Compiled by SEMA Editors
COURTNEY FORCE RACES TO SECOND STRAIGHT COUNTDOWN VICTORY: Courtney Force raced to her second consecutive Funny Car victory in the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs Sunday at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals. Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Dave Connolly (Pro Stock) and Jerry Savoie (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were winners at Gateway Motorsports Park in St. Louis in the third of six playoff races. Force outran championship rival Matt Hagan in the final round to move to within 30 points of the series leader, her dad, 16-time world champ John Force. She raced past her father in the semifinals and then used a performance of 4.094 seconds at 313.44 mph in her Traxxas Ford Mustang to hold off 2011 world champ Hagan’s Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger, which trailed with a 4.121 at 309.77.
COUNTDOWN PLAYOFFS TO GET QUICK AND FAST AT MAPLE GROVE: The stars of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series head to scenic Maple Grove Raceway, October 2–5, for the 30th annual NHRA Nationals, which opens the second half of the six-race NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs. The best in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will all compete for coveted Wally trophies at one of the quickest and fastest drag strips on the NHRA circuit. Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car), Jeg Coughlin (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will once again be televised nationally on ESPN2. Maple Grove Raceway annually hosts some of the most intense racing action and the facility hosts the only NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoff event in the Northeast. The NHRA Nationals will mark the fourth straight weekend of racing in the Countdown playoffs and the top contenders will work hard at the event to continue to separate themselves from the pack. Maple Grove Raceway is an important stop for NHRA drivers: following this race only two playoff races remain and drivers are looking to solidify their points positions to make a championship run.
BROWN SURGES BACK INTO CHAMPIONSHIP CONVERSATION IN TOP FUEL: Antron Brown knew he needed something big to happen to have a realistic shot at a 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championship. The Top Fuel star delivered just that in St. Louis and now is hungry for more heading into the second half of the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship. After three straight first-round losses, including a pair of opening-round defeats to open the Countdown, Brown rebounded with a huge victory last Sunday in St. Louis. That bumped the 2012 Top Fuel world champion up to fourth in the points standings, but Brown wants to keep the good vibes going as his 10,000-hp Matco Tools dragster has regained its championship form. He will get that chance at this weekend’s 30th annual NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading.
“We came into (St. Louis) and knew our backs were against the wall,” Brown said. “We’ve just been struggling the last four races. We’ve been working hard, and no matter what we did, the car wasn’t cooperating with us. You have to be in the zone, and we definitely weren’t in the zone the first two races of the Countdown. But we got it back.”
He Said, She Said
"We all want this championship, every one of us on this team. We're all pulling in the same direction, and we all want this bad. We're a fairly young team, and we're doing the best we can. If it works out, great—but if it doesn't, we know we've given our all. We're out there racing to win each round, and at the end of the day, hopefully it's enough to bring home the championship."
—Pro Stock driver Dave Connolly, winner of the first two Countdown playoff events, talking about how each of the three Gray Motorsports drivers are in the hunt for the championship in 2014.
Inside the Numbers
1-2: For the first time in NHRA history a father and daughter occupy the first and second positions in the points standings in an NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series category. John Force holds the points lead over his second-place daughter Courtney in Funny Car. The elder Force is up by 30 points on Courtney as the series heads to Maple Grove Raceway for the NHRA Nationals.
Did You Know
NHRA PRO MOD SERIES RACES TO AIR ON VELOCITY CHANNEL: Starting in October, the Velocity Channel will begin airing NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series events from the 10-race 2014 season. The first telecast will air Sunday, October 5, at 1:30 p.m. and will feature the stars of the NHRA Pro Mod Series from the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA SpringNationals presented by Super Start Batteries in Houston. Velocity Channel will air the remainder of the season in 30-minute shows during the course of the following nine weeks, with the final show airing Sunday, December 7. Masters Entertainment Group, which has a long and storied history of producing quality programs for the NHRA, produced each of the shows.
“The cooperation from the NHRA Pro Mod racers has been incredible,” said Ted Jones, president of Masters Entertainment Group. “They really were excited to get their own television series on Velocity Channel. The NHRA Pro Mod Series is the only drag-racing series on Velocity, which is the fastest growing automotive network in the country.”
The NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series, whose race and championship purses are powered by Speedtech, has raced at dragstrips across the country beginning in March and will crown a world champion at the season-ending event in Las Vegas, October 30–November 2.