Compiled by SEMA Editors
BROWN HOPES TO FINISH THE JOB IN LAS VEGAS: Antron Brown was so dominant in the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship he clinched the Top Fuel world championship at the penultimate event of the year in Las Vegas. Now the two-time world champion is trying to top himself with another incredible playoff run in 2016. Brown has three wins in the first four playoff events in his 10,000-hp Matco Tools/U.S. Army dragster, and again has his sights set on clinching at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway during this weekend’s 16th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals. He holds a 150-point lead over Doug Kalitta and another strong showing in Vegas would mean a third career world title for the 61-time event winner.
“The thing about it, our heads are really focused on the end, and the end is not until they say this is the 2016 world championship winner,” Brown said. “We’re in a great situation right now, but we don’t feel comfortable yet, and our work is not done yet. We’re not going in defensive mode and we’re just going to try to keep doing the same things we’ve done to get to this point.”
JOHNSON, MARATHON PETROLEUM ANNOUNCE EXTENDED SPONSORSHIP AGREEMENT: NHRA Pro Stock racer Allen Johnson and Marathon Petroleum Corp. have announced an extended sponsorship agreement to continue their partnership into the 2017 season.
“We are thankful for our continued partnership with Marathon Petroleum, both on and off the track,” said Johnson, racer and CEO of Johnson & Johnson Racing. “We learned much in 2016 as we improved our performance and adjusted to a new electronic fuel-injection system. We’re excited to hit the track again in 2017, determined to bring home another championship.”
SIX ROOKIE CANDIDATES ELIGIBLE FOR 2016 AUTOMOBILE CLUB ROAD TO THE FUTURE AWARD: Six rookie drivers representing the four NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series categories, Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle, were announced by officials from NHRA and Automobile Club of Southern California as the eligible candidates for the 2016 Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award. The award, which recognizes the top rookie competitor in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and offers a $20,000 prize and traditional trophy to the winner, will be presented during NHRA’s annual championship awards ceremony, Monday, November 14, at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland in Hollywood, California. The nation’s leading auto-racing journalists will select the winner through a voting system based on the following criteria: number of events participated, performance on and off the racetrack, participation in NHRA promotions and relationships with fans, sponsors and media.
He Said, She Said
“I've been around it since I was 9 or 10 years old. I think it’s really cool to be able to do what they’ve done. We’ll see if we can win some championships one day. I’m pretty excited. I’ve known about it for a while, and I’ve gotten to test, so I’ve kinda calmed down a little bit, but I’m pretty excited for it. I think I would’ve been lost if it wasn’t for Dave [Connolly] letting me drive his bracket car, just getting used to the speed and how the car reacts. But driving his Cobalt helped a lot more and sped up the progression.”
—Tanner Gray, son of Pro Stock racer Shane Gray on taking over the driving duties from his father in the Gray Motorsports Valvoline/Nova Services Chevy in 2017. Tanner has raced in Jr. Dragsters as well as Mini Sprints, Outlaw Kart racing and 360 Sprint Cars.
Inside the Numbers
5: Number of wins at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Andrew Hines has in his career. He is the defending race champion and has won the race the past two seasons. Last year at the event he used his fourth win of the season to propel him to his fifth world championship. Hines is currently second in points and trails his teammate Eddie Kraweic by 17. Krawiec, who is a three-time Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion, has two wins at the track.
Did You Know
MEET STARS TO PARTICIPATE IN LAS VEGAS FANFEST: Fans of the NHRA are going to want to be on Fremont Street Thursday night. That’s where 30 of the NHRA’s top stars will attend the NHRA Fanfest on Thursday to sign autographs and promote the 16th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals, which runs Thursday through Sunday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. World champions John Force, Antron Brown, Erica Enders and Del Worsham will be part of the festivities, which run from 5:00 p.m.–6:30 p.m. (PDT) at the 3rd Street Stage. Fans can enjoy live music, games and giveaways from 5:00 p.m.–5:30 p.m., followed by an hour-long autograph session where they can get up close and personal with their favorite drivers, and an NHRA Light Show caps the special night at 6:30 p.m. Drivers expected to attend are: Greg Anderson, John Bojec, Antron Brown, Bo Butner, Jeg Coughlin, Troy Coughlin, T.J. Coughlin, Alexis DeJoria, Erica Enders, Brittany Force, John Force, Joey Gladstone, Robert Hight, Andrew Hines, Allen Johnson, Doug Kalitta, Eddie Krawiec, Shawn Langdon, Paul Lee, Jason Line, Scotty Pollacheck, Leah Pritchett, Cory Reed, Ashley Sanford, Angie Smith, Matt Smith, Melissa Surber, J.R. Todd, Tim Wilkerson and Del Worsham.