Local Jr. Dragster wins POWERade Fan Nationals Crown

Most NHRA fans dream of the chance to race behind the wheel of an NHRA Funny Car and hit 300 mph in less than five seconds. For Channahon, Ill., Jr. Dragster racer Matt Sackman, 13, this dream became a reality today when he powered a simulated Funny Car to victory and became the official title holder in the 2006 POWERade Fan Nationals Series.

Primed behind the wheel, Sackman tore down the virtual quarter-mile boulevard in an unmatched 4.7 seconds, beating out 22 other finalists to claim victory at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona during the 42nd annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals. Each finalist took his or her turn in life-size, custom-painted POWERade Funny Cars, equipped with high-performance, hydraulic racing simulator systems that create a realistic experience for competing fans.

“I can’t even explain how excited I am for this opportunity to come out and compete against the other finalists from across the country,” Sackman said. “I’ve been a Jr. Dragster driver for two years, and winning this competition gives me a new confidence for next year’s season. It feels great to be the POWERade Fan Nationals Series champion.”

As part of his championship winnings, Sackman will join today’s Pro champion drivers in the winner’s circle, where he will experience the feel of winning his first championship series. He’ll also receive a replica winner’s leather jacket, complete with his own monogrammed signature, as well as a one-of-a-kind POWERade Fan Nationals trophy. Additionally, Sackman is guaranteed a trip to next year’s finals for a chance to defend his title.

“The Fan Nationals competition is the only thing out there that lets NHRA fans feel what it’s like to roar down the track at over 300 mph in our specially designed POWERade Funny Cars,” said Ben Reiling, director, motorsports, Coca-Cola North America. "In this second year of competition, we have 23 talented finalists from across the country who range from age 9 to age 53. It’s great to have such a broad group of fans contending in the POWERade Fan Nationals experience, and we're proud to crown Matt Sackman as our 2006 champ."

The POWERade Fan Nationals Series allows NHRA fans the chance to compete against one another in Funny Car simulators at 21 dragstrips over the course of the regular racing season. Contestants are eliminated in a series of qualifying races throughout the weekend until one final POWERade Fan Nationals event champion is crowned. This weekend, each event champion from across the country came to Auto Club Raceway at Pomona for the season final to compete for the ultimate title of series champion.

Note: Matt Sackman won the 2006 Modified Jr. Championship at Route 66 Raceway after finishing first in points this year.

Information provided by www.nhra.com .

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