Compiled by SEMA Editors
BROWN, GRAY, JOHNSON, ARANA TAKE GATORNATIONALS WINS: Antron Brown raced to the Top Fuel victory at the Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals last Sunday at Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville, giving Don Schumacher Racing its 200th team win. Johnny Gray (Funny Car), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were winners at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event. One month after walking away from a spectacular high-speed crash at the season-opening race in Pomona, Brown powered his Matco Tools dragster to a 3.761-second run at 318.77 mph to finish in front of Clay Millican, who posted a 3.813 at 319.67 in his Parts-Plus dragster. It was defending world champion Brown’s 38th career victory and his first of the season.
“It’s a great team effort,” Brown said. “It felt good to bring that win home, and hopefully, we can put Pomona behind us and keep moving forward.”
Gray defeated Del Worsham in the Funny Car final and Johnson used a holeshot start to hold off Jeg Coughlin Jr. in the Pro Stock final. For more in this story, visit www.nhra.com.
NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING RETURNS TO LAS VEGAS: The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series returns to Sin City for the 14th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway April 5–7. Last season, Top Fuel pilot Spencer Massey, Funny Car driver Robert Hight and Pro Stock's Allen Johnson all hit the jackpot when they visited winner's circle. It's anyone's race this year as drivers in their respective categories will push their luck to bring home an NHRA Wally trophy. However, race fans will be in for a treat leading up to race weekend with NHRA Fan Fest at New York-New York Hotel and Casino on April 4 at 6:00 p.m. More than 20 superstars of the sport will be on hand for a question-and-answer session followed by an autograph signing located in the Staten Island Room. On Friday April 5, fans will learn who they voted in as the eighth driver in the K&N Horsepower Challenge. The longest running NHRA specialty race will be held Saturday, April 6, between pro qualifying sessions and will provide the winner a check for $50,000. As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they are granted an exclusive pit pass while visiting the pits, interactive NHRA Nitro Alley and the NHRA Manufacturers Midway. Sunday's elimination rounds are set to begin at 11:00 a.m., which will be aired on ESPN2 and ESPN2HD.
NHRA DRIVERS, FANS TO COMPETE IN SONOMA FOR CHARITY: Drag-racing fans can go head to head against racers from the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series on the Sonoma Raceway kart track at the 11th annual NHRA Tour de Charity. Speedway Children’s Charities—the charitable arm of Sonoma Raceway—will host the fundraising event Saturday, March 23, with all proceeds benefiting Sonoma County youth groups. The event has raised nearly $110,000 since its inception in 2003. Pro Stock Motorcycle stars Hector Arana Jr. and Adam Arana will be among the featured NHRA competitors at this year’s event. The brothers and teammates are among the headliners in the highly competitive two-wheel class. Hector Jr. earned NHRA’s rookie of the year award in 2011 and has three victories, and his younger brother is making his rookie racing debut this year. The Aranas will be joined by Funny Car driver and Oakdale, California, native Josh Crawford.
“We’re really excited to come out and race with the fans in Sonoma,” said Hector Jr., who has a career-best elapsed time of 6.781 seconds on his Lucas Oil Buell. “We’re usually racing there on two wheels, so it’s going to be a blast to see what we can do on the kart track, and it’s always great to help out the charity.”
Visit www.nhra.com for more on this story.
OPTIMA BATTERIES, ADVANCE AUTO PARTS TO RACE WITH GRUBNIC, KALITTA MOTORSPORTS: Optima Batteries will return as the primary sponsor on the Optima Batteries Top Fuel dragster driven by David Grubnic in the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series for 19 NHRA national events. Optima Batteries will continue to grow its partnership with the Ypsilanti, Michigan-based team, helmed by drag-racing icon and team owner Connie “the Bounty Hunter” Kalitta, by predominantly adorning Grubnic’s Top Fueler. This extended partnership increased the number of events in 2013, from 16 in 2012, and began at the season-opening O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals last month. In addition to the expansion of primary sponsorship, Optima Batteries has teamed up with Advance Auto Parts for 11 NHRA national events. The new venture will drive Optima Battery sales at Advance Auto Parts' 3,600 retail stores with more than 51,000 of the best-equipped team members in the business. For more on this story, visit www.nhra.com.
JOHN HALL TAKES "NEWTOWN" BUELL TO ROUND TWO: Pro Stock Motorcycle rider John Hall raced at Gainesville with great intentions. The Connecticut native was part of fundraising efforts for the United Way's Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation as he rode with the Text “Newtown” to 80888 on the side of his Buell. Hall held off fellow competitor Shawn Gann to advance to round two of eliminations, but fell short to Lucas Oil Buell rider Hector Arana Sr. in the second round.
“I stayed focused, had a decent light, hit my shift points, and the bike ran like it was supposed to,” Hall said. “I’m mostly disappointed I couldn’t fly the Text Newtown to 80888 colors into the semis or even the final. Going rounds means airtime for this cause, and I definitely wanted to go more rounds. Maybe we’ll run the bike this way again in Charlotte.”
SUMMITRACING.COM NHRA NATIONALS, The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, April 5–7: The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series returns to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the fourth of 24 races on the circuit. Drivers in the Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock classes will earn points toward the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships. The 2012 winners of the event were Spencer Massey (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car) and Jason Line (Pro Stock). For tickets, call 800-644-4444 or log on to www.lvms.com.
DOLLAR GENERAL NHRA FOUR-WIDE NATIONALS, zMAX Dragway, April 19–21: The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series heads to the Bellagio of Dragstrips in Charlotte, North Carolina, for the fifth of 24 events. Drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will compete in a four-wide configuration and earn points toward the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series regular season points standings. The 2012 winners of the event were Spencer Massey (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock). For tickets, call 800-455-FANS or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.
O'REILLY AUTO PARTS NHRA SPRINGNATIONALS, Royal Purple Raceway, April 26–28: The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series heads to the Lone Star State for the sixth of 24 events of the 2013 season. Drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will earn points toward the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships. The 2012 winners of the event were Morgan Lucas (Top Fuel), Mike Neff (Funny Car), Vincent Nobile (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle). For tickets, call 281-383-7223 or visit www.royalpurpleraceway.com.
HE SAID, SHE SAID
ARANA JR. ENDS WINLESS STREAK WITH GATORS VICTORY: After a winless 2012 season, Lucas Oil Buell rider Hector Arana Jr. started off the Pro Stock Motorcycle season with a visit to the winner's circle. Vance & Hines riders Eddie Krawiec and Andrew Hines dominated last year, but it was Arana Jr. who came out swinging at the Gatornationals to take home the Wally.
“To grab the race win for Team Arana and Lucas Oil is a big accomplishment, and it proves that having a third bike [with brother Adam riding the third team bike] isn’t going to slow us down but actually speed us up,” said Arana, who beat Michael Phillips, defending world champ and three-time defending Gatornationals winner Eddie Krawiec, and Hector Arana Sr. to advance to the final. “I am looking forward to a very competitive season and some close racing this season. This is a step in the right direction. When my dad won his championship, he won the Gatornationals, and Eddie Krawiec has done that the last two years. I hope to keep that trend going this year as well.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
6.473: NATIONAL E.T. RECORD SET BY PRO STOCK DRIVER MIKE EDWARDS: It was a rewarding weekend in Gainesville for the Interstate Batteries/I Am Second driver as Mike Edwards set the national elapsed time record for Pro Stock. He first ran this time during Saturday's final qualifying session. Edwards then had to make another run within 1% of the previous time, which he accomplished on his next qualifying attempt. With the record, Edwards earned 20 points towards his championship run.
DID YOU KNOW…
NHRA AND NASCAR DRIVERS TO BATTLE ON THE SOFTBALL FIELD IN CHARLOTTE FOR CHARITY: Drivers from the motorsports worlds of NASCAR and NHRA will find common ground Wednesday, April 17, when they square off to raise money for charity in a slow-pitch softball game, slated for 7:00 p.m. at CMC – Northeast Stadium in Kannapolis, North Carolina. In addition, popular country recording artist Darrell Harwood will sing the national anthem prior to the game, and will then be the star of a post-game concert. Currently, a bevy of popular drivers have committed to participate in the charity softball game, while additional players may be added in the near future. The star-studded NASCAR team includes Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Michael Waltrip, Darrell Waltrip, David Ragan, Brad Sweet and Parker Kligerman. The big names from the NHRA include Top Fuel Dragster stars Tony Schumacher, Brandon Bernstein, Antron Brown, JR Todd, Shawn Langdon, Clay Millican and Bob Vandergriff. They will be joined by a number of the brightest Funny Car competitors in the sport, including Courtney Force, Ron Capps, Del Worsham, Chad Head and Matt Hagan. Proceeds from the event will be donated to charities specifically selected by each team. The NASCAR drivers have selected The Armed Forces Foundation, while the NHRA team has designated Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. NHRA Top Fuel driver Bob Vandergriff and NASCAR star Kurt Busch hatched the plan to set up the game as a way to raise money for their favorite causes while giving the fans of both the circle-track and straight-line versions of auto racing a chance to see their favorite drivers up-close in a totally different setting. Tickets are $20 for reserved seats, $15 for general admission and are on sale now. NHRA drivers will be in the area to compete in a round of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series at zMAX Dragway. For tickets to the Dollar General NHRA Four-Wide Nationals fueled by Full Throttle, contact zMAX Dragway at 800-455-FANS or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.