Top Fuel rookie driver Spencer Massey raced to his first career victory Sunday at the United Association Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway near Chicago. Tony Pedregon, Jeg Coughlin and Matt Guidera also were winners in their respective categories at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event.
Massey, who drives for NHRA legend Don "The Snake" Prudhomme, just edged category points leader and event No. 1 qualifier Antron Brown at the finish line. Massey's U.S. Smokeless/United Association dragster posted a performance of 3.856 seconds at 308.35 mph to take the win over Brown, whose Matco Tools/DirecTV dragster trailed with a 3.870 at 301.54.
Massey advanced to his second career final with earlier round wins over Troy Buff, Terry Haddock and Larry Dixon.
"This whole season has been a dream," said Massey, one of four talented rookies eligible for the coveted 2009 Auto Club Road to the Future Award, which recognizes NHRA's top rookie driver. "I've been watching NHRA racing and wanting to drive a Top Fuel dragster in the NHRA since I was 4 years old and saw my first race. I watched Don Prudhomme win his last Top Fuel race in Dallas in 1994, and now he's high-fiving me in the winner's circle. That's unbelievable."
Pedregon earned his first Funny Car win of the season and moved to second place in the point standings by cruising to the win over Ashley Force Hood, whose Castrol GTX Ford Mustang lost traction at the start in the final round. Pedregon's Q-Horsepower Chevy Impala posted a 4.114 at 303.78 to earn his 41st career victory and second consecutive at this event.
"We had good conditions, and we had tough opponents all day," said Pedregon, who defeated Ron Capps, Robert Hight and brother Cruz Pedregon to advance to the final. "I'm glad we were able to pull it off with Quaker State. (Advancing to the) semifinals and getting to some final rounds, that's good, but it's really all about winning. We feel confident that we're going to make the Countdown, but we gotta keep doing the work to stay there. [This is a] great track, a great facility, and the sun came out, it went away, it rained, you name it and the track hung in there and we were able to execute today."
Coughlin increased his series lead in Pro Stock by claiming his fourth victory of the season and 45th of his career. Coughlin took the automatic win in his JEGS.com Chevy Cobalt when final round opponent Mike Edwards fouled at the start in his ART/Young Life Pontiac GXP.
"Mike has been in a zone of his own for the last several races and he's such a good racer that you know you need to get up on the wheel to race him," Coughlin said. "He was clearly quicker than us by at least two-hundredths of a second going into the final so I was really focused on hitting the tree. I went by it and felt like I'd really gotten it and then as I was shifting into second gear I caught the win light flashing in my lane out of my peripheral vision and the party started. If you could have seen inside my helmet you would have seen a grin as big as Texas."
Coughlin outran rookie Ryan Ondrejko, Warren Johnson and Greg Anderson to advance to his sixth final round of the season.
"We've been fortunate to go to a lot of finals and win a lot of rounds this year but we've also had times when we've had to outright abort some runs," Coughlin said. "Our biggest goal for the weekend was to get this JEGS.com Chevrolet Cobalt to go straight every run and get to the finish line under power. We did that, thanks to the guys in our pit, and this win is really just a result of that effort. It's very satisfying."
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Guidera claimed his first victory of the season and fourth overall by outrunning series points leader Eddie Krawiec, winner of the last two events. Guidera's Mohegan Sun/Rocklin Motorsports Buell covered the distance in 7.096 at 181.79, while Krawiec's Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson trailed with a 7.189 at 179.66.
"That was one hell of a final," said Guidera, who beat Craig Treble, Michael Phillips and Steve Johnson in earlier rounds. "I had a great bike all day. It really came around on Saturday. Before that, we were struggling. I don't think I snuck up on anybody this weekend. We just sucked so bad on Friday and it left us in a big hole. On Sunday, I left nothing on the table."
The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series continues next weekend with the United Association NHRA SuperNationals, June 11-14 at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, Englishtown, N.J.