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Countdown to the Championship playoffs begin with Dodge NHRA Nationals

The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series powers back to Maple Grove Raceway for the 34th annual Dodge NHRA Nationals, Sept. 13-16, and the race also serves as the opener to the six-race NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
04 Sep 2018
Posted by NHRA.com staff

The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series powers back to Maple Grove Raceway for the 34th annual Dodge NHRA Nationals, Sept. 13-16, and the race also serves as the opener to the six-race NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship playoffs.

Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Courtney Force (Funny Car), Tanner Gray (Pro Stock), and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) enter the playoffs as the No. 1 seeds in their respective classes.

Teams in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will look to start their championship journey on a great note at a track that has played host to many historic performances over the past three decades. That will continue in 2018 and fans will be treated to intense side-by-side action at one of the quickest tracks on the NHRA circuit, as competitors leave it all on the line in their quest for a world championship. 

A year ago, Top Fuel’s Brittany Force, Pro Stock’s Bo Butner, Krawiec all won at the track and eventually claimed world championships, showcasing the importance of winning at Maple Grove Raceway. Ron Capps (Funny Car) was also a winner of an event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1 in 2018, including final eliminations coverage starting at 7:30 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, Sept. 16.

B_Force.JPGBrittany Force’s path to her first Top Fuel world title included an impressive weekend at Maple Grove Raceway, winning her first race at the facility. It was also the first of three wins in the Countdown to the Championship, fueling her title run. Force has one win in 2018, but everyone is chasing Torrence, who won eight races in 2017 and has five more in 2018 as well as the points lead. A Force repeat at the track will be tough against the likes of Antron Brown, eight-time world champ Tony Schumacher, Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals winner Terry McMillen, Clay Millican, Doug Kalitta, and Leah Pritchett.

R_Capps.JPGCapps nearly had back-to-back world championships in Funny Car, finishing second to Robert Hight despite an impressive eight wins during his banner 2017 season. One of those was his first career win at Maple Grove Raceway, but he’s trying to track down Courtney Force, who is the current points leader thanks to four wins this season. She’s after her first world championship against stars like Jack Beckman, her dad, John Force, who has seven wins at the track, Indy champ J.R. Todd, Matt Hagan, Tommy Johnson Jr., and Shawn Langdon.

B_Butner.JPGDefending Pro Stock world champion Butner won for the first time at Maple Grove Raceway in 2017 and will look for back-to-back wins. His 2018 campaign started with a win in Pomona, but he is trying to catch Greg Anderson who leads the points at this point of the season. Other top-flight competitors in the class are points leader and winner victory Gray, five-time world champ Jeg Coughlin Jr., who has three wins in 2018 and four at Maple Grove, Vincent Nobile, a two-time winner in 2018, Erica Enders, Jason Line, Chris McGaha, Drew Skillman, and Deric Kramer.
E_Krawiec.jpgKrawiec has been dominant at Maple Grove Raceway, posting six wins and back-to-back victories at the facility. That carried him to a fourth world title in 2017, and he has three wins this season and is second in points behind his teammate Andrew Hines. Krawiec will look for more success against the likes of 2016 world champ Jerry Savoie, two-time world champ Matt Smith, U.S. Nationals winner L.E. Tonglet, Scotty Pollacheck, Hector Arana Jr. and Angelle Sampey, who has six Maple Grove wins.

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.

Those in attendance will also have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to interact with some of the biggest names in drag racing during the NHRA Legends Tour. This includes meet-and-greets, autograph sessions, and a variety of other activities. Legends scheduled to attend the Dodge NHRA Nationals include Al Segrini, Frank Manzo, and more.

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 can 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 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 2:00 and 4:15 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 14, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Sept. 15, at 1:30 and 4:15 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 16.
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.