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Tue, 23 Sep 2008, 05:52 PM

Don Prudhomme Racing Announces Contract Extensions for Crew Chiefs Don Bender and Todd Smith
Courtesy of Skip Allum

VISTA, Calif. -- Don Prudhomme Racing announced today it has extended the contracts of both Crew Chief Don Bender and Co-Crew Chief Todd Smith of the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company top fuel dragster for the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle season.

The tuning tandem of Bender and Smith began in June of 2006, with the duo hitting their stride the following season in 2007, as driver Larry Dixon and the Snake Racing team won three out of six final round appearances, posted a 35-20 round win mark and led the NHRA POWERade point standings going into the final event of the year.

This season has seen U.S. Smokeless Racing's crew chiefs direct the team to one win (Phoenix) in five final rounds, collect four low-qualifier awards and earn the No. 3 berth in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs, where Dixon and crew are currently sitting fourth in the point standings and remain in contention for the 2008 NHRA POWERade Championship. Bender and Smith's guidance has also resulted in the U.S. Smokeless Racing crew's efficiency during qualifying, as the team is currently ranked No. 2 in the 2008 Full Throttle Pit Crew Challenge standings.

"Working with Donnie and Todd has been very rewarding," said Team Owner Don Prudhomme. "They have come along way in developing their own approach toward tuning the race car and I am pleased with the progress they have made and results they have shown so far. In addition to managing what I believe to be one of the best running cars competing today, they are continuing to show signs of improvement. They are also working on new, innovative programs that will increase driver safety as well as reducing parts attrition, which are two areas that I am in full support of. I'm very pleased to have Donnie and Todd on board and look forward to building around their talents in the future."

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