For the third straight year, Top Fuel standout Spencer Massey is in the championship mix, currently sitting third in the points standings heading into the NHRA Toyota Nationals, which takes place Oct. 24-27 at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The race is the penultimate event in the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and is the fifth of six playoff races in the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, and Massey is ready to make another championship push.
He trails points leader Shawn Langdon by 85 points heading into the NHRA Toyota Nationals, which will once again be televised by ESPN2HD, and Massey knows he must rise to the challenge if he’s going to accomplish his ultimate goal this season.
“After having a couple weeks off, I’m definitely recharged and motivated to get to Vegas,” Massey said. “I’m pumped up and ready to see how it goes. It’s going to be a dogfight to the end, and to keep our hopes alive, it would be nice to win the race and gain some ground on Shawn.”
Massey, who is two points behind second-place Doug Kalitta, is a two-time winner in Las Vegas, most recently during the spring race in 2012. He likes his chances in his 8,000-horsepower Battery Extender/Schumacher Electric dragster, in part because of the immense success crew chiefs Todd Okuhara and Phil Shuler have had at the spectacular facility.
Putting together another solid season in 2013, one that has included four victories and six final-round appearances, doesn’t hurt matters, either.
“With this car and this team we’ve always had success at certain tracks like Charlotte and Vegas,” Massey said. “We’ve always done well there, and I love having Todd and Phil on our side. This is what I’ve lived and breathed for my entire life. Every time I sit back and look at this situation, driving this car and for Don Schumacher Racing, I’m in awe of it. We have a shot to win the championship, and hopefully we can come through and do it.”
It would be the first in Massey’s standout NHRA career, but it certainly won’t be easy. Langdon is coming off a win in Reading at the most recent event and has a class-best six victories in 2013 in his Al-Anabi Racing dragster, and Kalitta has been strong throughout the Countdown in his Mac Tools dragster.
Massey also can’t forget about those behind him the standings, including seven-time champ Tony Schumacher, defending world champion Antron Brown, and Morgan Lucas, who won in Charlotte, went to the semi's in Dallas, and claimed No. 1 qualifying positions during the Countdown. Massey has been consistent in the Countdown, advancing to one final round and two semifinals, but he is hopeful the team starts a hot streak in Las Vegas.
“Obviously, the best-case scenario is us winning the race and Shawn not getting a lot of points, but to sum it up, we just want to win,” Massey said. “As long as we have a shot in Pomona, I’ll be ecstatic. The last two years have come down to the final day, and I’d love to have that shot again.”
Massey finished third a year ago and was second to Del Worsham in 2011. He led after the Las Vegas event that year, but Worsham won the final event in Pomona to gain the championship. Massey has learned from those important experiences and hopes he can rely on them to take the next step in finishing off his 2013 season in championship style.
“The more times you put yourself in those situations, the better you will be,” Massey said. “I try not to change my approach and just win every round. Every point counts. We want to be able to go down the track and get those bonus points. We’re watching what Shawn and the other guys are doing, but we have to stay on top of our car.
“You have to keep your head down, do what you can do, and hopefully it falls your way.”
The NHRA Toyota Nationals qualifying sessions are scheduled for 1:15 and 3:45 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 25. Qualifying continues at 12:15 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 27.
Tickets for the NHRA Toyota Nationals are available online at www.lvms.com or by calling 800-644-4444.