HOLLYWOOD, CA – November 15, 2016 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – Antron Brown, Ron Capps, Jason Line and Jerry Savoie were the headliners crowned as world champions Monday evening during the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series awards ceremony at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland.
The four drivers were honored for their season-long achievements and presented with checks and trophies for winning 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championship titles during the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s playoffs.
Brown celebrated earning his third Top Fuel world championship. He secured the crown at the penultimate race of the season in Las Vegas over Halloween weekend. The driver of the Matco Tools dragster raced to a category-best seven victories, including three playoff wins in the Countdown to the Championship. He is the only African-American driver to win a major U.S. auto racing season championship and it is the first time in seven years that a Top Fuel champion has won back-to-back titles.
Capps secured his first Funny Car world championship Saturday at the Auto Club NHRA Finals. Capps started his quest for the world championship with a win at the season opening event in Pomona when he defeated 2015 champion Del Worsham. Capps, driver of the NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T, and his team were a dominate force all season with five race victories, five runner-up finishes and seven semifinal round appearances. Capps held the points lead for 17 events during the season, including the last 14 consecutive races.
Line became a three-time Pro Stock world champion at the Auto Club NHRA Finals on Sunday. The driver of the Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro concluded the season with eight victories in addition to six runner-up finishes and seven semifinal appearances. He was the No. 1 qualifier at seven events throughout the year. Line and teammate Greg Anderson combined to win the first 13 events of the 2016 season and never conceded the points lead to another team. Line led the points for the final nine races and a total of 22 events.
Savoie captured his first Pro Stock Motorcycle world title Sunday at the Auto Club NHRA Finals. The rider of the White Alligator Racing Suzuki had two victories this season, finished runner-up four times, including two consecutive at Atlanta and Englishtown, N.J., and secured the No. 1 qualifying position at the final three races.
Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Cory Reed was named the winner of the $20,000 Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award, which recognizes the top NHRA rookie performer of the year. Reed raced to his first final round appearance at the event in Reading, Pa., by upsetting Hector Arana Sr. and Andrew Hines before falling short of the victory to Eddie Krawiec. Reed finished the season with five quarterfinal and two semifinal finishes. He was the only rookie racer to qualify for the Countdown to the Championship playoffs and he finished ninth in the point standings. The rider of the Precision Service Equipment Buell received the award based on votes from a panel of the nation’s top motorsports journalists. The other candidates in the rookie class were Jim Campbell (Funny Car), Aaron Strong (Pro Stock), Melissa Surber (Pro Stock Motorcycle), Tripp Tatum (Top Fuel) and Brandon Welch (Funny Car).
For the first time in over four decades, and for only the second time in NHRA history, Dodge was named the NHRA Manufacturers Cup winner. Funny Car racers Ron Capps, Matt Hagan, Tommy Johnson Jr. and Jack Beckman, Pro Stock racer Allen Johnson, and sportsman racers James Caro and Kevin Helms led the winning effort for Dodge.
“It is a great honor for the Mopar and Dodge brands to receive NHRA’s coveted Manufacturers Cup,” said Pietro Gorlier, Head of Parts and Service (Mopar), FCA – Global. “This award is very meaningful for us, particularly since it has been a number of years since we’ve reached this goal. On behalf of Mopar and Dodge, I extend our gratitude to the drivers and teams that contributed to this monumental victory. Their dedication to Mopar power and the tremendous effort that they put forth, both in the race shop and on the racetrack, have made this possible. We also thank the loyal fans that support and cheer for these drivers and the NHRA for providing the arena for us to showcase the power and speed of the Mopar and Dodge brands at the drag strip.”
Connie Kalitta was honored during the evening as the recipient of the first ever NHRA Lifetime Achievement Award. In NHRA’s 65 year history, few people have seen more, or accomplished more, than Kalitta. He has won as a driver, a crew chief and a team owner, with championships in both Top Fuel and Funny Car. Kalitta, known as “The Bounty Hunter” as a driver, was the first racer to reach the 200 mph mark at an NHRA sanctioned event. From 1980 to 1986 he finished in the top 10 in Top Fuel for seven consecutive seasons, including three times in the top three. In 1992 Kalitta was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America; in 1994 he won the U.S. Nationals; and in 2001, on the NHRA’s 50th anniversary, he was named one of the NHRA’s Top 50 Drivers. Kalitta has been involved in racing for more than half a century. He has built Kalitta Motorsports into one of the most successful organizations in NHRA history, featuring Top Fuel drivers J.R. Todd and Doug Kalitta, and Funny Car drivers Del Worsham, Alexis DeJoria and the newest addition to the team, Paul Lee.
Drivers in nine categories in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series also were recognized as 2016 world champions: Joey Severance (Top Alcohol Dragster), Jonnie Lindberg (Top Alcohol Funny Car), Doug Doll (Competition Eliminator), Jimmy DeFrank (Super Stock), Joey Strickland (Stock Eliminator, Top Dragster), Nick Folk (Super Comp), Mia Tedesco (Super Gas) and Mike Williams (Top Sportsman).
The 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series awards ceremony will be available for viewing in its entirety to fans worldwide on the Internet on Wednesday, Nov. 16, at NHRA.com and the NHRA channel on YouTube.
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