DIVISION 3 RACERS WILL GET THEIR FIRST KICKS AT ROUTE 66.

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NHRA's North Central division will kick off its 2002 NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series with the Route 66 Season Opener at Route 66 Raceway, April 26-28. The event will feature more than 500 drivers in eight racing categories including 260-mph Top Alcohol Dragsters (TAD) and Top Alcohol Funny Cars (TAFC). There could be an extremely tight race in TAD this season. There are four cars that definitely have the potential to run fast and several others that are likely to make their presence felt. Defending division champion Bill Reichert of Owasso, Mich., Keith Stark of Danville, Ill., Dave Hirata of Lowell, Ind., and Shawn Bowen of Montrose, Mich., are all expected to be in competition this year and will be making a run for the crown. Last year they were the top four finishers. Stark currently holds the fastest run in the class at 275.90 mph. In fact, of the 10 fastest TAD runs in NHRA, Stark owns five, the slowest pass topping 271-mph. Hirata is No. 10 with a 270.86-mph effort. In TAFC action, the usual title fight is between Galena, Ohio, resident Chuck Cheeseman, who won last year, and Marc White of Glendale Hts., Ill. This year, however, Indianapolis resident Todd Veney could throw both veteran racers a curve. In 2001, Veney's first full season behind the wheel of a TAFC, he placed third in the division standings. Currently, Veney is leading the points, having been runner-up at an out-of-division event in Florida. Gates at Route 66 Raceway open at 7 a.m. each day. Qualifying and time trials begin at 10 a.m. Friday and continue at 8 a.m. Saturday. TAD and TAFC are scheduled to qualify Friday at 4 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Eliminations begin Sunday at 8 a.m. First round of eliminations for TAD and TAFC is scheduled at 1 p.m. Saturday will feature a High School Pit Crew Competition at noon and 2 p.m. and there will be a Jet Car exhibition at 5 p.m. On Sunday, the Tech School Pit Crew Competition will kick off at noon. Adult tickets, including pit pass, are $15 Friday, $18 Saturday, and $20 Sunday. A Saturday/Sunday ticket is $30. Children 12 and under are admitted free with a paid adult. The event is part of a 45-race, $6.5 million series contested across the country. Drivers all classes, including Comp Eliminator, Super Stock, Stock, Super Comp, Super Gas and Super Street, are competing for a part of a $561,000 champions' purse. They will earn points leading to national and division titles as well as a berth on the team that will represent the North Central division at the Jeg's Allstar event here in September. The track is located in Joliet off Interstate 80 at Highway 53. Go south on Highway 53; track is on the left at 3200 S. Chicago Street. For more information, contact Route 66 Raceway, (815) 727-RACE. NHRA LUCAS OIL DRAG RACING SERIES: Fact Sheet WHAT: Route 66 Season Opener, a round of the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, where drivers earn points leading to divisional and national championships. Categories include Top Alcohol Dragster, Top Alcohol Funny Car, Comp Eliminator, Super Stock, Stock Eliminator, Super Comp, Super Gas and Super Street. The event is the first of six in North Central Division competition. WHERE: Route 66 Raceway, Joliet, Ill. Track is located in Joliet off Interstate 80 at Hwy. 53. Go south on Hwy. 53; track is on the left at 3200 S. Chicago Street. WHEN: Friday through Sunday, April 26-28, 2002 SCHEDULE: Time trials and qualifying schedule for the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series: FRIDAY, April 26 -- Gates open at 7 a.m. Qualifying and time trials begin at 10 a.m. Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car qualifying sessions are scheduled at 4 p.m. SATURDAY, April 27 -- Gates open at 8 a.m. Final qualifying and time trials are scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car qualifying sessions are scheduled at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. The High School Pit Crew Competition is scheduled at noon and 2 p.m. A Jet Car exhibition will run at 5 p.m. SUNDAY, April 28 -- Gates open at 7 a.m. Eliminations begin at 8 a.m. Eliminations for Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car begin at 1 p.m. The Tech School Pit Crew Competition is scheduled at noon. PURSE: The NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series competitors will vie for cash and contingency awards of $164,500, part of the 45-race, $6.5 million series. 2001 EVENT WINNERS: David Wells, Top Alcohol Dragster; Kirk Williams, Top Alcohol Funny Car; David Billingsley, Comp Eliminator; Randy Wilkes, Super Stock; Kyle Riley, Stock Eliminator; Jeff Spierling, Super Comp; John Vineyard, Super Gas; Tim Gary, Super Street BONUS PROGRAMS: NHRA LUCAS OIL DRAG RACING SERIES POINTS FUND -- a $561,000 point fund from Lucas Oil, which will be shared by 2002 NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series divisional champions and national champions. Divisional awards include $8,500 each to the Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car champions; $3,000 to the champions in both Competition and Super Stock; $2,000 each to the champions in Stock, Super Comp, Super Gas and Super Street. The seven national champions will share a bonus of $135,000. SEALED POWER LOW QUALIFIER BONUS -- a $220,500 overall bonus fund from Federal-Mogul's Sealed Power brand to the low qualifiers at each of the 45 Lucas Oil events and the 23 NHRA national events: $1,250 each in Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car; $400 each in Comp Eliminator and Super Stock; and $200 in Stock. (TAD and TAFC compete at 16 of 23 national events.) JEG'S ALLSTARS: The best of the best from each of NHRA's seven divisions will compete for a share of the $100,000 point fund from Jeg's High Performance. The 2002 Jeg's Allstars event will culminate a year-long points battle between drivers in each of NHRA's Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series' eight classes. The top points earner in each category will qualify to represent his/her division at the 2002 Jeg's Allstars, held in conjunction with the NHRA Nationals in Chicago, Sept. 26-29, 2002. Points are based on in-division races only. The winning division's team will share $20,000 and individual awards include $7,000 each to the Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car champions, $6,000 to champions in Comp Eliminator and Super Stock, and $4,500 to the Stock, Super Comp, Super Gas, and Super Street champions. Runners-up in all categories will earn $2,000 apiece. Each Allstars competitor will also receive a share of a $20,000 towing fund to get to the event. FEATURES: More than 500 drivers in the eight racing categories. Eight-car fields in Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car, featuring five-second, 260 mph side-by-side racing. TICKETS: GENERAL ADMISSION/PIT PASS -- $15 Friday, $18 Saturday, $20 Sunday. A Saturday/Sunday ticket is $30. Children 12 and under are admitted free with a paid adult. For more information please call Route 66 Raceway, (815) 727-RACE or visit www.route66raceway.com.
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