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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

2003 NHRA National Time Trials Preview

by NHRA Communications

WHAT: NHRA professional racing teams will be testing in preparation for the upcoming 2003 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing season, including the season-opening K&N Filters Winternationals, Feb. 6-9, at Pomona Raceway, Pomona, Calif. Testing at Firebird also will prepare teams for the second event of the 2003 season, the Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals, Feb. 20-23, also at Firebird International Raceway.

WHERE: FIREBIRD INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY, Chandler, Ariz. Track is located off Interstate 10 from the north at exit 162A (Maricopa). From the south, take exit 162 (Maricopa). Follow the signs to convenient parking.

WHEN: Friday-Sunday, Jan. 17-19, 2003. 

SCHEDULE: FRIDAY, Jan. 17 - Gates open at 8 a.m. Testing sessions will run from 8 a.m. until dusk 

SATURDAY, Jan. 18 - Gates open at 8 a.m. Testing sessions will run from 8 a.m. until dusk 

SUNDAY, Jan. 19 -- Gates open at 8 a.m. Testing sessions will run from 8 a.m. until dusk 

PARTICIPANTS: 

John Force: The 12-time NHRA POWERade champion and the winningest driver in NHRA history (106 wins) begins his quest for a 13th series crown and his 11th in a row
Larry Dixon: Coming off his first NHRA POWERade Top Fuel championship, the runner-up at last year's Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals scored nine victories in an NHRA record 14 final round appearances as he took the points lead after the first race of the season and never relinquished it
Tony Schumacher: The 1999 Top Fuel champion, and first driver to eclipse the 330-mph barrier (at Firebird in 1999) scored a pair of wins en route to a top three finish in the standings in his U.S. Army dragster
Brandon Bernstein: after his father's retirement in 2002 (Kenny), the younger Bernstein will assume the driving duties of the Budweiser/Lucas Oil dragster as he looks to join his father as the first-ever father/son series champs
Tony Pedregon: Force's teammate who was in the championship race until the semifinals of the last race of the year, losing to his boss and finishing in the No. 2 spot for the fourth time in his career
Del Worsham: The youngest veteran Funny Car driver on the circuit, the defending winner of the Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals, Worsham is considered a serious contender for the 2003 championship
Johnny Gray: Worsham's teammate looks to improve on a career-best finish in 2002 and put the CSK Firebird on top
Whit Bazemore: Bazemore started 2002 off strong, but a mid-season downturn ended his championship hopes. A strong finish left him in the No. 5 spot in the overall standings and he will look to improve in 2003
Scotty Cannon: This mohawk-wearing Funny Car pilot is still seeking his first career win on the NHRA circuit. He showed signs of success last season after joining Whit Bazemore and Schumacher Racing with two No. 1 qualifying positions and two runner-up finishes
Gary Scelzi: This three-time Top Fuel champion returns to Funny Car competition after making only seven starts in the full-bodied car in 2002. Scelzi joins Whit Bazemore and Scotty Cannon on Schumacher Racing for 2003, giving them a formidable three-car team to try and challenge Force
Gary Densham: The 30-year veteran joined Force Racing in 2001 and since then has scored four career victories and established the national record for speed (326.87 mph).

TICKETS: For tickets call Firebird International Raceway ticket office at: (602) 268-0200 or contact Ticketmaster at (480) 784-4444.

GENERAL ADMISSION - General Admission tickets for Friday are $10, with Saturday and Sunday tickets priced at $19. 

TEAMS PREPARE FOR THE 2003 NHRA POWERade DRAG RACING SEASON

CHANDLER, Ariz. - Firebird International Raceway will serve as the host for the 2003 NHRA National Time Trials, Feb. 17-19, as NHRA teams prepare for the 2003 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. Competitors will try to take advantage of the knowledge they obtain from the preseason and apply it to the 23-race national event schedule that will culminate in a NHRA POWERade championship.

The 2003 NHRA POWERade season begins with the 43rd annual K&N Filters Winternationals, Feb. 6-9, at the historic Pomona Raceway in Pomona, Calif. The season opener isn't the only event teams will be preparing for as the NHRA will return to the Valley of the Sun for the second event of the 2003 season, the 19th annual Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals, Feb. 20-23, at Firebird Raceway.

Many of the sport's biggest stars will be in attendance as teams, drivers and crew chiefs try and get a grip on the tune-up required to power everything down the quarter-mile drag strip ranging from the 6,000 horsepower, 330-mph nitromethane-burning Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars, to the sleeker 200-mph Pro Stock vehicles. Different aspects of the car ranging from the tires, to the clutch setup, aerodynamics, and the fuel system will be tested during the session to enhance the performance of the vehicle. 

In what will be one of the most exciting stories of 2003, the young Brandon Bernstein will take his place behind the wheel of the famed Budweiser/Lucas Oil dragster which was left vacant by his father Kenny, who retired at the conclusion of the 2002 season. The younger Bernstein will be attempting to continue the winning tradition established by the Top Fuel and Funny Car legend.

Funny Car icon and fan-favorite John Force earned his 12th NHRA POWERade championship in 2002 and his 10th straight in his familiar Castrol GTX Ford Mustang. Force will be joined by teammates Tony Pedregon and Gary Densham as his entire three-car team plans to test at FIR as they seek to maintain their reputation as the sports most dominant team. Force Racing will be joined by Schumacher Racing and it's new four-car team, which features one Top Fuel dragster and three Funny Cars. The U.S. Army sponsored dragster is piloted by 1999 Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher, the first driver to eclipse the 330-mph barrier which he accomplished at FIR in 1999. Three-time Top Fuel champion Gary Scelzi will be the newest driver to join Whit Bazemore and Scotty Cannon on Schumacher Racing, giving the Indianapolis-based team a formidable Funny Car contingent to challenge Force's three Ford Mustangs. Rising star Del Worsham, the defending winner of the Checker Schuck's Kragen Nationals and teammate Johnny Gray also will be testing at FIR as they seek to improve on a 2002 season where they both finished in the NHRA POWERade Funny Car top 10 standings.

For ticket information call Firebird International Raceway at (602) 268-0200, or Ticketmaster at (480) 784-4444.

 

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