When Top Fuel standout Spencer Massey pulls to the starting line at Texas Motorplex, he will do so with plenty of familiarity and plenty of confidence.
Massey has frequented the sport’s first supertrack since he was 13, and the Fort Worth, Texas, native feels more at home at Texas Motorplex than just about any track in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
The only thing left for Massey to do at the track is take his 8,000-horsepower Battery Extender/Schumacher Electric Top Fuel dragster to the winner’s circle, and he will get that opportunity at the upcoming AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals, Sept. 19-22, at the famed all-concrete dragstrip south of Dallas.
It marks the 20th of 24 events in the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and the second of six races in the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship. Last season, defending world champion Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Bob Tasca III (Funny Car), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock), and Michael Ray (Pro Stock Motorcycle) earned victories at the event that will again be televised on ESPN2HD.
Massey had one of the best views of Brown’s win, racing against him in the final round. It was his second straight final-round appearance at the event, which leads Massey, currently second in the Top Fuel points standings, to believe that he’s on the cusp of winning at the legendary track.
“I would love to finally get that Wally at Texas Motorplex and wear that cowboy hat they give to the winners,” Massey said. “The last two years, it came down to the last run, and I would love to be in that position again.
“When you roll under the tower and to the starting line, it can be pretty breathtaking there, but I feel very comfortable because I’ve been racing at the track since I was 13. I’m very much at ease because that’s my home, and it’s where I love to race.”
That confidence and familiarity can pay huge dividends, especially during the Countdown to the Championship. Every run becomes magnified, and critical decisions must be made before every run of qualifying and during eliminations.
That pressure likely won’t affect Massey, who comes into his hometown race as the points leader after a runner-up finish at the Countdown opener at zMAX Dragway near Charlotte. He has also perfected the art of balancing many ticket requests during the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals and concentrating on the important task at hand.
“We always have tons of friends and family at this race, but when it comes to race day, you just have to forget about all that and just race,” said Massey, who started his driving career in a Jr. Dragster at Texas Motorplex. “Everyone knows that when it comes to eliminations, you have to be focused on your job, but it’s good to have that support, too. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be driving a Top Fuel car.”
With four wins, Massey comes into the race in top form and is among the favorites in the Countdown. Others to watch include five-time season winner Shawn Langdon, who earned his fifth victory of the season at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, but Massey will also have to contend with five-time event winner and defending world champion Brown. Other contenders for the championship include Charlotte winner Morgan Lucas, who vaulted to third in points with the victory, Doug Kalitta, Clay Millican, Khalid alBalooshi, Texan Steve Torrence, and Bob Vandergriff Jr., who beat Massey in the 2011 final at the Motorplex.
“I feel like we are where we need to be, but so does everyone else, and all 10 drivers in the Countdown are capable of winning a championship,” Massey said. “You can’t take anybody lightly, and you have to make sure you’re doing your job these last six races.”
Massey also knows the importance of the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals. As the second race in the Countdown to the Championship – and the second of four straight race weekends to kick off the playoffs – a strong performance is imperative to stay in the hunt for a world championship title.
“The Dallas event is right at the start of the Countdown, so you really have to go rounds to stay in that top three or five,” Massey said. “If you start falling behind, it’s tough to catch up. This is a race where you really have to start laying the foundation for a championship run, and you really have to keep that momentum going.”
As always, every ticket purchased for the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals is a pit pass, which offers an extraordinary look behind the scenes in the world of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly skilled mechanics service their sophisticated machines between rounds and enjoy some cherished face time with their favorite NHRA drivers.
Fans will also want to check out NHRA Nitro Alley and the popular NHRA Manufacturers Midway, where vendors and sponsors create a carnival atmosphere with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food, and freebies. Fans will also want to take advantage of Championship Sunday for the fun fan zone featuring driver introductions and a special Track Walk at 9:30 a.m. It’s free to all Sunday ticket holders.
AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals qualifying opens Friday, Sept. 20, with sessions at 2:15 and 5:15 p.m. The final two qualifying sessions will take place Saturday, Sept. 21, at 11:15 a.m. and 2:15 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 22.
Tickets for the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals range from just $10 to $380 for weekend packages. Youth tickets for children 12 and younger start as low as $5. For tickets or more information, call the Texas Motorplex office, 800-MOTORPLEX, or log on to www.texasmotorplex.com.