Jordon Whitehead  [$800]; 24. 63-Chad Kemenah  [$800]. Lap Leaders: Sammy Swindell 1-15, Kerry Madsen 16-25. KSE Hard Charger Award : 11S-Patrick Stasa [+9].
Qualifying – 1. 7-Craig Dollansky, 14.407; 2. 11K-Kraig Kinser, 14.573; 3. 9-Joey Saldana, 14.605; 4. 6-Bill Rose, 14.615; 5. 4-Cody Darrah, 14.648; 6. 1-Sammy Swindell, 14.673; 7. 11-Steve Kinser, 14.687; 8. 83-Tim Kaeding, 14.699; 9. 29-Kerry Madsen, 14.727; 10. 15-Donny Schatz, 14.751; 11. 63-Chad Kemenah, 14.863; 12. 7K-Robby Wolfgang, 14.877; 13. 6R-Ryan Bunton, 14.900; 14. 5W-Lucas Wolfe, 15.097; 15. 13-Mark Dobmeier, 15.122; 16. 74X-Josh Hodges, 15.599; 17. 97-Brian Herbert, 15.931; 18. 10C-Jeremy Campbell, 16.215; 19. 81-Jon Freeman, 16.337; 20. 91-Jeff Stasa, 16.369; 21. 2J-Zach Blurton, 16.424; 22. 5-Jason Schroeder, 16.709; 23. 8W-Jordon Whitehead, 17.049; 24. 11S-Patrick Stasa, 17.888.
Heat 1 – (8 Laps – Top 6 finishers transfer to the A-feature) – 1. 11-Steve Kinser ; 2. 7-Craig Dollansky ; 3. 15-Donny Schatz ; 4. 6-Bill Rose ; 5. 6R-Ryan Bunton ; 6. 74X-Josh Hodges ; 7. 81-Jon Freeman ; 8. 5-Jason Schroeder .
Heat 2 – (8 Laps – Top 6 finishers transfer to the A-feature) – 1. 63-Chad Kemenah ; 2. 11K-Kraig Kinser ; 3. 5W-Lucas Wolfe ; 4. 4-Cody Darrah ; 5. 97-Brian Herbert ; 6. 8W-Jordon Whitehead ; 7. 91-Jeff Stasa ; 8. 83-Tim Kaeding .
Heat 3 – (8 Laps – Top 6 finishers transfer to the A-feature) – 1. 29-Kerry Madsen ; 2. 1-Sammy Swindell ; 3. 9-Joey Saldana ; 4. 13-Mark Dobmeier ; 5. 7K-Robby Wolfgang ; 6. 2J-Zach Blurton ; 7. 10C-Jeremy Campbell ; 8. 11S-Patrick Stasa .
Dash – (6 Laps, finishing order determined first 10 starting positions of A-feature) – 1. 1-Sammy Swindell ; 2. 7-Craig Dollansky ; 3. 11K-Kraig Kinser ; 4. 9-Joey Saldana ; 5. 11-Steve Kinser ; 6. 29-Kerry Madsen ; 7. 15-Donny Schatz ; 8. 6-Bill Rose ; 9. 63-Chad Kemenah ; 10. 4-Cody Darrah .
Savage, Grisel headline Friday Salt Lake City winners
Record Friday crowds fill Rocky Mountain Raceways at NAPA Nitro Jam
WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (June 29, 2012) – Mike Savage came to Salt Lake City with one goal and one goal only on his mind – take back the lead in AMSOIL Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car championship standings.
And in front of one of the largest Friday night crowds in Rocky Mountain Raceways history, Savage made major headway toward that goal with a big victory over Bob Godfrey and the “Burn N’ Money” team, spoiling Godfrey’s bid for a victory on his birthday while collecting his second career victory Friday at the NAPA Auto Parts Nitro Jam presented by Good Vibrations Motorsports and Cricket Wireless.
AMSOIL Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car winner Mike Savage
“Our day was not too bad at all. We are running higher up than we are used to, but we are working hard on the car and getting it to consistently get down the track,” Savage said. “On that last pass it was a little slippery and I had to pedal it, but we stuck in it and put down two solid laps to get the win here tonight.”
Other winners during the opening night of the NAPA Auto Parts Nitro Jam were newcomers Casey Grisel (Pro Fuel) and Ron Gledhill (Nitro Harley) and Nitro Jam veteran Tom Padilla (Fuel Altered).
Savage worked his way through one of the toughest AMSOIL Prostalgia Nitro Funny Car fields ever assembled in Nitro Jam competition on his way to a big opening round win over Tim Boychuk behind the wheel of the famed “Candies & Hughes” Barracuda.
Savage had two solid laps on his way to picking up his second victory of the season as he mustered a session best 6.150/225.45 in the opening round to dispatch of multi-time Nitro Jam winner Tim Boychuk and the “Troy Lee Designs” team. Godfrey had the second best time opening round time with a 6.286/226.70. And all of those runs were made at over 7,000 feet of adjusted altitude.
Pro Fuel winner Casey Grisel (far lane)
In the final Savage had the advantage on the tree with a .105 light, but Godfrey kept him honest to half track where he began to slow allowing Savage to cruise to the Ironman trophy. Savage ran a 6.215/222.93 in the final.
“There were some tough cars out here which really makes a win like this all that much more special,” Savage said. “We really are just out here having fun and getting wins makes it even more enjoyable.”
In the consolation round Steven Densham drove “Teachers Pet” to a victory over Dale Pulde, Tim Boychuk defeated Roger Garten and Jason Rupert claimed a bye win.
The Funny Car competition also saw one of the odder moments in drag racing lore as Steven Macklyn driving the “Nitro Thunder” flopper had an issue following his burnout on his backup which caused the car to spin wildly out of control into the lane of a backwards pedaling Rupert who unknowing plowed into the side of Macklyn’s car resulting in a lengthy cleanup.
Another big winner during opening night was Casey Grisel in Pro Fuel Dragster. In his Nitro Jam and Rocky Mountain Raceways debut, the Orangevale, Calif. native and driver of the “American Nitro” dragster guided his ride to his first career Ironman over Kristen Dennis and the “Ladies First” team.
Grisel opened the night with a solid 5.871/243.77 in the mountain air in defeating Don St. Arnaud and bested that lap in the final against a smoking Dennis with a 5.801/247.25.
Fuel Altered winner Tom Padilla
“It really can’t get much better than this. We come up here not really knowing what we are going to do or what to expect and we come away with a win,” Grisel said. “We have never been up this high, but we gave it our best shot and it worked out well for us.”
In the consolation round Johnny Ahten drove “Stump Puller” to a win against St. Arnaud.
The Fuel Altered competition saw some fast, side-by-side runs as Tom Padilla, from Arlington, Wash., drove to his fourth career victory against Kyle Hough and the “Nanook” team. Padilla and Hough easily won their round one matchups and squared off in an exciting final that saw Padilla overcome a slight startling line disadvantage and drive around the rookie with a 6.638/211.86 to Hough’s 6.938/215.00.
The loss continues Hough’s early-career woes as he has visited five finals in his rookie campaign without a single victory. In the consolation matchup Randy Bradford defeated Ron Hope.
Ron Gledhill claimed the only professional trophy for the Beehive State as the Taylorsville native defeated Tony Ruggiero in the final of Nitro Harley. Gledhill had two consistent laps, firing off a solid 7.565/193.71 in the final to take the win.
Sportsman winners from the opening night of the NAPA Auto Parts Nitro Jam were Joe Hopper (Salt Lake City, Utah) in Top Sportsman, Tom Bailey (Soda Springs, Idaho) in Top Dragster, Les Norton (South Jordan, Utah) in Super Stock, Jesse Sanderson (West Jordan, Utah) in Stock, Ryan Cook (Idaho Falls, Idaho) in Quick Rod and Mike Bodgett Sr. (Torrence, Calif.) in Super Rod. Other winners on Friday were Dan Priest (Layton, Utah) in Top ET, Karl Martin (Riverton, Utah) in Mod ET, Benjamin McEwan (Taylorsville, Utah) in Motorcylce and Savannah Dial (Highland, Utah) in Junior Dragster.
Friday came to a close with an evening sweep by Grave Digger over Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and two exciting passes by three jet dragsters, the Super Shockwave jet semi and the Jelly Belly wheelstander.
The NAPA Auto Parts Nitro Jam will conclude on Saturday with sportsman racing throughout the day followed by two more thrilling rounds of Nitro Jam featuring everything that ran on Friday beginning at 7 p.m.
FORCE NO. 1 ON FRIDAY IN CHICAGO
JOLIET, IL — The two Full Throttle Funny Car champions that race under the John Force Racing banner, 15-time champ John Force and 2009 Funny Car champ Robert Hight brought their respective “A” games to the second qualifying session today at the O’Reilly Rt. 66 NHRA Nationals. Force raced to the provisional No. 1 spot and Hight wound up No. 3 after two sessions in Joliet. Hight posted a solid 4.060 as one of the first Funny Cars out in the second session and then two pairs later Force stepped up the ET performance lowering the boom with a 4.050 second pass at 310.77 mph. The JFR Funny Cars were up early the second session by virtue of some less than stellar runs in the heat of the day.
The 4.050 second run by Force was his quickest run since October of last season at Reading when he ran 4.011 at 319.22 mph. He was the No. 2 qualifier at that race behind Johnny Gray’s 4.010 second run. The last time Force was the No. 1 qualifier was Sonoma last season. If it holds it will be Force’s 140th No. 1 qualifier of his career.
“Since the win at Pomona we have a whole new combination. (Crew chiefs) Dean Antonelli and Danny DeGennaro have been working on this tune up. It is just simple, I am a 15-time champion and I owe my fans and my sponsors better than I have shown both last year and this year. I came back from being hurt and won a championship and now I am not in the game,” said Force
“We have been showing the last couple of weeks some consistency. It hasn’t been anything to be excited about. We were able to get ten runs in a row but couldn’t win rounds. That 4.05 was OK but let’s see what we can do tomorrow. I am sure (Ron) Capps or (Mike) Neff or Hight, one of them will be able to break that. I thought Capps would tonight. He has that kind of magic right now. All I want to do is be in the game. I love it that much. I feel like I am failing but failure is where I came from. I understand it and I’ll work my way out of the hole I have been in.”
In the pressroom Force talked about his expectations in the mid-90s when he was winning ten world championships in a row. Since that decade of dominance he has picked up two more personal championships.
“It used to be if I wasn’t low ET at least every other week I was upset. If I didn’t win every third or fourth race it was a bad season. Now I am just not there. I have a new team even though it was there for Ashley (Force Hood). My crew chiefs will get this car right and I am learning how to drive the way they want me to. There are just some things that are different. Nobody knows this game better than me.”
Some of the changes in the Castrol GTX HIGH MILEAGE Ford Mustang have necessitated some driving changes by the 134-time winner.
“I have been riding the clutch which makes it smoke the tires. They have changed some things around. I am jacking up in the car for roll cage height and seat height. I am higher in the car so they can make certain things fit underneath me. I wish I had Courtney’s body weight or Capps’. You take 70 pounds off of me and I’d be a bad son of a gun.”
“(2011 Funny Car champion Matt) Hagan said what is wrong with us over the course of this year. I said there ain’t nothing wrong with you; you’re the champ. Once you are the champ like him or Robert Hight or Shirley (Muldowney) or (Kenny) Bernstein. We know how to fight back. We’ll see what happens.”
Dean Antonelli, one half of the crew chief tandem on the Castrol GTX HIGH MILEAGE Funny Car explained how the day shook out for Force.
“On the first run today, it was actually running really well, but we were a little aggressive. It’s been kinda showing the last couple of weeks that it’s been wanting to run good, so tonight we just kinda set it up similar to how we did in Englishtown where it ran an .06 and conditions were similar and gave us the same ET. There’s been a lot of hard work from the guys. Danny DeGennaro and I are starting to gel better together and of course with Jimmy Prock and (John) Medlen and Zippy (Mike Neff) and Ron (Douglas) all working [at John Force Racing] it makes for a knowledgeable team so we all work together and it’s starting to show.”
For Hight the second round run was some quick redemption for the Full Throttle Funny Car points leader. Since he won four races in a row the Auto Club Ford Mustang team has been in test mode on some days at the track. His success today was something the 2009 Funny Car champion enjoyed but he also enjoyed the success tonight of his boss and mentor John Force.
“I’m happy that I’m in the top half and I’m super excited for John Force to get the pole. Tomorrow night is going to be the night that you see the lower .0’s, without a doubt. My .06 will probably be 7th or 8th tomorrow night. Everyone’s going to step it up with the second session, and Funny Cars are after dragsters so the track will be better,” said Hight, the two-time Chicago finalist. “Tomorrow night is the night, but we had to set ourselves up for tomorrow night with tonight and we did that, so I’m excited. Neff and Courtney, they need to get in on the first session tomorrow and set themselves up to where they can get after it tomorrow night. We learned from Bristol; gotta be in the top half, gotta have lane choice. We didn’t give it away by smoking the tired and I’m proud of my guys.”
Rookie of the Year contender Courtney Force made the best JFR run of the first session a 4.526 second run at 208.14 mph but in the second session her Traxxas Ford Mustang smoked the tires and slowed to a 6.266 second run. She will not carry a time over to Saturday’s second day of qualifying.
The defending O’Reilly Rt. 66 NHRA Nationals champion Mike Neff made two runs today but both resulted in uncharacteristic tire smoke. For the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang tuner Neff will go back to the drawing board for tomorrow’s two session. Neff will catch a break when the Saturday sessions are contested at the same time, 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Funny Car will be behind Top Fuel.
Finally, if Force’s No. 1 holds or if another JFR driver grabs the top spot a lucky fan will win a washer and dryer set from BrandSource and the Win with Force promotion. It would be the fifth time this season for a JFR driver to be the No. 1 qualifier.
* * * *
JOHN FORCE, 63, Castrol GTX HIGH MILEAGE Ford Mustang
Qualifying: 1st at 4.050 seconds, 310.77 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +3 (quickest of Q2)
MIKE NEFF, 45, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang
Qualifying: 18th quickest at 5.184 seconds, 145.34 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0
ROBERT HIGHT, 42, AAA Insurance Ford Mustang
Qualifying: 3rd at 4.060 seconds, 309.91 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +1 (third quickest of Q2)
COURTNEY FORCE, 23, Traxxas Ford Mustang Qualifying: 17
quickest at 4.526 seconds, 208.14 mph Bonus Qualifying Points: 0
* * * *
Saturday, June 30
3rd round qualifying 5:00 p.m.
4th round qualifying 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, June 17
Final Eliminations 11 a.m.
INDIANAPOLIS (Thursday, June 28, 2012) – INDYCAR this week approved Lotus’ request to modify homologated parts to improve performance of its 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 engine pursuant to engine technical regulations established before the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season.
At mid-season and again at the end of the year, manufacturers whose engines are statistically more than 2½ percent deficient in power may, at the discretion of INDYCAR, make improvements to components to be homologated. Alterations are intended to put the engine within the 2½ percent window, and they will be introduced on only new engines being sent to the track.
Manufacturers must present data to support their case, which is reviewed along with relevant data collected by the sanctioning body’s engine support engineers. Manufacturers provide which components they seek to modify, along with projected gains and their scheduled introduction.
Lotus’ first modification is scheduled to be introduced at a July 2 test at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with the No. 78 Lotus-HVM Racing car driven by Simona de Silvestro. Subsequent modifications are scheduled to be incorporated for the Honda Indy Toronto on July 6-8, the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma (Aug. 26-28) and the Grand Prix of Baltimore (Sept. 2-4).
INDYCAR director of engine development Trevor Knowles said Chevrolet and Honda have been apprised of Lotus’ modification schedule. Old parts remain homologated until 2013.
The engine rules will be stable through the 2016 IZOD IndyCar Series season, with any corrections or modifications decided by INDYCAR after consultation with the INDYCAR Engine Committee.
Beaver Dam Hosts World of Outlaws on Saturday, July 7
Steve Kinser is one of five drivers with multiple wins at the third-mile track
BEAVER DAM, Wis. – June 29, 2012 – Beaver Dam Raceway is known as a small track with a lot of action.
The high-banked, third-mile oval hosts the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series on Saturday, July 7, for the Jim (JB) Boyd Memorial.
“Beaver Dam is a fairly short track, but it’s still got a little size to it,” Steve Kinser said. “It’s usually a pretty exciting race. It’s a place where I’ve ran really bad and a place where I’ve ran really good. You just hope it’s your night when you get there.”
Kinser is one of five drivers with multiple victories at Beaver Dam Raceway, which has held 17 World of Outlaws events since 1996. Daryn Pittman has a series-best three wins and holds the track record of 11.275 seconds, and Joey Saldana, Jac Haudenschild and Dave Blaney have each won twice.
Danny Lasoski, Jason Solwold, Craig Dollansky, Tim Shaffer, Donny Schatz and Mark Kinser all claimed one victory at the track.
The only driver in the top five of the World of Outlaws championship standings without a win at Beaver Dam Raceway is veteran Sammy Swindell.
“The last few times I’ve been there it’s kinda been consistent,” he said. “It’s been smooth and it usually gets slick at the end. We’ve had some decent runs there, but I’ve had some bad luck, too. I’m looking forward to getting back up there and trying to get a win.”
INDIANAPOLIS (Wednesday, June 27, 2012) – Push to pass will return to the IZOD IndyCar Series for the five remaining road/street course events on the 2012 schedule, beginning with the Honda Indy Toronto on July 6-8.
The overtake assist feature, introduced to the series in 2009, allows a driver to add turbocharger boost and additional RPM with the press of a button on the steering wheel to complete a pass.
“It will be similar to what it was in the past because we know that model worked,” said Will Phillips, vice president of technology, INDYCAR.
The additional boost is added for a pre-determined amount of time which will be determined by INDYCAR depending on the circuit. The sanctioning body will also determine the total amount of time available, recharge time and any delay in the system prior to each activation, though the engine manufacturers may adjust the settings below the requirements to optimize their engine’s performance.
Push to pass will not engage until a certain throttle position is reached and will disengage if the driver lifts or presses the button again.
As part of the introduction of push-to-pass, the base turbocharger boost level will decrease to 150 kPa. When the system is engaged, the boost increases to 160 kPa on the 2.2-liter V6 engines supplied by Chevrolet, Honda and Lotus.
Teams will have the opportunity to test the system during the event weekend on the streets of Exhibition Place before the Honda Indy Toronto.
Record event expected this weekend in Salt Lake City
WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (June 27, 2012) – It is a view unlike any other.
Just beyond the grandstands that seat thousands of eager motorsports fans, just beyond the tasty concessions, miles of open pits and the state-of-the art facilities exists a view that is worth the price of admission alone.
And it only exists at Rocky Mountain Raceways.
Now in its 16th year of operation, Rocky Mountain Raceways is one of the most modern multi-use racing facilities in the western half of the U.S. Located in the Salt Lake City suburb of West Valley City, RMR is home to some of the best racing in the country including its newest spring tradition, the NAPA Auto Parts Nitro Jam presented by Good Vibrations Motorsports and Cricket Wireless that will take place this year the weekend of June 29-30.
Rocky Mountain Raceways offers one of the most unique views in motorsports
Many of the best drivers and exhibition cars in the west will travel to Utah for two nights of over-the-top drag racing action and it all takes place later this month at a place that has gained a reputation as one of the most exciting racing facilities in the nation.
After last year’s event produced massive crowds and set attendance records at the track, this year’s event is expected to surpass last year’s numbers as Nitro Jam brings in four of the fastest and most exciting racing classes in the world.
In sportsman competition six IHRA classes will be featured as the stars of Top Sportsman, Top Dragster, Super Stock, Stock, Quick Rod and Super Rod will battle for a spot in the year-end Summit Racing Equipment Tournament of Champions presented by AMSOIL. Last year’s winners included Frank Santarosa (TS), Sheldon Gecker (TD), Les Norton (SS/STK), Russ Stevenson (QR) and Ed Olpin (SR).
In the professional ranks four nitro classes will fill the lanes at Rocky Mountain Raceways highlighted by the biggest AMSOIL Prostalgia™ Nitro Funny Car race held all year and one of the biggest Funny Car races in the country.
Among the loaded list of Funny Cars will be the most famous nostalgia machine of them all as Dale Pulde returns to the wheel of the famed “War Eagle” 1977 Trans-Am at Salt Lake City as he takes on two of the quickest and fastest Funny Cars in the game today. Steve Densham, son of NHRA Funny Car driver Gary Densham, will try his hand at Nitro Jam competition for the first time behind the wheel of the “Teacher’s Pet” Camaro and Jason Rupert in the “Mert Littlefield” tribute Camaro will add to the thrilling lineup. Rupert recently reset the DRO Series speed record earlier this year at 253.14 mph, nearly a full mile per hour faster than the current Nitro Jam record.
Some of the best Funny Car drivers in the world will be on hand in Salt Lake City
Also in action at the NAPA Auto Parts Nitro Jam will be 2012 Nitro Jam winners Tim Boychuk in the record-setting “Troy Lee Designs” Pontiac and Mike Savage in the “Candies & Hughes” Barracuda as they join Roger Garten in “War Horse”, Bob Godfrey in “Burn N’ Money” and local favorite Jack Harris in “Nitro Thunder”.
The eight Funny Cars will compete for an Ironman trophy both Friday and Saturday night in Chicago-style eliminations where the quickest winners from round one will meet in the final. The remaining competitors will square off in the consolation rounds ensuring two full rounds of nitro-burning competition.
The NAPA Auto Parts Nitro Jam will also feature the return of the 100-percent nitro-powered Pro Fuel Dragster class as 2011 winner Johnny Ahten in the “Stump Puller” battles Nitro Jam’s Texas native Kristen Dennis in “Ladies First”, Don St. Arnaud and Casey Grisel.
Rounding out the nitro classes at the San Antonio Nitro Jam are the stars of the out-of-control Fuel Altered class and the stars of Nitro Harley as two of the most extreme classes in drag racing return for four exciting rounds of racing. In the Fuel Altered class rookie sensation Dave Hough in “Nanook” will join “Nasty Benjamin,” “Rat Trap” and “Bradfords Fiat” in a showdown of classic machines. In Nitro Harley four of the fastest racers on two wheels will do battle at over 220 miles per hour from the back of a motorcycle.
The NAPA Auto Parts Nitro Jam is this Friday and Saturday at Rocky Mountain Raceways
The exhibition portion of the event will feature Utah’s first-ever monster truck drag race between Grave Digger driven by former Monster Jam World Champion Randy Brown and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle driven by Joey Parnell in a showdown featuring halftrack burnouts on towering, mammoth tires and wheel-to-wheel racing like fans have never seen before.
Wrapping up the evening will be the incredible show put on by Les Shockley’s 25,000 horsepower Super Shockwave twin-engine jet truck.
In addition to all the on-track action, new in 2012 will be the revamped FanFest Pit Party beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Friday and 5:30 p.m. on Saturday The FanFest Pit Party will feature driver autographs and various activities for racers and fans of all ages prior to the start of the Nitro Jam professional rounds.
And it will all take place at RMR. Rocky Mountain Raceways is truly a top-notch venue, offering not only outstanding views of the snow-covered Wasatch Range of the Rocky Mountains, but also providing the best programs and amenities possible for racers and fans alike making this the perfect destination for families and fans of all ages.
Don’t miss out on the biggest motorsports event in Utah June 29-30 at Rocky Mountain Raceways. Tickets start at just $20 if purchased in advance so act now if you want to get a ticket to a night of speed, fire and entertainment.
For more information logon to www.nitrojam.com or call Rocky Mountain Raceways at (801) 252-9557.
CHICAGO (June 27) — With one national event in the books since decorated crew chief Eddie Guarnaccia joined the JEGS.com race team, driver Jeg Coughlin Jr. says his optimism about the season has exponentially grown.
The month of June has been extremely busy for the Delaware, Ohio-based organization. Guarnaccia was added to the roster on June 4 at the conclusion of the national event in Englishtown, N.J. The team quickly scheduled a test session in Bristol, Tenn., which was followed by the national event at the same facility. After that, another test was conducted in Norwalk, Ohio.
“Things have been happening at a pretty brisk pace,” Coughlin said as he prepares for this weekend’s 15th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals in Joliet, Ill. “We tested right away after hiring Eddie because there was a lot of things he wanted to get done. We got most of that stuff changed over before Bristol and then kind of expanded on it some more during the national event.
“After Bristol, Nick (Ferri) and Roy (Simmons) from JNR Racing Engines wanted to test some more things they’d been working on with the motors so we decided to head up to Norwalk. It was the obvious place for us to test this week.”
Aside from it’s proximity to Coughlin’s home and this weekend’s race in the Chicago area, Norwalk will host the next NHRA national event on July 6-8, as well as the K&N Horsepower Challenge, which runs on Saturday during the regular race.
“Norwalk was the obvious place to test, especially after we got the news that the fans voted us into the K&N Horsepower Challenge,” Coughlin said of the annual special event for the best Pro Stock racers in the class. “We didn’t earn one of the regular spots because we didn’t race last year and that deal is based on qualifying points. The only way to get in was to win the fan vote, and we were fortunate enough to do that.
“Now that we’re a part of the show, we really want to put forth our best effort, in the national event as well, because we owe that to the people that took the time to vote us into the field. We’re truly honored.”
There’s also an ongoing points race to think about as Coughlin currently sits 17 points, or slightly less than one round of elimination action, out of the 10-car Countdown to the Championship playoff field.
“Including this weekend’s race in Chicago, we’ve got seven events left before the Countdown starts,” Coughlin said. “Our goals are really simple: We want to fine-tune the car and engine combination and be as efficient as possible every pass. We’re probably not at the same level as the top cars right now but we’re getting closer and we’ve gained even more ground these last few days in Norwalk. If we keep up our current progress, we’ll get this JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge Avenger into the top 10 without any issues.”
Coughlin has four wins (in 2002, 2003, 2007 and 2009) to go with three runner-up results (in 2003, 2005 and 2008) at Route 66 Raceway, making it one of his favorite stops on the Full Throttle tour. He’ll have two chances at victory this weekend as he’ll compete in both Pro Stock and Stock.
He’ll also revel in the chance at being a spectator to the JEGS Allstars race, which takes place Saturday. Coughlin is a former winner in the event, which invites the top Sportsman racers in the country to battle it out for big money and bragging rights.
“My brother Mike is racing this year so it’ll be even more exciting than usual,” Coughlin said. “Any time you get the best 80 Sportsman racers in the country together for a race, you can bet I’ll be there taking it all in.”
force on the cusp of funny car resurgence
CHICAGO, Ill. – With apologies to country music star Tim McGraw, drag racing icon John Force “ain’t as good as he’s gonna get, but he’s better than he used to be.”
After an eight-race swoon that followed a season-opening victory in the Kragen O’Reilly Winternationals at Pomona, Calif., Force’s 320 mile-an-hour Castrol GTX® HIGH MILEAGE™ Ford Mustang finally showed legitimate flashes of its old form two weeks ago and that has thrust the 15-time champion prominently into the championship picture at this week’s 15th annual O’Reilly Route 66 Nationals.
“We’ve been struggling; everybody knows it,” Force said. “This (engine/clutch) combination is new to my crew chiefs (Dean Antonelli and Danny DeGennaro), but they’re getting a handle on it. We’ve got the consistency and now we’re getting faster.”
Force owes his enthusiasm to a No. 5 start in the most recent event in the NHRA Full Throttle Series, the Ford Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol, Tenn. Not often has No. 5 been cause for celebration in a camp that has generated a record 134 victories, but when you’ve qualified outside the quick eight in five of the previous six races, such a performance constitutes a giant step forward.
Nevertheless, it wasn’t just his qualifying position that provided a boost for the 63-year-old veteran, it was the fact that his Ford had the quickest average time over four qualifying sessions and recorded the second fastest speed of the event at 312.71 miles per hour.
“We’re getting ready for the Countdown,” Force said. “Since they changed it up, it’s all about the last six races and I feel good about the direction we’re going. You gotta be in the Top 10 (to make the playoffs), but if you do that, anything can happen.
“I’m not done racing,” emphasized the May inductee into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in Talladega, Ala., “ and I promise you, I ain’t dead. I still love what I’m doing and I’m going to keep on racing until someone tells me I can’t do it anymore.”
Based on Force’s current standing (eighth) and his new resurgence, that isn’t likely to happen anytime soon.
Still, the man who was the first drag racer ever recognized as Driver of the Year (1996) knows that in the present environment, the most competitive in Funny Car history, even speed and consistency don’t assure success.
“Sometimes it’s just not your day,” said the 15-time Auto Racing All-America selection. “We had a day like that (two weeks ago) at Bristol. Good cars but they all went out early and that’s not what the sponsors pay us for. It was a wake up call.”
Force is cautiously optimistic this week at Route 66 Raceway, a track on which he has experienced both the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.
When he won his first race on the Chicago-area track in 2000, it made him the most prolific winner in the sport’s history. His 86th tour victory enabled him to move past Ford Pro Stock legend Bob Glidden and into the No. 1 position in career wins.
Three years later, with the standard racing distance still one quarter mile, he became the first Funny Car driver to break the 4.70 second barrier when he pushed his Castrol Ford through the timers in 4.697 seconds during Route 66 qualifying.
Nevertheless, it isn’t the NHRA national record he recalls from that race (4.665 seconds at 333.58 miles per hour), it instead is that he lost in the final round to Del Worsham. Those are the memories that keep him motivated.
“Anybody can beat you,” Force said. “There are no freebies anymore.”
HIGHT WANTS WINDS OF CHANGE IN CHICAGO
CHICAGO (June 26, 2012) — Two weeks ago in Bristol, Tennessee Robert Hight suffered his second first round defeat of the season losing to Johnny Gray in the opening session of the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals. The last time Hight was ousted after just one run on Sunday was the season opening NHRA O’Reilly Winternationals in Pomona. Hight is hoping his Auto Club Ford Mustang will react similarly to getting extra time off on race day.
Following Pomona Hight and his Auto Club Funny Car team went on a tear through the competition winning the next four races in a row and reaching the semi-finals at the fifth race. Hight won from coast to coast reaching the winner’s circle in Phoenix; Gainesville, Florida; Las Vegas; and Charlotte. The run propelled him to the points lead and has the former crewman turned driver ready to get back to the winner’s circle.
“The start of the season was unbelievable. I won four races in a row which only a handful of Funny Car drivers have ever done. In addition my teammates John Force and Mike Neff also won so in the first six races John Force Racing had six wins. Since then we have reached some finals but haven’t been able to get over the hump. I don’t think anything is wrong at JFR but I am ready to start winning races again, said Hight.
Heading into Chicago for the 15th annual O’Reilly Rt 66 NHRA Nationals Hight has is goal set on winning for the first time in the Windy City. He reached the finals here twice losing to teammate John Force in 2006 and then dropping a heart breaker to Matt Hagan in 2010. John Force Racing has six wins in Chicago including last year’s race which Mike Neff won in dominating fashion. This race starts a tough five races in six weeks stretch that Hight would like to get underway with a win.
“Now it is going to get fun. We race five weekends out of six including the Western Swing. I love to be at the races and going rounds. I think you could look at this like a mini-Countdown. You want to win as many races as possible here to get ready for the real Countdown. The goal is to be at the top of the points but another goal is to be ready with a solid tune-up and some momentum,” said Hight.
For Hight this season has continued a streak of success for the driver and president of John Force Racing that started in 2005 his rookie season. Each season Hight has competed at the highest level he has won multiple races and has led the points at least once. This year with four victories he is one shy away from his personal best five wins in a season which he accomplished last year. Ironically it was his championship season of 2009 where Hight had one of his lower win counts winning just three times. All the wins came in the Countdown a pattern repeated by Matt Hagan last season.
“You want to win every race no doubt about it. I talk with Jimmy Prock all the time about dominating all season long. We got on a streak early this season and there are other drivers who are hot right now. We all know you need to also get hot in the Countdown. These races starting Chicago will be big for everyone to get momentum or keep momentum. I love the position we are in now as the points leader. I want to get my first Chicago win and then head to the next race in Norwalk and win there. Neff won both these race last year so it can be done,” said Hight.
One other piece of business Hight would like to take care of is joining the Funny Car 250 round win club. There are only a handful of current drivers who can say they won 250 rounds of Funny Car racing. They are multiple-time world champions, veterans and Hall of Fame contenders. With two round wins at the O’Reilly Rt 66 NHRA Nationals Robert Hight can join a group of current drivers with a minimum of 250 round wins that includes John Force (1,103), Tony Pedregon (503), Cruz Pedregon (451), Ron Capps (448) and Tim Wilkerson (261). Hight could achieve this feat in only 172 races (including Chicago) which is a pace of nearly 1.5 round wins per race. The only driver who has a better round win to race ratio is Force (1.85).
‘separation anxiety’ a concern for neff
CHICAGO, Ill. – Every time he straps himself into the Castrol GTX® Ford Mustang, a race car whose supercharged and fuel-injected BOSS 500 Ford engine cranks out an almost unfathomable 8,000 horsepower, Mike Neff faces a unique form of separation anxiety.
It’s something with which the former motocross rider and off-road truck mechanic will have to deal again this week when he returns to Route 66 Raceway to defend his Funny Car title in the 15th annual O’Reilly Route 66 Nationals.
The last two years, Neff has held down two full time jobs at John Force Racing, Inc., the Funny Car dynasty that has won 17 NHRA series championships over the last 22 seasons.
He’s the driver of one of the four Mustangs in the JFR stable, teammate to drag racing icon John Force, points leader Robert Hight and rookie Courtney Force. But he also serves as his own crew chief – and therein lies the rub.
In the roughly five minutes it takes to strap in, tow the 320 mile-an-hour hybrid to the starting line, complete the obligatory burnout procedure and speed down the 1,000 foot racecourse, Neff is in no man’s land.
In his dual role, the 45-year-old father of two no longer can make the last second adjustments available to his contemporaries, adjustments that helped him win NHRA championships as crew chief to Gary Scelzi (2005) and Force (2010).
The bigger problem, though, is making the transition from the creativity required of a crew chief to the focus and intense concentration necessary to succeed as a driver in one of the most competitive categories in racing.
Although he has won seven races since Force afforded him the unexpected opportunity to drive a top-of-the-line Funny Car back in 2007, Neff admits that it’s been more difficult to get in “driver mode” than one might imagine.
“When you’re a tuner,” Neff said, “you’re always second-guessing yourself. So, one of the hardest parts for me is making a decision and, when it comes time to drive, living with it.
“You can go up there thinking about the tuning part and not drive as well as you should,” said the man who this year is trying to become the first in 38 seasons to win a Funny Car title as driver crew chief, “and, in the end, if you don’t perform as a driver, it doesn’t really matter what you did as a tuner.”
The transition has proven more difficult for Neff when facing his own teammates. Twice this season, once against Force in the final round of the season-opening Winternationals and once against Hight in the second round of the Toyota SuperNationals at Englishtown, N.J., his tune-up was dead-on but a lapse of concentration in the cockpit resulted in a tardy reaction to the starting signal and, as a result, two holeshot losses.
“I think when I’m racing against my teammates, I might relax a little bit because you know one of you is going to the next round – and that’s all it takes, just a little break in your concentration,” Neff said. “John has told me that it’s hardest for him to get right mentally when he’s racing one of us and I think that’s probably what’s going on.
“You just have to do one job at a time and not let them affect one another,” he said, “and I haven’t always been able to do that.”
However, when he has managed to achieve that balance, as he did a year ago when he beat Jeff Arend in the Route 66 final, Neff has shown himself capable of the kind of domination on which championships are built.