Friday, August 31, 2012


The Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s six-race playoff series, opens Sept. 14-16 at spectacular zMAX Dragway, Bruton Smith’s “Bellagio” of drag strips.

The kick off race for this season’s world championship battle for the top 10 drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle, promises to be one of the best ever. In past seasons, this event has produced incredible record-setting performances, like Funny Car driver Matt Hagan’s impressive milestone run of 3.995 seconds last year. Hagan’s victory at the event propelled the Virginia cattle rancher on to the world championship title five races later. Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Eddie Krawiec, who set both ends of the track record on his Harley-Davidson V-Rod last September, also used the race-winning momentum to secure a second world championship title in Pomona.

Every Countdown-eligible driver knows that getting off to a fast start in the first race of the playoffs is critical. That’s why every team will be pushing hard to win the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries at zMAX Dragway. In addition to Hagan and Krawiec, other defending winners of the event are Antron Brown in Top Fuel and Kurt Johnson in Pro Stock. The race will be televised on ESPN2HD.

Many drivers have proven the win early philosophy over the years. Robert Hight won the Funny Car title from a starting point of 10th in the points standings in 2009. Hagan was sixth last season. Cruz Pedregon was as far back as eighth when he took the title in 2008. Like Hagan, Pedregon and Hight also opened their championship runs with victories at zMAX Dragway.

“(In the Countdown), whoever gets the hot hand, can win it all,” said John Force, driver of the Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang, who won a record 15th Funny Car world championship in the Countdown to the Championship in 2010.

There are a lot of drivers who are certifiably hot entering the Countdown this season, like Top Fuel driver Spencer Massey, who has won four races and earlier in the season at NHRA’s first stop at zMAX Dragway electrified the crowd with a jaw-dropping speed of 332.18 mph to take the national record. He used a series of impressive performance runs in eliminations to win the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals.

Massey, who will battle Tony Schumacher, defending winner Brown, Steve Torrence, Doug Kalitta and Brandon Bernstein, among others, for the race victory and the championship title feels confident heading back to a track where his team has shined.

“All year long we’ve been running well,” Massey said. “We’ve set track records, we’ve set speed records. This is for all the marbles. We’re putting everything into it. Our Prestone/FRAM guys are putting in 125 percent; we’re going for it.”

No Pro Stock racer has been hotter than Erica Enders, who in April at Charlotte came up short in her bid to become the first female racer to win an NHRA Pro Stock race. She did accomplish the historic feat at Chicago in July. Since then she has tacked on two more race victories – at Seattle and Brainerd – and appears poised to challenge for her first world championship crown. A season crown would be another major first for the native Houston driver.

“There is no better time to be hot than right now,” Enders said. “I’m excited about the recent success, but we’ve just got to keep pressing forward, working hard and doing our best every week.”

In the two-wheel category, Hector Arana Jr. hasn’t won a race in 2012, but that doesn’t mean he’s not had a solid regular season. He’s ready to start adding to his Pro Stock Motorcycle win total when it counts the most – in the Countdown playoffs. He just wants the hectic pace to slow down a bit.

“This year has flown by,” said Arana Jr., who is third in points and has posted three runner-up finishes and earned one No. 1 qualifying position on his Lucas Oil Buell. “For some reason last year, it seemed like it took so much longer to do the whole year, and this year, everything is just flying by. I don’t know why. I don’t know if it’s because we’re doing better this year and there’s been a little bit less stress. But this year has been really good so far.”

The O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. In addition to all of the drama and excitement going on in the Countdown playoffs, fans will also enjoy a brilliant night qualifying show on Friday, some powerful exhibition runs by two jet dragsters and an incredible fireworks display to close out Friday’s racing.

On Sunday, fans who attend the race will certainly want to participate in the Nitro Generation Track Walk, where all ticket holders can walk side-by-side down zMAX Dragway with the most popular drivers in the sport.

General admission tickets for Friday are only $20 and kids 13 and under are admitted free each day with a paid adult ticket. For tickets to the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries, please call the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office at (800) 455-FANS (3267).

* SCHEDULE: Full Throttle Drag Racing Series qualifying sessions are scheduled for 3 and 5:45 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 14, and 12:15 p.m. and 2:45 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 15. Final eliminations will begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 16.


In the late 60’s, the Trans Am Race Series was introduced. The manufacturers quickly jumped on board with specially equipped cars like the Camaro Z/28 in 1967, while Ford took notice with their Mustangs, eventually introducing the Boss 302 in ‘69, which was indeed a major contender. Meanwhile, over in the Pontiac camp, the ones in the know snapped up the actual Trans Am name for their race inspired 1969 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. A mere 697 of these cars were produced, including just 8 convertibles. (Yep..we have SEVEN of them coming to the show this year!) For the Mopar folks, two unique cars were offered for just one model year, with a very special high performance 340 cubic inch engine sporting a trio of two barrel carbs, lightweight fiberglass hoods and a list of other special features. The AAR Cuda, named for Dan Gurney’s All American Racers team and the T/A Challenger, obviously named after the Trans Am series, are today among the most desirable muscle cars ever built.

For the 2012 show coming up November 17-18 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, they are featuring these cars in a special gathering dubbed “Trans Am Terrors” with a wide variety of various makes and models. You will see the namesake Pontiac Trans Ams from 1969-2002, First and second generation Camaro Z/28’s, Plymouth AAR Cuda’s and Dodge Challenger T/A’s and more. Short decks and long hoods, low slung and smooth, these Pony Cars are not only great looking, but they actually handle too! And to make it even more interesting, there are some really cool colors in the mix too.

They have had a excellent response, but do need a few more to really make this one special. If you own a 68-74 Javelin, a 1967 Camaro Z/28, a first or second generation Mercury Cougar or any real Trans Am RACE related car, we want to hear from you. This is your chance to be a part of one of the neatest gatherings in our show this year. Cars must be real-deal, (no clones or “tributes”) and cars can be restored or original. If it has special options or was built in an unusual color, that makes it even better. To be a part of this special display, please send pictures and information to or call Bob Ashton at 586-549-5291.

Westcott Jr. Powers to Pole in Mopar® HEMI® Challenge Qualifying at U.S Nationals

Charlie Westcott Jr. of Parma, Mich., powered to the No. 1 spot in qualifying on Thursday in his 1968 “Warfish” Plymouth Barracuda at the 12th Annual Mopar® HEMI® Challenge at the NHRA Mac Tools U.S. Nationals. Westcott Jr. banked the Mopar top qualifier $500 bonus with his second straight pole at the Indianapolis Mopar HEMI Challenge event, and will look to capture his second straight Indy win on Friday and fifth overall at the venue. 

An impressive field of 23 Mopar-powered Super Stock A/HEMI (SS/AH) 1968 Dodge Darts and Plymouth Barracudas battled it out at Lucas Oil Raceway. Westcott Jr. paced the pack with an elapsed time of 8.386-seconds in his HEMI machine. Clocking in at No. 2 was Jim Daniels of Bristol, Pa., in his 1968 Dodge Dart with an 8.458 mark, followed by Charlie Westcott Sr. in the third spot in his ’68 Plymouth ‘Cuda with an 8.488. Taking the fourth spot was former Indy Mopar HEMI Challenge champ Rick Houser of Pasadena, Calif., with an 8.491 effort in his 1968 Plymouth Barracuda, and Wendell Howes of Rathesay, Neb., rounded out the top five with an 8.510, also in a 1968 Barracuda.

“I think people were surprised when I put that .38 on the board, but I wasn’t,” said Westcott Jr. “Yesterday I had a few subpar passes. We found some adjustments in the suspension and the car went down the track really nice today.”

The Westcott family is aiming for its fourth Indy HEMI Challenge win five years. Westcott Jr. claimed victory in 2008 and 2011, with his father earning the win in 2009. Last year featured an all-Westcott final, and the father-and-son duo would relish a repeat performance.

“He almost beat me last year, because he had a lot better light (reaction time) than I did,” said Westcott Jr. of his battle with his father in the 2011 Mopar HEMI Challenge final. “He’s beat me a few times, and I’ve beat him a few times. It’s all about who makes the best runs. If the ladder works that way, it would be cool. That’s obviously ideal, to get both of these cars in the final and win as much money as we can.”

The Mopar HEMI Challenge winner will earn an impressive $15,000 purse tomorrow, with $1,500 slotted for the runner-up and $500 each for the third and fourth-place finishers.

“It’s a great deal. Mopar supporting us is a great thing, and without them I wouldn’t have one of these HEMI cars,” said Westcott Jr. “They put the money up and make it worthwhile to come out and try to claim the prize.

The elimination rounds for the 12th Annual Mopar HEMI Challenge will take place Friday, with the final round scheduled between NHRA Funny Car and Top Fuel qualifying rounds. To keep up on all the Mopar HEMI Challenge action on Twitter, follow @OfficialMopar.

SAN Announces Winner of Hot Rod Magazine Contest

SEMA Action Network (SAN) member Joseph J. Glosek was recently announced as the winner of the Hot Rod Magazine contest for his submission on “How Has the SEMA Action Network Served the Auto Hobby?”  After reviewing all the entries, the staff of Hot Rod Magazine chose Mr. Glosek’s testimonial as the winner.  Glosek currently owns a 2008 Challenger SRT8, a 1967 Charger and a 1970 Daytona Charger Tribute.  A self-proclaimed ‘Mopar guy,’ Glosek is a member the Winged Warriors/National B-Body Association, Daytona-Superbird Auto Club, Mopars Unlimited of Arizona and the National Street Machine Association.  Here is his article which, along with a photo of Mr. Glosek, will appear in an upcoming issue of Hot RodMagazine:

            In today's busy world most of us have little free time with work and family so we tend to use this limited resource doing things we enjoy such as working on or driving our cars.   In many ways our cars, whether they are muscle cars, antiques, collector cars, race cars or even just a really nice daily driver, offer a refuge from a world that at times seems to move way to fast.  As a result we tend to let "the other guy" handle tasks that are mundane or unpleasant.  This unfortunately also includes keeping a tab on legislation that could directly affect our hobby.  Most of us only learn of the negative impact of new laws and regulations on our hobby, after the fact when it is too late to take action.
            Fortunately, we have the SEMA Action Network watching out for the best interest of our hobby.  They do what we should be doing, watching for any new legislation that could limit or even end our hobby.  They are "the other guy" so that we can continue to enjoy our vehicles for years to come without being unduly burdened by unfriendly laws and regulations.  Thanks to the SEMA Action Network, we can enjoy our family friendly hobby, and aftermarket manufacturers are willing to invest in our hobby with new and improved products.  Without the SAN, we would not have our hobby and manufacturers would find little reason to invest in new product development.  The SAN makes our hobby a win/win for all involved.

Line Hopes to Get on Indy’s Good Side

Up until a year ago, reigning NHRA Pro Stock champion Jason Line was not necessarily a fan of Lucas Oil Raceway, site of this weekend’s 58th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals.  He acknowledged the importance of the event, and the long and storied history behind what is universally considered the biggest drag race of the season. In fact, his lack of enthusiasm was rooted in his on-track struggles at the Clermont, Ind. quarter-mile dating back to his days competing in the Stock category.

However, his opinion may have shifted slightly to the positive side one year ago when the Summit Racing ace scored his first No. 1 qualifying position at “The Big Go” and powered his way to the final round, where he was narrowly edged by his teammate Greg Anderson. Even though he enters this year’s event with an extensive to-do list, returning to the winner’s circle and claiming his first Indianapolis win remains a top priority.

“Although I still wouldn’t consider this to be one of my favorite tracks, I certainly respect the history and tradition behind the U.S. Nationals,” said Line.  “It’s a cool race to go to, and I would certainly like to add an Indy Wally to my trophy case, as well as the increased payout for winning.  I’m a muscle car guy, so I really enjoy watching all the Stockers that come out to run during the class runoffs, taking me back to the days when I raced in that category.

“But we’re not there to be spectators.  We’ve spent a lot of time over the last few weeks testing our Summit Racing Camaros, working to get a handle on what they need to perform, and we’re looking forward to seeing how we’ve done.  I’m confident we will be putting a better product on the track than we have at the last few races, allowing us to hopefully be in a position to win on Monday.”

As Line indicates, the format of this race is unlike any other on the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Circuit.  For example, there are five qualifying sessions instead of the normal four, which are spread out over Friday through Sunday, with final eliminations set for Labor Day.  Although this does allow teams to have an additional chance to obtain data on the Lucas Oil Raceway surface, they must also pace themselves to be ready for the extra day of competition.
In addition, this year everyone will be keeping an eye on the progress of Hurricane Isaac, as computer models are currently predicting the remnants of the storm will arrive in the Indianapolis area during the weekend, with the potential for heavy rains putting any qualifying attempts at a premium.  Even so, Line prefers to take a simple approach, seeing it simply as another variable out of their control that the team will have to deal with.

“Naturally, we would prefer to have five days of sunshine and cool temperatures, just like everyone else, but we’ll just have to see what happens, and deal with it accordingly,” said Line.  “This is a long and difficult race, and we have to be ready to handle any situation that gets thrown at us over the course of the five days. 

“Fortunately, I have a very talented KB Racing team behind me, who has a long record of success in Indianapolis with my teammate winning six times.  With a larger than normal Pro Stock field expected, it certainly won’t be easy, but I’d like to join in the fun this weekend, putting my Summit Racing Camaro in the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals winner’s circle. It’s there for us as long as we remain error-free, which we are more than capable of doing.”

Jason Line & the Summit Racing Camaro crew
By the Numbers – Lucas Oil Raceway edition:
1 – a) No. 1 qualifying performances by Line at Lucas Oil Raceway, which came one year ago.
      b) Final round appearances by Jason in Indianapolis, which also occurred in 2011
4.89 – Average starting position for Line in his previous nine U.S. Nationals starts.
6.583 – Lucas Oil Raceway Pro Stock Elapsed Time Record, set by Line in 2011.
7 – Times Line has qualified in the top five positions in his previous nine starts in Indianapolis.

Anderson Relishes New Role at U.S. Nationals

For the first time in several years, Greg Anderson and the Summit Racing team will be in an unusual position when they pull into Lucas Oil Raceway for this weekend’s Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, Ind.  Even though they arrive as the defending event champions, they will not necessarily be seen as the favorites based on their struggles in recent races, which is certainly a departure from past seasons. However, having finally had time to thoroughly test their Chevrolet Camaros, Anderson is cautiously optimistic about his chances to prove the pundits wrong.

“We have a lot on our plate heading into Indy, with several things different from previous years,” said Anderson.  “For example, for the first time in a long while, we are not going into the race as one of the favorites.  This year, people are just not seeing us in that role because of the struggles we’ve had dialing in our new cars.  It’s no secret that we’re trying to make them better and faster, getting them ready for the playoffs.

“But the U.S. Nationals is the biggest and coolest race of the year, so I am not about to discount it as just another practice race before the start of the Countdown. That race means the world to me, and I want to go win it, which is why we are trying as hard as we can to have these Summit Racing Camaros on top of their game when we roll through the gates at Lucas Oil Raceway.”

Since returning from the last race in Brainerd, the Summit Racing crew has been balancing their normal between-race maintenance with research and development efforts both at the shop and on the racetrack. Taking advantage of the first break after a hectic summer schedule, numerous days were spent making as many runs down the track as possible without the pressure of national event competition, zeroing in on the proper tune-up, determining exactly what adjustments would work and which ones would not.

“We’ve spent a lot of time at the track during the off week, testing our Summit Racing Camaros so we won’t have to look for major improvements once we get to Indy,” explained Anderson.  “Basically we’re looking to have a better feeling about where we stand with the tune-up than we’ve had for the last couple Fridays at national events, which I am confident we will, putting us in a position to contend for the win. 

“We still have a lot of work to do, but I believe we’ve already learned a lot of things about these cars and made up some ground.  We still have some things to work on before this weekend, but I already feel we will be better than we have been at recent races.

“So while there are certainly a lot of things different about this year’s U.S. Nationals, including being the first time we’ll be there in Chevrolet Camaros, I stand by my statement that this is still the one race that means the most to win, so our goals have also not changed.  For this weekend we’ll put the playoffs on the back burner and concentrate on doing whatever it takes to successfully defend our U.S. Nationals title.”

Greg Anderson & the Summit Racing Camaro crew
By the Numbers – Lucas Oil Raceway edition:
3 - No. 1 qualifying performances by Anderson at Lucas Oil Raceway, most recently in 2006.
3.83 – Average starting position for Greg in his previous 12 Indy starts.
6 – U.S. Nationals wins by Anderson coming into this weekend, including one year ago, when he defeated teammate Jason Line in the final. Anderson’s win total is second only to Bob Glidden’s 9 for the most in Pro Stock history.
8 – Final round appearances by Anderson in Indiana.
9 – Times Anderson has qualified in the top five positions in his previous 12 Lucas Oil Raceway starts.
34 – Elimination round wins by Greg in his previous 12 starts at the “Big Go”, versus 6 losses for a .850 win percentage.
211.03 – Lucas Oil Raceway Pro Stock Top Speed Record, set by Anderson in 2011.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


When a drag racer looks back on his or her career and their list of accomplishments, they look to see championships won, race trophies they’ve amassed and above everything is how many Mac Tools U. S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus victories they earned. The racers in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx love to count their Indy Wally trophies just as much as any driver in any other class, and when the event takes place from Aug. 29-Sept.3 at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis they will all be battling for the top spot on Monday afternoon.
Current points leader Rickie Smith won the Mac Tools U. S. Nationals in Pro Mod when the series was an exhibition category in 2003. Smith has many championships from other drag racing organizations under his belt, but counts his win in Indy as the highpoint of his career.
“This is Indy, and this is like Daytona for the NASCAR guys, this is our big race,” said Smith, who drives a 2012 Camaro. “Everybody is trying to do the best they can because this is one you want to win. We have been lucky enough to win it five years ago. You just come up here and do all that you can.”
Danny Rowe, driver of the Sterling Bridge ’67 Camaro, a two time runner-up at the event (2001, 2009) is still looking for that elusive first win at the Big Go and knows where this race stacks up compared to all the others.
“Well I think mostly that it’s so historic,” Rowe said. “I think that every drag racer has a dream of winning one race, and it’s the U.S. Nationals. It’s a race that everybody that’s ever been in a drag race of any kind dreams of winning. Just because the history of it, the quality of the cars, the teams and it’s a fantastic place to race.”
While this race is the most coveted race on the circuit, it still pays the same amount of points to win. Rowe currently trails Smith by just three points with only a handful of races left on the 2012 season schedule. While winning is desired, keeping pace in the championship points is also a focus for both racers.
“We only have four races left for our championship in Pro Mod so every one of them is real critical,” Smith continued. “You can lose in the first round and the guy in second wins and then you get pretty behind in points. There are about four of us who are pretty tight in the points right now and every race is real critical.” 
“You know, you get more excited coming in,” Rowe said. “It’s a race that everyone, no matter what they say, they might try to say they don’t get overly excited or try harder, or whatever else, but it’s a valuable race. Whether you are in the points race or not, it’s still a feather in your cap to have said you’ve won Indy. So, I think that everyone comes in here looking to do a big job, no matter where you’re at in the points race.”
Among many of the unique features of the Mac Tools U. S. Nationals is the length of the event for all the competitors and the extra qualifying session the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx will have during the course of the weekend. This can make for increased time in the car, so drivers must maintain their focus during the entire event.
“For me it’s a little bit tougher, personally,” Rowe said. “I’m a pretty hyperactive guy and I don’t sit around a lot. So, to come in to qualify and make one lap, it’s a long day for me. But, everybody has to do the same thing. We’re all going through it, so it’s hard on everybody. But, I love being in the atmosphere, so I spend the down time with the crowds and with the fans, and I’m looking at the cars just like everybody else is.”
“The extra qualifier we get is pretty nice to have,” Troy Coughlin, driver of the ’68 Camaro said. “We will prepare for this Indy similar to all the races on the tour, making sure we cross our t’s and dot our i’s It’s going to be a good time.”
“Being organized is key to having a smooth sailing Mac Tools U.S. Nationals,” said Leah Pruett, who will be behind the wheel of her ProCare Rx ’12 Mustang.  “When you wear a couple different hats and a helmet within a team, the week can seem extremely long. I now live in Avon, just a few minutes from the track, which should be more convenient. Quite honestly I think a fourth qualifying run should bring with it a little more confidence to both myself and crew chief Brad Brand. I feel like this year we are always one run shy of what we need to get where we want to be, and I think the extra track time will do nothing but help us bring out our A+ game.”
Memories abound at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, and all of these racers have special moments that set this event apart from all the others.
“2011 was actually my first time competing at the U.S. Nationals, and it was with R2B2 in the blown Camaro, and I did not qualify for the field,” Pruett continued. “It was my first DNQ, needless to say there is a lot of redemption to be had at this year’s Mac Tools U.S. Nationals. I was nine years old the first time I competed at this racetrack, for the Jr. Dragster Nationals. The next time I returned to the track in 2009, I was making my first hit ever in a Nitro Funny Car in Gary Scelzi's DSR car during the pre-Indy test session.  This race track has always dished out some pretty spectacular memories for me, some better than others, but still unbelievable.”
“Pretty cool as a kid growing up going to Indy for the Big Go as a family,” Coughlin said. “As a family we have had great success at Indy. When one of our family members wins Indy, we all win Indy. We all support each other so much on and off the track. As kids we all dreamed of racing at Indy and winning the Mac Tools U. S. Nationals. We have had some great Mac Tools U.S. Nationals wins and they are all special. The one that sticks out the most would be Troy Jr.’s win in Super Comp in 2010. It’s so rewarding seeing your kids do well at something and excel.”
Other top drivers expected to compete in the event will be Mike Castellana, Jay Payne and Don Walsh.

Featuring the world’s fastest and most unique doorslammer cars with an extremely diverse collection of vehicles, including ’63 Corvettes, ’68 Camaros, ’67 Mustangs and ’68 Firebirds as well as late-model cars, the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx offers something for every kind of hot-rodding enthusiast.

• SCHEDULE: NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx qualifying sessions are scheduled for Aug. 31 at 4:30 p. m., Sept. 1 at 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., Sept. 2 at 2 p.m. The first round of eliminations begins on Sept. 2 at 5 p.m.. Eliminations continue on Sept. 3.

• TICKETS: For tickets call (800) 884-6472. Tickets also available online at

• ON THE WEB: Get live timing, scoring, multimedia and the latest news updates from every NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by ProCare Rx event at Visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


While this is the inaugural year for the Traxxas Shootout it is not the first time John Force Racing will be looking for bonus money success at the Mac Tools US Nationals. Eight times John Force Racing has hoisted the bonus race trophy and cash whether it was the Big Bud Shootout or the Skoal Showdown. This year all four JFR drivers will be battling three Don Schumacher teams (Ron Capps, Johnny Gray and Jack Beckman) and Jeff Arend from Kalitta Racing for the $100,000 top prize on Sunday, September 3rd.  Today rookie sensation Courtney Force won the lottery for the final spot in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout at Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis. The driver of the Traxxas Ford Mustang garnered 63% of the fan vote leading up to the lottery with the other eligible Funny Car drivers.

“This was awesome. I am so excited to make the Traxxas Nitro Shootout. I want to thank my fans and all my sponsors Traxxas, Castrol, Auto Club, Ford, BrandSource, Mac Tools, Weld Racing, and Lionel/NASCAR for their support over the past week. I was nervous during the lottery because every driver had ping pong balls in the hopper. It was anyone’s lottery to win and I am just thankful my ping pong ball popped out,” said Courtney Force, the winner of the Seattle Northwest NHRA Nationals.

Courtney Force will join her father John Force, a six-time Funny Car bonus race winner, along with Robert Hight and Mike Neff. Three times a JFR driver has won the bonus race and then gone on to double up in the U.S. Nationals. Force doubled in both 1993 and 1996 and Gary Densham did so in 2004.
JFR team record in the Shootout/Showdown is 54-35. The team has won $1,677,500 in Shootout/Showdown bonus money. John Force has earned $1,083,500 himself.

“This is going to be a battle and I am glad I have all four of my drivers in the fight. Robert Hight and Mike Neff have been doing great this season and my Castrol hot rod has been coming around these last couple of races. I am excited my daughter Courtney won the fan vote and the lottery to get her shot at this Traxxas money with her Traxxas Ford Mustang. It will be a great race and I want to thank Mike Jenkins and Traxxas for giving the Funny Car and Top Fuel guys this bonus race,” said John Force.

The first round match-ups for the Traxxas Shootout include three classic JFR vs. DSR match-ups along with No. 2 qualifier Robert Hight taking on Kalitta Racing’s Jeff Arend, the No. 7 qualifier.

2012 Traxxas Shootout Bracket
1. Ron Capps vs. No. 8 Courtney Force
2. Robert Hight vs. No. 7 Jeff Arend
3. Jack Beckman vs. No. 6 John Force
4. Johnny Gray vs. No. 5 Mike Neff

Red-hot Enders aims at Indy title

KLR Group driver Erica Enders rolls into the 58th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus at Lucas Oil Raceway as the hottest driver in the sport, fresh off back-to-back victories in the ultra-competitive Pro Stock class.

Enders, who moved up to fifth in the points standings after her victory at Brainerd, has also won three of the last six events.

"There is no better time to be hot that right now," Enders said. "I'm excited that it's Indy, too. It's the biggest race of the year. I'm hopeful that we can make it three in a row."

Enders has long dreamed of winning a national event in one of NHRA's professional categories, but now that she's accomplished that goal, she's not done. Her sights are set even higher as the Countdown to the Championship looms after Indy.

"I'm excited about the recent success, but at the same time, I've got the championship in mind," Enders said. "We've just got to keep pressing forward, working hard and doing our best every week."

Enders' best has been good enough to join Allen Johnson as the only drivers to win consecutive races this season. And who did Enders beat in the finals to win the last two races? Johnson.

Enders will be joined at Indy this weekend by GK Motorsports teammate Dave Connolly, who will drive the IDG Chevrolet, and by fiancé Richie Stevens, who is entered in a Dodge for Johnson.

"It's really exciting that my best friend and my fiancé both get to drive this weekend," Enders said. "Dave and I are working together as teammates for the Countdown. But when it comes to Monday, each man for himself. I say game on. They better pack a lunch.

"I'm glad they both have the opportunity to be behind the wheel again. They're two extremely talented drivers. But business is business."

That's the way Enders approaches every race, and Indy will be no different. The U.S. Nationals may be the biggest race of the year, but when Enders flips the visor on her helmet down in qualifying and eliminations, the only thing on her mind is doing her job.

"I do appreciate that it's not just another race, but I'm not changing my mindset," Enders said. "I'm not going to put more pressure on this particular event. That's not how I've done it before and not how I do it now."

Enders has raced at Indianapolis several times, dating back to 1994 when she was 10 old racing a Junior Dragster. Plus, she reached the semifinals in Super Comp in her rookie season of 2000 when she was 16, out of 174 cars entered.

"That was really cool," Enders said. "And I runnered-up my first year there in 1994 at the Jr. Dragster Nationals. I've been racing there for almost 20 years.

"I grew up with my dad racing, so I knew what a big deal Indy was. I was always excited to have the opportunity to race on that track. To get to do it at the age of 10 was pretty sweet. I've been going there for a long time. We've never won there. We've gotten second a few times and third a few times. We've got to get it done." 


Series features 24-race schedule; addition of New England Dragway in June

With a new series sponsor and enthusiasm for continued growth in the sport, NHRA announced its 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule as part of a whirlwind of announcements and activities at Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis on the eve of the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Auto-Plus at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.

The unveiling of a new series sponsor, the 2013 schedule, the final lottery drawing for spots in the NHRA Traxxas Shootout for Top Fuel and Funny Car, and a preview of the race as a handful of racers battle for the final spots in the 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship, were all a part of the festivities on Wednesday, as the world’s largest motorsports sanctioning body kicked off the biggest and most prestigious event in the world of drag racing.

Highlighting the 2013 schedule is the inaugural NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway in Epping, N.H., June 20-23.   The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series’ visit to the Northeast marks a process of more than a decade in the making and reaffirms NHRA’s position as offering the most geographically diverse schedule of any major motorsports series in the country.

The summer months leading into the most prestigious and historic event on the tour, the NHRA U.S. Nationals,  Labor Day weekend Aug. 28 – Sept. 2 at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, will be a grueling challenge for the teams with nine races in 12 weeks, and will see the teams travel from coast to coast.   That portion of the schedule kicks off the first weekend in June (May 30-June 2) with the Toyota NHRA Summernationals in Englishtown, N.J.   After a week off, the circuit embarks on four races in row, beginning with the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol, Tenn. (June 14-16), the inaugural NHRA New England Nationals (June 20-23), the O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals in Chicago (June 27-30) and concludes with the traditional July 4th celebration in Norwalk, Ohio, with the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals (July 4 -7). 

From Norwalk, the series heads on to the famous Western Swing, which features three races in three weeks under three very different conditions: the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals in Denver (July 19-21); the NHRA Sonoma Nationals in Sonoma, Calif. (July 26-28); and the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals in Seattle (Aug. 2-4).   After a week off, the demanding summer stretch concludes in Brainerd, Minn., with the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals (Aug. 15-18).

The 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series begins, as it has for 53 years, with the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona (Calif.), Feb. 14-17, and continues the following week in Phoenix with the NHRA Arizona Nationals (Feb. 22-24).   The traditional East Coast opener will be held March 14-17 at Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville (Fla.) with the 44th running of the Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals.

The fourth stop in the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series is the NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (April 5-7), followed by the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte, N.C. (April 19-21).    The series continues with the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals at Royal Purple Raceway in Houston (April 26-28), Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals in Atlanta (May 3-5), and the NHRA Kansas Nationals in Topeka, Kan. (May 17-19).

The six-race 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s playoffs, kicks off in the fall with four consecutive weeks of racing: the NHRA Nationals in Charlotte, N.C. (Sept. 13-15); the AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals in Dallas (Sept. 19-22); the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals in St. Louis (Sept. 27-29); and Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals in Reading, Pa. (Oct. 3-6). 

The season concludes out west with the Big O Tires NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas (Oct. 24-27) and returns to where it all began for the season finale with the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals (Nov. 7-10).

The Pro Stock Motorcycle class will compete in a 16-race schedule, with six of those races in the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship.

ESPN2 and ESPN2HD, a part of the ESPN network, the worldwide leader in sports, will once again provide exclusive television coverage, on a same-day basis, of all NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events featuring action from qualifying rounds on Saturday and Sunday’s race.

* * *

2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Schedule

53rd annual                        O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals                            Feb. 14-17
                                                Pomona, Calif.

29th annual                        NHRA Arizona Nationals                                                                Feb. 22-24

44th annual                        Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals                                         March 14-17
                                                Gainesville, Fla. (PSM)

14th annual               NHRA Nationals                                        April 5-7
                                                Las Vegas

Fourth annual                    NHRA Four-Wide Nationals                                                         April 19-21
                                                Charlotte, N.C.
26th annual                        O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals                            April 26-28
                                                Houston   (PSM)

33rd annual                        Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals      May 3-5               
                                                Atlanta (PSM)

25th annual                        NHRA Kansas Nationals                                                                 May 17-19
                                                Topeka, Kan.

44th annual                        Toyota NHRA Summernationals                                                May 30 – June 2
                                                Englishtown, N.J.  (PSM)              

13th annual                        Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals                                      June 14-16
                                                Bristol, Tenn.

Inaugural                             NHRA New England Nationals                                                    June 20-23
                                                Epping, N.H.

16th annual                        O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals                      June 27-30
                                                Chicago   (PSM)

Seventh annual                Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals                          July 4-7
                                                Norwalk, Ohio   (PSM)

34th annual                        Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals                                             July 19-21
                                                Denver   (PSM)

26th annual                        NHRA Sonoma Nationals                                                              July 26-28
                                                Sonoma, Calif. (PSM)

26th annual                        O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals                  Aug. 2-4

32nd annual                       Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals                                                              Aug. 15-18
                                                Brainerd, Minn. (PSM)

59th annual                        NHRA U.S. Nationals                                                                       Aug. 28 – Sept. 2
                                                Indianapolis   (PSM)

NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship

Sixth annual                       NHRA Nationals                                                                                Sept. 13-15
                                                Charlotte, N.C.  (PSM)

28th annual                        AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals                                                  Sept. 19-22
                                                Dallas (PSM)

Second annual                  AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals                              Sept. 27-29
                                                St. Louis (PSM)

29th annual                        Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals                                                           Oct. 3-6                                                                               
                                                Reading, Pa. (PSM)

13th annual                        Big O Tires NHRA Nationals                                                          Oct. 24-27
                                                Las Vegas   (PSM)

49th annual                        Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals       Nov. 7-10
                                                Pomona, Calif.  (PSM)