Compiled by SEMA Editors
SCHUMACHER, HAGAN, BROGDON, KRAWIEC COLLECT READING VICTORIES: Matt Hagan took over the Funny Car points lead by racing to victory last Sunday at the NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway. Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Rodger Brogdon (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were winners at the fourth of six playoff events during the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship. Hagan crossed the finish line in spectacular fashion when his Rocky Boots Dodge Charger’s engine exploded following a 4.333-second pass at 215 mph, defeating Tommy Johnson Jr. in the final round. He was appearing in his third Countdown final and picked up his second win in the playoffs. Hagan, who has three victories in the season and 13 in his career, opened up a 36-point advantage on 16-time world champ John Force with two races remaining in the season.
"The points lead is huge, but like I said, we showed up here to win a race," said Hagan, the 2011 Funny Car world champ. "Points change, but the Wallys [trophies] you put on your shelf don’t. We did what we set up to do this morning, and that was to turn the win light on four times."
TWO RACES LEFT IN 2014 NHRA COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP: There are only two races remaining in the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship and the points battles are hotly contested in each of the four professional categories. Tony Schumacher leads Top Fuel over nearest competitor Doug Kalitta by 134 points. Matt Hagan took the Funny Car point lead over John Force with his win in Reading and has a 36-point lead over Force. Jason Line continues to lead in Pro Stock by 35 over Erica Enders-Stevens. Andrew Hines is the Pro Stock Motorcycle points leader by 25 over his Vance and Hines teammate Eddie Krawiec.
COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP HEADS TO BRIGHT LIGHTS OF LAS VEGAS: The stars of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series roll into The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, October 30–November 2, for the penultimate race of the 2014 Countdown to the Championship at the 14th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals. The best in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will once again battle for the coveted victory at one of the world’s most state-of-the-art dragstrips. Antron Brown (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car), Shane Gray (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. Celebrating its 14th running, the NHRA Toyota Nationals has provided high-stakes action in a city with a reputation for thrills, glitz and glamour. The action on the Vegas strip is matched only by the fire and fury of two 10,000-hp machines launching side-by-side down The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway at more than 300 mph. The event is a critical stop for the teams in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series as they have two races left to prove they have what it takes to be a Mello Yello Series world champion.
He Said, She Said
"It's always a tough break when you don't get past the first round and don't run really well. These [weather and track] conditions only come around every so often and it reminded me of 2012 when we set the national record [3.701 seconds] and won the championship, and that still stands. It was definitely a bummer to our whole Matco Tools team to take a blow like that with the championship on the line. That's what makes this sport so demanding but yet so rewarding. We will collect ourselves, get ready for Vegas and go there strong. Our goal is to go out there and try to run as hard as we can each and every round of qualifying and eliminations rounds and give it all that we've got for these last two races. We've been in this situation before, but that time we were leading and we had like a 160-point lead over the U.S. Army car going into Vegas and had to hold on to win the (2012) championship by seven points."
—Antron Brown, driver of the Matco Tools dragster on losing in the first round of Reading after winning the previous race in St. Louis. Brown is now fifth in points, 170 behind points leader and teammate Tony Schumacher.
Inside the Numbers
4: Number of times in 2014 that Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) has "doubled-up" and won both Top Fuel and Funny Car at an event. The team did it in Epping, New Hampshire, with Tony Schumacher in Top Fuel and Ron Capps in Funny Car; Antron Brown in Top Fuel and Matt Hagan in Chicago; Schumacher and Hagan during the Charlotte event; and Schumacher and Hagan most recently in Reading. Since the 2003 season, DSR has accomplished this feat 44 times, including the two times DSR won three categories at the same event.
Did You Know
K&N FILTERS ANNOUNCES 2015 HORSEPOWER CHALLENGE SWEEPSTAKES: NHRA fans once again have the opportunity to try their luck at winning the ultimate fan experience by entering the 2015 K&N Horsepower Challenge Sweepstakes. The 32nd annual running of the event boasts exactly what the fans want—a shootout of the top Pro Stock drivers and a grand prize to be won. Eight online sweepstakes entrants will be randomly chosen in early March 2015 to participate in the K&N Horsepower Challenge, which will once again be held at the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The eight finalists will be given a trip for two to Las Vegas for a VIP race experience and a chance to win the ultimate grand prize—the 2015 K&N Horsepower Challenge Toyota Tacoma.
View the complete 2014 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.