John Force and Terry McMillen secured the No. 8 positions in the NHRA Traxxas Nitro Shootouts following special lottery drawings held during a press conference in downtown Indianapolis to preview the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals and the lucrative specialty event held during the weekend.
In Top Fuel, McMillen, who has never competed in the NHRA Traxxas Nitro Shootout, upset Clay Millican, who led the Top Fuel votes with 43 percent. McMillen earned the third-most fan votes with 17 percent. He will meet top-seed Antron Brown in the first round of the NHRA Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Top Fuel on Saturday.
“It’s a blessed day,” McMillen said. “Everybody has been supportive. It’s been a fantastic ride. Most of all I want to thank all the fans, everyone at NHRA, and Mello Yello for making this happen. It’s just going to be a great day and what an opportunity.”
Force, who had two consecutive victories in Denver and Sonoma this season, earned the most fan votes in Funny Car with 63 percent and will face top-seed Ron Capps in the first-round pairing of the NHRA Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Funny Car on Sunday. He has raced in the event five times and has won twice.
“The bad news is that I got Capps,” said Force, a 16-time world champion. “But I want to say that these are some of the baddest hot rods in the land; Cruz [Pedregon] and [Jack] Beckman and [Del] Worsham. I need the practice. I need some more rounds, but I’m embarrassed. I love Traxxas, love what you do, but this isn’t how I wanted to get here. I’ve never gambled in my life. I don’t like luck. I don’t play the luck game. I play strategy, and I’ve got to get my stuff together.”
The selection of the two drivers was the culmination of a process that started on Aug. 21. All drivers in both categories who had competed in each race this season but were not a part of the seven qualified drivers for each Traxxas Nitro Shootout were eligible for the fan vote/lottery. Fan voting took place on NHRA's Facebook page and lasted until Aug. 30. The fan voting determined how many lottery balls would be assigned to each driver for the drawing.
The Traxxas Nitro Shootout will be contested during the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, Aug. 31-Sept. 5, at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. The Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Top Fuel will be held Saturday, Sept. 3, with rounds at 4, 5:15, and 8 p.m. The Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Funny Car will be contested Sunday, Sept. 4, with rounds at 12:30, 3, and 4:45 p.m. The Traxxas Nitro Shootout will be covered by FOX Sports 1 and FOX.
In the other first-round pairings in Top Fuel, Doug Kalitta, a three-time winner this season, will face Phoenix winner Leah Pritchett; Pomona winner Steve Torrence will race Shawn Langdon, who won the Bristol event; and Brittany Force, who won in Gainesville, will face Denver winner Tony Schumacher.
In the three other Funny Car first-round pairings, Houston winner Courtney Force will go up against Las Vegas winner Alexis DeJoria; Matt Hagan, who won in Atlanta, will be pitted against Phoenix winner Tim Wilkerson; and Gainesville winner Robert Hight will race Bristol winner Tommy Johnson Jr.
Brown is the defending NHRA Traxxas Nitro Shootout winner in Top Fuel, and Beckman is the defending NHRA Traxxas Nitro Shootout winner in Funny Car. Below are the drivers and their first-round pairings for the lucrative bonus races, which will award the winning drivers $100,000 each.
TRAXXAS NITRO SHOOTOUT (TOP FUEL), SEPT. 3
FIRST-ROUND PAIRINGS (4 p.m.):
No. 1 Antron Brown vs. No. 8 Terry McMillen
No. 2 Doug Kalitta vs. No. 7 Leah Pritchett
No. 3 Steve Torrence vs. No. 6 Shawn Langdon
No. 4 Brittany Force vs. No. 5 Tony Schumacher
SEMIFINALS (5:15 p.m.)
FINAL (8 p.m.)
TRAXXAS NITRO SHOOTOUT (FUNNY CAR), SEPT. 4
FIRST-ROUND PAIRINGS (12:30 p.m.):
No. 1 Ron Capps vs. No. 8 John Force
No. 2 Courtney Force vs. No. 7 Alexis DeJoria
No. 3 Matt Hagan vs. No. 6 Tim Wilkerson
No. 4 Robert Hight. vs. No. 5 Tommy Johnson Jr.
SEMIFINALS (3 p.m.):
FINAL (3:45 p.m.)
Tickets are available for the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals by calling (800) 884-NHRA (6472) or online at www.NHRA.com/tickets.