BAYTOWN, TX – April 25, 2016 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – This weekend’s 29th annual NHRA SpringNationals at Royal Purple Raceway marks the first back-to-back racing weekend of the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season. In the eyes of Top Fuel standout J.R. Todd, that is very much a good thing.
The SpringNationals signals the start of a busy spring on the NHRA circuit and Todd hopes it’s also the beginning of a hot stretch in his 10,000-horsepower SealMaster dragster. The team has put together a solid start to 2016, earning two semifinal finishes this season and advancing to the second round at last weekend’s NHRA Four-Wide Nationals.
Todd and the rest of the Top Fuel standouts return to conventional side-by-side racing this weekend in Houston, with Todd, who has eight career victories, aiming for his first victory of 2016.
“Myself, I look forward to racing consecutive races,” said Todd, who finished second in points in 2014. “It keeps you in your groove and doesn’t give you time to dwell on the previous event.
“After (five) races, we’re in the top 10 in points but I feel like the SealMaster team could be doing a little better than what we have. We just need to work on consistently going down the track every run and I think we’ll be in good shape.”
Last year’s winners were Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), and Houston-native Erica Enders (Pro Stock). The race will be televised on FOX Sports 1 (FS1), with qualifying highlights on April 29 at 8 p.m. and finals coverage on May 1 at 5 p.m. The tradition-rich race near Houston is the sixth of 24 races during the 2016 season and Todd is currently sixth in points in the ultra-competitive Top Fuel class.
Todd’s last win came a year ago in Seattle, but he struggled down the stretch during the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship. Todd posted a final round finish in Charlotte to kick off the six-race playoffs, jumping to fourth in points, but won just one round over the final five events.
Since then, Todd and his Kalitta Motorsports team have made a number of changes, adding Rob Flynn as a co-crew chief. It’s been an ideal move for team owner Connie Kalitta thus far, and Todd has been impressed with how the team has come together even with the addition of several new team members. There have also been vast adjustments to Todd’s dragster but the changes should only benefit him down the road.
“Our Sealmaster team is made up of mostly new guys for 2016,” Todd said. “Bringing on (co-crew chief) Rob Flynn has been great addition and he works really well with Connie and the rest of our crew chiefs. Some have little to no experience, so for them it’s been a bit of a learning curve and working on getting their routine down.
“We recently unloaded a new Bounty Hunter chassis, which as a driver has been more comfortable for me and fun to drive. This has been all due to the hard work of the guys in the machine shop and fab shop back at Kalitta Motorsports.”
Todd is eager to get back to the winner’s circle in a Top Fuel class that has already seen two first-time winners in 2016 in Leah Pritchett and Brittany Force. Force won her second career race last weekend in Charlotte to extend her points lead, further displaying the depth and talent in Top Fuel.
For Todd to show continued improvement and pick up his first win this season, he’ll have to get past the likes of Force, as well as defending world champion Antron Brown, who won in Las Vegas. Todd’s Kalitta Motorsports teammate Doug Kalitta has two career wins at Royal Purple Raceway, while others to watch include eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher, Winternationals winner Steve Torrence, Richie Crampton and Shawn Langdon.
It makes for a rigorous challenge, but Todd, who earned his lone Royal Purple Raceway victory in 2007, sees immense potential of the new car and his team.
“Once all the SealMaster guys get comfortable in their position, we will be even quicker,” said Todd, who has a career-best E.T. of 3.703. “With the live TV and short turnaround time in between rounds, every minute counts. I believe the performance of this new car is there and round wins and event wins will fall in place.”
In Funny Car, Capps earned his third Houston win in 2015 and already has a victory in 2016. Standing in his way of a fourth victory is a star-studded lineup, including 2014 SpringNationals winner and points leader Robert Hight, seven-time event winner John Force, defending world champion Del Worsham, Jack Beckman, Matt Hagan, Alexis DeJoria, the most recent event winner, two-time winner in 2016 Tim Wilkerson, Courtney Force, Chad Head, Tommy Johnson Jr. and three-time Houston winner Cruz Pedregon.
Enders claimed the popular hometown victory in Houston last year en route to her second straight world championship, but is chasing the Summit Racing Equipment tandem of points leader Jason Line and Greg Anderson, who have combined to win all five races this season in the new-look Pro Stock class. Other talented stars in the class include five-time world champion Jeg Coughlin Jr., Drew Skillman, last year’s top rookie, Bo Butner, Vincent Nobile, Allen Johnson, Shane Gray, Chris McGaha and Alex Laughlin.
The sleek new Pro Stock cars feature fuel-injected engines, shorter wheelie bars, flat hoods and a 10,500 RPM rev-limiter.
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 get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
The event also will feature thrilling competition in the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Series and the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.
The first round of Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will start at 4:30 p.m. on Friday followed by the night session that will begin at 7 p.m. The final two rounds of qualifying will take place Saturday, April 30 at 1 and 3:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, May 1.
For the Friday night qualifying session there will be a special pre-race ceremony highlighting some of the nitro stars and will feature a special Ladies Night promotion. All female spectators will receive free admission with a reserved seat on the spectator side of the track. This offer is available for walk-up ticket purchases only. In another promotion, kids 13 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult ticket.
NHRA SPRINGNATIONALS FACT SHEET
WHAT: 29th annual NHRA SpringNationals, the sixth of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Drivers in three categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock – earn points leading to 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships. Competition also will be featured in the NHRA Lucas Oil Series and the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Series.
WHERE: Royal Purple Raceway, Baytown, Texas. From Interstate 10 take the State Hwy. 99 (Grand Parkway) exit, which is exit 799. Take a right on State Hwy. 99 and go to the first exit (2 miles) which is FM 565. Take a right on FM 565 and Royal Purple Raceway will be on your right. For additional information about directions please visit www.royalpurpleraceway.com.
COURSE: Championship dragstrip; Track elevation is 10 feet above sea level; Track direction is south to north.
WHEN: Friday through Sunday, April 29-May 1
FRIDAY, April 29 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 4 and 6 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 4:30 and 6:30 p.m.
SATURDAY, April 30 – LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 2:30 p.m. Round 1 of eliminations at 5 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 1 and 3:30 p.m.
SUNDAY, May 1 – Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
Friday, April 29, FOX Sports 1 (FS1) will televise one hour of qualifying highlights at 8 p.m. (ET).
Saturday, April 30, FS1 will televise one hour of qualifying highlights at Midnight (ET).
Sunday, May 1, FS1 will televise three hours of finals coverage at 5 p.m. (ET).
2015 EVENT WINNERS: Doug Kalitta, Top Fuel; Ron Capps, Funny Car; Erica Enders, Pro Stock.
MOST WINS: John Force, 7, FC; Warren Johnson, 6, PS; Jeg Coughlin, 4, PS; Tony Pedregon, 4, FC; Kenny Bernstein, 3, TF; Ron Capps, 3, FC; Larry Dixon, 3, TF; Mike Edwards, 3, PS; Bob Glidden, 3, PS; Cruz Pedregon, 3, FC.
Top Fuel – 3.726 seconds by Tony Schumacher, April ’15; 330.07 mph by Spencer Massey, April ’15.
Funny Car – 3.988 seconds by Jack Beckman, April ’15; 320.81 mph by Matt Hagan, April ’15.
Pro Stock – 6.519 seconds by Jason Line, April ’15; 212.66 mph by Mike Edwards, April ’13.
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.
TICKETS: For tickets call (281) 383-RACE (7223). Tickets also available online at www.royalpurpleraceway.com.
NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS STANDINGS
GLENDORA, CA — Point standings (top 10) for NHRA professional categories following the fifth of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series –
1. Brittany Force, 428; 2. Antron Brown, 365; 3. Doug Kalitta, 344; 4. Clay Millican, 318; 5. Steve Torrence, 310; 6. J.R. Todd, 289; 7. (tie) Terry McMillen, 242; Tony Schumacher, 242; 9. Richie Crampton, 240; 10. Leah Pritchett, 220.
1. Robert Hight, 369; 2. Ron Capps, 361; 3. John Force, 352; 4. Tim Wilkerson, 334; 5. Courtney Force, 322; 6. Del Worsham, 318; 7. Jack Beckman, 307; 8. Alexis DeJoria, 277; 9. Chad Head, 270; 10. Cruz Pedregon, 238.
1. Jason Line, 583; 2. Greg Anderson, 481; 3. Bo Butner, 429; 4. Drew Skillman, 343; 5. Chris McGaha, 287; 6. Allen Johnson, 244; 7. (tie) Jeg Coughlin, 223; Erica Enders, 223; 9. Vincent Nobile, 209; 10. Alex Laughlin, 187.
Pro Stock Motorcycle:
1. Eddie Krawiec, 232; 2. Andrew Hines, 197; 3. Hector Arana, 154; 4. Chip Ellis, 135; 5. Jerry Savoie, 108; 6. LE Tonglet, 107; 7. Michael Ray, 104; 8. Matt Smith, 93; 9. Angelle Sampey, 92; 10. Jim Underdahl, 84.