This weekend offers local racing fans about as varied a lineup of events as any one area could muster.
NASCAR’s Sprint Cup and Nationwide series drivers are racing just across the Alabama state line at Talladega Superspeedway, the NHRA is in Commerce for the Summit Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway and the World of Outlaws Late Model Series will race Friday night at Lavonia Speedway and Saturday night at Swainsboro Raceway.
NHRA Top Fuel driver Bob Vandergriff Jr. of Alpharetta comes to his home track fresh off a win last week at Royal Purple Raceway in Houston. Vandergriff got his third career race victory by defeating Shawn Langdon in the final round, the 16th final-round appearance of Vandergriff’s Top Fuel career. He’s eighth in the standings, 215 points behind leader Tony Schumacher, who has 71 career wins but none at Atlanta Dragway.
“We’ve been in the finals at Atlanta many, many times over the years, so we’ve definitely run well there,” Schumacher said. “We just haven’t won that final run of the day on Sunday and, at the end of the day. We just got beat. It isn’t over yet, by any means. I’ve got time left in my career, and I’m going to win that race before it’s over.”
In the Funny Car class, Cruz Pedregon, also a winner at Houston, comes to Atlanta Dragway atop his division’s standings on the strength of two wins this season. Mike Edwards leads the Pro Stock division.
Before he races at Commerce, Tony Schumacher will travel to Talladega to help induct his father, Don Schumacher, into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.
“It’s a huge honor just to be a part of it.”
Also being inducted at Talladega are Rick Hendrick, Dale Inman and Rusty Wallace.
In Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 at Talladega, Richmond winner Kevin Harvick will try to win back-to-back Sprint Cup races. His Richard Childress Racing team typically runs well on the restrictor-plate tracks at Talladega and Daytona. At Talladega, Childress leads all car owners with 12 Cup victories, one of them with Harvick, nine with the late Dale Earnhardt and two with Clint Bowyer.
“I like restrictor-plate racing, but our luck hasn’t been that great lately on that style track,” Harvick told reporters recently. “Last season, we thought we were going to have a chance to win coming to the checkers during the second races of the season at Daytona and Talladega, but we wound up coming in on a wrecker.
“We just haven’t gotten the finishes we thought we would at those tracks, even though we’ve had good runs. We’re coming off a win at Richmond, so I’m hoping we can carry that momentum into the race this weekend.”
Shane Clanton of Zebulon enters Friday’s World of Outlaws race at Lavonia Speedway second in the points standing just 12 behind leader Josh Richards.
Clanton, who races a Capital Race Cars chassis that he and fellow racer Marshall Green designed, has two wins this season — in the season opener at Screven Motor Speedway near Sylvania and Friday at Smoky Mountain Speedway in Maryville, Tenn.
Clint Smith of Senoia will be looking to rebound from a miserable season that has seen him fall victim to numerous mechanical misfortunes, including several blown engines. Smith, who was one of the circuit’s top contenders at the end of last season, is 12th in the standings with only two top-10 finishes in 12 starts.
Suwanee driver: Anderson Bowen, a 15-year-old racer from Suwanee, was involved in a hard crash Sunday at Salem (Ind.) Speedway.
Bowen was taken to a hospital for tests and observation, but was released the next day.
He’s set to resume his touring series schedule with a race in NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series division at Iowa Speedway next month. His Cunningham Motorsports teammate Tom Hessert won at Salem, taking the lead on the last lap to get his second consecutive win.
The ARCA series will race at Talladega Superspeedway on Friday.