Compiled by SEMA Editors
HAGAN, BROWN, NOBILE, ARANA JR. RACE TO WINS IN CHICAGO: Matt Hagan ended an 11-race winless streak in Funny Car with a victory last Sunday at the O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries. Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Vincent Nobile (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were winners at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event at Route 66 Raceway.
"We’ve been working at it this year," said Hagan, who now has three wins in Chicago. "It’s been a very humbling year for us. Last year, we came out and won five races, and you kind of think you are going to set the world on fire the following year."
ANDERSON LEADS PRO STOCK AND SUMMIT RACING INTO NORWALK: Since returning to the driver’s seat six races ago following heart surgery in February, four-time Pro Stock world champion Greg Anderson has seen steady improvement out of his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro. Anderson has advanced to two final rounds since his return, but he has not been able to take the final step. Anderson is ready for that breakthrough after a winless streak has stretched more than two years and 44 total races, and an ideal time would be the upcoming eighth-annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals.
Khalid alBalooshi (Top Fuel), Johnny Gray (Funny Car), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will once again be televised on ESPN2. It is the 13th of 24 events during the 2014 NHRA season and nobody has to explain to Anderson the importance of doing well in Norwalk.
"We’re definitely getting there, but we’re not where we need to be," Anderson said. "We’re progressing and we’re finding a way to go rounds against some extremely tough competition. There has absolutely never been a year like this before. It’s a much tougher challenge to crack into the top 10. We have to get back to winning races. To get into the Countdown you have to be able to win and that’s the way it should be."
ALBALOOSHI POWERS TO NORWALK AND SITE OF PAST SUCCESS: The results might not have shown it recently, but Khalid alBalooshi knows that his Al-Anabi Racing Top Fuel team is close to returning to impressive performances. With the next race on the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series already a proven winner for alBalooshi, it could be a case of perfect timing. AlBalooshi and his 10,000-hp dragster will enter this weekend’s Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals as the defending winner in Top Fuel, and it couldn’t come at a more ideal time.
"We’re finding out a lot of things about the car," alBalooshi said. "Everyone is doing their job and we’re putting everything together to give me the best car we can, especially now that we’ve found the problem. We were trying something different and working on some different things, and I feel like I know exactly what it’s going to do this race. We know how to make the car keep getting better. I think you will see a lot from the Al-Anabi team very soon and I feel like we’ve got our hot rod back."
He Said, She Said
"I really like running at Norwalk. Norwalk is our closest track, and we always have great support from our local fans. It’s like a home race for us. With some of my family and friends all there, it will be extra special to have a great outing, and the Bader family always puts on a great event. It has become one of the crown-jewel events in our series, and I want a Wally from Norwalk extremely bad. I’m really proud of Jim O [Oberhofer, crew chief] and my guys with the performance we’ve shown with our Mac Tools dragster so far this year. We're all super-focused and plan to continue to be a force to be reckoned with at each and every event for the rest of the season.”
—Top Fuel points leader Doug Kalitta on racing at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park. Kalitta has yet to win at the fan-friendly facility, but raced to a runner-up finish at the track in 2013. Larry Dixon leads the Top Fuel category with two wins.
Inside the Numbers
501: Number of round wins Antron Brown has in his 298 NHRA race career. He becomes the 16th racer in the history of the sport to race to more than 500 round wins. Brown reached 500 round wins when he defeated Clay Millican in the semi-finals at Chicago. He went on to win the event when he bested Brittany Force in the finals for his 45th career win.
"We've been trying a new [engine] combination and it dropped a couple [cylinders] this weekend, but we were able to get the round wins. The Matco Tools guys are getting the car where it's happy again and it was happy in that final round. When you get to the final and you know you're racing someone like Brittany [Force] you have to put out your A-plus game because everybody we're racing is bringing their A-plus game. Her [reaction time] lights were good all day."
Did You Know
ARANA FAMILY BECOMES FIRST FATHER AND SON IN PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE FINALS: The Pro Stock category is a family affair as in Epping, where husband and wife Matt and Angie Smith faced each other in the finals. In Chicago, father and son raced for the Wally when Hector Arana and Hector Arana Jr. met in the finals. It marked the first time in Pro Stock Motorcycle history that father and son battled in the finals. The win went to Arana Jr. for his eighth career win. "We won together," said Hector Jr., who advanced to the final with victories against Gainesville winner Steve Johnson, Charlotte and Englishtown winner Andrew Hines, and Shawn Gann. "I would not be here without [Hector Sr.]. To race him in a final is a dream come true. We’ve been trying to do this for four years, and it finally happened. Now we just need a brother-brother final with me and Adam [Arana]."
View the complete 2014 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.