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Mar 13, 2014 - 07:03 AM
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2014 NHRA: NHRA Newsmakers: March 12, 2014
Posted by: newsla on Mar 13, 2014 - 06:59 AM
2014 NHRA: NHRA Newsmakers: March 12, 2014

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE CATEGORY LAUNCHES 2014 SEASON AT AMALIE MOTOR OIL NHRA GATORNATIONALS: Defending Pro Stock Motorcycle world champ Matt Smith will lead the two-wheel category into its first race of the season this weekend at the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville. Several riders are expected to challenge Smith for the PSM crown this season, including Andrew Hines, Eddie Krawiec, Hector Arana Jr., Steve Johnson, Hector Arana Sr., Michael Ray, Chaz Kennedy and John Hall among others.


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Terry McMillen has replayed the scenario over in his mind enough times to lose count, but when the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville comes around, the visualization of the Top Fuel driver’s first win in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series goes on repeat. “I do that every race, but this one more so than any other,” McMillen said. “I’ve envisioned that first win so many times, but what better way to do it than to win at your sponsor’s race.”

TODD TO RUN SECOND VANDERGRIFF DRAGSTER IN GAINESVILLE: Bob Vandergriff Racing will again be a two-car team at the 2014 Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, where J.R. Todd will drive the Total Equipment And Service-sponsored Top Fuel dragster. This is the first of a planned 10 races with Todd behind the wheel. Mike Guger will also return as Todd’s crew chief. “Having Total Equipment And Service support our program once again in 2014 is great and a big step towards helping us rebuild our two-car team concept,” said Bob Vandergriff Jr. “The second car is a huge help to our team, and we look forward to getting it back on track full time as soon as possible.”

He Said, She Said
"It's tons different than my old Comp car. There is a lot more going on. You have to think about throttle control a whole lot more, changing gears, keeping it straight. There is just a whole lot more to worry about in the Pro Stock car than the automatic car, that's for sure. It was a big sense of relief getting the first burnout out of the way. I know I can do it now, but we'll see. We'll see what happens. I'm as comfortable as I know how to be in the car right now, and I'm just going to keep chipping away at it, keep getting runs and getting more comfortable. Really and truly, not a whole lot excites me. I'm pretty even. But this does. This excites me." -- Jonathan Gray, the youngest son of veteran drag racer Johnny Gray and brother of fifth-year Pro Stock driver Shane Gray, who earned his Pro Stock license Monday. Gray will attempt to make the field of 16 in Pro Stock at the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals.

Inside the Numbers
ESPN200: When Antron Brown defeated Clay Millican in the finals at the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals in 2013 it marked the 200th time a Don Schumacher Racing car had won a national event. DSR currently has 220 national event wins and Brown knows that success at the track in 2013 doesn't guarantee success this season. "My best memory at this track was being able to give Don his 200th win,” Brown said. “That was very special. We knew someone would, and I’m glad it was me and our Matco team. I just feel incredibly blessed to be part of this whole organization. It’s nice to have that Gatornationals Wally back home, but it won’t help me any when we roll to the starting line this year. Our Matco guys have been hard at it getting things fixed, and now that we’ve won there, we want to do it again.”
Did you Know

FORCE NAMED RACER OF THE YEAR XIX, DRAG RACER OF THE YEAR: Readers of Racer and Racer.com have, by a landslide, voted 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Funny Car world champion John Force as their overall Racer of the Year XIX and Drag Racer of the Year. The 64-year-old phenom earned his 16th Funny Car title last year, extending a record haul that seems unlikely ever to be beaten, and he shows no signs of getting out of the throttle anytime soon. “This is the kind of thing that really makes you stop and think,” said Force. “Someone was just telling me how great I did last year, and I had to tell ’em to stop. I didn't want to hear it. Still don't. It's like my dad told me once, a long time ago, when I came home bragging about how I'd just won 50 grand at some race. He said, ‘What makes you think you're so great? Because you read that in the paper? You're probably the one who told them how great you are.'"

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