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Fri, 2 Sep 2005, 03:39 PM

NHRA XPLOD Series PRO RWD Stars to Compete at Mac Tools U.S. Nationals
Courtesy of NHRA Communications

CLERMONT, Ind. -- For the first time in the history of the NHRA Xplod Sport Compact Racing Series, the tour's Pro RWD competitors will mash the gas at the world's most prestigious drag race, the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, Aug. 31-Sept. 5 at Indianapolis Raceway Park.

For any drag racer it is a lifetime quest to compete on the same stretch of quarter-mile asphalt made famous by legends such as "Big Daddy" Don Garlits, an eight-time winner of the famed event in Top Fuel; Don "The Snake" Prudhomme, a seven-time U.S. Nationals winner in both Top Fuel and Funny Car; and Bob Glidden, who won the race a record nine times and put together one of drag racing's most amazing final round streaks for a single race (13 consecutive U.S. Nationals finals, 1977-1989).

The $2.6 million race is the 18th of 23 events in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series and the eighth of 11 races for Pro RWD competitors in the Xplod Sport Compact Racing Series. More than 10 hours of coverage of the tradition-rich race will be provided by ESPN2. Television coverage of the Pro RWD portion of the event also will air on ESPN2, in a segment of the popular Inside Drag Racing show on Oct. 2 at noon.

Two-time NHRA Xplod Sport Compact Racing Series Pro RWD world champion Matt Scranton comes into the event with momentum from a victory two weeks ago at Moroso Motorsports Park in Jupiter, Fla. He defeated class rival Brad Personett in the final round in a battle between Toyota Celicas.

"The Ride Revolution Toyota Racing Development/Garret Turbocharger Celica has been on a rip lately," Scranton said. "We've really sorted things out over the midseason break and it has helped us. We're looking forward to go to Indy and put on a good show for the fans and show them what these sport compacts can do."

Scranton, currently fourth in points, and second-place Personett, who drives the Titan Motorsports Celica, are in the middle of an extremely tight points chase with series leader Matt Hartford, winner of two races this season in his Summit Racing Chevy Cobalt.

Personett is 11 points back, while Scranton's win put him 90 points behind the leader.

In fact, only 108 points separate the top five competitors, as Steph Papadakis, who drives the AEM Honda Civic and Ara Arslanian, who drives the Street Glow Toyota Solara, are in third and fifth place respectively and have each earned one victory this season.

All five drivers are considered favorites to win the Pro RWD eliminator at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals. Another driver to watch is former NHRA Pro Stock competitor, Vince Fourcade, who will compete in his Titan Motorsports Celica.

NHRA XPLOD PRO RWD POINT STANDINGS (Victories in parentheses)

1.  Matt Hartford, Chevrolet (2)           613
2.  Brad Personett, Toyota (2)             602
3.  Stephan Papadakis, Honda (1)       543 
4.  Matt Scranton, Toyota (1)              523
5.  Ara Arslanian, Toyota (1)               505
6.  Vince Fourcade, Toyota                370

SCHEDULE: The first of four qualifying sessions for Pro RWD is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 3, with another to follow that day at 5 p.m. Qualifying continues on Sunday, Sept. 4, with sessions at 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Pro RWD eliminations will be held on Monday, Sept. 5.

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