Swing sweeps

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                                                                                                                      WEEKLYneed to know this week
   Countdown update: Funny moves; Coughlin clinches                                                                      What you
                                                                                                                        Upcoming events
      wo-thirds through the regular season, the seat is beginning to get awfully hot for a

   T  couple of drivers on the bubble, most notably Funny Car’s Robert Hight and Cruz
      Pedregon. Hight, a perennial championship contender from the John Force Racing
   stable, is 55 points off the playoff pace with six races to go. Pedregon, the defending
                                                                                                                                                           National Trail Raceway
                                                                                                                                                          Hebron, Ohio (July 24-26)

                                                                                                                                                           Houston Raceway Park
   NHRA Full Throttle Series world champion, went on a mini run to move inside the top                                                                        Houston (July 24-25)
   10, but he is in a tie for 10th with rookie Matt Hagan. Hight would like to follow the lead
   of teammate Mike Neff, who has moved up to ninth. The situation is much less                                                                                Infineon Raceway
   precarious for JFR teammate Ashley Force Hood, who took over first place with her semi-                                                                 Sonoma (July 31-Aug. 2)
   final finish at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals. In Top Fuel, Larry Dixon
   moved into second place with his third win in four races, and Clay Millican maintained a                                                            NHRA Northwest Nationals
                                                                                                                                                             Seattle (July 17-19)
   two-round cushion over Joe Hartley for
   the 10th and final playoff berth. In Pro
   Stock, Jeg Coughlin became the first                                                                                 This week on ESPN2
   driver to clinch a playoff berth, and
                                                                                                                      Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals
   Warren Johnson inched up to ninth. In                                                                              July 11, 10 p.m.-midnight (qualifying); July 12, 7-10 p.m.
   Pro Stock Motorcycle, Andrew Hines                                                                                 (eliminations); July 15, 1-3:30 a.m. (repeat eliminations); all
   won for the first time in 2009 to move                                                                             times Eastern; check local listings
   up to second.
                                                                                                                      NHRA Race Day
                                                                                                                      July 12, 11 a.m. ET

Comeback: Grant Downing will make                           Tim Wilkerson. PRO provides services and other              In next week’s National DRAGSTER
his competitive return to Funny Car at the Mopar            benefits to NHRA Professional team owners and
Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway              drivers.                                                  Sportsman coverage from Norwalk; NHRA K&N Horsepower
in Denver. Downing, who last competed at the 2007                                                                     Challenge; Don Prudhomme’s restored Funny Cars
season-ending event in Pomona, will debut a chassis         Swing sweeps: The Mopar Mile-High
that he built for himself at Del Worsham’s shop in          NHRA Nationals marks the beginning of the fabled            Upcoming birthdays
Orange, Calif. The New Zealand transplant’s Silver          Western Swing, a three-week loop through                  Jerry Eckman (67, July 18); Barry Grant (52, July 21); Ben
Fern Racing team will be joined by a familiar face          Denver, Seattle, and Sonoma. Only six Professional        Watson (33, July 23); Jason Line (40, July 24)
in Chuck Worsham, who will call the tuning shots.           drivers have swept the Swing: Tony Schumacher
Chuck has two wins as a car owner, in Denver with           was the last to do so, in 2008; others to accomplish        This week in history
                                    son Del in 2002         the feat are Joe Amato, 1991, Top Fuel; John Force,
                                    and Phil                1994, Funny Car; Cory McClenathan, 1997, Top              
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