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Apr 10, 2014 - 06:29 AM
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2014 NHRA: NHRA Newsmakers: April 9, 2014
Posted by: newsla on Apr 10, 2014 - 06:26 AM
2014 NHRA: NHRA Newsmakers: April 9, 2014

KANDY MAGAZINE TO SPONSOR A. SMITH IN CHARLOTTE: Kandy Magazine has agreed to a sponsorship package with Matt Smith Racing rider Angie Smith beginning at this weekend's NHRA Four-Wide Nationals. The agreement will include Kandy branding on Angie's 190-mph Buell. The famous Kandy Girls will be greeting fans in Smith's pit area. "Words can't describe how pumped up I am to represent Kandy Magazine at my hometown race," said Angie Smith. "Kandy Magazine is offering me a golden opportunity, and I'm very thankful for it. My recent test session has us all really excited, and I'm ready to roll."


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TODD TAKES CHARGE OF OPTIMA BATTERIES TOP FUEL DRAGSTER: Kalitta Motorsports has announced that six-time NHRA Top Fuel event champion J.R. Todd will assume the duties of full-time driver of the Optima Batteries Top Fuel dragster beginning at the 5th annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals. Team owner, crew chief, and drag racing icon Connie Kalitta decided to change direction with his dragster by tapping Todd to drive his Top Fueler during the previous event, the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals. Todd, a 32-year-old resident of Lawrenceburg, Ind., has accumulated six wins in eight final-round appearances in NHRA Top Fuel competition. “To say I’m excited to be a part of Kalitta Motorsports is a huge understatement,” said Todd, who most recently drove a Top Fueler for Bob Vandergriff Racing in Gainesville last month. “Driving for Connie Kalitta is a great honor. Connie’s commitment to success is one of the big reasons he’s considered one of the best owners to work for."

JOHNSON RIDES MOMENTUM INTO CHARLOTTE: It had been nearly six grueling years since Steve Johnson had last won a race in Pro Stock Motorcycle. But the list of trials and tribulations, near misses and bumps in the road simply made what happened at the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals that much sweeter for the longtime two-wheel competitor. When Johnson knocked off Scotty Pollacheck in a final round it conjured up a number of emotions. “We’ve won six times in what is now our 28th year, and all those times we’ve won have all been special races and I’m crazy proud of it,” Johnson said. “But so much about it is perseverance. When you fight for it and keep fighting and then get it, it’s really powerful."

He Said, She Said
"Shirley certainly paved the way for all of the females who have followed in her footsteps. She is certainly a hero of mine, a legend in our sport. She's an idol, she's awesome. I looked up to her and to Angelle (Sampey) and Shelly Anderson Payne. Those were my heroes when I was a little kid going to the racetrack. My dad drove in the sportsman classes. I'd run around and get autographs. Those are my three favorite women and I'm sure I stood at the back of their pits more than they wanted to see me. She's had a huge hand in us being able to accomplish the things we do now."

-- Erica Enders-Stevens on NHRA legend Shirley Muldowney who was the first woman to win a NHRA event in 1976 in Top Fuel. Enders-Stevens will be among eight female racers at zMAX Dragway looking to secure the 100th win by a female racer in the history of the NHRA.

Inside the Numbers
ESPN2: Number of consecutive wins Spencer Massey has at zMAX Dragway and the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals. Massey, who will start his 100th NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Top Fuel race at the event, credits his focus behind the wheel to his continued success. "We've obviously had a lot of success at Charlotte and I can't wait to get back," Massey said. "It definitely gives us confidence going back to a track where we've won the event twice. Racing in the Four-Wide requires a lot of focus as a driver and I look forward to it. It's a challenge that I seem to do well at. You just have to focus on your light and your lane and let the rest play out. I can't wait."

Did you Know
V. GAINES TO DEBUT NEW CAR IN HOUSTON: V. Gaines' is among the Dodge Pro Stock racers who are making the transistion to the new Dodge Dart during the 2014 season. The new Kendall Motor Oil Dodge Dart Pro Stocker (pictured), was built in-house at Lazarus Race Cars, one of Gaines' many companies, in Lakewood, Colo. The car is expected to make its debut at the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA SpringNationals presented by Super Start Batteries in Houston. Fellow Mopar campaigners Allen Johnson and Jeg Coughlin Jr. debuted their Dodge Darts, built by Jerry Haas, earlier this year in Gainesville and have enjoyed great success with them with Johnson racing to victory in the first outing of the new car.

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