NHRA POINTS LEADERS USE VP IN QUEST FOR CHAMPIONSHIP
LAS VEGAS, NV (November 01, 2009) At Las Vegas Motor Speedway Sunday, VP Racing Fuels powered each Pro Class winner to the podium, while also fueling the points leaders in their quest for a title in their respective classes. Robert Hight all but locked up his first NHRA Funny Car title when he drove to victory at the NHRA Las Vegas Nationals, a win that put him 105 points ahead of the rest of his competitors. Hight was joined in the winner’s circle by Spencer Massey (Top Fuel), Larry Morgan (Pro Stock), and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
While the championship picture got much clearer in Funny Car, Pro Stock, and Pro Stock Motorcycle, it got more complicated in Top Fuel. Heading into the final event of 2009 in Pomona, just one point separates leader Tony Schumacher and second-place Larry Dixon. Hight very likely put the title out of reach when he went the distance and his closest competitors fell early. In Pro Stock, Mike Edwards all but clinched the championship, as he heads for Pomona 139 points in front of Greg Anderson, the only driver left in mathematical contention. The Pro Stock Motorcycle championship is now down to two riders, Hector Arana and Eddie Krawiec, with Arana holding a solid 54-point advantage over Krawiec.
Though he realistically is out of the championship hunt (he has not been mathematically eliminated but would need a miracle), Massey may very well have locked up the 2009 Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award when he drove Don Prudhomme’s U.S. Smokeless rail to his second win of the season; Massey also won in Chicago. Massey was on a rail through eliminations, capping the day with a 3.827, low e.t. of eliminations, to defeat Dixon in the final. This was a repeat of the Reading final, in which Dixon prevailed.
Massey advanced to his fourth career final round on the strength of 3.83- to 3.87-second passes. He opened with a 3.83 to oust fellow rookie Shawn Langdon, then clocked 3.87 and 3.84 runs to defeat No. 2 qualifier Steve Torrence and Richmond champ Brandon Bernstein.
Dixon just missed taking over the points lead when he came up short in the final, his ninth of the season and 92nd of his career. Dixon, who now sits one point out of first, had a perfect day leading up to the final, in which he smoked the tires. Dixon ran low e.t. of the first two rounds as he dispatched Morgan Lucas and Doug Kalitta. In the semi’s, he had the second-best time of the round, a 3.845 that was only bettered by Cory McClenathan, whom Dixon beat on a holeshot.
Hight couldn’t have scripted his Las Vegas outing any better. His Auto Club-backed Mustang was the class of the Funny Car field on Sunday, running low e.t. of every round. In the final, Hight powered to a 4.125 to edge Jack Beckman by .012-second for the win. Beckman, who got the jump at the Tree .058 to .075, finished with a 4.154. The win is the third of the season for Hight, all of which have come during the Countdown to 1 playoffs, and the 14th of his career.
Hight’s big points day got off to a high-pressure start when he was matched with second-place points runner and teammate Force Hood. Hight was up to the task, running a 4.11 to defeat Force Hood, who faded on the top end and slowed to a 4.33. Hight then clocked a 4.12 to defeat boss John Force, who smoked the tires and crossed the centerline while trying to get his car to recover. Hight advanced to his fourth final of the year and the 26th of his career when he powered to low e.t. of eliminations, 4.080, to trailer Tim Wilkerson.
Morgan snapped a dry spell that dated back to Sonoma 2002 when he defeated Rickie Jones in the Pro Stock final. Morgan led the final wire to wire, cutting a .012 light and outpowering Jones, 6.72 to 6.79, to claim his 10th career win.
Morgan may not be part of the championship chase, but he played a key role in it during eliminations. In round one, Morgan defeated Jason Line, eliminating the Summit driver from championship contention. He then denied Mike Edwards the 2009 world title when he defeated the points leader on a holeshot, 6.72 to 6.67. Morgan advanced to his first final of the year and the 32nd of his career when he drove his Lucas Oil-backed Dodge past Greg Stanfield.
Hines was mathematically eliminated from championship consideration in the semifinals, but he gave his teammate, Eddie Krawiec, a big boost in his bid to win back-to-back titles when he defeated Arana in the final. Arana made things easy when he left with a very early -.144 light. Hines also left before the green with a -.014, but at that point it didn’t matter. Hines punctuated his win, the third this season and 18th overall, with a 6.998.
Hines really was the class of the field in eliminations. Though he wasn’t quickest of the class in his round-one victory over Fred Camarena, Hines was the best of the following three rounds. He clocked a 7.00 to trailer Doug Horne in round two, then blasted to a 6.992, low e.t. of the day, to defeat Matt Smith in the semi’s and advance to his fourth final of ’09 and 31st of his career.