CHARLOTTE - With the beginning of the Countdown to 1 as well as a new system that awarded additional points for performing well in each qualifying session and an unprecedented fourwide exhibition, expectations were high for the NHRA Carolinas Nationals before the first car made a run downtrack, and the event lived up to the hype. Stunning upsets, shuffling in the standings that resulted in three new points leaders, and an impressive show by four Top Fuelers and four Funny Cars resulted in a high-energy atmosphere that left everyone wanting more and looking forward to the remaining five events of the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. First-round exits by incoming leaders Antron Brown, Tony Pedregon, and Jeg Coughlin as well as a number of other key players opened the door for new contenders and strong performers who hadn't fully hit their groove at previous events to move front and center in the championship battle.
EVENT OVERVIEW — 2nd annual NHRA Carolinas Nationals, Sept. 17-20, Charlotte Get-well weekend makes On Point McClenathan, Hight championship players; Edwards, Arana continue torrid pace, jumping to points leads CHARLOTTE — With the beginning of the Tony Pedregon, and Jeg Coughlin as well as a made a major move, vaulting from 10th to third, just Countdown to 1 as well as a new system that number of other key players opened the door for new 28 points out of the Funny Car lead. awarded additional points for performing well in contenders and strong performers who hadn’t fully The winners weren’t the only ones who made key each qualifying session and an unprecedented four- hit their groove at previous events to move front and moves. Top Fuel runner-up Shawn Langdon moved wide exhibition, expectations were high for the center in the championship battle. from eighth to fifth, just 49 points behind NHRA Carolinas Nationals before the first car made Cory McClenathan went from fifth to the top spot McClenathan. In Funny Car, Ashley Force Hood a run downtrack, and the event lived up to the hype. in Top Fuel when he wheeled his Fram Tough Guard moved to second and closed the gap between her and Stunning upsets, shuffling in the standings that entry to victory. Mike Edwards, who has had the Pedregon to just one point. Pro Stock runner-up resulted in three new points leaders, and an best car in Pro Stock all season but hadn’t been able Greg Stanfield moved into a tie with Jason Line for impressive show by four Top Fuelers and four Funny to fully capitalize on it, finally put everything third, 62 points behind Edwards and six behind Cars resulted in a high-energy atmosphere that left together, crushing the competition to not just jump second-place Coughlin. A get-well weekend for Karen everyone wanting more and looking forward to the to the lead but to do so convincingly with a 56-point Stoffer that resulted in a runner-up finish pushed remaining five events of the 2009 NHRA Full advantage that is the biggest lead in any category. her from 10th to fifth in the Pro Stock Motorcycle Throttle Drag Racing Series. Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Hector Arana extended standings. Racers entered the event separated by just 10 his class-leading performance that began in Brainerd, McClenathan picked the perfect time to grab his points (except for the leaders, who had 30-point picking up his second straight win and third at the first win since the spring Las Vegas event last year. leads), so most expected some changes in the last four events to grab the top spot. Robert Hight In the final, Langdon got the jump at the Tree and standings, but few expected this kind of shake-up. may not have moved to No. 1 — Pedregon held on to appeared to be in the lead until about the eighth- First-round exits by incoming leaders Antron Brown, that honor despite his first-round loss — but he too mile mark, when his engine let go. That allowed 18 ✦ National DRAGSTER 0 Pro drivers without a round-one loss (Jeg Coughlin in Pro Stock was the only one entering the event) 1.5 round-win average for Coughlin in each of Mike Edwards’ four 2009 wins 2 final-round appearances in Pro Stock for Greg Stanfield at last two events coverage by Candida Benson, Kevin McKenna, and Kelly Wade photos by Teresa Long, Richard Wong, and Richard Brady Event Champions Top Fuel Cory McClenathan Funny Car
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