READING - With just this Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals and the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil remaining in the 18-event regular season of the Countdown to the Championship, calculators and spreadsheets shared center stage with torque wrenches and horsepower at Maple Grove Raceway, where battles raged for the few positions left in the 10-racer fields for the Countdown playoffs. [...] round was a big round because that was a race for second place in the points.
EVENT OVERVIEW — 25th annual Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals, Aug. 20-23, Reading Larry Dixon evened the score against his former team to 2-2 when Spencer Massey smoked the tires in Don Prudhomme’s U.S. Smokeless Top Fuel dragster. Dixon scored his fifth win of the season for the Al-Anabi team and moved into second place in the Tim Smalko standings. Reading, Raining, and ’rithmetic Dixon, Tasca, Coughlin, Krawiec win as playoff implications run thick READING — With just this Toyo Tires NHRA Funny Car champ Bob Tasca III locked up his 10th-place Cruz Pedregon and, at Force’s hand, Nationals and the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals berth in the playoffs, then continued to the title 11th-place Matt Hagan. presented by Lucas Oil remaining in the 18-event round, where he raced his Motorcraft/Quick Lane Heading into the U.S. Nationals, eight of the 10 regular season of the Countdown to the Shelby past Mike Neff in an all-Ford final to score Top Fuel playoff spots are clinched, eight are locked Championship, calculators and spreadsheets shared his second win of the season. Reigning Pro Stock in Funny Car, seven in Pro Stock, and seven in Pro center stage with torque wrenches and horsepower world champ Jeg Coughlin, who has led the Stock Motorcycle. at Maple Grove Raceway, where battles raged for the standings since the season’s fifth race and had With his Top Fuel win, Dixon added Maple Grove few positions left in the 10-racer fields for the threatened to run away with the points battle, finally Raceway to the list of tracks in the NHRA Full Countdown playoffs. got back into the winner’s circle just as Jason Line Throttle Series where he has won, leaving just two — On a weekend dogged by rain that limited and Mike Edwards were threatening to overtake him Gateway Int’l Raceway and zMax Dragway — where qualifying Friday and Saturday to just one pass each and now holds a 65-point lead that probably will see he has yet to notch a victory. Dixon’s first Reading day and the resultant water seepage that slowed the him through the final regular-season race. win was also his fifth of the season and 48th of his completion of Sunday’s first round by more than Seven drivers — Funny Car racers Tasca, John career, and he earned it by defeating the team for three hours, NHRA’s Full Throttle stars brought the Force, Tim Wilkerson, and Del Worsham; Pro Stock which he drove last year, Don “the Snake” Prud- heat and intensity of playoff action to the waning competitors Greg Stanfield and Ron Krisher; and homme’s U.S. Smokeless group, and rookie Massey. hours of the Countdown to 10. Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Matt Guidera — clinched The final was decided almost immediately when Red-hot Antron Brown lost in the Top Fuel spots in the playoffs while a lot of others had get-well Massey smoked the tires, leaving him to just watch semifinals to eventual runner-up Spencer Massey yet outings. Pro Stock Motorcycle runner-up Michael as Dixon sailed to a 3.899 win. mathematically locked up the top seed for the Phillips, for example, battled his way into the top 10, “This is such a historic racetrack, and I’ve always Countdown playoffs and the 20-point bonus awarded and Pro Stock runner-up Johnny Gray, who reached wanted to win here,” said Dixon. “My dad won here, to the No. 1 points finishers, and Top Fuel winner the first final of his Pro career, pulled to within nine running points races back in the day. I just love Larry Dixon beat Tony Schumacher in the middle points of a playoff berth. coming to this track, and for one reason or another, rounds to boost the Alan Johnson Racing/Al-Anabi In Top Fuel, Joe Hartley pulled to within three we’ve just never been able to close the deal. I’ve team into second place. points of 10th-place Clay Millican, and Funny Car been halfway down the track thinking we’re going to Pro St
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