By Drew Hierwarter
“Hot Rod” Fuller owns Las Vegas. Or at least he should. Not only did he win the $100,000 Technicoat Top Fuel Shootout, on Saturday at “The Strip at Las Vegas”, but then he won the Top Fuel portion of the NHRA AC Delco Nationals on Sunday. And with that win he regained the point lead going to the year’s final event next week in Pomona. “A $100,000 is great but its gone fast;” Fuller said,” But a world championship lasts forever. I just got in that zone and I’ve been there all weekend. It’s exhausting but it’s worth it now.” Fuller, who lives in Las Vegas, beat Doug Kalitta in the final. “I thought being at home would help me be more comfortable but last night I went to bed at 9:45 and then I woke up at 2 in the morning and I was wide awake, ready to go. That’s how much this deal means. I couldn’t get back to sleep.”
The Funny Car final was almost one for the history books as Ashley Force made it to the last round for her first time and it was also the first time a female driver had reached a final round in that category. But veteran Tony Pedregon put a 6 tenths of a second holeshot on Force who ran a quicker 4.829 second elapsed time to Pedregon’s slower 4.871.
And over on the Pro Stock side of things, somebody finally beat Dave Connolly! Greg Anderson won his final round against Jeg Coughlin. This was Anderson’s eighth win of the year, which ties him for the class lead with Connolly. It was also the 51st win of his career. “We just haven’t been A-1 lately,” Anderson said. “Dave Connolly has been running so strong and there was nothing any of us could do. But we came here and tested the wheels off this car and figured it out. The car was the star today, and my crew chief Rob Downing was perfect. I dedicate this win to him.”
The powers that be in NASCAR can just go ahead and cut the championship check now. Make it out to Rick Hendrick and let him split it between his two championship points leading teams. Jimmie Johnson won again, this time at Atlanta Motor Speedway. And he did it in typical Johnson and (crew chief) Chad Knaus fashion. With just a few laps left in the race Knaus brought the car in for a two tire pit stop to gain track position. Then, Denny Hamlin’s car sputters due to what they later discovered was water in the fuel, and Dale Earnardt, Jr’s car throws a shoe on another restart and just like that, Jimmie Johnson finds himself in victory lane, again! The win moved Johnson to just nine points behind teammate Jeff Gordon and 102 points in front of third place driver Clint Bowyer. With only three races left in the “Chase for the Championship” it’s looking more and more like Rick Hendrick will be the one cashing that big check.
What was going on in Memphis on Saturday? I’ve long held that there’s no such thing as a bad race, just some that are better than others. After the Busch Grand National fiasco at Memphis Motosports Park I may just have to change my thinking. A record number of caution flags and nearly half of the 250 laps run behind the pace car doesn’t exactly make for an exciting event. Point leader Carl Edwards could’ve locked up the driver’s championship, but even he got caught up in several of the wrecks. David Ruetimann finally made it under the checkered flag in what was probably the only car in the field without any damage. It was his first ever Busch Series win, the first for car owner Michael Waltrip, and a big boost for the team and Toyota. But man, it sure was ugly!
This week, Motorsport Weekly News travels to sunny and warm Las Vegas to attend the annual SEMA show. There’s lots of glitz and glitter to see here, and plenty of cool stuff at the show too. SEMA stands for the Specilty Equipment Market Association and this show is the largest automotive aftermarket trade show in the world. If my feet make it all the way through to the end of the week, I hope to give you a full report on what I saw.