:::::: News ::::::


Jack Beckman tested a Top Fuel dragster last
week in Indianapolis. The sophomore Funny Car racer drove the ex-Melanie Troxel
SKULL SHINE dragster that she vacated when moving over to the Morgan Lucas

Beckman said no imminent plan exists to switch to a dragster. The
test was nothing more than keeping that car turn-key if a deal comes along for a
second Don Schumacher Top Fueler, so the start-up will be minimal, Beckman said.

“My crew got elected to go out and test the car in Indy,” Beckman said.
“We’ll probably have one more shake-down before the end of the year. That way,
what Don has is a car ready to go once he decides what he wants to


Reigning Pro Mod champion Quain Stott had a few thoughts about the rule
changes headed into 2007.

"The competition hasn't really stepped up. The rule changes
screwed everybody up. It's thrown us a curve, and we really haven't quite
figured it out yet," he said., although he qualified in the top half of the
field at seventh.

"We don't have the budget to go out there and wear
motors out trying to figure this new rule out with the 4:30 gear they have. The
higher-funded teams are obviously figuring this out quicker then we are. We are
getting better every race. This is the first race this year we've been in the
top half, but actually believe it or not, I’m in better shape now than I was
this time last year.


A recent online poll of
avid NHRA fans presented the following statement and question: "Only four Funny
Car drivers have qualified at all seven events this season. Who will miss

The choices were Ron Capps, Gary Scelzi, Tony Pedregon, and Checker,
Schuck's, Kragen blue team driver Jeff Arend. Throughout the course of the
online voting, the "turnout" at the polls was enormous, as more than 19,000 fans
cast their votes to show their opinion on the subject. In the end, the consensus
was overwhelming, as 60 percent of the vote went for Arend to be the next to


Racing helmets, as wonderful as they
are, are not custom fits. “They’re like socks -- one size fits all,” John Force
said. And in the wake of Eric Medlen’s fatal crash in March, that isn’t good
enough for the team owner and 14-time champion.

“Winning and safety are
my priorities,” Force said. And while some might joke from time to time that the
popular and personable Force needs to have his head examined. But that’s just
what he is going to do.


Bob Vandergriff, Jr. was on a mission at Topeka. While driving his UPS-sponsored dragster remains his key objective, he
was executing his salesman skills.

Vandergriff was selling for a good
cause. A children’s hospital visit was enough to convince Vandergriff to the
importance of raising funds for the Children’s Hospital of

Vandergriff has formed the Vandergriff Foundation in order to do


The Evan Knoll-owned RATT Dragster invoked a
lot of memories in its Topeka debut.

For driver Clay Millican, it restores the
memories of being an influential teenager and the days of head-banging hair
rock. Yes, he had a mullet and is proud of it.

“Absolutely and not only
did I have the mullet, I also had the curl kit in the back,” Millican admitted.
“I had the mullet and the little mustache. I was stylin’ in 1984, jamming with
RATT. I was there.


Part-time competitor Joe Hartley said being
Top Fuel’s No. 1 qualifier in front of his hometown crowd with his 4.518-second
elapsed time at 323.12 mph is “overwhelming.”

Hartley, born and reared in
Omaha, lives in Portland, Oregon, where last summer he earned a degree in
mechanical engineering from Portland State University and works as a design
engineer. The team originally was based in Nebraska but moved to Wichita,
Kansas, for a few years, then moved back to Omaha.

And the performance
increase, he said, “comes from never giving up.” But he said clutch and oil
changes the crew made to the car in the offseason have been “significant to the
tune-up.” He also said that the return of Kent Urban from a stint at Kalitta
Motorsports has made a huge difference and contributed to the improved stability
of the team.


Greg Anderson is seventh on the list for leaders in NHRA national event
victories (professional categories) and third among Pro Stock drivers. The only
Pro Stock drivers with more wins are Warren Johnson (96 wins) and Bob Glidden
(85 wins).

The most prolific Pro Stock driver since 2002, Anderson has
won the last eight final rounds he’s been in extending back to last season. This
was his fifth win of 2007 in the eight races contested thus far and the 14th
time he’s turned back Connolly in 21 career races. In final rounds against
Connolly, Anderson holds a 6-3 advantage.


Tony Pedregon doesn’t have a major
factory program, but that hasn’t stopped him and his brother Cruz from shopping
around for one. A recent announcement that Toyota will supply their teams with
support vehicles has raised many questions considering they are perceived as a
Chevrolet factory operation.

Sometimes looks can be deceiving.

“We really don’t have much of a program with Chevrolet to begin with,”
Pedregon said. “It seems like they invest most of their money into their Pro
Stock program. They did provide us with an Impala body because over the years we
have done a lot for them.


The third time was the charm for Mike Ashley, whose Topeka final round marked
three finals in two seasons.

Ashley drove his Torco/Skull Gear Dodge Charger to his first
career win with a 4.896 at 310.70 over Jim Head, who drove his Head Racing
Toyota Solara to a 4.918 at 308.50.

“I’ve won lots of races in the Pro Modified division,” said
Ashley, a two-time NHRA Pro Modified champion. “But nothing compares to winning
an NHRA POWERade national event. This is terrific. That is mainly because the
competition is so fierce in this class.

“I just put this team together at the beginning of the year
and we’re already third in the points. I say this a lot, but I am a dreamer.
This is a dream for me and I encourage anyone who shares the dream to go for it.
That’s what we had to do and we stuck with it.”