“We’ve always liked racing in Dallas,” Kalitta said. “Our crew chief Jim Oberhofer grew up in the Plano area so we always have an extended family reunion when we race at Texas Motorplex. We have a great time with Dave “O” and Sue “O” (Jim’s parents) and all the Oberhofer family and friends. It’s a great time.”
Kalitta and the rest of the competitors are chasing regular season leader Shawn Langdon, who has a class-leading five victories at the controls of his Al-Anabi Racing dragster, but Texan Spencer Massey took over the points lead with a runner-up finish in Charlotte and will draw some inspiration from his hometown cheering section. Charlotte winner Morgan Lucas has emerged as a title contender in the third place points position.
Other pre-race favorites include Khalid alBalooshi, Clay Millican, Texan Steve Torrence and past Motorplex winner Bob Vandergriff. Defending world champ and event winner Brown will try to bounce back at this event as he posted an uncharacteristic DNQ at the playoff opener.
In Funny Car, Matt Hagan leads the series standings with four season victories at the controls of his Magneti Marelli/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger and will be trying to earn his second victory at the Motorplex. He will need to hold off veterans Cruz Pedregon, a three-time event champ who clocked the second-quickest time in NHRA history at Charlotte, and Ron Capps, the 1998 winner here.
Others to watch include the Force powerhouse that includes 15-time world champion John Force, his youngest daughter Courtney, a two-time winner this season, and two-time Motorplex winner and Auto Club Ford Mustang driver Robert Hight, who opened the playoffs with a win at zMAX Dragway and jumped from ninth to third in the points.
Oklahoma native and series points leader Mike Edwards aims to bring his Interstate Batteries/I Am Second Chevy Camaro back to the Motorplex winner’s circle as he did in 1998, giving him seven victories in his dream season. But defending world champion and event winner Johnson has high hopes for a second straight world championship, and his teammates Jeg Coughlin, who has three victories including a win at Charlotte last weekend, and three-time winner Vincent Nobile are also in the hunt for a title.
Native Texan Erica Enders-Stevens, who has sponsorship from Husky Liners, will certainly be a fan-favorite as this event. Rodger Brogdon of Tomball, Texas and Chris McGaha of Odessa, Texas, are also local favorites seeking wins in front of a large contingent of family and friends.
Pro Stock Motorcycle sensation Hector Arana Jr. leads the class with four wins aboard his Lucas Oil Buell while battling a tough group of challengers in the two-wheel category, including two-time season winner and New Braunfels, Texas rider Ray and his Sovereign-Star Racing Buell, Matt Smith, John Hall, defending world champ Eddie Krawiec and Hector Arana Sr. A non-Countdown contender, Andrew Hines, won the playoff opener on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson.