Thursday, May 28, 2009

Jerry Toliver/CANIDAE Racing Pre-Event: 21st Annual O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals

As its name implies, this weekend's 21st annual NHRA Summer Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka launches the NHRA Full Throttle Series into the "dog days" of summer, so what better place to be than behind the wheel of the CANIDAE Pet Foods/Lucas Oil Chevy Funny Car? At least that is the thinking of Funny Car veteran Jerry Toliver and the Jim Dunn Racing team as they prepare for race No. 9 on the 24-race Full Throttle schedule. 

"I think the hot, summer months might level the playing field a little," Toliver said. "We've got some cars that are running good on cold tracks, really hauling the mail right now, so I think a hot race track might help us and play into our hands a little."
"But the reality is we have struggled with this CANIDAE car; the reality also is we are having the normal problems like on any new car, any new tune-up. You've got to find your window. We seem to have found our window with the engine, but we still seem to be having problems in the clutch department. So we're going to address that and make sure that everything's proper. We're going to really attack that area and I think we'll see some good results from it."

Toliver will enter the gates at Heartland Park Topeka tied with Jeff Arend for 14th in the Funny Car standings but also has his sights set on those in front of him. 

"Jim (team owner/crew chief Dunn) pays great attention to detail and is so well-rounded on the entire race car, and he's got it narrowed down," Toliver said. "And as I said, we feel good about the motor program, the way the car handles, and everything else, so now we're getting down to some fine-tuning and really getting after the clutch area. We'll get this thing figured out; it's just taking us a little bit longer than we would like. I think once we get this program figured out it will make us competitive, and you know, it's still not too late to make a run for the top 10, so that's our goal." 

A two-hour telecast of qualifying coverage for the NHRA Summer Nationals can be seen on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD on Saturday, May 30, beginning at 8:00 p.m. (ET). Coverage on ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD continues on Sunday, May 31, when NHRA Race Day will kick off eliminator coverage starting at 11:00 a.m. (ET), and concludes with three hours of final-eliminations coverage beginning at 4:00 p.m. (ET).

Kirk Weeks

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

AMA Motocross Season Opener at Glen Helen Kicks off Outdoor Season with a Bang!

When the 2009 Outdoor National Season shot out of the gate at Glen Helen Raceway in Southern California this past weekend, nobody knew what to expect. The CANIDAE Motosport Kawasaki team had been working overtime to get ready for the grueling series and it showed!

First race up was Moto #1 for the 450MX class where CANIDAE rider Tommy Hahn would face off against 40 of the toughest riders in the world. Tommy would enter the famous “Talladega Turn” inside the top 10 and finish lap 1 in 8th place. Hahn would battle with Chad Reed and Mike Brown for most of the race and take the checkered flag in 7th place. A great ride for Hahn and CANIDAE Motosport Kawasaki.

Moto #1 for the 250MX riders was next and CANIDAE riders P.J. Larsen and Kyle Cunningham would take their shot at the fast and rough track. Cunningham would only make 7 laps due to a broken finger he obtained while testing for the event just days before the event. Larsen, who suffered from a poor start showed his speed while coming through the pack even with a rear flat tire that he suffered in the first 10 minutes of the race. P.J. would crash while pushing it to the limits in a fast, soft corner sending the bike all the way off the track. Somehow, the rookie rider pulled the bike back onto the track, under the banners and fences and remounted to finish a remarkable 18th place. 

Moto #2 for the 450 guys was almost a replay of the first with Hahn jumping out to a great start and holding his place inside the top 10 for the exhausting 30 minutes + 2 laps moto. Mixing it up for most of the race with the factory “Red Riders” Hahn would improve on position from the first moto and finish in 6th place which would net him a 6th place finish overall, a fantastic way to start the new season. 

Moto #2 for the 250 “Lites” riders was exciting and the CANIDAE Motosport Kawasaki riders bounced back to show they will be riders to contend with all season long. Cunningham would fight through the severe pain to finish 13th on the extremely rough SoCal track. Larsen would finish just outside the top 10 in 11th place, a great finish for this rising star. 

CANIDAE is extremely proud of the team, riders and their wonderful efforts. Please join us as we head to The Hangtown Classic outside of Sacramento, CA May 30th. See you there!

Jason Cobb

Avenal Summer Nationals - Whipple T/F Qualifies #1 with a Blistering 2.266 @ 163.3 mph!

Team CANIDAE T/F and T/A Sand Dragsters headed to Avenal CA May 15th-17th for the 2009 Summer Nationals. The T/F team not only had to deal with Geoff Gill and Joe Bettencourt, but also the blistering heat which saw 120 degrees on the team's outside thermometer. The NSDA did an excellent job helping out the Avenal track, which is always fast. 

Whipple and the team was able to put down one of their fastest passes ever with a ET of 2.2666 @ 163.3 MPH (2.26 pass video) enabling them to take yet another #1 qualifying position. Rookie driver Geoff Gill, backed by car owner and master tuner Joe Bettencourt, were close behind with a 2.299 ET. Dennis Rieck finally got his small block chevy back on pace and qualified with a nice 2.451 ET.
Gill/Bettencourt were able to take down Dennis Rieck who unfortunately had too much in the tank and not enough on the nose which resulted in a huge wheel stand ending in a tremendous crash. (Avenal Drags May 2009 Top fuel Crash video). Dennis was ok and thankfully did not receive any major injuries. Our heartfelt concerns go out to Dennis and the entire Hammer Down crew.
The climatic final round went to Gill/Bettencourt who ran a 2.30 to Whipple's 2.31. The entire CANIDAE Team would like to congratulate the entire Gill/Bettencourt Top Fuel Team for their tremendous accomplishment and consistent blistering elapsed times, as well as their first NSDA win as a team!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Toliver Falls in First Round at NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals

Jerry Toliver qualified the CANIDAE/Lucas Oil Chevy Funny Car 15th for today's eliminations at the 9th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway which garnered him a first-round match-up with No. 2 qualifier Tim Wilkerson.  

In the Round 1 contest Wilkerson had a winning elapsed time of 4.165 seconds at 291.57 mph as Toliver hazed the tires before the 330-foot mark and slowed to a 7.289 e.t. at 87.10 mph.  Wilkerson's first-round e.t. was the quickest of the round as he advanced to the semifinals before losing to Del Worsham.  Worsham went on to defeat Tony Pedregon to claim the event win.  

Next stop on the 24-race NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series is the 21st annual O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka in Topeka, Kansas, from May 29-31.

Kirk Weeks

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Jerry Toliver/CANIDAE Racing Pre-Event 9th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals

Funny Car driver Jerry Toliver will be looking to make some noise in "Thunder Valley" as the NHRA Full Throttle Series travels to the mountains of Bristol, Tenn., for this weekend's 9th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.  Toliver will be behind the wheel of the familiar green, yellow and white CANIDAE/Lucas Oil Chevy Funny Car fielded by NHRA legend Jim Dunn and his Jim Dunn Racing team.   

"I'm upbeat going into Bristol," Toliver said.  "The guys have been working their tails off and it's just a matter of getting more laps on this CANIDAE car.  The team has shown improvement, the car has shown improvement, and every lap is a test lap, as Big Jim (Dunn) likes to say.  So we learned some good lessons there in St. Louis, and at Bristol we'll have four more laps and race day.  Hopefully we can get this thing figured out, get down the track and go some rounds."

Bristol Dragway is one of four Bruton Smith-owned tracks including The Strip at Las Vegas, Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., and zMAX Dragway in Charlotte that collectively host five Full Throttle Series events during the year. 

"Bristol is a class "A" facility, no doubt," Toliver said.  "All of Bruton Smith's tracks are that way.  And the fans are fantastic there so I've always enjoyed going to Bristol.  I've met a lot of people over the years there that still stop by and hang out with me.  It's a premier facility and very unique sitting there in Thunder Valley.  I haven't had a lot of success there, I haven't won there, but it's on my radar."          

A two-hour telecast of qualifying coverage for the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals can be seen on ESPN2 on Saturday, May 16, beginning at 6:00 p.m. (ET).  Coverage on ESPN2 continues on Sunday, May 17, when NHRA Race Day will kick off eliminator coverage starting at 11:00 a.m. (ET), and concludes with three hours and 30 minutes of final eliminations coverage beginning at 7:00 p.m. (ET).

Kirk Weeks

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

CANIDAE Motosport Kawasaki Season Finale at Sam Boyd Stadium

Sam Boyd Stadium has long been the final stop on the FIM Supercross Series. A perfect place to hold a grand celebration of a tremendous year for the entire Supercross community.

The East / West Shootout brought out the top riders from the East to take on the top riders from the West for Lites Class bragging rights. CANIDAE Motosport Kawasaki has 3 Lites riders that qualified for this event. Branden Jesseman would represent the East side for CANIDAE while Kyle Cunningham and P.J. Larsen would represent the West for the team. During the second practice session, Jesseman would go down hard over a tricky, triple in, double out section and knock himself out of the event. Kyle Cunningham would go down with 2 laps to go in his qualifier then suffer from a bad start in the LCQ which would result in him not making the main. The lone CANIDAE Motosport Kawasaki Lites rider would be rookie, P.J. Larsen.

P.J. got pinched off in the first corner, resulting in a bad start as he flew off the ski jump in 19th place. Larsen looked like he was riding tight, as he could not cleanly get around obviously slower riders early on in the race. After lap 3, Larsen calmed down and started to move forward. On lap 6, Larsen was 17th. By lap 9, he was up to 16th then up another spot by lap 11. On the 13th lap, Larsen would move into the 14th place spot where he would eventually finish the race. This was a good ride for this young, up and coming rider. Look for him to run up front next year.

As the season ends, P.J. Larsen finishes in 10th place and Kyle Cunningham in 11th in the West Coast Points Championship with Branden Jesseman finishing in 6th place and Hunter Hewitt in the 33rd position (Hunter has missed most of the season with a broken femur) in the East Coast Championship Series.

Tommy Hahn was set to do battle in the Supercross Class and battle he did. Tommy would figure out the tricky Las Vegas track and qualify out of his heat, directly into the main event. In the main, Tommy would get a bad jump off the start and cross the finish line in 17th place. He would however show his speed and move up quickly through the field, ending up in 12th place by lap five. After a 3 lap battle with Bowers, Hahn would cross the line in 13th place at the halfway point in the race. As Hahn closed in on the riders in front of him, Hahn’s bike malfunctioned as he pounded his way through the treacherous whoops. The night was over for Tommy as was the 2009 Supercross season. Hahn would finish the Championship Series in 19th place and looks forward to heading out doors for the MX Nationals.

CANIDAE All Natural Pet Foods sponsors the "Lucky Dog" L.C.Q., which is the final opportunity for all remaining riders to make it into the "Big Show.” In the “Lites” class, Daniel Blair and Chris Blose transferred into the main and in the “Supercross” class; Robert Kiniry took the win followed by Kyle Partridge to move into their respective main events.

Next up for the CANIDAE Motosport Kawasaki Team is the 2009, AMA Outdoor Nationals. This will be a tough series but the CANIDAE team should run up front all year. Come check it out as the season kicks off May 23rd in San Bernardino, CA. See you there!

Jason Cobb

Monday, May 4, 2009

Toliver Bows to Worsham in First Round at NHRA Midwest Nationals

A wet weekend on the NHRA Full Throttle Series tour came to an end for Funny Car driver Jerry Toliver and the Jim Dunn Racing team with a first-round loss at the O'Reilly NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway International Raceway. Toliver and his fellow NHRA competitors saw two rounds of qualifying cancelled due to rain on Friday and today's eliminations were run under mostly cloudy conditions.

Toliver in the CANIDAE/Lucas Oil Chevy lost to No. 3 qualifier Del Worsham who posted the second-fastest elapsed time in today's first round. Worsham had an elapsed time of 4.113 seconds at 295.40 mph as Toliver lost traction almost immediately and slowed to an 8.922-second e.t. at 73.22 mph. Worsham advanced to the Funny Car finals against Ron Capps.

"Despite the weather and lost laps on Friday, I felt pretty good going into eliminations today," Toliver said. "(Del) Worsham and his team are awful strong and we knew we'd have to step it up, and we just got a little too aggressive. I lost traction there at the start and that was it."

Toliver leaves the Midwest Nationals tied for 13th in points with Jeff Arend and Jim Head.

Next stop on the 24-race NHRA Full Throttle Drag Series is the 9th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway in Bristol, Tenn., from May 15-17.

Kirk weeks