READY TO GO AT THE ‘BIG GO’: The final race of the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing series regular season begins this week at the historic Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at O’Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis. For a select few drivers, every round of qualifying and eliminations might be their last chance to secure a spot in the Countdown to 1 playoffs. Seven spots in all four professional categories (two in Top Fuel, two in Pro Stock, three in Pro Stock Modified) are still up for grabs.
For the Funny Car and Pro Stock Motorcycle classes, the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals is also a chance to grab some cash and bragging rights as well as both bonus events. The U.S. Smokeless Showdown and Ringers Gloves Pro Bike Battle will be taking place Saturday and Sunday during professional qualifying for the event. The Pro Stock Motorcycle rider who comes out on top of the Ringers Gloves Pro Bike Battle will take home $25,000, while the winner of the U.S. Smokeless Showdown has the opportunity of taking home an amazing $100,000.
LUCAS TO RACE STADIUM THEMED PAINT SCHEME IN INDY: Top Fuel pilot Morgan Lucas will race a special paint scheme at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals this weekend at O’Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis to commemorate the grand opening of the new home of the Indianapolis Colts, Lucas Oil Stadium. The stadium will hold its season-opener the following Thursday, September 7, as the Colts face the Chicago Bears.
Other special paint schemes set to be unveiled in Indy include Funny Car driver Ashley Force’s pink Rookie-of-the-Year Castrol GTX Ford Mustang and “Fast Jack” Beckman’s Mail From Home Valvoline/MTS Dodge Charger R/T.
KB RACING TO FIELD THIRD PRO STOCK CAR IN INDY: The KB Racing team of Greg Anderson and Jason Line will field a third Pro Stock car at the 54th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals this week in Indy. The brand-new Pontiac GXP will feature the team’s induction specialist, Wilson Manifolds, on the hood and will be driven by Wilson Manifolds employee Robbie Mansfield.
“The effort is intended to provide us with valuable data needed as we head into the final phase of the NHRA POWERade Countdown (to the Championship),” said Line. Both KB Racing drivers Line and Anderson have clinched a spot in the Countdown to 1 playoffs.
COUGHLIN, CONNOLLY OFFICIALLY OPEN zMAX DRAGWAY @ CONCORD: In an opening ceremony that saw Cagnazzi Racing teammates Dave Connolly and Jeg Coughlin cut the ribbon with their 1,500-horsepower Pro Stock cars, zMAX Dragway @ Concord officially opened its doors to drag racing. Speedway Motorsports Inc. chairman and CEO Bruton Smith, along with NHRA President Tom Compton and Concord, North Carolina, mayor Scott Padgett, addressed the gathering of local dignitaries and media members prior to the ribbon cutting. The zMAX Dragway @ Concord will host the inaugural NHRA Carolinas Nationals, the first race in the NHRA Countdown to 1 playoffs, September 11–14.
MAC TOOLS U.S. NATIONALS, O’REILLY RACEWAY PARK AT INDIANAPOLIS, AUGUST 27–SEPTEMBER 1: The final stop for the regular season, drivers in the NHRA POWERade Series will have one last chance at the historic raceway in Indianapolis to secure a spot in the Top 10 in the point standings and advance to the Countdown to 1. Funny Car and Pro Stock Motorcycle competitors will also have the chance to compete for cash and bragging rights in the U.S. Smokeless Showdown and the Ringers Gloves Pro Bike Battle. Defending winners of the race include Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel); Mike Ashley (Funny Car); Dave Connolly (Pro Stock); and Craig Treble (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
NHRA CAROLINAS NATIONALS, zMAX DRAGWAY @ CONCORD, SEPTEMBER 11–14: In the first race of the Countdown to 1, the NHRA POWERade Series heads to the newly constructed zMAX Dragway @ Concord and its first visit to the state of North Carolina. All four professional categories (Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, Pro Stock Motorcycle) will compete in this inaugural event.
O’REILLY SUPER START BATTERIES FALL NATIONALS, TEXAS MOTORPLEX, SEPTEMBER 18–21: Making its second stop of the season in the Lone Star State, drivers in all four professional categories will fight it out in the second race of the Countdown to 1. Defending event winners include Larry Dixon (Top Fuel); Tony Pedregon (Funny Car); Dave Connolly (Pro Stock); and Peggy Llewellyn (Pro Stock Motorcycle).
HE SAID, SHE SAID
THE ‘BIG GO’ IS THE BIG SHOW:
“This is going to be the big showdown of the year. This is like winning the championship if you win the U.S. Nationals." — Antron Brown, Matco Tools dragster
“It’s traditionally a dogfight to make the field for this event so all the drivers and team members come prepared and have high expectations.” — Brandon Bernstein, Budweiser/Lucas Oil dragster
“It’s like a marathon. You’re there for what seems like a month. It almost becomes a survival of the fittest, especially if it is hot and humid." — Jack Beckman, Valvoline/MTS Dodge Charger R/T
“It would be almost as important as winning the championship to get a win at Indy." — Allen Johnson, Mopar/J&J Dodge Stratus R/T.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
10: The difference between ninth-place Dave Grubnic and 11th-place Morgan Lucas in the Top Fuel point standings going into the last regular season race before the Top 10 cutoff for the Countdown to 1.
DID YOU KNOW…
…that Pro Stock legend Bob Glidden will be honored during the pre-race ceremonies for the MacTools U.S. Nationals. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Glidden’s last win at the famed quarter-mile dragstrip. Glidden still holds the record for most wins (nine) of any driver in any category at the MacTools U.S. Nationals.