Title contenders look for Lady Luck
Wednesday, October 09, 2013
The stakes will be at the maximum level as the penultimate race of the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship returns to Sin City. And the only sure bet in town will be that the championship contenders will place all of their chips on the table to go all in at the 13th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals, Oct. 24-27 at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The event is the 23rd of 24 races in the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and fifth of six races in the Countdown to the Championship. Bob Vandergriff Jr. (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), and defending world champions Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) raced to victories last season at the popular event that will again be televised on ESPN2HD.
NHRA teams in all four Mello Yello Series categories will be racing hard to earn every point that is up for grabs during the weekend as they seek to improve their positions in the top 10 points standings.
In Top Fuel, it’s a tight race between several first-time championship hopefuls that includes series points leader Shawn Langdon, veteran driver Doug Kalitta, and young gun Spencer Massey, a two-time LVMS winner. Morgan Lucas, who opened the playoffs with a strong winning performance in Charlotte in his GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster, is fourth overall. Antron Brown, who posted back-to-back final-round showings in St. Louis and Reading, is still in contention, as is seven-time champ Tony Schumacher, a four-time winner at this event.
In Funny Car, John Force has stormed into the points lead with wins in St. Louis and Reading at the controls of his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang. Matt Hagan has been making a huge push this season in his 8,000-horsepower Magneti Marelli/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger and is trying to reclaim the crown he donned in 2011. Other past champions – Jack Beckman, Robert Hight, and Cruz Pedregon – are eager to grab a victory to improve their title hopes. Ron Capps, Courtney Force, Tim Wilkerson, Johnny Gray, and Del Worsham are also looking for Countdown wins in one of the sport's most competitive categories.
Pro Stock features a classic group of former world champions battling for the top prize. Four-time champ Jeg Coughlin Jr. took over the points lead with his victory in Reading. Meanwhile, Summit Racing Equipment driver Jason Line, regular-season leader Mike Edwards, and defending world champ Allen Johnson are hot on his heels. Erica Enders-Stevens, Shane Gray, Greg Anderson, and Vincent Nobile are all drivers who could score a victory at LVMS.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Matt Smith comes into Las Vegas with a 125-point lead and needs only to increase the margin by 26 points to secure his second world championship title in the two-wheel class. Hector Arana Jr., Michael Ray, Hector Arana Sr., and Eddie Krawiec will be trying to win the race and keep Smith from taking the title.
Fans arriving early for the penultimate race weekend will be treated to the traditional NHRA Fremont Street Fan Fest, annually one of the best-attended pre-race festivities on the circuit. The Fan Fest will be Thursday, Oct. 24, at 6 p.m. on Fremont Street and will feature the sport’s top drivers participating in one of the biggest autograph sessions of the year and a spectacular NHRA-themed light show over Freemont Street. Ticket giveaways and music will also be a part of this exciting kickoff event for the weekend.
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 cherished face time with 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. Also in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Tequila Patron Funny Car/Alexis DeJoria team has partnered with Nevada Health Centers to offer free mammograms all weekend in the Manufacturers Midway for female race fans over 40. Join DeJoria and the entire NHRA team in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month during the race weekend.
The NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series also will thrill the crowds during the weekend with intense competition on the track.
Families can take part in a special ticket offer as children 12 and younger will be admitted free in general admission with a paid adult.
The first NHRA Toyota Nationals qualifying sessions are scheduled for 1:15 and 3:45 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25. Qualifying continues at 12:15 and 2:45 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 27.
For tickets for the NHRA Toyota Nationals, log on to www.lvms.com or call 800-644-4444.