LAS VEGAS, NV – March 29, 2017 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – When it comes to betting favorites, it’s hard to do much better than Greg Anderson at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The four-time Pro Stock world champion has posted seven victories at the facility heading into this weekend’s 18th annual DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals, adding a K&N Horsepower Challenge win last year at the facility as well.
Even with those good vibes in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro and three straight final round appearances to open the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season, Anderson knows those good times don’t come easily. After falling in the final round at the most recent event in Gainesville, that rings even more true for the 87-time event winner.
“We have something special there in Vegas, no doubt about it,” Anderson said. “But we had something special in Gainesville, too, and we should have come away with the Wally. The bottom line is you have to execute perfectly, no matter where you are. We’re going to a happy racetrack for KB Racing, and everybody will be smiling because we love racing in Ken Black’s hometown but we’re still going to have to perform, and none of us forget that. The competition is tough right now and anybody can win. If you don’t perform flawlessly, you will not win.”
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Alexis DeJoria (Funny Car) and Jason Line (Pro Stock) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1, including three hours of live finals coverage starting at 6 p.m. (ET) on Sunday. It is the fourth of 24 races during the 2017 season, and the first of two annual stops in Las Vegas, where Anderson and longtime teammate Line have posted a combined nine victories.
Line took the victory last year, but the K&N Horsepower Challenge win was the fifth of Anderson’s standout career and meant a great deal to the Pro Stock veteran as well. The event, which takes place on Saturday, pits eight of the top Pro Stock drivers against each other to earn a $50,000 payday. Anderson will meet two-time winner Allen Johnson in the opening round, while other first-round matchups include Jason Line vs. Erica Enders, Bo Butner against Drew Skillman and Shane Gray matching up with Vincent Nobile.
“I love that K&N Horsepower Challenge race,” Anderson said. “It’s all about prestige and that fantastic trophy. I look forward to it all year long, and I missed it for two years and it killed me. Now that I’m back and qualified, I have a chance to win it again. I love it, and I can’t wait. It’s the biggest race of the year as far as I’m concerned.”
Anderson heads to Vegas with the points lead and a win at Phoenix, and is coming off a banner 2016 campaign that included eight wins and a second-place finish to Line. Despite his 2016 performance, Anderson is never one to stand pat and the focus remains on constant improvement, which is why he is anxious for this weekend and a chance to improve on the final-round loss to Shane Gray in Gainesville.
“We had some time between now and Gainesville to work and make our Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaros happier, and that’s good because Vegas is a big, big race,” Anderson said. “If you look at the landscape, it’s one of the biggest of the year because you have that chance to double-up and win twice in one weekend. There’s a lot on the line. We’ve had good karma there before, and we’re looking forward to getting there and parlaying that good karma into victory.”
Antron Brown’s second straight Top Fuel world championship included a victory in Vegas last year, but he’ll have to deal with teammates Leah Pritchett, who has two wins and the points lead this season, and Gainesville winner Tony Schumacher.
Alexis DeJoria’s Funny Car win was her second in three years at the track, but she’ll have to contend with two-time 2017 winner 2017 Matt Hagan, Gainesville winner John Force and defending world champ Ron Capps, a five-time Vegas winner.
The event also features thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. After Nitro qualifying, fans can watch the spectacular Muy Caliente Racing jet dragsters sponsored by Lucas Oil. Jet cars are thrust driven vehicles propelled by jet engines with exciting pre-run flame shows.
As always, fans can interact with their favorite drivers with an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 2:00 and 4:30 p.m. on Friday, March 31 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, April 1, at 1:20 and 3:45 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for noon on Sunday, April 2.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call (800) 884-NHRA (6472) or visit www.NHRA.com/tickets. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.
WHAT: The 18th annual DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals, the fourth of 24 events in the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Drivers in three categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock – earn points leading to 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships. The race also will feature competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Series.
WHERE: The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas. Track is located approximately 15 miles north of downtown Las Vegas off Interstate 15.
WHEN: Friday through Sunday, March 31-April 1
FRIDAY, March 31 –
LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 2 and 4:30 p.m.
SATURDAY, April 1 –
LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 1:40 and 4:05 p.m.
K&N HORSEPOWER CHALLENGE at 1:30, 4 and 5 p.m.
SUNDAY, April 2 –
Pre-race ceremonies, 11:15 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at noon
SUNDAY, April 2, FS1 will televise three hours of live finals coverage at 6 p.m. (ET)
2016 EVENT WINNERS: Antron Brown, Top Fuel; Alexis DeJoria, Funny Car; Jason Line, Pro Stock; Anderson, K&N Horsepower Challenge.
MOST VICTORIES: John Force, 6, FC: Larry Dixon, 4, TF; Tony Schumacher, 4, TF; Antron Brown, 3, TF: Robert Hight, 3, FC; Greg Anderson, 3, PS; Jeg Coughlin, 3, PS; Kenny Bernstein, 2, TF; John Force, 2, FC; Cruz Pedregon, 2, FC; Mike Edwards, 2, PS; Erica Enders, 2, PS; Allen Johnson, 2, PS.
MOST K&N HORSEPOWER CHALLENGE VICTORIES: Greg Anderson, 5; Kurt Johnson, 4; Jeg Coughlin, 3; Bob Glidden, 3; Warren Johnson, 3; Larry Morgan, 3; Bruce Allen, 2; Erica Enders, 2; Allen Johnson, 2; Jim Yates, 2
Top Fuel – 3.689 sec. by Steve Torrence, Oct. ’16 and 332.67 mph by Shawn Langdon, Oct. ’15.
Funny Car – 3.871 sec. by Jack Beckman, Oct. ’16 and 331.94 mph by John Force, Oct. ’16.
Pro Stock – 6.559 sec. and 210.28 mph by Erica Enders, Oct. ’15.
Top Fuel – 3.658 sec. by Leah Pritchett, Feb. ‘17, Phoenix; 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.
TICKETS: For tickets call (800) 644-4444. Tickets also available online at www.lvms.com/tickets.
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 24 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 program 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; Gainesville Raceway 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