The Las Vegas Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities held its fifth annual Mel Larson Night of Champions dinner gala at Rain in the Palms Resort Casino Wednesday, April 14.
Las Vegas native and 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kurt Busch was the evening’s honoree.
Seven-time NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Top Fuel Dragster champion Tony Schumacher was the evening’s keynote speaker. Penske Racing Vice Chairman, Walter Czarnecki, introduced Kurt Busch and KXPT-FM 97.1 morning show hostess, Steph MacKenzie, served as M.C.
Guests relaxed poolside during the cocktail reception and silent auction while others attended the exclusive meet-and-greet with Busch and Schumacher. The evening included a fabulous dinner and program as community members were recognized for their contribution to motorsports.
Busch joined the elite group of Mel Larson Night of Champions honorees, including: Mel Larson, Dr. Dale Carrison (LVMS medical director and University Medical Center’s chairman of emergency medicine), NHRA Pro Stock championship team owner Ken Black and automotive legend Carroll Shelby.
Thank you to all of the event supporters. You made a difference in a child’s life.
6:35 p.m. - Comments from Super Stock driver Justin Lamb of Henderson, Nev., who earned his seventh national event victory at the 11th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals:
"It's definitely one of the better (victories). I don't think that it's ever as good as your first - none of them are - but this is probably right up there. I don't know if I put more pressure on myself (when I'm racing at home), but it definitely makes for a lot longer weekend because you're always busy and you never get a break. But I don't think it's more pressure. I think all of these races are so tough that they're all just a lot of pressure no matter where you are."
6:25 p.m. –
6:25 p.m. –Comments from Pro Stock driver Mike Edwards, who earned his fourth victory of the season and the 24th of his career Sunday at the 11th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals:
“My team, as the Interstate logo says, is outrageously dependable. These guys are awesome. To come here and run in conditions that were 180 degrees different than Houston ... where the altitude is over 4,000 feet and to make the adjustments to make this car do what it did here, those guys did an awesome job. If you look back at last year, when we got in these conditions and when summer came around, we felt like we could get back to our form (because) we really run good in the summertime. When the tracks get worse, we felt like we had a pretty good handle on those conditions, so hopefully we can stay hot.
“It feels good to come out here and win here in Vegas. I’ve been coming a long time and ran really, really well but just never could close the deal. But it feels good. Our performance was good, I drove good a couple runs and hopefully we can take this and build on it. It’s a long season ... but I sure like the way our team is jelling together and I really feel good about this year.”
6:10 p.m. – Comments from Funny Car driver John Force, who earned his third victory of the season and the 129th of his career Sunday at the 11th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals:
“The hardest thing I work for – we all want a championship in the end – but what I work for right now is to be able to compete and show my kids that I can still do it. My youngest daughter, Courtney, and naturally Ashley and Brittany all coming up, I want to show them all how much I love it and what it really means to me.
“Tony Pedregon is struggling with no budget, struggling to race – I saw (his car) burning up the run before (the final) and putting it back together, whatever it takes. When I got in the car he said, ‘Force, you know how I race; may not have money, may not have parts, but I’ll give you a race.’ And I told him, ‘that’s why I love you, Tony.’ But that group put that car back together and put on a show for the fans and ran. They didn’t get the win but they were still right in there so God bless that kid.
“My Mustang knows how to run at night. It knows how to hunt in the evening, that old dog does. It doesn’t like the heat. We started at Pomona and everywhere it ran good. We ran good at Houston and then the sun came out and we were toast. We came in here with the attitude of start slow; make it go A to B. We were just stumbling to get in the show and we got her in. At the end of the day, she learned to hunt in the heat.”
5:45 p.m. – Comments from Top Fuel driver Larry Dixon, who earned his third victory of the season and the 51st of his career Sunday at the 11th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals:
“We got over the 50th (victory) because that’s last week’s news and, for me, we just needed to work on today. We had a great car all weekend – the car was unbelievable all through qualifying, it was very strong. We made up a bunch of points in qualifying on Cory (McClenathan) and we knew if we could get to the final round, even if we raced him, if we beat him we would get the points lead. And we got both so it’s just a great weekend all the way around. To be able to race (McClenathan) and, hopefully, both of us fighting for a championship this year, it’s fun to be a part of that.
“Whatever we had on the car today, they were Goodyears and they got four win lights so I was happy with them. The car went out there (in the final) and shook going by 60 feet; it rattled the tire. It’s one of those things where you’re not sure if it’s going to make it through it or not but you’re just so jacked up on adrenaline at that point, you give it a quick pedal and got it going back down the track. That’s a decent run for pedaling it. As you’re going down the track, you’re hoping you still win because you’ve made a judgment call on it and you’re hoping it’s the right move. It was nervous time at that point.”
4:25 p.m. - Final results from the 11th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway:
Top Fuel: Larry Dixon (4.016 at 313.37) def. Cory McClenathan (5.113 at 158.41).
Funny Car: John Force (4.334 at 284.93) def. Tony Pedregon (5.630 at 138.34).
Pro Stock: Mike Edwards (6.751 at 205.51) def. Greg Stanfield (6.813 at 203.12). Check back shortly for comments from the winning drivers.
4:02 p.m. - Justin Lamb won the Super Stock title Sunday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway when he nipped Brad Plourd at the line. Lamb turned in a pass of 9.210 seconds at 147.07 mph in his 2009 Chevy Cobalt and beat Plourd by .0053 seconds - a margin of approximately 14 inches. It was Lamb's seventh national event victory.
3:25 p.m. - Justin Lamb of Henderson, Nev., advanced to the final in Super Stock when his semifinal opponent, James Butler of Prescott, Ariz., red-lighted at the start. Lamb, who ran 9.379 seconds at 117.22 mph in the semi in his Chevy Cobalt, will face Brad Plourd of Maple Valley, Wash., in this afternoon's final.
3:06 p.m. - Semifinals winners and final-round matchup in Pro Stock: Semifinals: Greg Stanfield (6.796 at 203.61) def. Ron Krisher (13.361 at 63.79) vs.; Mike Edwards (6.735 at 205.16) vs. Greg Anderson (6.752 at 204.98). Final: Edwards vs. Stanfield.
2:58 p.m. - Semifinals winners and final-round matchup in Funny Car: Semifinals: Tony Pedregon (4.413 at 267.96) def. Del Worsham (4.619 at 263.31); John Force (4.289 at 293.98) def. Ashley Force Hood (4.419 at 282.54). Final: T. Pedregon vs. Force.
2:28 p.m. - Semifinals winners and final-round matchup in Top Fuel: Semifinals: Cory McClenathan (3.986 at 302.39) def. Brandon Bernstein (4.062 at 303.30); Larry Dixon (3.910 at 313.88) def. Doug Kalitta (3.982 at 309.20). Final: McClenathan vs. Dixon.
1:33 p.m. - Second-round winners and semifinals matchups in Pro Stock:
Second round: Greg Stanfield def. Rodger Brogdon; Ron Krisher def. Jeg Coughlin; Greg Anderson def. Allen Johnson; Mike Edwards def. Warren Johnson. Semifinals: Edwards vs. Anderson; Krisher vs. Stanfield.
1:20 p.m. - Second-round winners and semifinals matchups in Funny Car:
Second round: Ashley Force Hood def. Tim Wilkerson; Tony Pedregon def. Jack Beckman; John Force def. Matt Hagan; Del Worsham def. Melanie Troxel. Semifinals: Worsham vs. T. Pedregon; Force Hood vs. Force.
1:10 p.m. - Second-round winners and semifinals matchups in Top Fuel:
Second round: Larry Dixon def. Shawn Langdon; Doug Kalitta def. Morgan Lucas; Brandon Bernstein def. Antron Brown; Cory McClenathan def. Tony Schumacher. Semifinals: Bernstein vs. McClenathan; Dixon vs. Kalitta.
12:15 p.m. - First-round winners and second-round matchups in Pro Stock:
First round: Warren Johnson def. Jason Line; Jeg Coughlin def. Bob Yonke; Greg Stanfield def. Shane Gray; Greg Anderson def. Vinnie Deceglie; Allen Johnson def. Johnny Gray; Mike Edwards def. Rickie Jones; Ron Krisher def. Ronnie Humphrey; Rodger Brogdon def. V. Gaines. Second round: Edwards vs. W. Johnson; A. Johnson vs. Anderson; Krisher vs. Coughlin; Brogdon vs. Stanfield.
11:55 a.m. - First-round winners and second-round matchups in Funny Car:
First round: Melanie Troxel def. Bob Tasca III; Jack Beckman def. Ron Capps; Ashley Force Hood def. Cruz Pedregon; Del Worsham def. Jim Head; John Force def. Robert Hight; Tim Wilkerson def. Bob Bode; Matt Hagan def. Jeff Arend; Tony Pedregon def. Gary Densham.
Second round: Worsham vs. Troxel; T. Pedregon vs. Beckman; Force Hood vs. Wilkerson; Hagan vs. Force.
11:30 a.m. - First-round winners and second-round matchups in Top Fuel:
First round: Brandon Bernstein def. Terry McMillen; Shawn Langdon def. Mike Strasburg; Morgan Lucas def. Troy Buff; Antron Brown def. Rob Passey; Larry Dixon def. Steve Faria; Doug Kalitta def. Steve Chrisman; Cory McClenathan def. Terry Haddock; Tony Schumacher def. David Grubnic. Second round: Brown vs. Bernstein; McClenathan vs. Schumacher; Dixon vs. Langdon; Kalitta vs. Lucas.
10:37 a.m. - Here are the first-round pairings for today's professional eliminations:
Top Fuel: 1. Antron Brown vs. 16. Rob Passey; 2. Larry Dixon vs. 15. Steve Faria; 3. Doug Kalitta vs. 14. Steve Chrisman; 4. Cory McClenathan vs. 13. Terry Haddock; 5. Tony Schumacher vs. 12. David Grubnic; 6. Morgan Lucas vs. 11. Troy Buff; 7. Shawn Langdon vs. 10. Mike Strasburg; 8. Brandon Bernstein vs. 9. Terry McMillen.
Funny Car: 1. Del Worsham vs. 16. Jim Head; 2. Ashley Force Hood vs. 15. Cruz Pedregon; 3. Matt Hagan vs. 14. Jeff Arend; 4. Gary Densham vs. 13. Tony Pedregon; 5. Ron Capps vs. 12. Jack Beckman; 6. Robert Hight vs. 11. John Force; 7. Bob Bode vs. 10. Tim Wilkerson; 8. Bob Tasca III vs. 9. Melanie Troxel.
Pro Stock: 1. Mike Edwards vs. 16. Rickie Jones; 2. Ron Krisher vs. 15. Ronnie Humphrey; 3. Rodger Brogdon vs. 14. V. Gaines; 4. Allen Johnson vs. 13. Johnny Gray; 5. Greg Anderson vs. 12. Vinnie Deceglie; 6. Shane Gray vs. 11. Greg Stanfield; 7. Bob Yonke vs. 10. Jeg Coughlin; 8. Warren Johnson vs. 9. Jason Line.
10:20 a.m. - Good morning from The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and final eliminations for the 11th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals. Pre-race ceremonies are underway and pro eliminations will start at 11 a.m. (PDT). As was the case the previous two days, the weather is spectacular and a high of 89 degrees is in the forecast. Be sure to check back here throughout the day, as we'll be updating this blog with news, results and interviews with the winning drivers.
6 p.m. -- Racing resumes at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway at 9 a.m. Sunday with Sportsman eliminations. Pre-race ceremonies for the 11th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals begin at 10 a.m. and final eliminations in the three pro categories start at 11 a.m.
Good evening from The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and be sure to check back here Sunday for updates throughout the day.
5:55 p.m. - Comments from Antron Brown, the top qualifier in Top Fuel:
(One his qualifying speed from Friday holding up.) "When I got up this morning, I thought it was going to be overcast today and when I saw all the sun coming out, I actually started smiling a little bit. The track actually held up good even though we had a lot of heat on it today. The track got a little cooler when we ran that last session so (the pole) was definitely up there in the air.
"We ran that new tire that last session and we were really impressed with it. It actually went all the way down the racetrack. It broke loose right after the 330-foot mark and the car was already tamed down and everything so we'll go back and check out that lane and see if maybe I drove off in the wrong spot in the lane and got it loose. We're happy with the whole effort this weekend. The car ran exactly where we wanted to. We're confident - we're looking forward to tomorrow. Tomorrow is going to be a tough day because it's going to be a little hotter, the sun's going to be out and we're going to race in the prime time of the day. It's definitely going to be catfight tomorrow down that racetrack. We're not going to be fighting the other person in the other lane, we're going to be fighting getting down the racetrack so it's going to make it really challenging for the crew chiefs but I like my odds with the guys I've got in my pit area."
5:30 p.m. - Comments from Del Worsham, the top qualifier in Funny Car:
"This has been a frustrating year, definitely, with tracks above 100 degrees - we've just had a heck of a time getting down the track. (Crew chief) Dickie Venables, based on past performance, has just been great in those conditions so he has been very frustrated himself ... to try to get this car to run. The (4.187 run today) is surprising that it was that good but it's not totally a shocker. Had you seen our runs yesterday, you wouldn't be quite as shocked.
"The confidence has definitely been building but I'm still a little bit worried that we have to go down the track four times tomorrow; we went down the track half the time today. We really need to work on making sure it's consistent. That Toyota Solara body seems to have great traction, so I'm glad we've got that on there. Our consistency has been our problem - especially on tracks above 100 (degrees) so hopefully after this weekend, with the data they have and all of Dickie's racing experience and years of knowledge will pay off and we can pull this off. As much as I don't want to tell the competition, we were on the new Goodyear tire here and it seems to be sticking and Larry (Dixon) is on it and his car is sticking well so whether that helps us or hurts us at this point, it definitely doesn't hurt us and if anything, possibly, it's as good or better (as the previous tire)."
4:50 p.m. - Comments from Mike Edwards, the top qualifier in Pro Stock:
"It was definitely better for several teams and we made an exceptionally nice run so I'm really proud of my guys. We changed some things there this afternoon and tried some things and it didn't look like we like what we saw. We felt like it was going to be a slower session so we thought it might be a time to do that. It's great to come up here and be able to qualify number one."
"If the sun's out (Sunday), we're going to see exactly what we saw today. It's going to be faster in the morning and as the day grows on, the track's going to get hotter and greasier so you just have to make adjustments. I look for more of the same."
4:48 p.m. - Here are the 16 qualifiers in Funny Car for the 11th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals: 1. Del Worsham; 2. Ashley Force Hood; 3. Matt Hagan; 4. Gary Densham; 5. Ron Capps; 6. Robert Hight; 7. Bob Bode; 8. Bob Tasca III; 9. Melanie Troxel; 10. Tim Wilkerson; 11. John Force; 12. Jack Beckman; 13. Tony Pedregon; 14. Jeff Arend; 15. Cruz Pedregon; 16. Jim Head.
4:14 p.m. - Here are the 16 qualifiers in Top Fuel for the 11th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals: 1. Antron Brown; 2. Larry Dixon; 3. Doug Kalitta; 4. Cory McClenathan; 5. Tony Schumacher; 6. Morgan Lucas; 7. Shawn Langdon; 8. Brandon Bernstein; 9. Terry McMillen; 10. Mike Strasburg; 11. Troy Buff; 12. David Grubnic; 13. Terry Haddock; 14. Steve Chrisman; 15. Steve Faria; 16. Rob Passey.
3:18 p.m. - Here are the 16 qualifiers in Pro Stock for the 11th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals: 1. Mike Edwards; 2. Ron Krisher; 3. Rodger Brogdon; 4. Allen Johnson; 5. Greg Anderson; 6. Shane Gray; 7. Bob Yonke; 8. Warren Johnson; 9. Jason Line; 10. Jeg Coughlin; 11. Greg Stanfield; 12. Vinnie Deceglie; 13. Johnny Gray; 14. V Gaines; 15. Ronnie Humphrey; 16. Rickie Jones.
2:47 - Jeg Coughlin, who is qualified 10th in Pro Stock going into this afternoon's final qualifying session, can become the ninth driver in NHRA history to win 50 races if he should win on Sunday. Larry Dixon (Top Fuel) last weekend became the eighth driver to reach the 50-win plateau.
2:20 p.m. - The National Hot Rod Association announced today that the 2011 NHRA Four Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway near Charlotte, N.C., again would feature four-wide racing in all four professional categories. The spring race will be the only event on the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series schedule to feature four-wide racing.
"To really understand how well four-lane (racing) is working, we really need to go back and do it again," NHRA president Tom Compton said. "I'm excited to go back because I think it has the potential of being very successful. "We think there are a number of areas we can work on to make the experience better ... but I don't think we'll have a good read on how well it really can work until we go back."
zMAX Dragway is owned by Speedway Motorsports Inc., which also owns The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
1:27 p.m. - Ashley Force Hood, Matt Hagan and Gary Densham remained the top three qualifiers in Funny Car following the third round of qualifying. Ron Capps and Robert Hight remained fourth and fifth, respectively.
12:50 p.m. - Antron Brown remained the top qualifier in Top Fuel as there were no changes among the top six through today's third qualifying session.
Larry Dixon, the No. 2 qualifier, had the quickest pass of the session (3.916 seconds). Doug Kalitta remained third, Cory McClenathan was fourth, Tony Schumacher stayed fifth and Morgan Lucas sixth. Shawn Langdon, Brandon Bernstein, Mike Strasburg, Terry McMillen, Troy Buff and David Grubnic rounded out the top 12.
12:15 p.m. - Mike Edwards held onto the provisional pole in Pro Stock with a third-round pass of 6.687 seconds (205.88 mph). Ron Krisher's time of 6.716 from Friday held up for second and Rodger Brogdon grabbed the third spot with a 6.725-second pass Saturday.
Allen Johnson and Greg Anderson are fourth and fifth, respectively. Rounding out the top 12 are Shane Gray, Bob Yonke, Warren Johnson, Jason Line, Jeg Coughlin, Greg Stanfield and Vinnie Deceglie.
11:30 a.m. - Greg Anderson, who was the fourth-quickest Pro Stock qualifier going into this morning's third round, leads all pro racers with six NHRA titles at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
But Anderson is not the only multiple winner in Las Vegas and two other drivers can match Anderson's mark of six victories with a win this weekend. Tony Schumacher has five victories here to lead all Top Fuel pilots and Jeg Coughlin also has five victories at The Strip in Pro Stock. Other racers with at least three victories in Las Vegas are Larry Dixon (4) and Kenny Bernstein (3) in Top Fuel; Ron Capps (3) and Tony Pedregon (3) in Funny Car; and Andrew Hines (3) in Pro Stock Motorcycle (which is not competing this weekend).
11:20 a.m. - Good morning from The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the final two rounds of professional qualifying for the 11th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals. It's sunny and warm and a high of 88 is in the forecast today. The third round of professional qualifying is scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m. (PDT). Pro Stock qualifying sessions will be at 11:30 and 2:30 and the Top Fuel Dragsters and Funny Cars will hit the track at noon and 3. Be sure to check back here throughout the day, as we'll be updating this blog with news, results and driver interviews.