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NHRA Honors Its Champs

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Tuesday, November 17 2009
The Wallys were handed out Monday night at the NHRA banquet. (Photo courtesy of the NHRA)

The Wallys were handed out Monday night at the NHRA banquet. (Photo courtesy of the NHRA)

RacinToday.com

Welcome to Wally World.

Tony Schumacher, the first Top Fuel driver in NHRA history to win six consecutive Full Throttle Drag Racing Series world championships and seven overall, headlined the four world championship-winning drivers crowned Monday evening during the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series awards ceremony at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in West Los Angeles.

Three other NHRA Full Throttle Series world champions – Robert Hight, Mike Edwards and Hector Arana – all first-time winners in their respective categories, also were presented checks and trophies for their achievements during the 2009 Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship.

Among the evening’s highlights was a tribute to National DRAGSTER, NHRA’s publication of record, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2009. John Force, 14-time NHRA Funny Car world champion, introduced a video that showcased the weekly publication’s contributions to the sport over the years.

Schumacher, a native of Chicago, received a check for $500,000 from NHRA and Full Throttle. Schumacher drove his Mike Green-tuned U.S. Army dragster to five victories in seven final rounds and pulled out a two-point title win over rival Larry Dixon, the closest battle in Top Fuel in NHRA history.

Auto Club Ford Mustang-driver Hight earned his first series crown by winning three of the six playoff races in the Countdown to 1. He outlasted teammate Ashley Force Hood, Ron Capps, Tony Pedregon and Jack Beckman for the crown. A native of Alturas, Calif., Hight earned $500,000 from NHRA and Full Throttle for the title.

Edwards won the Pro Stock world championship title with a solid effort in the regular season and playoffs. He drove his A.R.T./Young Life Pontiac GXP to five victories in 10 final-round appearances, including critical playoff wins at Charlotte and Richmond. He also tied Greg Anderson’s 2004 NHRA record for the most No. 1 qualifying positions during a single season with 16. The Broken Arrow, Okla., driver received a $250,000 check from NHRA and Full Throttle.

Arana earned his first NHRA Full Throttle Series world championship in Pro Stock Motorcycle with five victories in six finals and a category-leading eight No. 1 qualifying positions on his Lucas Oil Buell. The Milltown, Ind. rider received a check for $75,000 from NHRA and Full Throttle for the world championship title.

Top Fuel driver Spencer Massey won the $20,000 Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award, which recognizes the top NHRA rookie performer of the year. Many of the nation’s most prominent motorsports journalists selected Massey, who raced to two victories in five final rounds in his Don “The Snake” Prudhomme-owned U.S. Smokeless dragster. He finished sixth in the final Top Fuel championship standings. His season highlights included wins at Chicago and Las Vegas and runner-up finishes at Atlanta, Reading and this past weekend’s Auto Club NHRA Finals at Pomona. Each of the nominees for the prestigious award received multiple votes this year. The other candidates in the all-star rookie class were Shawn Langdon in Top Fuel, Matt Hagan in Funny Car and Doug Horne in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Winners of the Quest for the Full Throttle Moment, which recognizes the season’s most unforgettable moments in each pro category, were Antron Brown in Top Fuel for sweeping the Western Swing ($25,000), Force Hood for her historic Funny Car win at the prestigious Mac Tools U.S. Nationals ($25,000), Edwards for his incredible 6.509-second national record elapsed time performance at the NHRA Virginia Nationals in Pro Stock ($15,000), and Arana in Pro Stock Motorcycle for his first Mac Tools U.S. Nationals victory ($5,000).

Drivers in seven categories in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series also were recognized as 2009 world champions: Bill Reichert (Top Alcohol Dragster), Frank Manzo (Top Alcohol Funny Car), Bruno Massel (Competition Eliminator), Jimmy DeFrank (Super Stock), Edmond Richardson (Stock Eliminator), Jim Perry (Super Comp) and Ray Connolly (Super Gas).

– Courtesy of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Tuesday, November 17 2009
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