DRIVERS KNOW IT’S MORE THAN JUST A RACE; IT’S “THE BIG GO!”: As the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series descends on historic O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis this Labor Day weekend, drivers and teams alike need very little to pump them up for this year’s Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil.
“If you’re a drag racer, you don’t need anything to pump you up for Indy,” said three-time and defending event winner Jeg Coughlin. “This is the granddaddy of them all and has been since the start. Now that the NHRA has added the start of the Countdown into the mix, it’s going to be all-time. I’m getting excited just talking about it.”
Defending Funny Car world champion and two-time U.S. Nationals winner Robert Hight feels the same. Just this time one year ago, Hight was battling to get into the 10th and final spot in the Countdown to the Championship. This year, he enters the event in the second spot in the point standings.
“This is the biggest race we have all year long,” said Hight. “It was exciting racing Ashley (Force Hood) in the final last year. Don Garlits once told me that because I had won Indy I could retire now. I want to win championships, though. I want to win more Indys and more championships. This is a great place to start the Countdown, and we have had good luck here.”
Top Fuel pilot Antron Brown is also ready to get started on the Countdown to the Championship playoff round and make his bid for a world championship and knows that bid starts this weekend.
“The U.S. Nationals is our biggest race of the year, and it’s now or never,” said Brown. “The playoffs are here with the Countdown (to the Championship), and we need to get back to our winning ways.”
But the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals is more than just a race—it’s a drag-racing gathering with hundreds of drivers competing at many events on and off the track.
“Even off the track, everything about the Indy weekend is different,” said Funny Car driver Tim Wilkerson. “Sponsors definitely treat the race differently, so there’s always a lot of extra stuff to do and places to be, and with us being a Mac Tools team, we want to make sure we do all we can for those folks all weekend.”
“I’ve never needed any kind of artificial motivation for the U.S. Nationals,” said five-time winner Greg Anderson. “It’s the biggest race of our year, and the one that means the most to me.”
For tickets to the 56th running of the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil, call 800/884-NHRA or online at www.NHRATIX.com.
MAC TOOLS U.S. NATIONALS PRESENTED BY LUCAS OIL, O’REILLY RACEWAY PARK AT INDIANAPOLIS, September 1–6: The famed Labor Day event at historic O’Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis is the first of six races in the Countdown to 1 playoffs. Defending event winners include Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel); Ashley Force Hood (Funny Car); Jeg Coughlin (Pro Stock); and Hector Arana (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
O’REILLY AUTO PARTS NHRA NATIONALS, zMAX DRAGWAY, September 16–19: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes its second stop of the season in North Carolina and second stop of the Countdown to 1 playoffs. Defending event winners include Cory McClenathan (Top Fuel); Robert Hight (Funny Car); Mike Edwards (Pro Stock); and Hector Arana (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
O’REILLY SUPER START BATTERIES NHRA FALL NATIONALS, TEXAS MOTORPLEX, September 23–26: The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series makes its second stop in the Lone Star State and third stop of the Countdown to 1 playoffs. Defending event winners include Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel); Robert Hight (Funny Car); Greg Anderson (Pro Stock); and Hector Arana (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
HE SAID, SHE SAID
ALMOST A PERFECT CAREER: Three-time Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion and current points leader Andrew Hines on what it would mean to finally win the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil:
“Winning Indy has eluded me in my career, and it is somewhat frustrating. In years past, we have run well, but not good enough.
We have struggled, and have had just plain bad luck. We have a history of winning (bonus events) there, just not the Wally.”
DID YOU KNOW…
…that ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD is going to air more than 10 hours of coverage
of the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals? One hour of qualifying coverage will
air on Sunday, September 5 at 10:00 a.m. (ET).
NHRA Race Day, a 30-minute news
magazine show will air September 5 at 11:00 a.m. (ET). Two more qualifying
shows will air on September 5—a two-hour-and-30-minute show at 11:30 a.m.
(ET), and a two-hour show at 5:00 p.m. (ET). Five hours of final
eliminations coverage will air Monday, September 6, starting at 1:00 p.m. (ET).
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
4: That’s how many drivers have won the prestigious Mac Tools U.S. Nationals presented by Lucas Oil in more than one NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series category.
Below is the list along with their wins:
Don “The Snake” Prudhomme
Top Fuel: 1970, 1969, 1965
Funny Car: 1989, 1977, 1974, 1973
Top Fuel: 1991
Funny Car: 1987, 1983
Ed “Ace” McCulloch
Top Fuel: 1992
Funny Car: 1990, 1988, 1980, 1972, 1971
Top Fuel: 1997
Funny Car: 1984