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Thu, 7 Nov 2002, 01:35 PM

Auto Club NHRA Finals Fact Sheet
Courtesy of NHRA Communications





POMONA, Calif. -- The 38th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals, the final of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. Professional competitors in four categories earn points leading to 2002 NHRA POWERade championships.

Sportsman competitors in seven categories earn points leading to 2002 NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series championships.

WHERE: Pomona Raceway, Pomona, Calif. Track is located off I-10 at Fairplex Drive. Go north on Fairplex drive to the Fairplex.

WHEN: Thursday through Sunday, Nov. 7-10.

SCHEDULE:
THURSDAY, Nov. 7  -- Gates open at 7 a.m. Qualifying and sportsman time trials, 8:15
a.m. to 7 p.m.
PROFESSIONAL QUALIFYING SESSION at 1:45 p.m.

FRIDAY, Nov. 8 -- Gates open at 7 a.m. Qualifying and sportsman eliminations, 8:15 a.m. to 7 p.m. PROFESSIONAL QUALIFYING SESSION at 1:45 p.m.

SATURDAY, Nov. 9 -- Gates open at 7 a.m. Sportsman eliminations and qualifying, 8:15 a.m. to 6 p.m. PROFESSIONAL QUALIFYING SESSIONS at 11 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. BUDWEISER SHOOTOUT rounds at 12:15, 2 and 4 p.m.

SUNDAY, Nov. 10 -- Gates open at 7 a.m. Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m. FINAL ELIMINATIONS begin at 11 a.m.

TELEVISION: Saturday, Nov. 9, ESPN2 will televise two hours of qualifying highlights at 10 p.m. (ET). Sunday, Nov. 10, ESPN will televise two hours of final eliminations at 5 p.m. (ET). Sunday, Nov. 10, ESPN2 will televise one hour of final eliminations at 7 p.m. (ET).

2001 WINNERS: Kenny Bernstein, Top Fuel; Del Worsham, Funny Car; Bruce Allen, Pro Stock; Angelle Savoie, Pro Stock Bike.

2001 REWIND: Kenny Bernstein defeated Mike Dunn in the final to capture his eighth victory of the season to close out his championship winning campaign in Top Fuel. Del Worsham recorded his fourth Funny Car victory to finish a career-best third in the Funny Car points standings after Whit Bazemore left early in the final. Bruce Allen solidified an impressive Pro Stock campaign by driving past Brad Jeter for the win. Angelle Savoie's second consecutive Pro Stock Bike championship was completed with her seventh victory of 2001 as she knocked off Shawn Gann in the final. Larry Dixon claimed the $100,000 Budweiser Shootout victory.

WHAT TO EXPECT:
The chase for the POWERade series championship in Funny Car will be decided at this event. John Force and Tony Pedregon are teammates, but the biggest rivals in the race for the Funny Car championship. Force holds a 31-point lead over Pedregon entering the event. Force has won the Funny Car title 11 of the last 12 seasons and is looking to make it 10 straight. Pedregon is seeking his first career championship and is hoping he can join his brother Cruz (winner of the 1992 Funny Car title) as the only two drivers to break Force's dominance during the last decade.

While championship crowns have already been awarded in Top Fuel (Larry Dixon), Pro Stock (Jeg Coughlin) and Pro Stock Bike (Angelle Savoie), other drivers will be battling hard to gain critical positions in the POWERade Top 10 standings.

The Budweiser Shootout, a lucrative bonus event for the season's quickest Top Fuel cars, will be contested with a $100,000 winner's share up for grabs. Pomona Raceway's smooth quarter-mile surface lends itself to some of the quickest side-by-side racing of the season. NHRA national records will be in jeopardy in all four pro categories.

Larry Morgan is the current season leader of the Motel 6 Who Got the Light? Award, by virtue of his 0.0002 of-a-second margin of victory over Greg Anderson in the Pro Stock final round of the FRAM-Autolite Nationals at Infineon Raceway, Sonoma, Calif., in early August. If no Top Fuel, Funny Car or Pro Stock round win at the Auto Club NHRA Finals is closer, Morgan will pocket the $25,000 bonus from Motel 6 for having the narrowest margin of victory during the 2002 season.

SEASON UPDATE:
Only one NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series championship remains to be crowned. Ford Mustang drivers John Force and Tony Pedregon will decide the 2002 Funny Car title at the Pomona Raceway finale. Force is seeking his 12th championship, and 10th in a row, while Pedregon is going for his first series title. While season championships have been decided in the other three professional categories, several drivers are positioning themselves for higher finishes in the POWERade Top 10. The race also is the final chance for Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future candidates to make an impression. Leading candidates for the Road to the Future Rookie of the Year award include Gene Wilson and JR Carr in Pro Stock and Andrew Hines and Thomas Miceli in Pro Stock Bike. The prestigious award will be presented during the annual NHRA Awards Ceremony on Monday, Nov. 11 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.

FAST FACTS: Jeg Coughlin has a stellar record at Pomona Raceway in the last nine events, where he reached the final round six times, earning a victory three times...Defending Finals PSB winner Angelle Savoie will join Matt Hines, Terry Vance, Dave Schultz and John Myers as the only repeat winners of the Finals if she can earn a victory to close out the season...Larry Dixon is the defending champion of the Budweiser Shootout, which will award $100,000 to the winning driver on Saturday during the Finals...The Finals had five other homes before coming to Pomona Raceway in 1984, including: Tulsa, Okla.; Dallas; Amarillo, Texas; Ontario, Calif., and Irvine, Calif....Kenny Bernstein and Cory McClenathan are the only active Top Fuel drivers to win at the Finals... John Force has advanced to the Funny Car final round at the NHRA finals seven times during his career, winning four ... Kenny Bernstein is the only driver to win both Top Fuel (3) and Funny Car (2) titles at the NHRA Finals ... Rookie Top Fuel driver David Baca, son of 1977 NHRA Finals TF winner Dennis Baca, will attempt to make his first eliminations start in his second career race... John Force will attempt to qualify for his 300th consecutive Funny Car eliminations start... The last time John Force failed to qualify was at the 1987 NHRA Finals at Pomona Raceway.

QUOTABLE:
Joe Amato, team owner of the Bilstein Engine Flush dragster driven by Darrell Russell, on Kenny Bernstein's retirement -
"We've talked about it (retirement). One nice thing about it is that he has a son (Brandon) he can stick in the car. I think he's comfortable and accomplished what he's wanted to do. He's beat up pretty bad from being in the car and racing all these years. His mind is ready to get out of the car, but it will probably be pretty emotional at the end. But once he is there, he'll be happy."

Kenny Bernstein, driver of the Budweiser King dragster, regarding the end of his championship quest for this season --
"Though we're disappointed not to be able to be in the championship hunt going into the last race of the season, we feel like we're stepping from the cockpit while we're still very competitive. We wanted to go out while we were still on top of our game, and we accomplished that. We can look in the mirror and say we have given a 100 percent effort."

Don Prudhomme, four-time NHRA Funny Car champion as a driver and team owner of the Miller Lite dragster driven by Larry Dixon, regarding his first Top Fuel championship --
"I think it's sweeter than all the rest. At this point of my career, being a car owner, it's great. Also being able to put together the Miller Lite team and watch a young guy like that win the championship -- It's one of the better moments that I've ever spent and maybe the best."

Larry Dixon, 2002 POWERade Top Fuel champion and driver of the Miller Lite dragster, regarding his first championship --
"There are sure a lot of zeros on that giant check POWERade gave me. Man, the money is nothing compared to the feeling I have about giving Snake (Don Prudhomme, team owner) this trophy. It's really the only way in the world I could ever thank him. He took a chance on me when I was nobody. I didn't have any money to bring to the team. I didn't have any experience. I was just a crew guy with a dream and he took a flyer on me."

John Force, driver of the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang who leads Tony Pedregon by 31 points entering the season's final race, on pursuing his 12th NHRA Funny Car championship, and 10th in a row --
"It's not over yet. We still have some fighting to do."

Jeg Coughlin, driver of the Jeg's Mail Order Chevy Cavalier, on winning his second NHRA Pro Stock title --
The 2002 season has been a thrash from the start and the pressure never let up one time, for any of us. We've seen guys like Warren Johnson DNQ for the first time in 15 years, we've seen so many races decided by .001 of a second, we've seen so many fields separated by less than three-hundredths-of-a-second, it's been battle for every inch of ground. It makes winning the POWERade championship so much more remarkable."

Greg Anderson, driver of the Vegas Construction Chevy Cavalier, on what he needs to do to finish out the season -
"We need to go out there and win. I need to be as aggressive as I can possibly be. I don't want to play conservative ball. Forget that. I am going to be aggressive. The way Pro Stock is anymore, you can't win unless you are aggressive. There are too many good drivers and too many good cars out there. Last year it was brutal, and that is the way it is going to be. There are so many quality teams and drivers, no one is going to win every week. The competition right now is fantastic for the fans. But it is absolutely gut-wrenching for the drivers."

TRACK RECORDS:
        Top Fuel-- 4.490 seconds by Andrew Cowin, Feb. 2002; 330.88 mph by Tony
Schumacher, Feb. 2002
        Funny Car-- 4.736 seconds by Whit Bazemore, Nov. 2001; 326.87 mph by Gary
Densham, Feb. 2002
        Pro Stock-- 6.803 seconds by Jim Yates, Feb. 2002; 203.12 mph by Warren
Johnson, Feb. 2002
        Pro Stock Bike - 7.158 seconds by Angelle Savoie, Nov. 2001; 189.27 mph by
Matt Hines, Nov. 1998

NATIONAL RECORDS: Top Fuel-- 4.477 seconds (June 2001, Joliet, Ill.), 332.18 mph (Oct. 2001, Reading, Pa.) by Kenny Bernstein Funny Car-- 4.731 seconds (Oct. 2001, Reading, Pa.) by John Force 326.87 mph (Feb. 2001, Pomona, Calif.) by Gary Densham Pro Stock-- 6.750 seconds (Oct. 2001, Reading, Pa.) by Jeg Coughlin 204.35 mph (Oct. 2001, Reading, Pa.) by Mark Osborne Pro Stock Bike -- 7.049 seconds (May 2002, Englishtown, N.J.) by Angelle Savoie 194.10 mph (May 2002, Englishtown, N.J.) by Matt Hines.

TICKETS:For tickets call the NHRA, (800) 884-6472. Tickets also available at Ticketmaster or at nhra.com.

GENERAL ADMISSION (includes pit pass)
Thursday: Adult, $18; Junior (6-12 years), $10.
Friday: Adult, $25; Junior (6-12 years), $10.
Saturday: Adult, $45; Junior (6-12 years), $10.
Sunday: Adult, $50; Junior (6-12 years) $12.
Child (5 years-under), free with paying adult in general admission and pit access
areas each day.

RESERVED SEATS (includes pit pass) Friday: Adult, $35; Junior (6-12 years), $20; Child (5 years-under), $10. Saturday: Adult, $55; Junior (6-12 years), $22; Child (5 years and under), $12. Sunday: Adult, $62; Junior (6-12 years), $24; Child (5 years and under), $14.





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