COMMERCE, GA – May 2, 2017 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – It might be Scott Palmer’s most aggressive season to date in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series in terms of participation, but a controlled approach is currently the Top Fuel veteran’s main objective early in the 2017 season.
While that means round wins haven’t come in bunches yet, Palmer has been impressed with the continuous improvement in his 10,000-horsepower Marck Industries/Voodoo II dragster in what will be his first full Top Fuel season. It also has Palmer hopeful for a big finish and more personal-best performances, including a possible landmark for his team at this weekend’s 37th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway.
“If it’s cool we’re going to try to run 3.70s there,” said Palmer, whose career-best run of 3.819 came earlier this year in Las Vegas. “It’s a controlled reckless right now. You see everybody out there running fast and you want to go for it, but we have to set our limits so we don’t overdo it right now. We’ve been a little conservative early and it’s probably cost us, but it’s still early. We’re being smart and trying to learn something. It would be hard for things to be going much better right now.”
Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car) Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were also last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1, including finals coverage starting at 6:00 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, May 7. It marks the seventh of 24 events during a season where Palmer plans to run 24 events for the first time.
It’s an exciting step for Palmer, who is currently 10th in the Top Fuel points standings. But being able to concentrate on 24 Top Fuel events is actually less stressful for Palmer, who raced 19 times a year ago and also ran nine drag boat races with Tommy Thompson Motorsports. Their relationship has continued in 2017, with Palmer only concentrating on drag racing this season.
“With what Tommy has given us, the most challenging part now is our goals are higher,” Palmer said. “We’re running more races so now we want to be in the top 10, and being in the (Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship) is now a possibility. It’s going to be tough for sure to do that, but we’re moving our goals up. We’re focused solely on the car and every race we’ve been learning more and more. To be consistent and step up your program, you have to make clean runs.”
That consistency has greatly improved, with Palmer also getting assistance from the Lagana Racing and Torrence Racing teams. The assistance has helped Palmer move forward in a class featuring a number of standouts, including three-time 2017 winner and points leader Leah Pritchett, eight-time champion Tony Schumacher, back-to-back world champ Antron Brown, Doug Kalitta, Brittany Force and Charlotte winner Steve Torrence. Palmer, though, is thrilled with how the season has started and sees the greatest potential in his Top Fuel career.
“I think we can win if the conditions are right and that’s the first time I’ve been able to say that since I’ve had a Top Fuel car,” Palmer said. “We have a great car and set a career-best MPH last weekend in Charlotte and everything looked good. That proves we can push it a little harder. We’ll just keep working on it, but this is probably the most rewarding year we’ve had. Hopefully we can keep making improvements and be at our best by Indy and the Countdown.”
Defending Funny Car event winner Hagan has two victories to start 2017, but he’s chasing points leader and reigning world champ Ron Capps, who has won two straight races.
Line’s second straight Pro Stock win at Atlanta helped his title run, but he will be pushed by season winners Greg Anderson, Bo Butner, Chris McGaha, Shane Gray and his son, rookie Tanner Gray.
Krawiec has Atlanta Pro Stock Motorcycle victories two of the past three years, but he’ll have to get past Andrew Hines, defending world champ Jerry Savoie and four-time winner Angelle Sampey.
The NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series makes its fourth of 12 stops in 2017 at Atlanta Dragway. The event also features thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, showcasing the future stars of the sport. After Nitro qualifying Friday, fans can watch the spectacular Larsen Motorsports jet dragsters sponsored by Florida Tech and Matrix System, and Douthit Motorsports Black Pearl Nostalgia Jet Funny Car. Jet cars are thrust driven propelled by jet engines with exciting pre-run flame shows.
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. This unique opportunity in motorsports 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 4:15 and 6:45 p.m. on Friday, May 5 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, May 6, at 1:15 and 3:45 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, May 7.
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. To honor the Salute to First Responders, military and first responders can save 20 percent on general admission tickets at the gate. For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.
LUCAS OIL NHRA SOUTHERN NATIONALS
WHAT: 37th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Southern Nationals, the seventh of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Drivers in four categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle – earn points leading to 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships.
WHERE: Atlanta Dragway, Commerce, Ga. – I-85 to Exit 149 (Hwy 441). After exiting the freeway, go north on Highway 441 to Steven Tanger Blvd. Take a left on Tanger and then go right on Ridgeway Road.
WHEN: Friday through Sunday, May 5-7
FRIDAY, May 5 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 3:45 p.m. and 6 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 4:15 and 6:45 p.m.
SATURDAY, May 6 – LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 12:45 p.m. and Round 1 of eliminations at 3:15 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 1:15 and 3:45 p.m.
SUNDAY, May 7 – Pre-race ceremonies, 10:00 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES eliminations 12:45 p.m.
Friday, May 5, FS1 will televise one hour of qualifying highlights at 8 p.m. (ET).
Saturday, May 6, FS1 will televise one hour of qualifying highlights at 1 a.m. (ET).
Sunday, May 7, FS1 will televise three hours of elimination highlights at 6 p.m. (ET).
2016 EVENT WINNERS: Doug Kalitta, Top Fuel; Matt Hagan, Funny Car; Jason Line, Pro Stock; Eddie Krawiec, Pro Stock Motorcycle.
MOST VICTORIES: Antron Brown, 4, TF; Larry Dixon 4; Doug Kalitta 4; John Force, 7, FC; Warren Johnson, 5, PS; Dave Schultz 8 PSM.
Top Fuel – 3.731 sec. by Doug Kalitta, May ’16; 328.86 mph by Kalitta, May ‘14.
Funny Car – 3.906 sec. by Matt Hagan, May. ’16; 329.02 mph by Hagan, May. ’16.
Pro Stock – 6.493 sec. by Erica Enders, March ‘14; 213.00 mph by Jason Line, March ‘14.
Pro Stock Motorcycle – 6.794 sec. and 197.54 mph by Eddie Krawiec., May ‘14.
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.
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: Order tickets by phone at (800) 884-6472. Tickets also are available online at www.NHRA.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