EPPING, NH – June 2, 2016 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – Drew Skillman felt like he was on a path to his first victory during the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season and then the past two races happened.
After posting three semifinal berths early in the season in the new-look Pro Stock class, Skillman’s surge was stalled by back-to-back first-round losses.
Skillman’s chance to get back on track comes at this weekend’s fourth annual NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway. Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) were last year’s winners of the event. The race will be televised on FOX Sports 1, including live qualifying on Saturday and finals coverage on Sunday. The race is the ninth of 24 events for the new Pro Stock class, which features electronic fuel injection, a 10,500 rev-limited, flattened hoods and shortened wheelie-bars.
Skillman’s opportunity to grab his first win of the season and second of his career will also come with a new team. Late yesterday it was announced that he and Elite Motorsports had parted ways and he would drive a second Chevy Camaro fielded by Gray Motorsports.
The new team will feature Tomi Lane as crew chief for the Ray Skillman Auto Group Chevy Camaro with engines provided by Gray Motorsports.
Skillman appeared on the right track early in the season by posting semifinal finishes at Pomona, Gainesville and Charlotte and qualifying as high as second during that stretch.
However he and the other drivers in the 200-mph factory hot rod category have watched Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro drivers Jason Line and Greg Anderson dominate during the first third of the season. Line has raced to five victories, advanced to every final round and leads the points standings. Anderson has three wins in five finals and is second in points.
Skillman sits in fourth place and is looking forward to making a move this weekend at New England Dragway in his new team situation.
“We just need to go out there and start having fun,” Skillman said. “We started off (the season) way better and hopefully we can be better this weekend.”
Like the others in his class, Skillman is getting tired of watching the Line and Anderson show. He knows it is going to take plenty of hard work and quality time in the shop to find the winning combination for the new EFI Pro Stock setup.
“Complaining doesn’t do any good,” said Skillman, who finished fifth in points during his rookie season. “At the end of the day, how bad can it be? I get to drive a Pro Stock car and I’m very thankful for that.”
In order to get that second career victory, Skillman will have to deal with a tough group of competitors that extends far beyond Line and Anderson. His former teammates, two-time defending world champ Erica Enders, five-time champ Jeg Coughlin and Vincent Nobile top the list. His new teammate Shane Gray has also made great performance strides in recent events. Others to watch include Allen Johnson, Bo Butner, Chris McGaha and Alex Laughlin.
In Top Fuel, eight-time world champion Schumacher beat three-time world champ Larry Dixon in the finals a year ago. Schumacher, who is after his third consecutive win at New England Dragway, is seeking his first win of 2016. Others to watch include Doug Kalitta, the current points leader after three straight wins, two-time 2016 winner Brittany Force, two-time season finalist Steve Torrence who has claimed four No. 1 qualifiers this season, defending world champ Antron Brown, Clay Millican, J.R. Todd, Shawn Langdon and Terry McMillen.
In Funny Car, 16-time world champion John Force’s victory at New England Dragway a year ago is his most recent win. His daughter Courtney Force, who won in Houston and is the current points leader, also has a win at the track. Several other pre-race favorites in the star-studded class include two-time season winner Tim Wilkerson, Gatornationals winner Robert Hight, Ron Capps, who opened the season with a win at the Winternationals, defending world champion Del Worsham, Las Vegas event winner Alexis DeJoria, Matt Hagan, who has posted back-to-back wins entering the race, and national record holder Jack Beckman.
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 how 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 Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Friday, June 3 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, June 4 at 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 5.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call (800) 884-NHRA (6472) or visit www.NHRA.com/tickets. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.
NHRA NEW ENGLAND NATIONALS FACT SHEET
WHAT: Fourth annual NHRA New England Nationals, the ninth 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. The race also will feature competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Series.
WHERE: New England Dragway, Epping, N.H., the track is on Route 101 off Exit 8, an hour north of Boston and just 20 minutes from Manchester and the New Hampshire sea coast. From I-95, take Exit 2 in New Hampshire. Travel west on Route 101 to Exit 8, then turn right. From I-93, take Exit 7 in New Hampshire. Travel east on Route 101 to Exit 8, then turn left, and the track is straight ahead. From I-495, take Exit 51-B to Route 125 north. Travel east on Route 101 to Exit 8, then turn left, and the track is straight ahead.
COURSE: Championship drag strip; Track elevation is 90 feet above sea level. Track direction is southwest to northeast.
WHEN: Friday through Sunday, June 3-5
FRIDAY, June 3 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 4:30 and 7 p.m.
SATURDAY, June 4 – LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 1:30 and 4 p.m.
SUNDAY, June 5 – Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
FRIDAY, June 3, FOX Sports 1 (FS1) will televise one hour of qualifying highlights at Midnight (ET)
SATURDAY, June 4, FS1 will televise one hour of live qualifying coverage at 2:30 p.m. (ET)
SATURDAY, June 4, FS1 will televise one hour of qualifying highlights at Midnight (ET)
SUNDAY, June 5, FS1 will televise three hours of finals coverage at 4 p.m. (ET)
2015 EVENT WINNERS: Tony Schumacher, Top Fuel; John Force, Funny Car; Greg Anderson, Pro Stock.
Top Fuel – 3.742 sec. by Tony Schumacher, June ’15; 327.66 mph by Spencer Massey, June ’15.
Funny Car – 3.988 sec. by Robert Hight, June ’14; 323.35 mph Courtney Force, June ’14.
Pro Stock – 6.485 sec. by Shane Gray, June ’14; 214.72 mph by Greg Anderson, June ’15.
Top Fuel – 3.676 sec. by Brittany Force, May ’16, Topeka, Kan.; 332.75 mph by Spencer Massey, Aug. ’15, Brainerd, Minn.
Funny Car – 3.862 sec. and 335.57 mph by Matt Hagan, May ’16, Topeka, Kan.
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 (800) 884-NHRA (6472). Tickets also available online at www.NHRA.com/tickets.
NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS STANDINGS
GLENDORA, CA — Point standings (top 10) following the eighth of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series –
1. Doug Kalitta, 710; 2. Antron Brown, 615; 3. Brittany Force, 580; 4. Steve Torrence, 557; 5. (tie) Clay Millican, 440; J.R. Todd, 440; 7. Richie Crampton, 418; 8. Tony Schumacher, 403; 9. Shawn Langdon, 346; 10. Terry McMillen, 310.
1. Courtney Force, 601; 2. Jack Beckman, 589; 3. Tim Wilkerson, 554; 4. Matt Hagan, 511; 5. Robert Hight, 510; 6. Ron Capps, 504; 7. Del Worsham, 485; 8. Alexis DeJoria, 451; 9. John Force, 448; 10. Tommy Johnson Jr., 404.
1. Jason Line, 942; 2. Greg Anderson, 816; 3. Bo Butner, 614; 4. (tie) Allen Johnson, 465; Drew Skillman, 465; 6. Chris McGaha, 427; 7. Vincent Nobile, 346; 8. Erica Enders, 341; 9. Jeg Coughlin, 339; 10. Alex Laughlin, 327.