If you have been out on I-15 in Vegas you have seen the NHRA haulers pulling into town for the NHRA Full Throttle Vegas Nationals. Today the NHRA hosted a press conference with several drivers at the observation deck (on the 108th floor) of the Stratosphere. On hand were Tony Schumacher, Cory McClenathan, John Force and Jack Beckman.
Funny Car driver Jack Beckman comes into town 3rd in the points – 93 points behind leader Matt Hagen. Beckman remains positive about his chances to catch the leader but acknowledges that it won’t be easy. “We can’t afford to have a bad round,” said the driver of the Valvoline/MTS Dodge Charger. He does love The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway saying it had one of the best Grandstands in the business, fully paved pits and an uphill shut-down area. Beckman thanked the staff at LVMS saying, “The track is always safe and well prepped.”
This was the first time I have ever seen John Force in person – and he is exactly what I imagined….. fabulously entertaining. Force is a 13 time champion and has been with his sponsor, Castrol, for 25 years. It is rare to see sponsorships last that long. Force won the early season races in Vegas and Pomona and said he needs to repeat that to have a chance at the Championship. He is currently 2nd in the standings – only 64 points behind leader Matt Hagan.
Force said they were throwing everything they had on the track this weekend and trying some new stuff. “The car will either be bad ass… or really bad. We are going to push the car to the max – this is not a points game, we need to win.”
Cory McClenathan, driver of the FRAM Top Fuel Dragster comes to Vegas 2nd in the points behind leader Larry Dixon. The deficit is 89 points and Cory is motivated to win – having already been the runner-up four times. McClenathan talked about sharing resources and set-ups with teammate Tony Schumacher. “Sharing stuff is the best part about being teammates but the bad part is when you have to race against each other.” McClenathan wants to focus squarly on Dixon.
Schumacher, know as ” The Sarge”, is third in the points and is openly not optimistic about his chances. He was won the Championship 7 times but says it would take, “every miracle and then some” to win this year. The Sarge has won five times this year and his main motivation is to show up at these last two races and add a 6th victory to his season.
The action at Las Vegas Motor Speedway starts up on Thursday and runs until Sunday. The field will be truly international with cars from Europe and Australia running their first event in NHRA. It is not too late to get your tickets to the NHRA Full Throttle Vegas Nationals at LVMS.com.