KENT, WA – August 3, 2016 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – Chris McGaha looks at his current situation and isn’t exactly happy about the missteps that have been made to this point during his 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.
But instead of focusing on what has already transpired, the Pro Stock standout is trying to concentrate on what is in front of him approaching the final race of the famed Western Swing. That means a strong performance at this weekend’s 29th annual Protect the Harvest NHRA Northwest Nationals presented by Lucas Oil at Pacific Raceways, his first win of 2016 and a better position heading into the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship.
The new era of Pro Stock brought vast changes and there have been bumps in the road this season for McGaha in his Harlow Sammons of Odessa Chevrolet Camaro. But while McGaha may kick himself for lost opportunities, he’s just as anxious to make up for them in Seattle and beyond.
“Well, I look back on it and I’m kind of mad at myself at times because I shouldn’t be No. 8 right now,” McGaha said of his position in the points standings. “I’ve given a lot of rounds away including last Sunday. I’ve clearly given away rounds that should’ve been wins for me and I could’ve gone extra rounds. We beat ourselves a lot and that’s what we’ve got to quit doing and then we’ll be good. I think if we can keep going the way we’re going we can get a better shot at it during the Countdown.”
J.R. Todd (Top Fuel), Tommy Johnson Jr. (Funny Car) and McGaha (Pro Stock) were last year’s winners at the event held at the multi-purpose motorsports facility near Seattle. It is the 16th of 24 races in 2016 and the event will be broadcast on the FOX national broadcast network for the first time.
McGaha has some momentum entering as the defending event winner and appears to be past the doldrums that led to five straight first-round losses. He has posted round wins at each of the last three events but with just three races before the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, McGaha knows more is needed. McGaha had a semifinal trip wrapped up in Sonoma when his opponent went red, but he crossed the centerline to hand the victory back to Matt Hartford. Those are the type of missteps McGaha referenced earlier, but he believes things are headed back in the right direction.
“I can’t say it’s behind me but it is much better and improving for our Harlow Sammons team,” McGaha said. “We were definitely not headed in the right direction for a while. Things are definitely going in a better direction!”
Some of the struggles could likely be attributed to the changes in the redesigned Pro Stock class, which now features fuel-injected engines, flat hoods, 10,500 RPM rev-limiters and shortened wheelie-bars.
But McGaha said it went beyond that and his team focused too much on what was different about the cars. Little issues then became major ones and following an early-season final round appearance in Phoenix, those problems seemed to plague McGaha on a regular basis. They appear to have been rectified, leaving McGaha time to finish the regular season strong and enter the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship as a title contender.
“Our biggest problem is that we got so caught up in all the rule changes, we just forgot the basics,” McGaha said. “That’s what I think happened to us. We’ve got to have good tires and make sure our clutch program is in order, and the car needs to be in order. We were so consumed with the rule changes that we forgot to remember the simple stuff.”
Now playing catch up, McGaha is trying to track down the dominant season teammates Greg Anderson and Jason Line are having. The duo has each posted seven wins, with Anderson taking the points lead following his win on Sunday in Sonoma.
But to make it two straight wins in Seattle, McGaha will also have to get past the likes of Allen Johnson, who started the Western Swing with a win in Denver, Bo Butner, who is third in points, Drew Skillman, Vincent Nobile, five-time champ Jeg Coughlin Jr. and two-time, reigning world champion Erica Enders.
McGaha, though, is determined to head into the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship performing at his best.
“It’s called momentum and you’ve got to have it,” said McGaha, who has three career wins. “Seattle is the time to have it! It helps going into the Countdown with some momentum because you know you’ve got everything going right.”
In Top Fuel, Todd piloted his dragster past Shawn Langdon in the finals round a year ago and he recently won his first race of 2016 in Sonoma. Langdon won back-to-back races earlier this year while everyone is chasing three-time 2016 winner, points leader and reigning world champion Antron Brown. Also in focused pursuit of the Top Fuel Wally trophy will Doug Kalitta, who has three wins in 2016, eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher, who won recently in Denver, two-time 2016 event winners Steve Torrence and Brittany Force, and Clay Millican who is in pursuit of his first national event win.
In Funny Car, Johnson Jr. will be trying to defend his race win from a year ago over teammate Jack Beckman. Johnson’s victory prevented Beckman from sweeping the NHRA Western Swing in 2015. Johnson has one victory in 2016, but points leader Ron Capps has been red-hot in 2016, winning four events. Others to watch include John Force, who will try to sweep the Western Swing after winning the first two events, defending world champion Del Worsham, two-time 2016 winner Matt Hagan in sixth, Courtney Force, Tim Wilkerson and Robert Hight.
The Protect the Harvest NHRA Northwest Nationals presented by Lucas Oil will also feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, where the future stars of the sport earn their racing stripes.
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.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature rounds at 2:30 and 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 5, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Aug. 6, at 1 and 4 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 7.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call 800-884-NHRA (6472). Tickets also are available online at 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.
PROTECT THE HARVEST NHRA NORTHWEST NATIONALS presented by Lucas Oil FACT SHEET
WHAT: 29th annual Protect The Harvest NHRA Northwest Nationals presented by Lucas Oil, the 16th 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 NHRA Lucas Oil Series also will be featured at this event.
WHERE: Pacific Raceways, Kent, Wash. The track is located 10 miles east of Interstate 5 on Highway 18. From I-5, use Exit 142A (Auburn exit) and travel east 10 miles on Highway 18, following the signs to the track. From other points, use Highway 18 and exit S.E. 304th St. or S.E. 312th St.
COURSE: Championship drag strip; Track elevation is 280 feet above sea level; Track direction is east to west.
WHEN: Friday through Sunday, Aug. 5-7
FRIDAY, Aug. 5 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 2:30 and 5:30 p.m.
SATURDAY, Aug. 6 – LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 1 and 4 p.m.
SUNDAY, Aug. 7 – Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
Friday, Aug. 5, FS1 will televise one hour of qualifying coverage at 10 p.m. (ET).
Sunday, Aug. 7, FS1 will televise one hour of qualifying coverage at Noon (ET).
Sunday, Aug. 7, FOX will televise three hours of live finals coverage at 4 p.m. (ET).
2015 EVENT WINNERS: J.R. Todd, Top Fuel; Tommy Johnson Jr., Funny Car; Chris McGaha, Pro Stock.
MOST VICTORIES: John Force, 8, FC; Bob Glidden, 6, PS; Joe Amato, 5, TF; Warren Johnson, 4, PS; Tony Schumacher, 4, TF.
Top Fuel – 3.727 sec. by Richie Crampton, Aug. ’15; 328.30 mph by Spencer Massey, Aug. ’15.
Funny Car – 3.912 sec. and 322.88 mph by Jack Beckman, Aug. ’15.
Pro Stock – 6.488 sec. and 213.40 mph by Chris McGaha, Aug. ’15.
Top Fuel – 3.671 sec. by Steve Torrence, July ’16, Sonoma, Calif.; 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 may also be purchased online at http://www.NHRA.com/tickets.
NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS STANDINGS
GLENDORA, CA — Point standings (top 10) following the 15th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series –
1. Antron Brown, 1,204; 2. Doug Kalitta, 1,167; 3. Steve Torrence, 1,072; 4. Brittany Force, 1,008; 5. Tony Schumacher, 971; 6. J.R. Todd, 897; 7. Shawn Langdon, 836; 8. Richie Crampton, 754; 9. Clay Millican, 715; 10. Leah Pritchett, 586.
1. Ron Capps, 1,214; 2. Courtney Force, 1,084; 3. Jack Beckman, 1,031; 4. Del Worsham, 960; 5. John Force, 937; 6. (tie) Matt Hagan, 936; Robert Hight, 936; 8. Tommy Johnson Jr., 888; 9. Tim Wilkerson, 827; 10. Alexis DeJoria, 765.
1. Greg Anderson, 1,587; 2. Jason Line, 1,583; 3. Bo Butner, 1,065; 4. Allen Johnson, 939; 5. Vincent Nobile, 811; 6. Drew Skillman, 805; 7. Shane Gray, 737; 8. Chris McGaha, 718; 9. Jeg Coughlin, 644; 10. Alex Laughlin, 627.
Pro Stock Motorcycle:
1. Eddie Krawiec, 824; 2. Andrew Hines, 735; 3. Angelle Sampey, 595; 4. Jerry Savoie, 556; 5. LE Tonglet, 484; 6. Hector Arana, 427; 7. Chip Ellis, 422; 8. Matt Smith, 344; 9. Hector Arana Jr, 305; 10. Steve Johnson, 300.
Source: National Hot Rod Association