MOHNTON, PA – September 29, 2016 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – Chip Ellis has found a championship-caliber motorcycle at the perfect time and the end result has been one of the most enjoyable times he’s ever had racing in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
It also means Ellis has a bike capable of winning his first career world championship. Ellis won the first race of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship in Charlotte and currently sits in third place, just 17 points back of Andrew Hines, who is seeking his third straight world championship.
Heading to this weekend’s 32nd annual Dodge NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway, Ellis is still beaming from picking up his first win since 2008 on his PiranaZ/Pippin Motorsports Buell.
“I’ve never been as excited as I have been now,” Ellis said. “It gave me a lot of confidence and we had a really good race in St. Louis. We’ve been running good, the guys have given me a good bike to ride and it’s absolutely been a lot of fun. There’s a lot of good stuff going on right now at Junior Pippin Racing.”
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Chris McGaha (Pro Stock) and Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised for the first time on FOX Sports 1 (FS1). The event is the third straight race weekend to open the Countdown and marks the halfway point of the NHRA’s six-race playoffs. Ellis has also had a strong source of motivation to fuel his championship run.
Team owner Junior Pippin was diagnosed with nasal cancer in 2015, undergoing numerous rounds of radiation and chemotherapy to remove the disease. But physicians recently found a cancerous spot on Pippin’s lung. He had surgery on Wednesday to have it removed and Ellis said the procedure went well. It has certainly been a trying time, but Pippin’s fight has been a huge source of inspiration for the entire team.
“There would be nothing more satisfying than to win another race for him,” Ellis said. “He’s just a great guy and a great team leader. We really have a lot of fun as a team. We obviously want to do well for him because of the struggles he’s had. When we do well that’s the best medicine he can have.”
Ellis and his team have provided plenty of thrilling moments as of late, knocking off Hines in the final round in Charlotte and advancing to the semifinals in St. Louis before a razor-thin loss to three-time world champion Angelle Sampey, who sits just two points back of Hines. Ellis said an improved focus has made a tremendous difference during eliminations and the Pro Stock Motorcycle veteran knows he will have to be in top form this weekend at Maple Grove Raceway. The notoriously fast track could also present opportunities for a significant milestone in the class.
“It’s always fast there, the track is good and the air is good,” Ellis said. “We may see somebody go 200 mph for the first time and hopefully that will be us. As racers we want to go as fast as we can and this weekend will give us a good opportunity.
“But we’re focused and trying to do everything right. It always seems on Sunday your mind wants to play games with you. If you can take that out of the game you seem much better off, at least for me. We’re just focused on making good runs.”
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.
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 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.
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