A portion of NHRA's record-breaking single-season purse will strengthen the purse at the Colonel's Truck Accessories NHRA Nationals at the Colonel's Brainerd International Raceway this summer.
The record purse was for $1 million. The addition of the Las Vegas national event brings the overall total increase to $1.5 million. In all purses were raised by more than seven percent in the NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series to nearly $13 million.
The purse increase also expands the total cash available in the NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series to more than $19 million, when coupled with lucrative NHRA professional category bonus programs, the Winston Top 10 program and other awards and programs. An additional $26 million in contingency sponsor postings brings the overall national event series awards total to more than $45 million for the 2000 season.
"The increase in purse is part of NHRA's long-term objective to provide our racers with a payout schedule consistent with other motorsports endeavors," said Tom Compton, president of the NHRA.
In the last 10 years, NHRA Winston Drag Racing purses have jumped nearly 100 percent.
NHRA magazine show debuts Feb. 3
GLENDORA, Calif. -- The National Hot Rod Association's new 30-minute magazine show, NHRA Heat, will debut Thursday at 5 p.m. on ESPN2 during the first day of qualifying action at the season-opening AutoZone Winternationals. The $1.7 million race is the first of 23 events in the $45 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.
Veteran racing insider Bill Stephens will be the in-studio host for all 24 episodes of NHRA Heat. Joining Stephens will be long-time NHRA commentator Bob Frey who will serve as the on-site reporter at each event for NHRA Heat, keeping fans informed with the latest information from the
pits of the NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.
Capps wait over
POMONA, Calif. -- Ron Capps, Don Prudhomme and Ed McCulloch have been looking forward to the start of the 2000 National Hot Rod Association season since last November. Now, their wait is almost over.
The AutoZone Winternationals kicks off the 23-race schedule at Pomona Raceway, Feb. 3-6, and Capps, driver of the U.S. Tobacco Co. Camaro, is anxious to begin his fourth year of Funny Car competition, one which he hopes
leads to a championship.
Capps, team owner Prudhomme and crew chief McCulloch are eager for the season to begin because they believe the team can contend for the title, and the car's performance during preseason testing lent credence to their views.
Back-to-back runs of 5.01 and 4.97 seconds at Phoenix last month convinced McCulloch to limit testing to three days and return to the team's Vista, Calif., headquarters to prepare for the Winternationals.
McCulloch had to deal with a new 90-percent nitromethane fuel rule NHRA imposed during the winter, but it didn't stymie him or assistant crew chief Todd Okuhara for too long.
"Based on our Phoenix testing, I'm pretty optimistic about the season," said McCulloch, who took over his duties prior to the last 1999 race. "Our test went really well. It took a few runs to get our direction with the new fuel mixture, but we were able to send the car down the track three times in a row. At that point we felt we were in good shape."
"But testing is testing. At Pomona, all of us will be on a level playing field for the first time this year, so we will really be able to see which teams have the best handle on their tune-ups," he added.
With 10 percent less nitro in the tank, McCulloch is looking for elapsed times in the high 4.80s (seconds) or low 4.90s at the opener.
"What we want to do is win rounds of racing," said Capps, "and try to eliminate as many first-round losses as possible. We found out in 1998 that you can't have a lot of first-round losses and still win the championship.
One bright spot last season was the AAA Finals at Pomona, which also was McCulloch's first outing with the car. Capps was the No. 1 qualifier with a career-best run of 4.853 seconds. He added runs of 4.868 and 4.883 seconds. They were the quickest runs of the year and McCulloch was determined to merely refine the tune-up in preparation for the 2000 campaign.
Herbert expects changes
POMONA, Calif. -- Doug Herbert isn't the type of guy who will sit back and replay the highlights from the best season of his NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series career over and over. That's just not his style.
Sure, the 1999 campaign was truly memorable for the tall, personable second-generation driver from Cherryville, N.C. He drove his Snap-on Tools dragster to four victories in six final-round appearances. He also pocketed the lucrative $100,000 Winston No Bull Challenge bonus with his victory at Houston in early April. He recorded career-bests for elapsed time (4.551 seconds) and speed (321.65 mph). He finished seventh in the Winston Top Fuel points standings, also a career-best.
When the familiar crackle produced by 6,000 horsepower engines invades historic Pomona Raceway for the 40th annual AutoZone Winternationals, Feb. 3-6, signifying the start of the 2000 NHRA season, Herbert won't be looking back. Rather, he'll be looking to take one more step forward.
"We've been doing our homework," Herbert said. "I've added some new personnel to the team -- veteran guys like Dave Settles -- to make sure we don't go backwards. It's going to be an interesting season, especially with
the new rules."
-- Compiled by Clint Wood, staff writer
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