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Mar 25, 2014 - 05:44 PM
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2014 NHRA: Pro Stock Rookie Jimmy Alund Embracing Next Challenge During Summitracing.Com NHRA Nationals At Las Vegas
Posted by: newsla on Mar 25, 2014 - 05:37 PM
NHRA
2014 NHRA: Pro Stock Rookie Jimmy Alund Embracing Next Challenge During Summitracing.Com NHRA Nationals At Las Vegas


If Jimmy Alund has proven anything over the first three races of this NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season it’s that he’s certainly not afraid of a challenge.

 

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The Sweden native immediately jumped right into the deep end in Pro Stock, filling in for four-time world champion Greg Anderson for the first six races as the perennial championship contender recovers from surgery. Since then, Alund has accepted every test head on and appears ready for the next big one, performing in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro at his sponsor’s race, the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals this weekend at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

It marks the fourth of 24 events in the 2014 season, which means it’s also the fourth start behind the wheel this season for the eager rookie driver who is looking to make a favorable impression in Las Vegas.

“I've been to Las Vegas as a spectator before, but I have never had the chance to race there,” said Alund, who entered seven NHRA Pro Stock races in his own car prior to this season. “I'm really looking forward to it, of course. It's a very special place for this team because it's the hometown for our (Summit Racing) team owners, Ken and Judy Black. It's also a Summit race, and that makes it very important to all of us. I hope to do well there.”

Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car), and Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) are defending winners of the event that will once again be televised on ESPN2.

Alund continues to show steady improvement breaking into the ultra-competitive factory hot rod category in the NHRA, but the Norrkoping, Sweden resident boasts a wealth of experience on the European circuit. He won his first FIA European Pro Stock championship in 2004 and has eight overall in what has been a highly-successful career.

The next step is picking up his first career round win in the NHRA Pro Stock category. He qualified ninth at the recent Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals – his best position through three races – before losing to Summit Racing teammate and 2014 Winternationals winner Jason Line in the opening round. Even in the loss, Alund chalked up the Gatornationals as a positive experience. A number of friends from Sweden attended the race, which added to the magnitude of the event for Alund. But he is ready to get back to business in Vegas and hopes a breakthrough performance awaits.

"It was fun having them there, and it is nice to have familiar faces around, but right now I'm getting so comfortable with the rest of the guys that it doesn't bother me,” Alund said. “I'm feeling really comfortable going up to the starting line and seeing the faces. We have our procedures and it's starting to really jell now. It's starting to work. Now we just need to get the round win. That's what is next."

It certainly won’t come easy in a class that boasts an abundance of championship talent, including reigning champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. and his Mopar Dodge Dart teammate Allen Johnson, who is the defending winner and has posted back-to-back victories in 2014 to take over the points lead.

Enders-Stevens, V Gaines, Shane Gray, Vincent Nobile, Larry Morgan, Chris McGaha and Dave Connolly add to the tough competition, but Alund seems to be embracing that aspect of racing in the NHRA. The bright lights of Vegas won’t make things any easier, though Alund seems to welcome that spotlight, too.

“It will be a great race, that is for sure,” Alund said. “The car is coming along and I’m getting more acquainted with the way they race over here. I’m learning where the tools are, getting my own routines now around this camp. It’s going to get better.”

In Top Fuel, Schumacher has ruled The Strip, piloting his U.S. Army dragster to seven career wins while Antron Brown, the 2012 Top Fuel world champ, won the most recent event in Phoenix. Everyone, however, is looking up at series points leader Doug Kalitta and his Mac Tools dragster after he qualified No. 1 at the first two events of 2014 and won the Gatornationals. Al-Anabi Racing’s Shawn Langdon took home the 2013 world championship, and his teammate, Khalid alBalooshi, has started strong by winning the illustrious Winternationals to start the season. Other contenders include Phoenix runner-up Brittany Force, Spencer Massey, Steve Torrence, Leah Pritchett, rookie Richie Crampton and veteran David Grubnic.

The legendary John Force, coming off his 16th world championship in Funny Car, is the current points leader in the class and has four wins in Vegas. His JFR racing teammate, Robert Hight, is once again a bona fide championship contender and is riding the momentum after a win in Gainesville. Hight also has four Vegas wins, including three at the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals. Ron Capps has a Funny Car-best five wins at The Strip while Alexis DeJoria defeated Hight in Phoenix to earn her first career victory. Other marquee challengers include defending race winner Pedregon, who has three Vegas wins, Courtney Force, Jack Beckman, Del Worsham, Tommy Johnson Jr. and Bob Tasca III in what has developed into one of the most competitive Funny Car fields in history.

The SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals is always a big weekend for Pro Stock drivers as the lucrative K&N Horsepower Challenge will showcase the 200 mph factory hot rod category. Eight Pro Stock drivers will duke it out for bragging rights and a hefty $50,000 paycheck on Saturday of race weekend. Allen Johnson is the defending K&N Horsepower Challenge winner.

As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and enjoy some cherished face time with their favorite NHRA drivers.

Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.

On Thursday, March 27, NHRA will host a FanFest at the New York-New York Hotel and Casino (5-7 p.m.). The NHRA FanFest will give fans an opportunity to meet and greet drivers, get autographs, check out some show cars, take photos with their favorite drivers and more before the drivers go full throttle at LVMS.

Mello Yello Series qualifying begins on Friday, March 28, with sessions at 1:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. The final two qualifying sessions will take place Saturday, March 29, at 1:10 p.m. and 4:50 p.m. The K&N Horsepower Challenge will run at 1 p.m., 3:45 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. on Saturday. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, March 30.

To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, log on to www.LVMS.com or call Las Vegas Motor Speedway at (800) 664-4444. General admission tickets for children 12 and younger are free with any paid adult ticket. For more information about NHRA, log on to www.NHRA.com.

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