CONCORD, NC – April 19, 2016 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – Now in his fourth season in Funny Car, Chad Head continues to find a better comfort level in his Head Racing Toyota Camry. The results indicate as much during the early portion of the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season, but Head will be the first to admit there is still plenty to learn and plenty of areas to improve.
Fresh off back-to-back semifinal performances, Head returns to zMAX Dragway for this weekend’s seventh annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals presented by Lowes Foods. The unique race is the only one on the NHRA circuit that features four 10,000-horsepower nitro machines facing off at once, but it’s also one where Head has found success.
His first career No. 1 qualifier and final round appearance came at the 2013 edition of this race and Head, who now has two final round appearances, advanced to the final foursome a year ago before Jack Beckman claimed the Funny Car win. With confidence growing by the race, Head hopes for one more round win at the unique race in 2016.
“I’m still learning and I still have a lot of respect for these cars every time I put my foot down,” Head said. “But we’ve made 11 or 12 good runs in a row right now and that’s just huge for your confidence. This being my fourth year, and not running all the races in those first three years, I just have a better feeling for the car and more confidence. It’s taken me three years to start, and I emphasize the word start, to feel more comfortable than ever before.”
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Larry Morgan (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (PSM) joined Beckman as winner’s of the race last season. The one-of-a-kind race, the fifth of 24 events during the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season, will be televised on FOX Sports 1 (FS1). Head will show up at zMAX Dragway with as much momentum as he’s had in his Funny Car career.
He climbed to seven in the points standings in the loaded class after a second straight semifinal appearance in 2016, the most recent coming in Las Vegas. The comfort level in all aspects has been noticeable and Head gives plenty of credit to his father, Jim Head, who also serves as crew chief.
Of course, Jim Head is well-versed in the Funny Car and Top Fuel world, as the longtime competitor is just the fourth driver to win the prestigious Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals in both Top Fuel and Funny Car. That experience, plus the strong work ethic Chad Head has noticed from everyone on the team, has paid dividends.
“All the guys are working hard and dad is doing a great job making the calls,” said Chad Head, who also has six career semifinal appearances. “Everybody is working together. Our car is not the fastest, but it’s one of the more consistent and the more times you go up and down the track the more you’re going to learn. The more times you go to 1,000 feet, the more information you’re going to get. Everyone is doing a great job.”
The consistency has been key but the performance has also been solid. Head has qualified in the middle of the pack all year, running in the 3.90s at every race this season. The goal is to hopefully carry that through an entire season and Head noted he’s going to try to go as hard as he can every time he gets an opportunity.
If all goes well, that could mean a berth in the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs and his first career Funny Car win, but Head isn’t looking that far ahead. His focus is solely on the Four-Wide Nationals and continuing to savor the moment with his father and team.
“We’re enjoying the start and how competitive the car is, and it says a lot for a team of our size,” Head said. “Dad runs the car the way he wants to run it and it works for him. I think that success we’ve had this year is coming to fruition because of the work he’s done. It’s been real exciting and it’s very rewarding for him. He’s making the calls and doing a great job, and it takes everybody to make it happen. He gives direction on what needs to happen, the guys have to implement it and I have to go out there and not screw it up.”
That recipe for success has worked in 2016 and Head hopes it leads to another strong outing at the distinctive NHRA Four-Wide Nationals. Beckman, who ended up with seven wins a year ago, broke a 54-race winless streak in Funny Car last season at the race, but Head has proven plenty capable of winning at zMAX Dragway.
But he will also have to deal with the likes of defending world champ Del Worsham, Winternationals winner Ron Capps, two-time Four-Wide Nationals winner and current points leader Robert Hight, Courtney Force, John Force, Matt Hagan, Tim Wilkerson and Alexis DeJoria, who won the most recent event on the circuit in Las Vegas.
“It’s a great place to be and a great facility, and hopefully we can go one round further,” Head said. “It’s kind of a circus, but the spectators really like it and if they like it, that’s what we need to do. You just have to always pay attention to who is in your quad. If you smoke the tires, you have to get back in it because you have no idea what’s going on in the other lanes.”
Reigning Top Fuel champion Brown, who was also among the recent winners in Las Vegas, will be looking for his third consecutive victory at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals. J.R. Todd, who set the 3.713-second track record at the race last year, season-opening Winternationals winner Steve Torrence, eight-time world champ Tony Schumacher, recent first-time winner Brittany Force, Doug Kalitta and Clay Millican are among the top contenders for the Wally trophy.
In Pro Stock, veteran racer Morgan pulled off an upset win over Greg Anderson in Charlotte last year. Anderson is riding some early season momentum with two wins this season. 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 rising star Bo Butner, Vincent Nobile, last year’s top rookie Drew Skillman, Alex Laughlin, Shane Gray, 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, three-time champ Angelle Sampey, past zMAX winner Steve Johnson, 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 2015 NHRA Four-Wide Nationals 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 12 p.m. 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 $107.
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
COURSE: All-concrete four-wide championship dragstrip at an elevation of 630 feet. Track direction is southwest to northeast.
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, Fox Sports 1 (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.