Home to many of the most historic performances in NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series history, Maple Grove Raceway will again serve as host to an important race on the tour, the 33rd annual Dodge NHRA Nationals, Sept. 21-24. The race serves as the second stop in the six-race NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs, meaning fans will be treated to some of the most intense drag racing of the 2017 season.
Teams in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will face off in thrilling side-by-side action, leaving it all on the line to gain momentum in their quest for a world title. The race sits in the middle of a critical three-race stretch to open the Countdown to the Championship and Maple Grove Raceway has long been regarded as one of the quickest tracks on the NHRA tour.
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Tommy Johnson Jr. (Funny Car), Vincent Nobile (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1, including live final eliminations coverage starting at 2 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, Sept. 24.
Brown’s back-to-back world championships in Top Fuel have been spurred by back-to-back wins at Maple Grove Raceway in his Matco Tools dragster. The Top Fuel star has been dominant in the Countdown to the Championship the past two seasons and he’ll look for a third straight win at the Dodge NHRA Nationals to keep that hot streak going. His 2017 season has been strong, but he’ll be challenged by a host of worthy standouts, including points leader and recent Charlotte winner Doug Kalitta, Indy champ Steve Torrence, Leah Pritchett, five-time Maple Grove winner Tony Schumacher, and Brittany Force.
Johnson’s late-season 2016 surge in Funny Car included a victory at Maple Grove Raceway in his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T. He challenged Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps but ultimately finished second overall, his best-ever finish as Capps claimed his first Funny Car world title. Fourth-place Johnson, along with Capps and Courtney Force, are looking up at points leader and Charlotte champ Robert Hight, while other top challengers include seven-time Maple Grove winner John Force, Matt Hagan, Jack Beckman and Indy winner J.R. Todd.
Nobile’s first Pro Stock victory at the facility came at the perfect time, as he won for the first time since the 2014 season. The class standout is looking for a similar spark in 2017 in his Mountain View Tire Chevrolet Camaro. Rookie points leader Tanner Gray, Bo Butner. Charlotte runner-up Greg Anderson reigning world champ Jason Line, Erica Enders, Jeg Coughlin Jr., Allen Johnson, and Drew Skillman are among those expected to challenge Nobile’s hopes for a repeat.
Pro Stock Motorcycle points leader Krawiec, winner this past weekend in Charlotte, has enjoyed a tremendous run at Maple Grove Raceway on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson. The three-time Pro Stock Motorcycle champ won for the fourth time at the track in 2016, but couldn’t hold off Jerry Savoie, who claimed his first world championship last year. The loaded Pro Stock Motorcycle field also includes Krawiec’s longtime teammate, Andrew Hines, two-time world champ Matt Smith, L.E. Tonglet, and Steve Johnson.
The event also features thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, showcasing the future stars of the sport. After Nitro qualifying, fans can watch the spectacular Hanna Motorsports First Strike and Top Secret Eastern Raider Jet Funny Cars. Jet cars are thrust driven propelled by jet engines with exciting pre-run flame shows.
Along with the exciting on-track action, the Dodge NHRA Nationals will honor first responders with NHRA’s “Salute to First Responders” celebration.
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.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 1:45 and 4:15 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 22, the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Sept. 23, at 12:45 and 3:15 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 12 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 24.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call 610-856-9200. Tickets also are available online at www.maplegroveraceway.com. 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.