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NHRA Notes: Glenn Named Top Rookie

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, November 19 2021

Pro Stock driver Dallas Glenn is the NHRA’s top rookie for 2021. (RacinToday file photo by Deb Williams)

Dallas Glenn has followed the line of succession at Ken Black Racing to 2021 NHRA Rookie of the Year honors.

Glenn posted three wins and five final-round appearances during his debut Pro Stock season to top a list of talented first-year competitors in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series.

A longtime crew member for KB Racing and three-time Pro Stock world champion Jason Line, Glenn got his opportunity to drive after Line retired from the cockpit following the COVID-19 impacted 2020 campaign.

“I’ve been having a lot of fun in the car,” said Glenn, a 30-year-old native of Covington, Wash. “I feel I can get in, not (be) nervous. I know what to expect, I can run through the motions and focus on the finer details. When you get a lot of runs in a car you no longer think about the things you have to do, you can focus on the little stuff and the things you have to do just come naturally. There is a rhythm and routine.”

A group of leading motorsports journalists selected the winner via a voting system based upon the following criteria: Number of events competed in, performance on and off the racetrack, participation in NHRA promotions and relationships with fans, sponsors, and media. Glenn received the award during Sunday’s NHRA banquet at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Calif., where he finished third in the Countdown to the Championship playoff standings.

Originally booked for a part-time schedule, primary sponsorship from RAD Torque Systems allowed Glenn’s program to cover the full, 17-race 2021 season and continue into 2022. With his family-based racing background, Glenn proved a quick study behind the wheel of a “Factory Hot Rod” while continuing to turn wrenches on his Chevrolet Camaro SS.

Glenn won the four-wide event at zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C., in just his fourth career start. Glenn was outstanding on the starting line, advancing to final rounds at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Ill., and Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, and driving to one No. 1 qualifier.

Glenn’s win at Heartland Park in Topeka featured a perfect 0.000-second reaction time in the final round. Glenn became just the sixth driver in Pro Stock history to post a perfect reaction time in a final round. He also added a victory last month at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, eliminating four-time world champion Erica Enders with an 0.001-second reaction time in the final.

Line _ world champion in 2006, 2011 and 2016 _ retired from driving to focus on shop-based race preparation at KB Racing, home to newly crowned five-time Pro Stock world champ Greg Anderson. Glenn’s emergence has added unexpected depth to the organization based in Mooresville, N.C.

“He’s (Glenn) a rare bird nowadays,” said Line, winner of the 2004 NHRA Rookie of the Year award. “He has a passion for the sport that is not often seen anymore. A lot of people want to be race car drivers; that’s the easy part. Dallas can do a lot of things _ he’s very talented _ and he wants to learn all aspects of it. He’s a hard-worker. He’s making the most of his opportunities. It’s fun to watch.”

Glenn grew up one highway exit away from Pacific Raceways in Kent, Wash., within earshot of the NHRA’s annual summertime “Western Swing.” From racing Quarter Midgets on circle tracks when he was 6-years-old to driving his grandmother’s 1968 Chevrolet El Camino at local dragstrips, Glenn found success in a hobby shared by his family.

“My dad won the local track championship in 2005 with our ’55 Chevy station wagon,” Glenn said. “It’s an all-steel car other than the nose. I started in ’07 when I got in the car. I liked everything about it; I had a knack for it and understood how it all worked. I started racing the ’68 El Camino that I still have and race from time to time. I’ve had a lot of success with that.”

Glenn led a class that featured Top Fuel standout Josh Hart, who tallied two wins during his rookie campaign; Top Fuel’s Krista Baldwin, Artie Allen, Joe Morrison and Buddy Hull; Funny Car drivers Bobby Bode and Chad Green and Pro Stock’s Mike Callahan, Rob Tucker and Marty Robertson.

“I knew pretty early-on that Pro Stock was where I wanted to go,” Glenn said. “I had told people for years, even before I got to drive, that I wanted to work on a Pro Stock team and everybody was like, ‘OK, that’s great. But what are you really going to do?’ I understand there are not many people who get to do this and the chances of me making it are pretty slim. But if you keep your head down and focus on one thing you can make anything happen.

“KB Racing has a lot of brain power and experience that I’ve been trying to siphon as much as I can; I think I’ve learned a lot over the last few years. I bet we have over 10,000 runs at KB Racing. Pretty much if it’s happened in a race car it’s happened to Jason at least once. If I have a question about anything, he says ‘Do this and that.’ Working on Jason’s car for eight years and watching him drive, I’m sure some of my driving style is like his.”

Justin Ashley, the 2020 NHRA Rookie of the Year recipient, turned in a strong 2021 season by winning once in Top Fuel, advancing to three final rounds and finishing fourth in points.

After enjoying some down time for the holidays, Glenn will begin preparing for the 2022 season that begins Feb. 17-20 with the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona.

“I’ve been successful and I’m thankful for that,” Glenn said. “I’m really hungry and I won’t stop until I see the No. 1 on the side of the car.”

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Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) has announced its crew chief lineup for the team’s 2022 debut in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series with Top Fuel driver Leah Pruett and Funny Car champion Matt Hagan.

Neal Strausbaugh will be crew chief for nine-time Top Fuel event-winner Pruett, while Dickie Venables will continue his longtime role as crew chief for 39-time Funny Car event-winner Hagan. Both Strausbaugh and Venables have joined TSR from Don Schumacher Racing (DSR), where the duo have spent a combined 25 years.

Strausbaugh has been an assistant crew chief since 2008 working across both Top Fuel and Funny Car, first with Cory McClenathan in Top Fuel (2008), Tony “The Sarge” Schumacher in Top Fuel (2009-2016), “Fast” Jack Beckman in Funny Car (2017-2018) and Pruett (2019-present).

Venables has logged two stints at DSR, spending 2010-2011 with Funny Car driver Johnny Gray before returning in 2013 to lead Hagan’s Funny Car effort.

“Joe Gibbs taught me a long time ago that you win with people, and Neal and Dickie are the right guys to help build this team and get it ready for next year,” said team-owner Stewart, a three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion. “For the past year-and-a-half, I’ve gotten to know Neal and Dickie and have seen first-hand how they work and interact with everyone on the crew. Both have a strong work ethic and know what they’re doing, but they also know each other and their drivers really well. That kind of familiarity and continuity is massively important as we build this program from the ground up.”

Strausbaugh will be joined at TSR by co-crew chief Mike Domagala and car chief Ryan McGilvry. Venables is bringing the same personnel who have helped Hagan earn two of his three Funny Car titles (2014 and 2020). Specifically, co-crew chief Michael Knudsen and car chief Alex Conaway will continue with Venables at TSR.

“Being a part of TSR is a dream situation,” said Strausbaugh, a native of Hillsboro, Ill. “There are a lot of great people who are a part of this team, and it starts at the top with Tony. It’s built by racers, for racers, and we have all the resources we need to be successful.”

Texan Venables, who has spent the last 25 years in Plainfield, Ind., guided Hagan to a runnerup point finish behind DSR’s Ron Capps in the 2021 Countdown to the Championship playoff standings.

“I’ve been doing this a lot of years and I honestly haven’t looked forward to a program as much as I’m looking forward to this one,” Venables said. “Being able to bring all my guys over will help us get started on the right foot and really grow this program.

“That’s what intrigues me about this opportunity most of all. I enjoy being able to build things from scratch. I enjoy being able to work with people and teach them to work in certain roles.”

TSR will make its NHRA debut during the 2022 season-opener Feb. 17-20 at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.

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NHRA competitors in Top Fuel and Funny Car will contest 22-race schedules in 2022, topping the category lineup for all classes in the NHRA.

The Pro Stock class will run 18 races in 2022, including the first five events of the year. Pro Stock will race in Epping, N.H., at New England Dragway for a second straight year and follow that with its first appearance at Bristol (Tenn.) Dragway since 2018 for the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals on June 17-19.

Pro Stockers also will race at all three stops on NHRA’s famed “Western Swing” in July, featuring stops in Morrison, Colo.; Sonoma, Calif. and Kent, Wash. Pacific Raceways will host its first NHRA event since 2019, when the Flav-R-Pac NHRA Northwest Nationals take place on July 29-31. Pro Stock will close its 2022 campaign at the schedule’s final five races.

Pro Stock Motorcycle riders will race at 15 events next season, including the traditional opener at the AMALIE Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville (Fla.) Raceway on March 10-13. The two-wheeled category also will appear at Richmond Raceway on May 13-15 for the Virginia NHRA Nationals as Virginia Motorsports Park hosts its first NHRA event since 2019. 

Pro Stock Bike will return to Heartland Park in Topeka for the first time since 1997 on Aug. 12-14 for the Menards NHRA Nationals and also will run at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Ill., after not competing at the facility in 2021.

NHRA’s four professional categories also will contest the final national event scheduled for Houston Raceway Park in Baytown, Texas _ the Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals on April 22-24.

NHRA’s Pro Mod Drag Racing Series will run 10 events in 2022, including the traditional season-opener in Gainesville. Pro Mod will return to Richmond in May and make a second straight appearance in Brainerd (Minn.) International during the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals on Aug. 18-21.

After racing in Indianapolis at the Dodge//SRT NHRA U.S. Nationals, Pro Mod will finish the season with consecutive events at Concord, N.C.; Gateway, Ill., and the season-finale at Texas Motorplex in Ennis on Oct. 13-16 during the Texas NHRA FallNationals. It marks the first time Pro Mod will finish the season at Hall of Famer Billy Meyer’s Texas Motorplex.

Like Pro Mod, the Constant Aviation Factory Stock Showdown will see its season conclude at Texas Motorplex, marking the last of eight events during the 2022 campaign. The Constant Aviation Factory Stock Showdown will open its season in Gainesville and return to Bristol Dragway in June. Top drivers also will race for manufacturer bragging in Dodge Challenger Drag Paks, Chevrolet COPO Camaros and Ford Mustang Cobra Jets at stops in Concord, N.C.; Richmond, Va.; Norwalk, Ohio; Indianapolis and Reading, Pa.

Top Fuel Harley will run the first of six scheduled events in 2022 at Gainesville, while also concluding its season at Texas Motorplex. Top Fuel Harley will race at zMAX Dragway in the spring, Richmond, Bristol and Indy before the last race of the year at Texas Motorplex _ which will host the finales for Pro Mod, Constant Aviation Factory Stock Showdown and Top Fuel Harley for the first time in track history.

The Mountain Motor Pro Stock class, which features popular and powerful 800-plus cubic-inch engines, will compete at four events in 2022. The season will start at Richmond and include NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series races at Brainerd, Indianapolis and the fall race at zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C.

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NHRA will launch its Factory X (FX) exhibition racing class during the 2022 Camping World Drag Racing Series season. Billed as NHRA Factory X presented by Holley, the FX category will bridge the gap between Factory Stock Showdown and Pro Stock, and be reserved for 2019 and newer manufactured automobiles, including the Chevrolet COPO Camaro, Dodge Challenger Drag Pak and Ford Mustang Cobra Jet. 

The FX class will have a minimum weight limit of 2,650-pounds, nearly 1,000-pounds lighter than a Factory Stock Showdown car, with mandatory manual transmission. FX will be included in the 2022 season with Competition Eliminator across all seven NHRA Divisions and will debut as a 2022 exhibition category beginning mid-year at select events, with the potential to showcase big performance numbers in a lightweight, modified class.

“We’re extremely excited to debut this new and thrilling FX class in 2022,” NHRA National Tech Director Lonnie Grim said in a statement. “Our intention is this will become a heads-up category at select NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series events in 2023 and will continue to be included in Competition Eliminator across all divisions.

“This class will be one more solid addition to the exciting lineup of very quick NHRA door-slammer classes. There is incredible potential in this class. The fact that it is manually-shifted with strong performance capability and will allow fans to enjoy the sounds of 10,000 RPM will be a huge draw for fans and racers alike.”

COPO Chevrolet Camaros will use the 630-horsepower Magnuson 2.65-L supercharger, while the DragPak Dodge Challengers will race with the 630-horsepower, 3.0-L Whipple. Ford’s Cobra Jet 327 Mustang engine combination will be a 610-horsepower, 3.0-L Whipple unit. 

Each body must be OEM dimensional as well, meaning no alterations. Each must feature steel roof and quarter body panels, while the chassis on each car must meet 25.1, 25.2, 25.3 specifications.

FX cars will race on tires that are 33-inches tall and 10.5-inches wide, which are wider than FSS cars, opening up the possibility for runs in the six-second range.

“This is something we’ve been working on for quite a while and we’re really excited for the debut of the FX class,” Grim said. “We’ve brought a lot of new technology into this class and it will be a 100 percent stock dimensional car. It’s going to be a class that embraces technology and affordability, and has huge potential from a performance standpoint.”

Other highlights for the FX class: Doors must be functional and operable from inside and outside, and of OEM dimension; cars must be completely stock-appearing, including bumper covers, (front and rear) mandatory, consistent with make, model and year claimed; each car must be equipped with a stock grille of same configuration and design for specific body used; complete headlight and taillight assemblies must be retained in stock original factory location.

The full set of rules for the FX class are available at nhraracer.com.

(Editor’s Note: John Sturbin is a Texas-based journalist specializing in motorsports. During a near 30-year career with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, he won the Bloys Britt Award for top motorsports story of the year (1991) as judged by The Associated Press; received the National Hot Rod Association’s Media Award (1997) and several in-house Star-Telegram honors. He also was inaugural recipient of the Texas Motor Speedway Excellence in Journalism Award (2009). His list of freelance clients has included Texas Motor Speedway, the Dallas Morning News, New York Newsday, NASCAR Wire Service and Ford Racing).

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Final 2021 Countdown to the Championship point standings (top-10) following the 56th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona:

Top Fuel _1. Steve Torrence, 2,873; 2. Brittany Force, 2,637; 3. Mike Salinas, 2,614; 4. Justin Ashley, 2,556; 5. Billy Torrence, 2,498; 6. Antron Brown, 2,427; 7. Leah Pruett, 2,401; 8. Clay Millican, 2,384; 9. Shawn Langdon, 2,310; 10. Doug Kalitta, 2,290.

Funny Car _ 1. Ron Capps, 2,676; 2. Matt Hagan, 2,639; 3. Bob Tasca III, 2,586; 4. Cruz Pedregon, 2,555; 5. John Force, 2,543; 6. Alexis DeJoria, 2,526; 7. J.R. Todd, 2,498; 8. Robert Hight, 2,478; 9. Tim Wilkerson, 2,361; 10. Jim Campbell, 2,238.

Pro Stock _ 1. Greg Anderson, 2,752; 2. Erica Enders, 2,645; 3. Dallas Glenn, 2,575; 4. Kyle Koretsky, 2,532; 5. Aaron Stanfield, 2,415; 6. Troy Coughlin Jr., 2,393; 7. Mason McGaha, 2,378; 8. Chris McGaha, 2,361; 9. Matt Hartford, 2,353; 10. Deric Kramer, 2,311.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 1. Matt Smith, 2,721; 2. Angelle Sampey, 2,590; 3. Steve Johnson, 2,586; 4. Eddie Krawiec, 2,511; 5. Karen Stoffer, 2,499; 6. Scotty Pollacheck, 2,407; 7. Angie Smith, 2,327; 8. Joey Gladstone, 2,267; 9. Andrew Hines, 2,259; 10. Ryan Oehler, 2,230.

FINAL 2021 COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE/PROFESSIONAL WINNERS

Sunday, Sept. 12 _ Maple Grove Raceway, Reading, Pa. Billy Torrence (Top Fuel); Tommy Johnson Jr. (Funny Car); Greg Anderson (Pro Stock); Steve Johnson (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

Sunday, Sept. 19 _zMAX Dragway, Concord, N.C. Josh Hart (Top Fuel); Tim Wilkerson (Funny Car); Kyle Koretsky (Pro Stock); Angelle Sampey (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

Sunday, Sept. 26 _ World Wide Technology Raceway, Madison, Ill. Steve Torrence (Top Fuel); Matt Hagan (Funny Car); Erica Enders (Pro Stock).

Sunday, Oct. 10 _ Texas Motorplex, Ennis. Justin Ashley (Top Fuel); Ron Capps (Funny Car); Greg Anderson (Pro Stock); Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

Sunday, Oct. 17 _ Bristol (Tenn.) Dragway. Mile Salinas (Top Fuel); Alexis DeJoria (Funny Car); Angelle Sampey (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

Sunday, Oct. 31 _ The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Steve Torrence (Top Fuel); Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car); Dallas Glenn (Pro Stock); Steve Johnson (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

Sunday, Nov. 14 _ Auto Club Speedway, Pomona, Calif. Steve Torrence (Top Fuel); Bob Tasca III (Funny Car); Greg Anderson (Pro Stock); Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

 

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, November 19 2021
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