MOHNTON, PA – September 26, 2015 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – One of the big storylines of the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship is Doug Kalitta and Ron Capps chasing their first career world championships in Top Fuel and Funny Car, respectively.
Capps and Kalitta rank first and second for drivers with the most wins without a championship, and both seemed poised to end that string. Capps has five wins in 2016 and is the Funny Car points leader, while three-time season winner Kalitta sits in second, just 13 points back of reigning Top Fuel world champion Antron Brown.
Racing for his first world championship may bring extra pressure but Kalitta is only focused on the immediate task at hand in his 10,000-horsepower Mac Tools/DeWalt FlexVolt dragster, which is doing well at this weekend’s 32nd annual Dodge NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway.
“At this point we can control our own destiny, so we are just taking each race as its own and doing our best,” said Kalitta, whose 41 wins rank fifth in Top Fuel history. “Every race we have left is a little different, and you just have to be prepared. I have the best team and group of people surrounding me, and I am excited to see what we can do.”
Brown (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Chris McGaha (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winner of the event that will be televised for the first time on FOX Sports 1 (FS1). The race finishes off three straight race weekends and marks the halfway point of the NHRA’s six-race playoffs.
It’s a pivotal race going into the final stretch of the season and Kalitta knows his performance must be impressive at a facility that has historically yielded some of the quickest and fastest runs in NHRA history. After falling to Brown in the Countdown opener at Charlotte, Kalitta made up a round on the two-time world champ after Brown lost in the first round on Sunday in St. Louis. Kalitta lost a round later to eventual race winner Shawn Langdon, who jumped to fourth in points, and he knows the best way to rebound would be taking home a victory this weekend at Maple Grove Raceway.
“Each race in this Countdown is important,” Kalitta said. “There are only 24 rounds of racing, so you try to excel at every track. We would like to end this three-race string with a race win and carry that momentum into the final three events on the schedule.”
Kalitta won three straight races this year at Houston, Atlanta and Topeka, a scenario he would love to repeat during the Countdown to the Championship. Doing so in a loaded Top Fuel field, which also includes hard-charging and eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher, will be extremely difficult, so the focus is on continued consistency.
That’s been a staple of Kalitta’s entire standout career and certainly this season as well. Now the veteran Kalitta, who has finished second in three different seasons, is set on doing whatever he can to put his team in position to win a world championship.
“My team is incredibly focused,” Kalitta said. “This Mac Tools/DeWalt FlexVolt Toyota is running strong and we are limiting mistakes. We are right there and know we have what it takes to compete with all of the other teams out here that are chasing that title.
“You just have to stay focused on your job. I have a great crew and their job doesn’t change, and neither does mine. You have to be ready to go regardless of conditions.”
Defending Funny Car winner Jack Beckman won last weekend in St. Louis, jumping to third behind Capps and Tommy Johnson Jr. Other contenders include 16-time world champ John Force, defending champ Del Worsham and two-time world champ Matt Hagan.
Dominating the new era of Pro Stock is points Jason Line and Greg Anderson. Line has eight wins, including the Countdown opener, and Anderson has seven victories.
Pro Stock Motorcycle points leader Andrew Hines is after his third straight world title and has five wins in 2016, but Angelle Sampey has closed the gap to just two points.
The Dodge NHRA Nationals will also feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. 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.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 1:15 and 4:15 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 30, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Oct. 1, at 11:15 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for noon on Sunday, Oct. 2.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call 610-856-9200. Tickets are also available online at www.maplegroveraceway.com. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. For more info, visit www.NHRA.com.
DODGE NHRA NATIONALS FACT SHEET
WHAT: 32nd annual Dodge NHRA Nationals, the 21st of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and the third of six races in the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs. 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: Maple Grove Raceway, Mohnton, Pa. Track is located off the Pennsylvania Turnpike (Exit 298), 10 miles south of Reading, Pa.
COURSE: Championship drag strip; Track elevation is 548 feet above sea level; Track direction is north to south.
WHEN: Thursday through Sunday, Sept. 29-Oct. 2
THURSDAY, Sept. 29 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
FRIDAY, Sept. 30 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 1:15 and 4:15 p.m.
SATURDAY, Oct. 1 – LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 11:15 a.m. and 2:45 p.m.
SUNDAY, Oct. 2 – Pre-race ceremonies, 11 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at noon.
Friday, Sept. 30, FS1 will televise one hour of live qualifying coverage at 6 p.m. (ET).
Sunday, Oct. 2, FS1 will televise one hour of qualifying coverage at 2 a.m. (ET).
Sunday, Oct. 2, FS1 will televise three hours of live finals coverage starting at 2 p.m. (ET).
2015 EVENT WINNERS: Antron Brown, Top Fuel; Jack Beckman, Funny Car; Chris McGaha, Pro Stock; Andrew Hines, Pro Stock Motorcycle.
MOST VICTORIES: John Force, FC, 7; Angelle Sampey, PSM, 6; Tony Schumacher, TF, 5; Jeg Coughlin, PS, 4; Warren Johnson, PS, 4.
Top Fuel – 3.701 sec. by Antron Brown, Oct. ’12; 334.15 mph by Shawn Langdon, Oct. ’12
Funny Car – 3.897 sec. by Jack Beckman, Oct. ’15; 329.34 mph by Robert Hight, Oct. ’15
Pro Stock – 6.465 sec. by Erica Enders, Oct. ’14; 214.59 mph by Greg Anderson, Oct. ’15
Pro Stock Motorcycle – 6.728 sec. and 198.73 mph by Andrew Hines, Oct. ’12
Top Fuel – 3.671 sec. by Steve Torrence, July ’16, Sonoma, Calif.; 332.75 mph by Spencer Massey, Aug. ’15, Brainerd, Minn.
Funny Car – 3.822 by Matt Hagan, Aug. ’16, Brainerd, Minn.; 335.57 mph by 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.
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: For tickets call (610) 856-9200. Tickets also are available at www.maplegroveraceway.com.
GLENDORA, CA — Point standings (top 10) following the fifth annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park, the 20th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series –
1. Antron Brown, 2,258; 2. Doug Kalitta, 2,245; 3. Tony Schumacher, 2,204; 4. Shawn Langdon, 2,181; 5. Brittany Force, 2,167; 6. Steve Torrence, 2,161; 7. J.R. Todd, 2,152; 8. Richie Crampton, 2,127; 9. Leah Pritchett, 2,107; 10. Clay Millican, 2,084.
1. Ron Capps, 2,273; 2. Tommy Johnson Jr., 2,225; 3. Jack Beckman, 2,203; 4. John Force, 2,199; 5. Del Worsham, 2,189; 6. Matt Hagan, 2,177; 7. Robert Hight, 2,159; 8. Courtney Force, 2,149; 9. Tim Wilkerson, 2,144; 10. Alexis DeJoria, 2,068.
1. Jason Line, 2,310; 2. Greg Anderson, 2,247; 3. Bo Butner, 2,223; 4. Vincent Nobile, 2,185; 5. Shane Gray, 2,167; 6. Chris McGaha, 2,135; 7. Allen Johnson, 2,127; 8. Drew Skillman, 2,126; 9. Jeg Coughlin, 2,084; 10. Erica Enders, 2,052.
Pro Stock Motorcycle
1. Andrew Hines, 2,260; 2. Angelle Sampey, 2,258; 3. Chip Ellis, 2,243; 4. Jerry Savoie, 2,218; 5. Eddie Krawiec, 2,184; 6. LE Tonglet, 2,138; 7. Hector Arana Jr, 2,115; 8. Hector Arana, 2,107; 9. Cory Reed, 2,105; 10. Matt Smith, 2,096.
About National Hot Rod Association
Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 23 national events featuring the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA. NHRA also offers NHRA Jr. Street for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. In addition, NHRA owns and operates five racing facilities: Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville in Florida; National Trail Raceway in Ohio; Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to NHRA.com, or visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
Source: National Hot Rod Association