MOHNTON, PA – September 27, 2016 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – Legendary 16-time Funny Car world champion John Force knows all about the importance of success at Maple Grove Raceway, the site of this weekend’s 32nd annual Dodge NHRA Nationals, and how it relates to the championship.
Force’s last victory at the track came in 2013, a win that gave him a points lead he would not relinquish. His seven victories at the facility are the most for any driver in NHRA history and Force to hope to add one more this weekend in his 10,000-horsepower PEAK Antifreeze Chevrolet Camaro SS. With a victory at the NHRA Mello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship opener in Charlotte, a second win in the NHRA’s six-race playoffs could go a long way to earning another world title.
“I love racing at Maple Grove Raceway,” said Force, who currently sits fourth, 74 points back of points leader Ron Capps. “Every race in key in the Countdown. We won the first one and but we struggled a little in St Louis. We won a big first round and then lost a close race in the next round. You want to have some momentum for the last three races for sure. This Chevy hot rod will be in the mix. We have made up points on the leaders after Reading and we have had the lead coming out of Reading. This race is important for sure, but we are going to keep fighting until Pomona.”
Antron 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 Countdown to the Championship.
Force and his team have turned it on in the postseason, despite a close loss to eventual race winner Jack Beckman in a thrilling second-round race in St. Louis. Force’s victory in Charlotte was his third in the last seven races and he has been impressed with his team’s resolve after a slow start to open the season.
“These PEAK crew guys have just continued to work together,” said Force, who has 146 career wins. “We made a switch before Charlotte and brought Jason McCulloch over to work with Jon Schaffer and Nick Casertano. It has helped because now you have another experienced set of eyes and hands on my race car. The win in Charlotte was big and gave us a boost for sure but now we need to keep winning.”
The performance of Force’s car has noticeably increased, something that could be key heading to what is traditionally one of the fastest tracks on the NHRA circuit.
But getting past the likes of Capps, Beckman, Tommy Johnson Jr., who jumped to second in points, and reigning world champion Del Worsham won’t be easy. The early Countdown to the Championship success was critical for Force’s championship chances, but he knows he can’t stand pat when it comes to his car’s performance.
“We can run with the competition now,” Force said. “We are really good on a hot track and I think we can pick it up on a cool track. It will be exciting for sure. The crew chiefs will make the calls and I will get in this PEAK Camaro and do my best. The other racers are fighting for wins too and nobody is going to give you anything out here.”
Brown’s Top Fuel win in 2015 was his third straight Countdown victory en route to the title. He won in Charlotte, but the points leader will face off against the likes of Doug Kalitta, St. Louis winner Shawn Langdon and eight-time champ Tony Schumacher.
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