Top Fuel driver Spencer Massey celebrated his seventh career victory at the 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season opener at Pomona and will try to carry that positive energy directly to race No. 2 on the circuit, the 28th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals, Feb. 17-19. He was left with a bitter taste in his mouth the last time he visited the Phoenix-area track.
His team's performance at Firebird International Raceway last October put a thorn in the side of the Top Fuel driver's hopes of earning his first NHRA championship. Massey entered the fourth race of the Countdown to the Championship as the points leader, but when his team failed to qualify for eliminations at the playoff event, they lost the series lead and eventually the championship.
“After the DNQ in Phoenix last year in the Countdown, it kind of killed us for the championship,” Massey said. “But now, coming off this win, we have momentum. We have a racecar that can win Phoenix. It would be awesome to go back to back, but now we have a big target on our back. We're No. 1 in points and everyone is gunning for us but that's what we want. I'd like to have that bull's-eye on my back all year long.”
In 2012, the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway returns to a spot on the NHRA schedule in the regular season. Larry Dixon (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car) and Vincent Nobile (Pro Stock) are the defending winners there.
After losing the championship last year, FRAM/Prestone dragster driver Massey spent a lot of time replaying his last trip to the Grand Canyon State in his mind and thinking about how if things could have played out differently he may have ended up the 2011 world champion. After a busy off-season, the Top Fuel pilot has turned that disappointment into fuel for success this year. His recent victory over teammate Antron Brown in the final round of the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals at Pomona, Calif., was Exhibit-A.
“After our finish last year, finishing in second place and coming up just a little short, it makes you that much more hungry, that much more motivated to win a championship,” Massey said. “We put that new racecar together, we tested it, the car ran very well and it showed last weekend. Leaving (Pomona) in the No. 1 spot heading to Phoenix is awesome.”
With his runner-up finish at Pomona, Brown sits second in the point standings. Morgan Lucas, Tony Schumacher, Bob Vandergriff, Brandon Bernstein, Shawn Langdon, Clay Millican, David Grubnic and Doug Kalitta round out the top 10 in Top Fuel.
Funny Car legend and 15-time world champ John Force collected the first win of 2012 when he defeated his teammate Mike Neff in the final round of the season opener. Force's youngest daughter Courtney earned her first round win at her debut event, while fellow rookie Alexis DeJoria fell to eventual winner Force in the opening round of competition.
Four-time Pro Stock champ Greg Anderson collected the 71st win of his career at the NHRA Winternationals and leads the points heading into Phoenix. Anderson outran fellow four-time world champ Jeg Coughlin Jr. in the final round as well as teammate and reigning world champ Jason Line in the semifinals.