2011 NHRA Season Recap
Nov 30 2011- The 2011 season has come to an end in the NHRA and new champions have been crowned and with the exception of one class Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock Motorcycle all went down to the wire. I think I have been pretty clear about how I feel about the whole countdown points format and to say I’m not really a fan of the playoff style countdown is a huge understatement to say the least. However, it did provide some much needed drama going into the season finale at Pomona.
Del Worsham is finally a champion of a Nitro class. Del has been driving since pretty much the age of four and this title was long over do. I have to say it is really great to see one of the sports true gentleman get the monkey off his back and win a championship. Perhaps the biggest surprise was it was in Top Fuel and not Funny Car. The Al Anabi team took home the title for the second straight year and I have to wonder what Mr. Schumacher over at Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) thinks about the past season considering Alan Johnson was the brains behind his son’s success in the Army Car. I’m sure that Don would write a blank check to have AJ back as fast as he could. Maybe even more so based on the fact the Army car didn’t win one single event this past year. DSR was well represented in the top five for points as Spencer Massey finished second 58 points behind Worsham and Antron Brown was third. Last season Larry Dixon was the champ and he finished fourth and Tony Schumacher rounds out the top five. So yes those keeping score at home that’s three DSR cars and two Al Anabi cars in the top five proving that sometimes those with the most cash wins…
Funny Car wasn’t much different. Matt Hagan proved that sometimes to experience the thrill of victory one must first experience the agony of defeat. Being a half-assed photographer I have to say that the old cliché that a picture is often worth a thousand words couldn’t be truer in this case. Who can forget the picture of Mr. Hagan sitting at the end of the track with the dejected look on his face when he lost to 2010 champion John Force. The off-season must have been a solemn one, but using the results from 2010 as motivation he was able to overcome the adversity and win the 2011 Funny Car title. It was a battle that went down to the wire between team mates putting Hagan and his Tommy Delago tuned Dodge Charger against Fast Jack Beckman. Fast Jack could only sit back and watch his team mate win not only the Championship, but the final race as well. Cruz Pedregon finished third, Robert Hight was fourth and Mike Neff was fifth overall. Out of all the top five I’m sure Mike Neff was the most disappointed because it seemed early on in the chase he had the car to beat. This has to be a dream season for Hagan considering he won the championship as well as posted the first three-second pass of the 1000 foot era in the Funny Car class back in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Pro Stock, the championship was decided back in Las Vegas when Jason Line picked up his second championship for the Summit backed Pro Stock team of Ken Black. As stated above this one was over early and the points also reflect that as Mike Edwards finished second 190 points behind Line. Greg Anderson, Line’s teammate and mentor was third and Allen Johnson and his Mopar finished fourth and rookie stand our Vincent Nobile the son of former Pro Stock racer John Nobile really impressed me and made the top five.
The two wheel version of Pro Stock was also a tight finish that saw another rookie of the NHRA make quite an impression. Hector Arana Jr. finished 90 points behind class champion Eddie Krawiek. Andrew Hines was third. Matt Smith finished fourth and Hector Arana Sr. was fifth. At the season ending champions’ ceremony Arana Jr. was awarded the 2011 Road to the Future award and a 20,000 dollar check along with it recognizing his achievements for the past year.
Sportsman Champions for 2011 are Duane Shields in Alcohol Dragster, Frank Manzo in Alcohol Funny Car. Not that it should really surprise anyone but it was quite a battle between Manzo and Tony Bartone all year long. But Manzo was able to get his 15 th Championship a truly incredible record that could possibly stand for many years to come in the alcohol ranks. Lou Ficco won in Competition Eliminator. Jackie Alley in Super Stock, Joseph Santangelo in Stock Eliminator. Gary Stinnett in Super Comp and Peter Biondo in Super Gas
2012 should be an interesting season as there have already been some announcements that will see some changes in the world of drag racing. The “King of Speed” Kenny Bernstein has announced his retirement as an owner and has his entire team currently up for sale leaving his son Brandon without a ride. And perhaps a bigger shocker has the 2011 Top Fuel Champion Del Worsham retiring also. He has announced he is moving into the crew chief role helping Alexis Dejoria get her program up and running. I do think the state of the economy down south and the decision of the Al Anabi team to scale back on all parts of there racing ventures may have had a little to do with Del’s decision too. And as for the new mom Ashley Force, it isn’t really known just yet if she will be returning to the seat next season. She has her hands full with her son Jacob John as well as helping little sister Courtney Force get use to the Funny Car, Courtney has been making laps in it all season long. Regardless whatever happens I will do my best to keep you up to date as things happen in the NHRA for the upcoming 2012 season.
Photo Credit: NHRA Media
Brad Turk - Canadian Drag Racer Magazine