LAS VEGAS, NV – October 26, 2016 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – With only two races remaining in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season there is a sense of urgency for drivers, especially for those seeking their first win of 2016; and a win is at the top of the list for Pro Stock’s Shane Gray.
Gray has posted a solid season in the new era of Pro Stock, currently sitting fourth in points with nine semifinal finishes. But the class veteran is hopeful for a win and is eying this weekend’s 16th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as the place to break through in his Valvoline/Nova Service Chevrolet Camaro. It is also the second-to-last race before Gray’s son, Tanner, takes over the driver’s seat in 2017, meaning Shane Gray wants to finish his current Pro Stock tenure in style.
“Tanner’s nipping at my heels now so I better bear down these last few events and try to get another Wally before they put me out to pasture,” said Gray, who has four career wins. “The reality is, we win as a team and lose as a team and I can tell you I will be just as happy and satisfied when Tanner wins next year. It’ll be fun either way.
“Certainly, we’d like to win these last two races. The car has been fantastic and we seem to be in the semifinals every race now, which puts us right there in the mix to win. We just need to punch through and get it done.”
Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will for the first time be aired on FOX Sports 1 this October. On Sunday, FS1 will televise three hours of live finals coverage starting at 4 p.m. (ET).
It is the fifth of sixth races in the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship and the penultimate event in 2016, and a victory would be a perfect capper to finish off Gray’s strong late-season push. He advanced to the semifinals at the last three Countdown to the Championship races, and also watched Gray Motorsports teammates Drew Skillman and Alex Laughlin garner victories in the process. Skillman won the most recent race in Dallas, while Laughlin’s first career victory came in St. Louis.
“We’re all coming to life at the right time,” Gray said. “And certainly it’s a big help when you can look at the data from three different cars each round versus going out there and doing it by yourself. Drew and Alex are great drivers and we’re very proud of what they’ve been able to do this year with our engines.”
Tracking down points leader Jason Line, who has eight wins this year, and Greg Anderson, who has seven victories and is 26 points back of Line, is a longshot, but Gray, who trails Line by 134 points, has plenty on the line to close out 2016.
Of course there’s the first victory of the season, but Gray, who started the Countdown to the Championship in seventh, is just 20 points behind third-place Vincent Nobile. Moving into that spot would give Gray a career-best points finish and would be an impressive send-off before Tanner starts driving.
“We’ll just take it one run at a time, like always,” Shane Gray said. “We’ve been knocking on the door of a win for quite a while now and if we remain persistent and vigilant, we will break through, hopefully before the year is up.”
Defending Top Fuel winner Kalitta will need another victory to try to track down points leader and reigning world champion Antron Brown, who has three wins in the Countdown and holds a 150-point advantage over Kalitta.
Hight won in Funny Car last year, but Ron Capps currently holds a 64-point advantage over Tommy Johnson Jr. Capps, seeking his first world title, also must hold off the likes of Jack Beckman, reigning world champ Del Worsham and Matt Hagan.
Hines’ Vegas victory in Pro Stock Motorcycle in 2015 helped clinch a second straight title but he trails teammate and points leader Eddie Krawiec by 17 points.
The NHRA Toyota Nationals also features competition in the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series and the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. As always, fans 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 feature two rounds at 11:45 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 28, and two final rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Oct. 29, at 11:45 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 30.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call 800-644-4444 or 702-644-4444. Tickets are available online at www.lvms.com. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. For more info visit www.NHRA.com.
NHRA TOYOTA NATIONALS FACT SHEET
WHAT: 16th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals, the 23rd of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and the fifth of six
playoff races in the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship. 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: The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas. Track is located approximately 15 miles north of Las Vegas off I-15.
COURSE: Championship drag strip; Track elevation is 2,100 feet above sea level; Track direction is south to north.
WHEN: Thursday through Sunday, Oct. 27-30
THURSDAY, Oct. 27 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
FRIDAY, Oct. 28 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 11:45 a.m. and 3:45 p.m.
SATURDAY, Oct. 29 – LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 1:30 p.m. Round 1 of eliminations at 5:30 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 11:45 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
SUNDAY, Nov. 1 – Pre-race ceremonies, 10:15 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
Friday, Oct. 28, FOX Sports 1 (FS1) will televise one hour of live qualifying coverage at 6 p.m. (ET).
Sunday, Oct. 30, FS1 will air one hour of qualifying coverage at 10 a.m. (ET).
Sunday, Oct. 30, FS1 will televise three hours of live finals coverage starting at 4 p.m. (ET).
2015 EVENT WINNERS: Doug Kalitta, Top Fuel; Robert Hight, Funny Car; Erica Enders, Pro Stock; Andrew Hines, Pro Stock Motorcycle.
MOST VICTORIES: Andrew Hines, PSM, 5; Greg Anderson, PS, 4; Ron Capps, FC, 4; Tony Schumacher, TF, 4; John Force, FC, 3.
Top Fuel – 3.722 sec. by Antron Brown, Oct. ’15 and 332.67 mph by Shawn Langdon, Oct. ’15.
Funny Car – 3.916 sec. by Jack Beckman, April ’16 and 326.71 mph by Del Worsham, April ’16.
Pro Stock – 6.559 sec. and 210.28 mph by Erica Enders, Oct. ’15.
Pro Stock Motorcycle – 6.852 sec. by Jerry Savoie, Oct. ’15; 196.56 mph by Eddie Krawiec, Oct. ’11
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 (800) 644-4444, or visit www.LVMS.com.
Glendora, CA — Point standings (top 10) following the 31st annual AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals at Texas Motorplex, the 22nd of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series –
1. Antron Brown, 2,504; 2. Doug Kalitta, 2,354; 3. Shawn Langdon, 2,332; 4. Brittany Force, 2,313; 5. Steve Torrence, 2,307; 6. Tony Schumacher, 2,295; 7. J.R. Todd, 2,260; 8. Leah Pritchett, 2,250; 9. Richie Crampton, 2,195; 10. Clay Millican, 2,168.
1. Ron Capps, 2,465; 2. Tommy Johnson Jr., 2,401; 3. Matt Hagan, 2,377; 4. Jack Beckman, 2,334; 5. Del Worsham, 2,320; 6. Robert Hight, 2,278; 7. John Force, 2,267; 8. Courtney Force, 2,238; 9. Tim Wilkerson, 2,228; 10. Alexis DeJoria, 2,151.
1. Jason Line, 2,454; 2. Greg Anderson, 2,428; 3. Vincent Nobile, 2,340; 4. Shane Gray, 2,320; 5. Bo Butner, 2,314; 6. Drew Skillman, 2,269; 7. Chris McGaha, 2,222; 8. Allen Johnson, 2,213; 9. Jeg Coughlin, 2,146; 10. Erica Enders, 2,135.
Pro Stock Motorcycle
1. Eddie Krawiec, 2,425; 2. Andrew Hines, 2,408; 3. Jerry Savoie, 2,376; 4. Angelle Sampey, 2,365; 5. Chip Ellis, 2,328; 6. LE Tonglet, 2,288; 7. Cory Reed, 2,229; 8. Hector Arana, 2,211; 9. Matt Smith, 2,202; 10. Hector Arana Jr, 2,183.
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