Strutmasters Racing

NHRA Auto Club Finals TV Schedule | When & Where to Watch

The NHRA Auto Club Finals are this weekend in Pomona!

It’s finally here! The final race of the 2019 NHRA season, the NHRA Auto Club Finals, is coming to Pomona, California this weekend. Fortunately for those of you who can’t make it to the west coast, it’s also coming live into your living room.

The races and the promotional lead-ins will all be broadcast live on FS1. The re-airings will be broadcast between FS1 and FS2.

There is drama in the air this year as the number one overall spot in the Top Fuel division is still up for grabs.

Last year’s Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence has a respectable lead. However, Brittany Force is right at his heels in the overall points standings after her victory in Las Vegas. Billy Torrence and Doug Kalitta are also within striking distance in theory.

The Funny Car division will also feature some real drama as Jack Beckman, Matt Hagan and John Force try to topple points leader Robert Hight. Sunday is sure to be filled with non-stop tension.

Be sure to tune in to the NHRA Auto Club Finals this weekend for all the action!

 

NHRA Auto Club Finals

Pomona, CA

TV SCHEDULE

ROUND DATE TIME CHANNEL
FRIDAY NIGHT NITRO LIVE Friday, November 15 5:30pm – 7:30pm ET FS1
NHRA SUNDAY LIVE Sunday, November 17 3:00pm – 4:00pm ET FS1
FINALS Sunday, November 17 4:00pm – 7:00pm ET FS1
RE-AIRS
FRIDAY NITRO LIVE Friday, November 15 10pm – Midnight ET FS2
FRIDAY NITRO LIVE Saturday, November 16 5am – 7am ET FS1
SUNDAY LIVE Sunday, November 17 9pm – 10pm ET FS1
FINALS Sunday, November 17 10pm – 1am ET FS2
FINALS Monday, November 18 3:30am – 6:30am ET FS1
FINALS Thursday, November 21 10pm – 1am ET FS2

Audrey Worm makes history, announces mostly female Top Fuel team

Audrey Worm made it official last Thursday at SEMA: she is now just the second-ever female owner/driver of an NHRA Top Fuel team. The Grantville, Pennsylvania racer made history with her announcement at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

 

History in the making

 

Worm’s bootstraps story has been a fascinating one throughout this NHRA racing season. After she picked up sponsorship from Strutmasters.com, Worm was able to participate in several Top Fuel races.

Right from the start, she made her goal of wanting to own her own racing team very clear. This past Thursday, she was able to formally reach that goal with her announcement.

This announcement would be historic enough on its own merit. Worm is just the second female owner/driver of a Top Fuel team in NHRA history. She is the first since Shirley Muldowney in the 1970s.

“As some people may or may not know, I am the second female owner/driver of a Top Fuel team in NHRA history,” Worm said at SEMA. “The first was the legend Shirley Muldowney. I just purchased and brought home my first Top Fuel car.”

 

Even more history made

However, Worm wasn’t finished making history on Thursday. She followed her announcement with another monumental announcement.

“I’m also the first to do something else,” Worm told reporters. “The really, really, really big news that we wanted to announce this [week] at SEMA that I’ll be the first Top Fuel team as the owner/driver and three women – women of power and really strong women – Ashley Fye will be my crew chief and Jenna Drake, formerly Jenna Haddock, will be my car chief.”

Both Fye and Drake have quality NHRA Top Fuel resumes.

Fye served as crew chief to Scott Palmer in the early stages of his Top Fuel racing career. Drake is a former Top Fuel dragster racer and has competed in 15 national-level events. She notably upset Tony Schumacher in 2014 for a round win.

 

How it came together

 

Drake will be quite familiar with Worm’s dragster. It is the dragster she drove during her racing tenure, an ex-Anton Brown/Don Schumacher Racing chassis.
Worm credits the help of friends, family and supporters with helping her realize her ownership dream.

“I am so blessed to have the support not only friends and family, and my amazing husband Aaron Grant but also from great sponsors,” said Worm. “I would like to thank Chip Lofton at Strutmasters.com, William Francis and Kenny from Burromax, Cody from Sisson Engineering, Hap Whitlock from Hi-tech cam, Howie O’Neil, Leonard Long from G-Force Shifters, PennGrade, Duane A. Junker from Gates, Millerweld, Jim Novinger, Carrie Willhoff at Racechick, Jim Michaud, Heidi Jordan and Robert Jordan, all my RACEFAN members, and all the individuals who contributed money for making my dream come true!”

 

Looking ahead to 2020

 

With the excitement of Worm’s history-making announcement behind her, the Top Fuel owner and racer already has her sights set on making waves next season.

The team has penciled in a nine race schedule for the 2020 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series tour. They are also looking into adding even more dates to their calendar.

“We plan to run mostly on the East Coast, and have a commitment from our anchor sponsor Strutmasters.com,” said Worm. “I am so excited to own my own team, and can’t wait for the 2020 season, where we hope to show the boys what girl power looks like.”

Judging from the buzz that has surrounded her announcement, the racing world can’t wait either.

Look: Ron Lewis’ Photos from NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas

What a weekend it was in Las Vegas, Nevada at the Dodge NHRA Nationals Presented by Pennzoil.

The penultimate race of the season was an exciting one for fans of NHRA drag racing. Brittany Force pulled out a win, putting herself in a position to finish first overall on the season. The results set up what is sure to be an intense showdown in Pomona at the Auto Club NHRA Finals.

The Suspension Experts were in Sin City cheering on Strutmasters Racing-sponsored drivers Scotty Pollacheck and Justin Ashley.

Thankfully, racing photographer Ron Lewis was also in Las Vegas to capture the moments. Have a look at some of his breathtaking photos of a memorable weekend in Las Vegas below:


View more of Ron Lewis’ racing photography at ronlewisracingphotos.com.

Johnny Pluchino wins 2nd consecutive PDRA Pro Outlaw 632 title

Johnny Pluchino wins 2nd consecutive PDRA Pro Outlaw 632 Championship

Johnny Pluchino claimed his second straight PDRA Pro Outlaw 632 series championship at the PDRA World Finals. Pluchino sealed the deal with a gripping second-place finish at the final event of the season.

Pluchino yet again dominated the field. The Strutmasters-sponsored driver finished more than 300 points in front of second-place finisher Wes Distefano.

 

Consistency a key throughout PDRA season

 

That domination was due largely to Pluchino’s consistency. The New York native expertly piloted his RC Race Cars-built 2006 Ford Escort to victory all season long. True to form, even though he placed second for the day at the World Finals, he still recorded the fastest time.

Most of the cars running in the Pro Outlaw 632 series use an engine that incorporates nitrous oxide. However, Pluchino prefers a straight-ahead all-motor vehicle. This presented a unique challenge when preparing the car for races.

“The car was built to be a Mountain Motor Pro Stock car and it actually set records and did well in that trim,” said Pluchino. We run a combination that’s very similar to a Mountain Motor Pro Stock car. It has a a five-speed transmission and clutch, so all of the adjustments are the same. It was really just a plug-and-play deal for us with a smaller engine in a well-built car.”

 

A different approach

 

However, going without nitrous allowed the team to have a chassis with a wider range of tuning options. This gave Pluchino exactly what he needed to run the tables for a second consecutive year.

“The chassis really plays a large role in getting the car down the track in a couple of different ways,” said Pluchino. “It provides a big tuning window that allows you to be more consistent and makes sure the car is working properly.”

Pluchino explained the advantages of taking this somewhat unorthodox approach.

“[The all-motor approach] leads to being able to really lean on the car, since its all-motor, to get the best 60-foot times possible,” he said. “Both of these factors helped make this car work so well and played a part in our back-to-back championships; the car just worked well and stayed consistent all season long.”

Audrey Worm just bought her own dragster

Audrey Worm just bought a new dragster

Audrey Worm’s stated goal has always been that she wants to own her own Top Fuel racing team. This Monday, in Texas, she took a huge step towards that goal when she purchased her own Top Fuel Dragster.

Worm was one of the more intriguing stories of the 2019 season. At 27 years old, the driver has jumped onto the scene as one of the sport’s pluckiest upstarts.

She has made it clear she wants to own her own racing team. This would put her in rare company as only the sport’s second female owner in history.

But Worm isn’t just in the racing business, she has shown some real promise on the track early on. Named as one of Drag Illustrated’s 30 Under 30, Worm qualified for four races this season after winning a round in 2018’s NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals.

 

Needing a new dragster

 

The Pennsylvania native had driven the Leverich Racing Top Fuel Dragster. However, the team decided to change directions. This left worm without a vehicle.

Purchasing her own dragster is a monumental step towards fielding a competitive team for 2020. It is also proof of Worm’s dedication to her goals.

Worm expressed her excitement in a Facebook post:

“It’s official, I’m heading home from Texas with my own Top Fuel Dragster! The car was previously driven by Jenna Drake [formerly Jenna Haddock] and before that Antron Brown. I am so blessed to have the support — not only friends and family, and my amazing husband Aaron Grant, but also from great sponsors.”

Worm went on to thank her sponsors, which included many individual contributors.

“I would like to thank Chip Lofton at Strutmasters; William Francis and Kenny from Burromax; Cody from Sisson Engineering; Hap Whitlock from Hi-tech Cam; Howie O’Neil [and] Leonard Long from G-Force Shifters; PennGrade; Duane A. Junker from Gates; Millerweld, Jim Novinger; Carrie Willhoff at Racechick; Jim Michaud; Heidi Jordan and Robert Jordan; all my Racefan members, and all the individuals who contributed money for making my dream come true!”

As the 2019 season winds down, Worm and her supporters have plenty to look forward to in 2020.

Justin Ashley impresses in Top Fuel debut, looks towards the future

Justin Ashley 's new Strutmasters dragster.

Justin Ashley had about as good a Top Fuel debut as anyone could have hoped for. This past weekend in Charlotte, the Long Island-native gave an exciting preview of where his NHRA Top Fuel career might be headed.

The 24-year-old Top Fuel rookie blew all expectations out of the water. In Monday’s eliminations at zMAX Dragway, he defeated not only fellow 24 year-old sensation Austin Prock, he also beat then-No. 3-ranked Mike Salinas.

Ashley made it all the way to the semifinals before he lost to the eventual winner and current number one overall Steve Torrence.

Prock was one of the many to take notice. He lost to Ashley on a holeshot (a slower elapsed time, but a win due to having a better reaction time at the starting line).

“First time I got beat on a holeshot all season, and you know, it was a good one,” said Prock. “The kid’s new and he was cutting great lights all weekend. He was .040 against me and my .061. So I did a good job, but he did a better job.”

 

Justin Ashley is ready

 

Although he’s a Top Fuel rookie, Justin Ashley has plenty of resources to draw on. One of those is his father and multiple-time Funny Car and Pro Mod champion Mike Ashley.

His father’s experience has helped him assemble a quality team. Ashley hired on highly-skilled and experienced tuner Aaron Brooks for his debut race.

It’s awesome to have Aaron on our team,” said Ashley. ”I have a tremendous amount of respect for Aaron as a person and as a crew chief; he’s a championship-caliber crew chief and he’s an even better person, so to have him in our corner really means a lot.”

Another key piece of the puzzle was shoring up quality sponsorship. Ashley accomplished that when he signed with Strutmasters.com last month. All-in-all, it makes for a strong package that put the racing world on notice in Charlotte.

“I got the best team in the world. I’m so proud of them,” he said. “This Strutmasters.com Top Fuel Dragster was rippin’ all weekend.”

 

Staying Focused

 

While Ashley still has competition left in the 2019 season, his impressive debut has many wondering what’s next. For now, the rookie is trying to stay grounded.

“I’m just taking it one run at a time, trying not to make anything bigger than it really is,” Ashley said. “I’ve just been focusing on one qualifying run at a time, one eliminations run at a time. I’m just trying to stay in my lane and focus on being the best driver I can be and helping my team to be successful.”

As for 2019, the team will compete in the final two races of the season in Las Vegas and Pomona. The reason for the abbreviated season is to allow Ashley to keep his rookie status for the 2020 season.

In doing so, the young driver may enter 2020 as the favorite to win the Auto Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award. The award crowns the NHRA’s top rookie across all pro categories.

 

What lies ahead for Justin Ashley?

 

Team owner Dustin Davis, has been impressed with Ashley’s mentality

“He’s calm and cool and does the same program every time,” said Davis.

For now, Davis is trying to temper expectations for the upcoming season.

“After this year, I think we’re still pretty focused on running a limited schedule for 2020,” said Davis. “Obviously, if we get additional funding, we might add to that, but I don’t know that it will go immediately to a full season.”

Strutmasters.com, who signed on to sponsor Ashley’s 2019 races, is expected to extend its deal with the team. Big names RE/MAX IQ and Lucas Oil have agreed to sponsor at least the remainder of this season.

Although he is riding high on his Top Alcohol wins and impressive Top Fuel debut, Ashley is aware of the work he has in front of him.

“I feel pretty confident, but this is a new challenge for me,” Ashley said. “There’s certainly going to be a learning curve, and I expect that, which is why I’m looking forward to spending the time testing and getting some more laps. The more laps I make, the more comfortable I’ll feel.”

“I expect to go out and be successful with this team. However, I know it’s going to take some time for me to get used to certain things in the car. Feeling when it’s spinning or shaking the tires, or when a run is going good or not going good.”

Justin Ashley feels confident that the team strategy of getting experience in the 2019 season was the right move.

“We wanted to give ourselves a chance to win at every race we go to in my rookie season,” said Ashley. “we agreed that the best way to do that was to get a head start this year.”

NHRA Carolina Nationals | TV Schedule

We know you’re just as excited as we are about this weekend’s NTK NHRA Carolina Nationals in Concord, NC. We’ll be out there supporting our drivers and we hope you’ll be there too!

For those of you who can’t make it, here’s the NHRA Carolina Nationals TV schedule so you don’t miss any of the action!

Mello Yello Drag Racing Series
ROUND DATE TIME CHANNEL
FRIDAY NIGHT NITRO LIVE Friday, October 11 9:00pm – 10:00pm ET FS1
NHRA SUNDAY LIVE Sunday, October 13 1:00pm – 2:00pm ET FS1
FINALS Sunday, October 13 2:00pm – 5:00pm ET FS1
RE-AIRS
FRIDAY NITRO LIVE Saturday, October 12 9:30am – 10:30am ET FS2
FRIDAY NITRO LIVE Saturday, October 12 Midnight – 1:00am ET FS2
NHRA SUNDAY LIVE Sunday, October 13 8:00pm – 9:00pm ET FS2
FINALS Sunday, October 13 9:00pm – 10:00pm ET FS2
FINALS Monday, October 14 9:00pm – 10:00pm ET FS1
FINALS Thursday, October 17 9:00pm – 10:00pm ET FS2

Strutmasters sponsors Dave Richards’ Funny Car at Carolina Nationals

Strutmasters.com has signed on to sponsor driver Dave Richards at the NTK NHRA Carolina Nationals. The driver, representing Paul Richards Racing, will bear the Strutmasters.com logo on his Ford Mustang Funny Car at the event.

 

Dave Richards joins the Strutmasters racing team

 

This development is yet another pickup for the “Suspension Experts.” Strutmasters made headlines throughout the 2019 racing season for its racing sponsorship.

Just last week, the company announced it would sponsor Justin Ashley’s Top Fuel debut. In addition, the company supports several other drivers such as Johnny Pluchino, Wally Stroupe and Audrey Worm.

Strutmasters.com joins an established roster at Paul Richards Racing. The company is part of the same team of sponsors that includes long-time supporters, such as Upper Cut Turf Management, FarmBoy Custom Co., and Prestige Site Works.

“Companies like Prestige Site Works, Upper Cut Turf Management, and FarmBoy Custom Co. are the reason I’m able to race,” Richards said. “I’m really grateful for their continued support and adding Strutmasters.com to the lineup is the extra boost we needed. We haven’t been at a race since Atlanta. That time off has allowed us to devote a good amount of time looking over things. I think we fixed some of our issues.”

 

Dave Richards looking ahead to 2020

 

The additional sponsorship comes quite late in the season. However, Richards hopes to use the late-season boost to set the tone for next season.

“Knowing we’re going to be back out there competing with the best of the best in the NHRA is exciting and our whole team is ready to get to zMAX [Dragway],” he added. “Hopefully after this race, we’ll have some good news to share about our 2020 season in the class.”

Johnny Pluchino eyes first Extreme Pro Stock win at Darlington

Johnny Pluchino is ready to grab his first Extreme Pro Stock series win.

It’s been a busy year for Johnny Pluchino. In addition to dominating the Pro Outlaw 632 series, Pluchino has manned the wheel of the Strutmasters Mustang in Extreme Pro Stock.

Heading into the PDRA Fall Nationals, Pluchino is looking to nab his first career Extreme Pro Stock win.

 

Pulling double duty

 

Pluchino’s main focus heading into the 2019 season was to defend his title in Pro Outlaw 632. He was aware that he would probably be pulling a double at some point this season. However, he didn’t realize it would happen so soon.

“My dad started the year in the Extreme Pro Stock car, but at the North-South Shootout before the first qualifier, he said it was my time to get behind the wheel.”

Pluchino said this came as some surprise.

“I was about as shocked as I could be since I wasn’t supposed to race the PDRA events,” said Pluchino. “He wanted me to get in the car to get some seat time since we were going to be racing some NHRA events. Doing this while racing Pro Outlaw 632 also has been an awesome experience but at the same time it’s difficult.”

 

Adjusting to Extreme Pro Stock

 

There is a world of difference between the Extreme Pro Stock class and the Pro Outlaw 632 class. While it looks like Pluchino is in great position to win back-to-back championships in the Pro Outlaw 632 class, there has been an adjustment in the Extreme Pro Stock class.

“The Extreme Pro Stock car shifts differently,” said Pluchino. “You have to account for my weight difference as a driver. It takes a lot to get used to driving one of these cars. We’ve had to make some minor adjustments to the car for me as a driver. In Extreme Pro Stock you have to be on your game and it’s been a slight learning curve but I feel comfortable now.”

Clearly, the adjustments are already paying off. There have been consistent improvements in his performances. He even reached the final round of the NHRA Mountain Motor Pro Stock exhibition back in July.

 

Ready for Extreme Pro Stock success

 

Pluchino and his team appear to be hitting their stride at just the right time as they head into the Fall Nationals in Darlington.

“I think we have a fast race car, but we’re going to need to be consistent to win,” says Pluchino. “As a driver, I’m going to have to be on my game as far as taking care of business in the car. We’re going to try some different things like changing the gear ratio to help the car and do as much testing as we can before the event. The difference between winning and losing in Pro Stock is just a few thousandths of a second, so we need to be as ready as possible.”

Pluchino credits his father for helping him make the leap.

“I appreciate the opportunity my dad has given me by stepping out of the car and letting me jump in,” Pluchino says. “He’s done so much to assist me in chasing my dreams as a driver and I can’t thank him enough for that. His support is so critical when it comes to this racing operation.”

The PDRA Fall Nationals take place at Darlington Dragway in Hartsville, South Carolina October 4th-5th. Fans can watch Johnny Pluchino go for his first Extreme Pro Stock win in his Strutmasters Mustang at SpeedVideo.com.