CONCORD, NC – April 7, 2016 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – It is unique, it is thrilling and it is one of the biggest spectacles in all of motorsports. Seeing four 10,000-horsepower nitro machines power down zMAX Dragway during the seventh annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals presented by Lowes Foods, April 22-24, is a scene unlike any other in drag racing.
For top competitors like Top Fuel points leader Brittany Force, the one-of-a-kind race is equally exciting and challenging. The feeling of 40,000-horsepower going down the track is surreal, but Force also notes this unique, once-a-year event presents some tough tests for her Monster Energy dragster.
“The Four-Wide is definitely an exciting event not only for the fans but the teams as well,” Force said. “It’s exciting to watch over 40,000 horsepower go down the racetrack, trying to keep up with what’s happening and who won. I believe it’s a challenge for all drivers because it’s not something we can practice for every weekend. There is no better mind game being played than at Charlotte Four-Wide on Sunday. It takes you out of your element and tests your patience and I can’t wait to get there!”
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Larry Morgan (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners. The race will be televised on FOX Sports 1 (FS1), with qualifying highlights on April 23 at 10 p.m. and finals coverage on April 24 at 4:30 p.m. It is also the fifth of 24 events during what has already been a marquee 2016 season for Force.
Force posted back-to-back final round appearances in Phoenix and Gainesville, Fla., posting her first career Top Fuel win in Gainesville. That gave her the points lead for the first time in her young career, adding another positive note to her fantastic start. Not only has Force made notable improvements driving her dragster, she’s lauded the work of a team that includes crew chief Brian Husen and Alan Johnson.
“The biggest thing that has stood out to me on my team’s performance this year is our consistency,” said Force, who hasn’t qualified lower than sixth this year in a loaded Top Fuel class. “In qualifying we typically have four great runs down the track to give us the best shot on Sunday. I’ve always believed consistency is the key to success on race day. I’m very proud of my Monster Energy team especially with all the changes we have made coming into this season. I believe 2016 is going to be our best yet.”
Everyone is now chasing Force for the first time in her Top Fuel career, and that includes a host of talented stars, including reigning world champion Brown, who won last weekend in Las Vegas, and eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher.
Despite the challenges that remain for the rest of the 2016 regular season and into the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, Force has learned the importance of focus and staying in the right frame of mind.
“Holding the points lead is huge and motivates the entire team to keep pushing forward,” Force said. “It’s good to stay positive and think positive but not let that momentum take over your mind. Driving can be a whole mental game and if you get off track, finding your way back can be tough. There is so much excitement right now, which can pull you out of your zone. You need to always be in your zone to have a shot at going rounds.
“One of the hardest things is pulling up to stage and eliminating all the things running through your mind. Making sure you are only focusing on pounding that throttle pedal when the tree comes down is the toughest part. Going into each race I try to keep the same frame of mind, staying focused and doing my job. No matter who I’m running or where we stand I need to make sure I’m doing my job the best I can to give our team a chance.”
Staying locked in during the Four-Wide Nationals is imperative, as the added chaos of the four-lane racing can be difficult. These days, Force has plenty of experience at the event, but even in her fourth trip to the Four-Wide Nationals this year she knows the importance of removing any distractions.
It’s also key because the action on the track is blistering. Brown won the Four-Wide Nationals for a second straight year last season and J.R. Todd, another class standout, set the track record with an impressive 3.713-second performance. Those numbers could go even lower in 2016 and Force knows she must be ready, especially going against other top competitors like first-time winner Leah Pritchett, veterans Doug Kalitta and Clay Millican, and season-opening Winternationals winner Steve Torrence.
“The biggest lessons I’ve learned are from my past crew chiefs and my dad about not losing where you are on the track,” Force said. “Always know which lane you are in, which bulb you are looking at and stay patient because you will be waiting longer than normal. I’ve also made it part of my routine to go stand on the starting line in my lane and practice with another car running. Mentally practicing has always been helpful to me and you will definitely see me up there before making a run on Friday and Saturday.”
In Funny Car, Beckman ended his 54-race winless streak in Funny Car with his victory last year. The victory provided the momentum he needed to earn seven wins in the season and finish runner-up behind Del Worsham. Winternationals winner Ron Capps, two-time Four-Wide Nationals winner and current points leader Robert Hight, Courtney Force, John Force, Tim Wilkerson and Alexis DeJoria, who won in Las Vegas, will try to prevent Beckman from a second straight victory.
In Pro Stock, Morgan pulled off an upset win over Greg Anderson in Charlotte last year. Anderson is riding some early season momentum with two wins so far in 2016. His teammate, Jason Line, also has two wins and is the current points leader. Defending world champ Erica Enders, who is looking for her first Four-Wide victory, will also be a favorite, along with Bo Butner, Vincent Nobile, last year’s top rookie Drew Skillman, Alex Laughlin, Allen Johnson and Chris McGaha.
The sleek new Pro Stock cars feature fuel-injected engines, shorter wheelie bars, flat hoods and a 10,500 RPM rev-limiter.
The NHRA Four-Wide Nationals is the second stop on the Pro Stock Motorcycle schedule. Hines, who won the event last year by outrunning three-time world champion Eddie Krawiec, went on to claim the 2015 series title. Krawiec comes in as the points leader after winning the Gatornationals and will face off against the likes of Hector Arana Jr., who was the No. 1 qualifier and also set both ends of the track record at last year’s Four-Wide Nationals, Hector Arana Sr. and two-time world champion Matt Smith.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and enjoy some cherished face time with their favorite NHRA drivers.
The 2016 NHRA Four-Wide Nationals presented by Lowes Foods will also feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. on Friday, April 22 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, April 23, at 2 and 4 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for noon on Sunday, April 24.
Be a part of the action all weekend with a Three-Day Pass to the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals starting at $99. Tickets for children 13 and under are free with any paid adult ticket; to purchase general admission or reserved seats please visit www.zMAXDragway.com or call the box office at (800) 455-FANS (3267). For more information about NHRA, please visit www.NHRA.com.
NHRA FOUR-WIDE NATIONALS FACT SHEET
WHAT: Sixth annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, the fifth of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Drivers in four categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle – earn points leading to 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships.
WHERE: zMAX Dragway- Track is located on Hwy 29 off I-85 at exit 49 (Speedway Blvd.) in the Concord, N.C. area.
WHEN: Friday through Sunday, April 22-24
FORMAT: Qualifying sessions and elimination rounds will be conducted using four lanes in all Mello Yello Series classes; Lanes will be identified from left to right facing downtrack as 1-4; The standard Friday qualifying procedure of a top 12 format will not be in use; Two Christmas trees will be in use, one between each two lanes; The Compulink Autostart system will continue to be utilized and it will not activate until all four vehicles are pre-staged and one vehicle has staged; The ladder structure will feature Race A: qualifiers 1, 8, 9, 16, Race B: qualifiers 4, 5, 12, 13, Race C: qualifiers 2, 7, 10, 15, and Race D: qualifiers 3, 6, 11, 14; Race A and Race B will be on one side of the ladder, while Race C and Race D will be on the other; Lane choice for eliminations goes to the driver with the quickest E.T., then the second-quickest, and so on; The first two drivers in each elimination round to cross the finish line advance to the second round and final; In the final round, teams will finish in the order they cross the finish line (barring any red-light starts), with winner, runner-up and two semifinalists in that order.
FRIDAY, April 22 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 4:30 and 6:30 p.m.
SATURDAY, April 23 – LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 2 and 4 p.m.
SUNDAY, April 24 – Pre-race ceremonies, 10:30 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at noon
Saturday, April 23, FS1 will televise two hours of qualifying highlights at 10 p.m. (ET).
Sunday, April 24, FS1 will televise three hours of finals coverage at 4:30 p.m. (ET).
2015 EVENT WINNERS: Antron Brown, Top Fuel; Jack Beckman, Funny Car; Larry Morgan, Pro Stock; Andrew Hines, Pro Stock Motorcycle.
MOST VICTORIES: Antron Brown, 2, TF; Spencer Massey, 2, TF; Jack Beckman, 2, FC; Robert Hight, 2, FC; Greg Anderson, 2, PS; Mike Edwards, 2, PS; Andrew Hines, 2, PSM.
Top Fuel – 3.713 sec. by J.R. Todd, March ’15; 332.18 mph by Spencer Massey, April ’12.
Funny Car – 3.971 sec. by Tommy Johnson Jr., Sept. ’15; 322.27 mph by Matt Hagan, Sept. ’11.
Pro Stock – 6.455 sec. by Jason Line, March ’15; 215.48 mph by Greg Anderson, March ’15.
Pro Stock Motorcycle – 6.794 sec. and 199.88 mph by Hector Arana Jr., March ’15.
Top Fuel – 3.680 sec. by Antron Brown, Aug. ’15, Brainerd, Minn.; 332.75 mph by Spencer Massey, Aug. ’15, Brainerd, Minn.
Funny Car – 3.879 sec. by Jack Beckman, March ‘16, Gainesville, Fla.; 331.45 mph by Matt Hagan, Nov. ’15, Pomona, Calif.
Pro Stock – 6.455 sec. by Jason Line, March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.; 215.55 mph by Erica Enders, May ‘14, Englishtown N.J.
PS Motorcycle – 6.728 sec. by Andrew Hines, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 199.88 mph by Hector Arana Jr., March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.
TICKETS: Order tickets by phone at (800) 455-FANS. Tickets also are available online at www.zmaxdragway.com.
NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS STANDINGS
GLENDORA, CA — Point standings following the fourth of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series –
1. Brittany Force, 307; 2. Antron Brown, 269; 3. Doug Kalitta, 267; 4. Steve Torrence, 249; 5. Clay Millican, 242; 6. J.R. Todd, 229; 7. Dave Connolly, 217; 8. Terry McMillen, 209; 9. Tony Schumacher, 190; 10. Leah Pritchett, 188.
1. Robert Hight, 341; 2. John Force, 294; 3. Ron Capps, 289; 4. Del Worsham, 283; 5. Jack Beckman, 271; 6. Courtney Force, 265; 7. Chad Head, 236; 8. Alexis DeJoria, 233; 9. Tim Wilkerson, 221; 10. Matt Hagan, 150.
1. Jason Line, 463; 2. Greg Anderson, 415; 3. Bo Butner, 331; 4. Drew Skillman, 264; 5. Chris McGaha, 214; 6. Allen Johnson, 212; 7. Jeg Coughlin, 191; 8. Vincent Nobile, 175; 9. Erica Enders, 171; 10. Alex Laughlin, 154.
Pro Stock Motorcycle:
1. Eddie Krawiec, 129; 2. Hector Arana, 99; 3. Andrew Hines, 79; 4. LE Tonglet, 74; 5. Chip Ellis, 62; 6. (tie) Michael Ray, 52; Jerry Savoie, 52; Jim Underdahl, 52; 9. Angelle Sampey, 35; 10. (tie) Scotty Pollacheck, 33. Melissa Surber, 33.