The World’s Biggest Drag Race returns to Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis for the 63rd annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, Aug. 30-Sept. 4, unleashing the thrilling, 10,000-horsepower action of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
Drag racing’s grandest event marks the end of the NHRA regular season and is the 18th of 24 races in the 2017 season. With teams battling for top 10 spots in the six-race Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship and with an increased amount of points in play via the points-and-a-half system for this event (150 points to the winner), the stakes will be high at the event know as the Big Go.
In all, during the course of six days, nearly 1,000 drivers competing across 12 categories have the goal of holding the Wally trophy on Labor Day Monday and expanded prize money that comes at the prestigious Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, the most-coveted victory in drag racing. Winning the event has become a necessity for drivers who say that no career is truly complete without a win at drag racing’s biggest race.
The top drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, and Pro Stock Motorcycle will compete for their place in Indy history. Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Chris McGaha (Pro Stock), and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of a race that will be broadcasted on the FOX national broadcast network and FOX Sports 1 (FS1), including a live broadcast of Monday’s finals on both FOX and FS1 on Monday, Sept. 4.
Schumacher etched his name in Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals history books a year ago, becoming the first NHRA driver to reach an incredible 10 wins at the prestigious race. The Top Fuel standout will look to add to his legacy at the historic event but will have to hold off the likes of points leader Steve Torrence, who has a career-best six wins in 2017 and is seeking his first Indy win; back-to-back world champ Antron Brown; three-time 2017 winner Leah Pritchett; 2013 Indy winner Shawn Langdon; Doug Kalitta; Bristol winner Clay Millican; and Brittany Force.
Two-time world champ Hagan broke through for the first time in Indy a year ago, winning for the first time at the Big Go. He’s won three times in 2017, trying to keep pace with Don Schumacher Racing teammate, reigning world champ, and points leader Ron Capps, who has six wins this season. Other Funny Car standouts who have excelled at the world’s biggest drag race include four-time winner John Force, who last won Indy in 2002; three-time winners Robert Hight and Cruz Pedregon; Jack Beckman; Alexis DeJoria; Tim Wilkerson; and Del Worsham.
McGaha’s first Indy win in Pro Stock came a year ago, and he’ll look to build on that in 2017. Greg Anderson, a two-time winner this season, has six wins at the Big Go, second to only Bob Glidden’s nine at the race, while other top competitors in the class include points leader Bo Butner and rookie Tanner Gray, who both have three wins this season; 2015 Indy winner Erica Enders; three-time Indy winner Jeg Coughlin Jr.; reigning world champ Jason Line; and Drew Skillman.
Hines picked up his second Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals win in 2016 and is after his first win of 2017. Former world champ and 2010 Indy winner LE Tonglet has been dominant this year, winning five races, and he will look to keep that pace against two-time 2017 winner Eddie Krawiec; Steve Johnson and Angelle Sampey, who each have two Indy wins; reigning world champ and 2015 winner Jerry Savoie; and Indy winners Hector Arana Jr. and Matt Smith.
Bonus bucks and bragging rights will be on the line for qualified drivers in Top Fuel and Funny Car as they battle in the lucrative NHRA Traxxas Nitro Shootout. The Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Top Fuel will be held on Saturday evening, while the Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Funny Car is contested Sunday afternoon. The winners in each Traxxas Nitro Shootout will earn $100,000. Schumacher is the defending winner in Top Fuel, while Courtney Force was the 2016 winner in Funny Car.
Drivers in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Series also will look to become winners of the prestigious event. The fastest Super Stock cars will challenge for ultimate bragging rights and bonus purse during the popular Mopar HEMI Challenge. After nitro qualifying, fans can watch the spectacular Muy Caliente Racing jet dragsters sponsored by Lucas Oil and the Larsen Motorsports jet dragsters sponsored by Florida Tech and Matrix System. Jet cars are thrust-driven propelled by jet engines with exciting pre-run flame shows.
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 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.
A special Monday edition of the SealMaster NHRA Track Walk also will take place prior to final eliminations, where many of the sport’s most celebrated drivers will walk alongside fans down the historic dragstrip. Fan-favorite vintage race cars will be on display in the Hot Rod Junction, along with several autograph sessions featuring the biggest stars of the sport will be featured.
Downtown Indianapolis will come alive with NHRA excitement at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 30, when the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals Fan Fest comes to Monument Circle. It will feature NHRA race team show cars, classic cars, live music, video displays, and giveaways, along with one of the largest autograph sessions of the season, featuring all the fans’ favorite drivers. In addition, the official event press conference will take place and the random lottery drawings for the No. 8 positions in the Traxxas Nitro Shootouts will be conducted.
The first of five Mello Yello Series qualifying sessions is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 1. Two more sessions will take to the track on Saturday, Sept. 2 at 2:30 p.m. and 6:15 p.m., and the final two qualifying sessions will take place on Sunday, Sept. 3 at 11:30 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 4. The Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Top Fuel will be contested Saturday, Sept. 2 with rounds at 3:45 p.m., 5:45 p.m., and 7:40 p.m. The Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Funny Car takes place on Sunday, Sept. 3 for the eight qualified drivers, with rounds at 12:45 p.m., 2:45 p.m., and 4:40 p.m.
FOX national broadcast and FS1 will televise coverage of the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, starting with qualifying on Sunday, Sept. 3, on FS1 at noon and 5 p.m. EST. The broadcasts continue on FS1 with two hours of live coverage of eliminations on Monday, Sept. 4, starting at 11 a.m. EST, continuing live on FOX at 1 p.m. EST.
Tickets for the world’s most prestigious drag race can be purchased by calling the NHRA Ticket Sales Center at (800) 884-NHRA (6472), or online at www.NHRA.com/tickets. Kids 12 and under are free in general-admission areas with a paid adult. To honor the Salute to First Responders, military and first responders can save 20 percent on general admission tickets at the gate.