Compiled by SEMA Editors
LANGDON, JOHNSON AND ENDERS-STEVENS SECURE WINS IN BRISTOL: Reigning NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel world champion Shawn Langdon claimed his first victory of the season last Sunday at the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals presented by Tri-Cities Area Ford Dealers. Tommy Johnson Jr. (Funny Car) and Erica Enders-Stevens (Pro Stock) also were winners in their respective categories at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event at Bristol Dragway. Langdon raced to his first Bristol Dragway victory and ninth win of his career defeating points leader Doug Kalitta.
"With the stiff competition in Top Fuel, one thing you have to learn is patience and not to take anything for granted,” Langdon said. "We knew it was going to be tough. We’re still learning. Fortunately, we got this win, and most importantly, we hope to continue earning those Mello Yello points."
NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES RETURNS TO NEW HAMPSHIRE: The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series returns to New England Dragway in Epping, just north of the Boston metro area, for the second-annual Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals, June 19–22. The Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals, the 11th event of the 24-race NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season, exceeded all expectations during its inaugural event in 2013 with tremendous spectator attendance and support from the region. The top four categories in the NHRA Mello Yello Series will headline the competition: Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle. Spencer Massey (Top Fuel), Courtney Force (Funny Car), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and John Hall (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were the inaugural winners of the event that will be televised nationally on ESPN2.
BERNSTEIN DOUBLE TO BE SALUTED AT 60TH ANNUAL CHEVROLET PERFORMANCE U.S. NATIONALS: In 1983 at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, Kenny Bernstein put on one of the most dominating Funny Car performances in NHRA history. On Sunday, he drove his Budweiser-sponsored Mercury LN7 to the win in the Big Bud Shootout—an all-star bonus race for the sport’s quickest Funny Car teams. Then in Monday’s U.S. Nationals, as the event’s No. 1 qualifier, he raced to four more round wins and claimed his first trophy. Bernstein outran Al Segrini in the final of the Shootout and defeated Tom Anderson in Monday’s final round.
"No one had ever done it, so it was very special,” Bernstein has said about his Indy double. "It is very difficult to run that many runs and not have something go wrong, have the driver make a mistake or have someone flat outrun you. Plus, you need to have Lady Luck on your side for some of those runs. I remember being worn out on Sunday night, and I still had to race on Monday. After Monday, I was totally done. It was a tough weekend."
He Said, She Said
"My first national event win was also on Father's Day in ’88, when I was racing an Alcohol Funny Car and did it again in 2007 in Englishtown on Father’s Day. I woke up this morning thinking ‘Well it is Father’s Day and we do pretty good on Father’s Day, we might just do it again.’ It was just a really good car all weekend and the guys did a good job. I just felt good. The Father’s Day thing did give me confidence, as a driver you want all kinds of confidence; and whether it is real or fake or what, Father’s Day made me think, ‘Well we have won on Father’s Day so let’s do it again."
—Tommy Johnson on securing his first NHRA Mello Yello Series win since 2007. On Sunday he defeated Cruz Pedregon, Robert Hight, Matt Hagan and Tim Wilkerson during eliminations and moves to third in Funny Car points. He was also able to celebrate the victory with his father who was in attendance.
Inside the Numbers
3.959: Number in seconds of the fastest Funny Car run in the history of the category set by Cruz Pedregon at the event in Englishtown. Pedregon and his Snap-On Tools Toyota Camry team weren't able to back up the record but, the two-time Funny Car world champion is buoyed by the performance of the car and is looking to flex his muscle in the hot summer stretch.
"The races as they have unfolded, we have just finally found the sweet spot," Pedregon said. "When you make changes as dramatic as we have made, it just took time to iron all those bugs out. We started to see flashes, [but] we just didn’t have that consistency. It was a process of just getting things sorted out. We have one of the cars that can run with any car out there, and that’s what it’s all about. Once the car starts performing, it seems like everything falls into place. For the younger guys on the team to see that and see what we are capable of definitely helps."
Did You Know
EMOTIONAL HOMETOWN VICTORY HAS HALL EXCITED FOR EPPING RETURN: A handful of NHRA racers call the Northeast home, including Pro Stock Motorcycle racer John Hall who lives in Camden, Connecticut. Last year when Hall won the first race at Epping it was also his first career Pro Stock Motorcycle victory, which adds a special fondness for the racer.
"I didn’t know if I would ever get a Wally, and when you get it, you can’t believe it," Hall said. "Whoever won was going to be the first winner at this event and for it to be my first win, it felt pretty cool. I couldn’t believe it. When I look at that Wally, it brings back a lot of memories. I could come back here in 20 years and still be known as the first Pro Stock Motorcycle winner. The fans were great, and they were waiting a long time for us to come up there,” Hall said. "They were so appreciative and probably the most appreciative fans I’ve ever met. It was unbelievable how many fans were there and that was a huge thrill."
View the complete 2014 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.