The regular season came to a close at NHRA's annual trip to Indianapolis for the World's Biggest Drag Race over Labor Day weekend, and little changed in the race for this year's Auto Club Road to the Future Award. Pro Stock's Tanner Gray remains the overwhelming favorite for the award that recognizes the top Professional rookie each season. Gray continued to add to his season round-win tally at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, driving to a semifinal finish. The strong run, combined with his four previous wins, lifted Gray to a No. 2 points finish in the regular season, meaning with the points reset, he is now just 20 points out of the lead entering the Countdown to the Championship.
Funny Car rookie Jonnie Lindberg had a solid first Indy, running a career-best 3.865 to qualify in the top half of the field. Unfortunately for Lindberg, he was unable to translate that to round-wins on Monday. Pro Stock Motorcycle runner Joey Gladstone was also in competition, but he too fell in the first round. Gladstone, however, was able to secure a spot in the top 10 and joins Gray as the only rookies to make the playoffs.
Top Fuel racers Shawn Reed and Mike Salinas elected to sit out the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals. Troy Coughlin Jr. is still eligible for the Auto Club Road to the Future Award after competing in Top Fuel in the first 17 events, but he resigned his position with Kalitta Motorsports prior to Indy.
Following is a look at the stats of the 2017 rookie class through the U.S. Nationals, race 18 of 24 (10 of 16 for Pro Stock Motorcycle) on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.
|Best qualifying position||5||11||9||4||1||3|
|*Does not include NHRA Four-Wide Nationals|