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NHRA: Vandergriff Aims for Houston Double

Compiled by SEMA Editors



VANDERGRIFF AIMS FOR HOUSTON DOUBLE: Bob Vandergriff Jr. described his victory a year ago at Royal Purple Raceway as having a touch of Hollywood. It’s not often that sequels are held in higher regard than the original in the movie industry, but the Top Fuel standout hopes the 27th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA SpringNationals presented by Super Start Batteries, April 25–27, at Royal Purple Raceway provides the rare exception. With the event being the closest race for Vandergriff’s sponsor, the victory became that much more special. After winning a year ago, Vandergriff jogged back up his lane to greet his teammates, a customary move whenever the driver of the C&J Energy Services dragster wins a race.

“Those are great memories, Hollywood movie-type stuff,” Vandergriff said. “Winning at your sponsor’s home track with their employees and customers rooting you on was incredible. If it had been a movie people would have said, ‘Yeah right, it would never ever happen like that,’ so it was pretty exciting.”

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NHRA has signed a marketing partnership with Pilot Flying J, an operator of travel plazas and travel centers in North America. As part of the partnership with Pilot Flying J, professional transport drivers for NHRA race teams will compete in the Flying J Truck Driver Challenge at NHRA Mello Yello Drag racing Series events in Houston, Bristol, Tennessee; Chicago; and Charlotte, North Carolina. The most talented transport drivers in the NHRA will compete in chicanes, which mirror the real-life obstacles of the highway and based on safe driving and the drivers’ knowledge of Department of Transportation regulations. For more on the story visit


GIRL POWER ON DISPLAY IN HOUSTON: With many exciting storylines ongoing in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, one of the most prominent has been the girl-power theme as the NHRA heads to the Lone Star State. NHRA's female racers also are chasing a milestone 100th win in national event competition. The mark currently stands at 98. Long regarded as being the most diverse series in all of motorsports, the NHRA Mello Yello Series circuit has once again seen a female charge in each of its pro classes in 2014. Alexis DeJoria, Courtney Force and Erica Enders-Stevens have all made headlines in the early part of the season, and drivers Brittany Force and Leah Pritchett are very close to making some noise of their own in the nitro ranks. More on this story can be found on

He Said, She Said


"I absolutely feel like we have a lot of momentum going, and I've felt it building for a couple of races now. In Charlotte, I felt pretty good going in, and basically the car did everything it was supposed to do until we hopped it up for the final round. We felt we had to roll the dice and run our best number of the weekend. Instead, we were the ones who messed up. Other than that, we have a good car, and the team is clicking."

—Funny Car racer Tim Wilkerson on racing in Houston. Wilkerson has 17 career Funny Car wins in his career but hasn't won since the 2011 event in Seattle.

Inside the Numbers

257: Number of consecutive events that Greg Anderson has qualified for in which he has entered during his Pro Stock career. Anderson, a four-time Pro Stock world champion, will return to action for the first time this season after sitting out the first five races as he recovered from open-heart surgery.

"In the beginning, I thought the surgery and recovery would be a simple deal, a piece of cake, that I would bounce right back. Turns out it was a huge deal and a new chapter for me,” Anderson said. “They fixed me up, but there was still a challenge ahead and a lot of pain to go through. You realize you aren't invincible when you go through something like that. You have to learn to be patient, take your time, go slow and follow the doctor's orders, and that's a whole new game for a guy like me. I couldn't be more excited to get back behind the wheel of my Summit Racing Chevrolet Camaro."

Did You Know


J. FORCE SURPRISES RACERS AT CARIBBEAN DRAGWAY: Even on a family vacation, 16-time NHRA Funny Car world champion John Force is on the lookout for a drag strip. While spending time with his family, he met Gary Thomas, president of the St. Croix Motorsport Complex, which includes the Caribbean Dragway where he spent time at the track meeting the racers and watching the Easter weekend event.

"I had the best time at the greatest little race track in the middle of the ocean. I was invited by Gary Thomas to come watch the races at Caribbean Dragway, and Laurie and I had the best time,” said Force. “It took me back 30 years as soon as I saw all the racers there. It was a nice facility and everybody was great. They watch us on ESPN and they love the NHRA. There were so many families out there, it was a great afternoon and I could see the international future of drag racing.”

View the 2014 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.