COMMERCE, Ga. — NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series teams will return to Atlanta Dragway this weekend for the completion of the rain-delayed Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals. The seventh round of the 2013 season was put on hold one week ago after heavy rains forced NHRA officials to postpone the race until this weekend, May 10-11.
The two-day race weekend will resume with two qualifying sessions on Friday, May 10 at 2 and 4 p.m. Eliminations will begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday May 11. Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) are the defending winners of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event that will be televised on ESPN2HD.
John Force, the 15-time NHRA world champ who has won at Atlanta Dragway seven times during his career, is really pumped up to give a spectacular show to the fans in the area who have waited patiently for two weeks.
“Having rain postpone us really hurts because we want to race,” said Force, driver of the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang. “It is what we do. We want to hear the roar of the crowd. I hope all the fans come back Friday for qualifying and then the race on Saturday. We will put on a great show and I am looking to go rounds.”
Top Fuel driver Morgan Lucas, pilot of the GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster who earned his first career victory at Atlanta Dragway in 2009, says a victory on Saturday would become a very special present on the following day.
“It’s going to be a unique opportunity for all of us to try and win a Wally as a Mother’s Day gift,” said Lucas, whose Mother, Charlotte, often competes in NHRA’s Super Comp category. “We’ll come back with the same positive attitude and try to win some rounds.”
With only two qualifying sessions available to get into the 16-car fields, most drivers know they will need to be on their toes for Friday’s racing. Veteran Funny Car driver Tim Wilkerson says a premium will be placed on making a solid run down the track on the first qualifying attempt so his Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Mustang team doesn’t enter the final session on the bubble, frantically trying to get into the starting lineup for Saturday’s eliminations.
“Only getting the two qualifying runs is always tough, but that’s the way it’s been at the last two races and we’ve done okay, so I’m not complaining,” Wilkerson said. “We’re all in the same boat on that deal.”
In Top Fuel, Tony Schumacher is again a championship contender early in the season after securing two wins, in Phoenix and Las Vegas, at the controls of his U.S. Army dragster. Antron Brown and Spencer Massey have had success this year as well and will be aiming to top their Don Schumacher Racing teammate in the standings. Al-Anabi Racing’s Shawn Langdon, Doug Kalitta, Houston winner and local favorite Bob Vandergriff, and Clay Millican will challenge for the win as well.
The extremely competitive Funny Car category is led by two-time season winner Cruz Pedregon and his “No-Name” crew. Courtney Force also has proven to be a tough challenger on the strength of two final-round appearances and one win in Pomona. Others to watch in the 8,000-horsepower category are Four-Wide Nationals winner Matt Hagan, defending event winner Capps and defending world champion Jack Beckman.
The Pro Stock category is once again shaping up to be a tight battle with two-time Atlanta winner Mike Edwards holding the series lead over defending world champ Allen Johnson. Jeg Coughlin, Vincent Nobile, Shane Gray and Erica Enders-Stevens are also among the pre-race favorites in the 200-mph factory hot rod category.
The NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series also will thrill the crowds during the weekend with intense side-by-side competition.
As always, fans can interact with their favorite drivers because every ticket is an exclusive pit pass, allowing them to see firsthand the highly skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds. Spectators also won’t want to miss the popular interactive NHRA Nitro Alley and the NHRA Manufacturers Midway.
For the second consecutive year, fans can take advantage of an exciting ticket offer: NHRA is offering a special NHRA Fan Pack that includes two Tier 2 reserved adult tickets and a preferred parking pass. This allows the easiest access into Atlanta Dragway via a separate gate entrance and provides parking in the nearest lot next to the main ticket office. Other Fan Pack benefits include two hot dogs and Cokes, one NHRA Fan Guide, and a waived service fee on each transaction. Limited quantities are available for each race day. Friday’s NHRA Fan Pack is only $80, and the Saturday or Sunday Pack is just $112.
• SCHEDULE: NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying sessions are scheduled for 2 and 4 p.m. Friday, May 10. Final eliminations will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 11.
• TICKETS: For tickets, log on to www.NHRATix.com or call the NHRA Ticket Sales Center at (800) 884-NHRA (6472).
• TELEVISION: ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise one hour of qualifying coverage at 10 a.m. (ET) on Saturday, May 11, and three hours of eliminations coverage at 8 p.m. (ET), also on Saturday, May 11.
• ON THE WEB: Get instant results, access to photos, video and audio clips and the latest news updates from every NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event on the Internet at www.NHRA.com.
* * *
SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT NHRA SOUTHERN NATIONALS FACT SHEET
WHAT: 33rd annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals, the seventh of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Drivers in three categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock – earn points leading to 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships.
WHERE: Atlanta Dragway, Commerce, Ga. I-85 to Exit 149 (Hwy 441). After exiting the freeway, go north on Highway 441 to Steven Tanger Blvd. Take left on Tanger and then go right on Ridgeway Road.
WHEN: Friday and Saturday, May 10-11
FRIDAY, May 10 - LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying and eliminations, 8 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 2 and 4 p.m.
SATURDAY, May 11 - Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
Saturday, May 11, ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise one hour of qualifying highlights at 10 a.m. (ET).
Saturday, May 11, ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise three hours of coverage starting at 8 p.m. (ET).
2012 EVENT WINNERS: Steve Torrence, Top Fuel; Ron Capps, Funny Car; Greg Anderson, Pro Stock
MOST VICTORIES: Dave Schultz, 8, PSM; John Force, 7, FC; Warren Johnson, 5, PS; Kenny Bernstein, 4, TF/FC; Larry Dixon, 4, TF; Angelle Sampey, 4, PSM; Greg Anderson, 4, PS; Lee Shepherd, 4, PS.
Top Fuel - 3.815 seconds by Tony Schumacher, May ’12; 323.19 mph by Spencer Massey, May ’11.
Funny Car - 4.072 seconds by John Force, May ’11; 312.13 mph by Ashley Force Hood, April ’09.
Pro Stock - 6.557 seconds by Greg Anderson, April ’09; 211.26 mph by Warren Johnson, April ’09.
Top Fuel - 3.701 seconds by Antron Brown, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 332.18 mph by Spencer Massey, April ’12, Charlotte, N.C.
Funny Car - 3.986 seconds by Jack Beckman, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 320.58 mph by Beckman, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.
Pro Stock - 6.471 seconds by Mike Edwards, April ’13, Charlotte, N.C.; 214.35 mph by Jason Line, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.
TICKETS: For tickets call NHRA at (800) 884-6472, or visit www.NHRATIX.com.
* * *
NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES POINTS STANDINGS
GLENDORA, Calif. -- Point standings (top 10) following the sixth of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:
Top Fuel: 1. Tony Schumacher, 510; 2. Antron Brown, 440; 3. Shawn Langdon, 423; 4. Spencer Massey, 413; 5. Morgan Lucas, 347; 6. (tie) Khalid alBalooshi, 333; Doug Kalitta, 333; 8. Bob Vandergriff, 295; 9. Brandon Bernstein, 281; 10. David Grubnic, 250.
Funny Car: 1. Cruz Pedregon, 470; 2. Matt Hagan, 433; 3. Courtney Force, 384; 4. Ron Capps, 381; 5. Johnny Gray, 362; 6. Tim Wilkerson, 348; 7. Jack Beckman, 318; 8. Robert Hight, 308; 9. Alexis DeJoria, 295; 10. Bob Tasca III, 293.
Pro Stock: 1. Mike Edwards, 532; 2. Allen Johnson, 465; 3. (tie) Jeg Coughlin, 450; Erica Enders-Stevens, 450; 5. Jason Line, 419; 6. Vincent Nobile, 361; 7. Shane Gray, 327; 8. V. Gaines, 317; 9. Greg Anderson, 304; 10. Greg Stanfield, 270.
Pro Stock Motorcycle: 1. Hector Arana Jr, 375; 2. Scotty Pollacheck, 256; 3. John Hall, 187; 4. (tie) Hector Arana, 174; Eddie Krawiec, 174; 6. Steve Johnson, 159; 7. Andrew Hines, 144; 8. Michael Ray, 141; 9. Jim Underdahl, 136; 10. Matt Smith, 133.