BROWN, FORCE, LINE, ELLIS START COUNTDOWN ON HIGH NOTE, WINNING NHRA CAROLINA NATIONALS: Antron Brown piloted his Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster to victory last Sunday at the ninth annual NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte. John Force (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Chip Ellis (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were winners in their respective categories at the 19th event of 24 on the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule. The NHRA Carolina Nationals is the first race of the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoffs. Brown claimed his 59th career victory, and fifth of the season when he defeated Doug Kalitta and his Mac Tools machine. It is Brown’s second consecutive win at the NHRA Carolina Nationals—the opening event of the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship.
“I’m dreaming right now; someone needs to come and pinch me,” Brown said. “When you come here, this is the way you want to start the Countdown off. Qualifying didn’t go the way we wanted it. We just kept digging. That was the key, to keep digging. The track was the hottest that we have had all year long. We knew it was going to be tricky. We navigated down it, and we did what we had to do.”
COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP WILL MAKE SECOND STOP AT AAA INSURANCE NHRA MIDWEST NATIONALS: The fifth annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals will roll into Gateway Motorsports Park this weekend and bring with it the best of the best in NHRA Championship Drag Racing. The second race in NHRA’s six-race Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship will feature drivers pushing themselves and their 10,000-hp, 330-mph vehicles to the limit as they vie for precious championship points just across the Mississippi River from downtown St. Louis. Drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will battle it out in classic side-by-side NHRA Drag Racing fashion as they push to get one step closer to the championship title. Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Del Worsham (Funny Car), Drew Skillman (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1 for the first time.
DODGE NAMED TITLE RIGHTS SPONSOR OF NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES EVENT AT MAPLE GROVE RACEWAY: Dodge has signed an agreement to become the title rights sponsor of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event at Maple Grove Raceway. The 32nd annual Dodge NHRA Nationals will be held September 29–October 2 and is the third race in the six-race NHRA Countdown to the Championship. The track is traditionally one of the quickest on the NHRA circuit and has been the site of several national records through the years.
“The Dodge NHRA Nationals in the Keystone state is an integral part of the championship hunt,” said Brad Gerber, NHRA vice president and chief development officer. “We are pleased to have Dodge involved with the event and will build upon their relationships in the sport of NHRA Drag Racing.”
He Said, She Said
“From day one, it has been my dream to own and operate my own professional drag racing team, and today I’m happy to announce that we’ve moved a step closer to making that dream a reality. While this has always been a long-term goal, some opportunities have recently become available that have accelerated our time table. I’ve learned a lot about racing a Pro Stock Motorcycle in the last year and I look forward to continuing that education. I’m also excited to explore the business side of racing, which is why my family and I have asked Angelle to help manage our team. Angelle has more than 20 years of experience out here, and she knows the sport inside and out. We both have the same goal of building a winning organization. I understand that this is a big project, but we’re committed to building a program that will have long-term success.”
—Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Cory Reed on announcing plans to form his own Pro Stock Motorcycle team for the 2017 season. Reed’s new team will be closely aligned with the Colorado-based Y-Not Racing Team. In a related announcement, Reed confirmed that his current teammate, three-time NHRA Mello Yello Pro Stock Motorcycle champion Angelle Sampey, will join him in a newly created role of team manager.
Inside the Numbers
5: Number of wins Top Fuel racer Antron Brown has at Gateway Motorsports Park in St. Louis. Of those wins, four of them have come consecutively, and Brown will be looking to extend his winning streak at the track.
“St. Louis has been so good to me. There are some places you go and everything just clicks and that has been one of them,” Brown said. “But there’s a lot of hard work that goes into it. We just have to take it one round at a time, and that’s been our plan all along. I’m ready, and my Matco Tools/U.S. Army team’s ready, and we’ve got to be all in and we have to be ready together. That’s what it is going to take to compete and try to pull off some round wins against these teams. Nobody can relax right now."
Did You Know
FREE FAN FEST TO KICK OFF AAA INSURANCE NHRA MIDWEST NATIONALS: NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series fans will have the opportunity to meet their heroes at a free fan fest and driver autograph session, Thursday, September 22, at Ballpark Village in St. Louis. The fan fest will kick off the 5th annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals, September 23–25, at Gateway Motorsports Park. Among the many NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series drivers and riders who have agreed to participate are Richie Crampton, Kebin Kinsley, Terry McMillen, Clay Millican, Tim Wilkerson, John Hale, Allen Johnson, Cory Reed, Matt and Angie Smith and Hector Arana Sr.