Mello Yello Drag Racing Series rolls into Pacific Northwest
Monday, July 28, 2014
The 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series regular season is winding down and teams head to the Pacific Northwest for the final stop of the Western Swing at Pacific Raceways to contest the 27th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries, Aug. 1-3.
The best in Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock will all compete for the final Wally of the Western Swing, the third-to-last stop before the Countdown to the Championship playoffs. Morgan Lucas (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car) and Vincent Nobile (Pro Stock) were last year’s winners of the event that will once again be televised nationally on ESPN2.
Pacific Raceways has hosted intense 320 mph action for the last 26 years and fans will once again get to see the spectacle of two 10,000-horsepower nitro-charged race cars roar down the dragstrip in less than four seconds. The scenic track, located just south of downtown Seattle, has seen drag racing’s biggest names drive to victory and the winners in 2014 could be next on the list of NHRA legends.
The Western Swing encompasses three consecutive racing weekends with events at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Colo., Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. and Pacific Raceways. With only two races following Seattle until the playoff fields are set for the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, teams will be at maximum overdrive as they chase a top 10 playoff starting spot in their respective categories.
Last year’s Top Fuel winner Lucas stepped out of his ride at the end of last season to focus on the family business, Lucas Oil. He selected crew member Richie Crampton to take the reins of the GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster. It only took Crampton nine starts to claim his first career victory at the Toyota NHRA Summernationals, becoming the 100th different driver to win an event in the Top Fuel category. Crampton is in the running for the Auto Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award and will be looking for the victory in Seattle.
Don Schumacher Racing’s Tony Schumacher has won in Las Vegas and Epping in 2014 and he might be a good bet for Seattle. Schumacher, driver of the U.S. Army dragster, has four wins at Pacific Raceways, but none since 2008.
Antron Brown and Steve Torrence are the only other current Top Fuel drivers with wins at Seattle, so numerous competitors are hoping to add their names to the win list. Points leader Doug Kalitta, reigning Top Fuel world champion Shawn Langdon, two-time season winner Spencer Massey, defending Auto Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award winner Brittany Force, Sonoma winner Khalid alBalooshi, and rising star J.R. Todd will all compete for the Wally in Top Fuel.
Defending Funny Car winner Matt Hagan is working his way out of an early season slump as the Mello Yello Series heads towards the Western Swing, and Seattle could provide the opportunity to turn his Mopar/Express Lane Dodge Charger’s luck around. He parlayed Seattle into the No. 1 seed in the Countdown last season and finished the year at No. 2.
John Force leads all categories with seven Seattle wins, but none since 2004. Bristol finalist Tim Wilkerson has three wins at Pacific Raceways and it could be a big opportunity for the veteran driver to snatch another victory before the Countdown. Courtney Force, winner last weekend in Sonoma, got her first career Funny Car win at the track in 2012 and those positive memories could propel her to a fifth career win. The 1999 winner, Del Worsham, 2007 winner Jack Beckman, 1998 winner Ron Capps, two-time world champion Cruz Pedregon, two-time season winner Alexis DeJoria and Bristol winner Tommy Johnson Jr., are a few of the other Funny Car competitors who will compete for the victory in the Pacific Northwest.
Vincent Nobile raced his Mountain View Tire Chevy Camaro to wins at Sonoma and Seattle last season and a solid performance again could have him right where he wants for the Countdown to the Championship.
Greg Anderson is the winningest active Pro Stock driver at Pacific Raceways and will be looking for his fourth win in his Summit Racing Chevy Camaro. Sonoma winner Jason Line, Anderson’s teammate at KB Racing, has two wins at the facility and both will be a threat again in 2014.
Jeg Coughlin Jr.
Defending Pro Stock world champion Jeg Coughlin, 2012 series champ Allen Johnson and Epping winner Dave Connolly would all love to add a second Seattle win to their résumé. Shane Gray, Jonathan Gray and Chris McGaha are just a few of the drivers who will be going for their first win in the Pacific Northwest in the 200-mph factory hot rod class.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and enjoy some cherished face time and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
The event will also feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying begins Friday, Aug. 1, with sessions at 2:30 and 5:30 p.m. The final two qualifying sessions will take place Saturday, Aug. 2, at 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 3.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call NHRA at (800) 884-6472 or visit www.NHRATIX.com. Kids 12 and under are free in general-admission seating.