NORWALK, Ohio Teammates sit atop the series standings in both NHRA's Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle categories as only a handful of races remain before the top 10 positions are locked in for the Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship.
In Pro Stock, the Summit Racing duo of four-time world champ Greg Anderson and two-time and defending world champ Jason Line are anchoring the top two positions. In Pro Stock Motorcycle, the Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson tandem of two-time and defending champ Eddie Krawiec and three-time world champ Andrew Hines are ruling the points order.
All four drivers will be looking to add more wins to their resumes while their opponents will be trying to knock them off their perches at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, July 5-8 at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park. Del Worsham (Top Fuel), Mike Neff (Funny Car), Vincent Nobile (Pro Stock) and Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were the 2011 winners of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event that will be televised on ESPN2 HD.
This race presents one of the most lucrative ventures of the season for Pro Stock teams. In addition to the event purse, eight drivers will also try to win a $50,000 bonus in the K&N Horsepower Challenge. Anderson is a four-time winner of that event and swept both races in 2010. After posting a runner-up finish last weekend in Chicago, Anderson is ready to put his Summit Racing Chevy Camaro back in the winner's circle at Norwalk.
"We obviously need a couple more races with these new Summit Racing Camaros to get them fully up to speed," Anderson said. "They drive really well, and race well we just need a little more speed out of them, and we'll keep pecking at them until we do."
With four victories this season, Anderson fell short of claiming a fifth in Chicago to Erica Enders, who became the first female to win an NHRA Pro Stock race. The year before Anderson beat Enders in the Chicago final and famously said he hopes she wins a race, but just doesn't beat him in the final round. Enders was pleased it was the four-time champ in the other lane when she finally did break through to earn a Wally trophy.
"I had said a million times before that Erica was going to win a race, and that I just didn't want it to be against me," Anderson said. "However, you certainly can't take (Chicago's) performance away from her she earned it. She went out there and took it, with both she and her team doing a better job, and they won the race, and I congratulate them. It's one for the history books."
Enders, who was emotional after the win, says she was filled with tremendous joy and a certain amount of relief to finally get the job done. She had been to six final rounds in the seven years that she has competed in Pro Stock. One of only six women to ever race in Pro Stock, she is by far the most successful in the 200 mph category. She is the 12th woman to win an NHRA Full Throttle Series event.
"For pioneers like Shirley Muldowney and Shelly Anderson-Payne, they were my heroes growing up, and all the women who paved the way," Enders said. "There are a lot of little kids who look up to me. I'm blessed enough to be in the position to be a role model for them through the Disney movie. I hope that they see me win and know that no matter what, anything is possible. You've just got to set your mind to it and follow your dreams. With hard work, anything's possible."
Other Pro Stock drivers to watch include Allen Johnson, who has been hot in the middle of the regular season with two victories in three finals and five No. 1 qualifying positions in his Team Mopar Dodge Avenger, and veteran driver Mike Edwards, who beat Johnson in the closest final round in NHRA history at Bristol with a margin of victory of .0000.
In the two-wheel category, Krawiec and Hines have dominated Pro Stock Motorcycle competition this season winning all five races.
Hector Arana Sr. and last season's top rookie, Hector Arana Jr., are third and fourth in the standings aboard their Lucas Oil Buells. LE Tonglet, the 2010 world champ, made a final round appearance at Chicago and appears to have his Nitro Fish Suzuki back on track. Veteran rider Karen Stoffer also has been quick on her GEICO Suzuki and Michael Ray advanced to his first career final round.
However, the Harley-Davidson team appears to be just hitting their stride as the season rolls on into the summer months.
"Matt [Hines, crew chief] has a good tune-up for hot and muggy conditions and that makes the bike a joy to ride," Hines said. "(We're) looking forward to going to Norwalk."
* SCHEDULE: NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series qualifying sessions are scheduled for 4 and 6:30 p.m. on Friday, July 6, and 11:40 a.m. and 2:15 p.m. on Saturday, July 7. Final eliminations will begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday, July 8.
* TICKETS: For tickets for the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, please call Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park at (419) 668-5555 or log on to www.summitmotorsportspark.tix.com.
* ON TV: ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise 90 minutes of qualifying coverage at 6 p.m. (ET) on Saturday, July 7, and three hours of eliminations coverage at 8 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, July 8.
* LUCAS OIL SERIES: The Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals will feature competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, where the future stars of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series are born. Lucas Oil Series qualifying begins at 9 a.m. on July 5; eliminations begin at 8 a.m. on July 6 and continue through July 8.
* PRO MOD SERIES PRESENTED BY PROCARE RX: NHRA's popular Pro Mod touring series will make its sixth start of the 10-race 2012 season at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals. The series features some of the world's fastest and most unique doorslammer cars, with an eclectic mix of vintage and late-model body styles, in quarter-mile competition. Two of three scheduled rounds of qualifying will be held on Friday, July 6 at 3:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. The final round of qualifying is set for 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 7, followed by the first round of eliminations at 1:40 p.m. Eliminations will continue on Sunday, July 8 at approximately 2:30 p.m.
* ON THE WEB: Get live timing, scoring, multimedia and the latest news updates from every NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event on the Internet at www.nhra.com. Visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
NHRA PRO MOD DRAG RACING SERIES PRESENTED BY PROCARE RX qualifying at 3:30 and 6 p.m.
NHRA PRO MOD DRAG RACING SERIES PRESENTED BY PROCARE RX qualifying at 10:30 a.m.; first round of eliminations at 1:40 p.m.
NHRA PRO MOD DRAG RACING SERIES PRESENTED BY PROCARE RX eliminations continue at approximately 2:30 p.m.