The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series is in full force and heads to Route 66 Raceway for the 12th stop of the 2014 season at the 17th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries, June 26-29.
The best in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, and Pro Stock Motorcycle will all compete for the coveted Wally trophy at the state-of-the-art motorsports facility located just south of Chicago. Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Jeg Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock), and Michael Ray (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised nationally on ESPN2.
Route 66 Raceway has provided Chicagoland residents the opportunity to see the power of 10,000-horsepower nitro-burning machines since 1998. The race has proven to be a big task for the teams of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series because it is the third of four straight weekends of racing on the circuit.
Last season in Top Fuel, seven-time Top Fuel world champion Schumacher, a resident of the Windy City, reigned in front of his hometown fans. The driver of the U.S. Army dragster has four career wins in Chicago, tied for first all time in Top Fuel. He has two wins on the season, with his most recent victory in Epping, and is looking to get back to the top of the Top Fuel ladder.
Top Fuel points leader Doug Kalitta has tasted success in Chicagoland before but not since 2006. The driver of the Mac Tools dragster has one win (Gainesville) on the season and would love to add a second to cement his points lead. Antron Brown is second in points and has wins at Phoenix, Charlotte, and Houston. Brown, the 2012 Top Fuel world champion, has one career victory at Route 66 Raceway. Others to watch in the Top Fuel field include 2009 event winner Spencer Massey, who has won twice this season at the controls of his Schumacher Electric dragster, reigning Top Fuel world champion Shawn Langdon, Steve Torrence, reigning Auto Club of Southern California Road the Future Award winner Brittany Force, and J.R. Todd.
Hagan, the 2011 Funny Car world champ, has two wins in Chicago, including last year’s event, and is looking for his first victory of the season in his Don Schumacher Racing-owned Dodge Charger.
John Force (three wins) and Del Worsham (three wins) have multiple victories at the track, and both are seeking another Route 66 Raceway victory. Recent Epping winner Ron Capps (one win), two-time season winner Alexis DeJoria, Topeka winner Courtney Force, Bristol champ Tommy Johnson Jr., and Jack Beckman are a few of the other Funny Car competitors who are expected to compete for the victory.
Reigning Pro Stock world champ Coughlin took the victory last season, his fifth at Route 66 Raceway. Coughlin has two wins on the season and will be looking for a third victory to kick-start his season.
Pro Stock points leader Erica Enders-Stevens became the first woman to win a Pro Stock race, and she did it at Chicago in 2012. Jason Line has three victories and opened the season in Pomona with a victory. Allen Johnson, the 2012 Pro Stock world champ, Vincent Nobile, four-time world champ Greg Anderson, Dave Connolly, Shane Gray, and Chris McGaha are just a few of the drivers who would like to add Chicago to their 2014 win tally.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Ray is the defending race winner in Chicago and has two No. 1 qualifiers to start this season. Points leader Andrew Hines has two wins at Route 66 Raceway and is on a roll following wins in Charlotte and Englishtown and a runner-up appearance in Atlanta. Matt Smith, Eddie Krawiec, and Scotty Pollacheck all will tangle for the right to hold the 2014 Chicago Wally in the two-wheel category.
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.
NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying begins Friday, June 27, with sessions at 4:30 and 7:15 p.m. The final two qualifying sessions will take place Saturday, June 28, at 4:15 and 7:15 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for Sunday, June 29, at 11 a.m.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call Route 66 Raceway at 888-629-RACE (7223) or visit www.route66raceway.com.