SEMA eNews Vol. 18, No. 13, March 26, 2015

NHRA: Mello Yello Series Racing TV Viewership, Attendance Increases

Compiled by SEMA Editors

NHRA News

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NHRA MELLO YELLO SERIES RACING CONTINUES TO SEE INCREASES IN TELEVISION VIEWERSHIP, ATTENDANCE: Television viewership on ESPN/ESPN2 and event attendance for the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continue to increase in 2015 after a year-over-year increase in 2014, the NHRA has announced. Television viewership for the season-opening Circle K NHRA Winternationals, the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals and the AMALIE Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals was up 30% overall for Sunday’s eliminations shows and 50% for Saturday’s qualifying shows. the trend continues to build on positive television viewership numbers that the NHRA Mello Yello Series saw in 2014. Bolstered by three live shows, Sunday’s eliminations shows in 2014 were up by 9% over the previous year.

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FORCE TO UNVEIL NEW CHEVY LOOK IN CHARLOTTE: Sixteen-time Funny Car champion John Force will have a new look for his Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car at the sixth-annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway. Force will go all white with the iconic gold Chevrolet "bowtie" across the hood and down the sides. This will be the first race of 2015 with the Chevrolet look, which will be campaigned at a select number of races this season.

"I am excited to be racing this Chevrolet-branded Camaro SS Funny Car this weekend. This season we will have a number of different looks on my Funny Car and it is all about keeping the sponsors happy," Force said. "Last weekend I felt like I was back with my roots when we were at the NASCAR race [the Auto Club 400 in Fontana, California]. We were representing Auto Club and we got to talk with their driver Joey Logano for a few minutes. It was also great to see stars like Jimmie Johnson and [Dale] Earnhardt Jr. We talked about all being in the Chevrolet family now and how cool it was to be on Team Chevy."

ALL SYSTEMS GO AT ZMAX DRAGWAY FOR FOUR-WIDE NATIONALS: All systems are go at zMAX Dragway for the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, March 27–29, following extensive work on the racing surface during the off-season. After some problems arose with the track surface at the facility’s September Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event, track officials brought in experts to study the surface. They determined the issue to be a reaction between chemicals on the track and the aggregate that caused the aggregate to break down—a problem that didn’t exist when the facility was originally built.

He Said, She Said

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"We decided to race the early portion of this season to show potential sponsors that we have a championship-caliber race team. We have done that in the first three races. It is definitely easier to walk into a board room to talk about a team that leads the point standings, and we need to do our best to stay there—it’s helping. Our marketing staff and our new strategic marketing partner Guy Fieri and his Knuckle Sandwich group are working as hard as they can to find the funding we need. We are very thankful for our existing sponsors, like Toyota and Red Line Oil, who continue to support our efforts, and I cannot thank the members of our team enough for their loyalty and commitment. This process is difficult for all of us. Racing the entire season and competing for the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello world championship is still our goal. We have done well in Charlotte over the years, and we are going there this weekend with every intention of winning the 4-Wide Nationals."

—Alan Johnson, owner of Alan Johnson Racing, on competing at the upcoming NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at Charlotte this weekend. His Shawn Langdon-driven Knuckle Sandwich/AJPE dragster has raced to a season-opening win in Pomona and has been the No. 1 qualifier at two events. Langdon has one win at Charlotte at the 2012 fall event.

Inside the Numbers

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4: Number of Funny Car wins Robert Hight has at zMax Dragway with two of them coming at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals (’12, ’14) and the other two victories at the fall event (’13, ’09). He is also the winningest Funny Car racer at the facility. Hight is currently fourth in the points standings and has raced to two semi-final finishes and one first-round loss. The 2009 Funny Car world champion is looking to add his 35th career victory at the facility this weekend.

"I think the keys to my success have been having a good team," Hight said. "Last year I don’t think we had lane choice on race day in any of the rounds, but Mike Neff kept telling me not to worry about it. We had a great race car on race day and Neff gave me a lot of confidence. I love racing at Bruton Smith-owned tracks. They do everything top notch and it is always great to win in Charlotte."

Did You Know

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STEVENS TO JOIN FORCES WITH ALLEN JOHNSON RACING: Mopar Pro Stock fans will see another Dodge Dart hit the dragstrip this season when Richie Stevens Jr. takes the wheel of his Mopar for at least 10 events as a teammate to 2012 NHRA Mello Yello Pro Stock world champion Allen Johnson. The New Orleans native will field a new Dodge Dart chassis prepared by Jerry Haas and a Hemi engine tuned by Roy Johnson of Johnson & Johnson Racing in his return to Pro Stock competition in April at the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA SpringNationals presented by Super Start Batteries in Houston.

“I’m really excited," Stevens said. "I just can’t wait because my best times on track were racing with Allen as a teammate, and I’m really happy to get back to that."

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