LAS VEGAS - On Thursday, 15 National Hot Rod Association drivers and crew members raced into Cashman Center to compete in the 2009 USBC Open Championships.

The group was treated to the full tournament experience, from the pro shop to the scale room to the traditional march down Center Aisle. As they got their bowling balls drilled and weighed and threw their first shots on the tournament lanes, they started to see some similarities between bowling and drag racing.

"I don't bowl enough to really understand how the conditions differ and change, but it amazes me when I go out and watch the pros and see what they do," said Funny Car driver Robert Hight, who is friends with Lumber Liquidators Professional Bowlers Association Tour standout Danny Wiseman. "It's just like our racecars. Based on what happens on each run, our crew chief has to make the necessary adjustments to get us down the track under different conditions. It's no different here. You're always making minor adjustments and tweaking. It's an interesting game."

The NHRA group was divided into three teams for a friendly afternoon on the lanes Thursday, but it wasn't long before their competitive instincts took over.

In the end, it was the NHRA Floppers who paced the field with a 2,180 team total. Hight led the way with a 525 series and was joined on the lanes by Funny Car stars Del Worsham, Jeff Arend, Matt Hagan and Jack Beckman.

Next, was the NHRA Holeshots, led by Jeg Coughlin, who shot 469 and was joined by his Pro Stock counterparts Jason Line, Allen Johnson, Greg Anderson and crew member Jason Gray for a 2,154 total.

The final team was the NHRA Eliminators, comprised of Top Fuel's Shawn Langdon, Morgan Lucas, Spencer Massey, local Rod Fuller and legendary team owner Chuck Worsham. Langdon shot 528 and led the group to a 1,979 total.

"This really was a lot of fun and a great experience, and we got lucky and pulled it off," said Del Worsham, who joined Hight at Cashman Center to watch Wiseman in the TV finals of the USBC Masters in February. "I was nervous, even though we had some good games, and I'm glad we came out ahead. It really was all in good fun, and the camaraderie was nice, especially because tomorrow, we're supposed to hate each other."

The drivers are in Las Vegas for the NHRA Nationals being held at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend, and they now must shift gears and go from being teammates to opponents on the track. They did, however, enjoy the opportunity to step out of the pits and into the settee area for the afternoon.

"It's definitely challenging out here, and the conditions are tough, but we had a great time," said Chuck Worsham, an avid bowler who has two bowling lanes in his shop in Orange, Calif. "I had no idea all of these people came from all over the country to do this every year. It's incredible, and it's a great mix of people."

The 2009 Open Championships kicked off on Feb. 21 and will feature 17,200 teams, more than 86,000 bowlers, before it concludes on July 24.

The NHRA Nationals is the fifth stop on the 2009 Full Throttle Drag Racing Series schedule, and the NHRA's first of two trips to Las Vegas this year. They will be back in town from Oct. 29-Nov. 1 for the Las Vegas NHRA Nationals.

Presenting sponsors for the 2009 USBC Open Championships are the Coast Casinos in Las Vegas and the Eldorado Hotel Casino, Silver Legacy Resort Casino and Circus Circus in Reno, Nev. Other participating sponsors are Kegel, official lane maintenance provider; Brunswick, capital equipment supplier; Storm Products, Inc.; Binion's Gambling Hall and Hotel and Four Queens Hotel and Casino, the official brackets sponsors; Sapphire Gentleman's Club; Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino; MGM Mirage; Jerry's Nugget Casino and Fitzgerald's Casino and Hotel.

United States Bowling Congress
The United States Bowling Congress, as the national governing body, ensures the integrity and protects the future of the sport, provides programs and services to nearly 2.5 million adult and youth members and enhances the bowling experience.