The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series had a memorable return to Virginia Motorsports Park in 2018 and is set to power back to the fan-favorite track in 2019 for the second annual NHRA Virginia Nationals, May 17-19.
It is the eighth of 24 events during the 2019 NHRA season and will surely be one to remember. Making its first appearance at the track since 2009, the 2018 race drew sold-out crowds, incredible action and remarkable performances on the brand-new racing surface at the track. It led to one of the most exciting weekends of the NHRA regular season and more pulsating 10,000-horsepower, 330-mph action will return in 2019 to provide more of the same thrilling sights, sounds and adrenaline-fueled action.
While attending the NHRA Virginia Nationals, fans will find many improvements made to Virginia Motorsports Park including upgraded grandstands, new lighting, remodeled restroom facilities as well as improvements made to the entrance and parking areas.
“We’ve spent a lot of time working on improving the traffic flow into the event,” said Virginia Motorsports Park owner Tommy Franklin. “We’ve widened the entrance roads to the parking lots and, most significantly, we’ll be offering free parking, which will also speed up the entry process because fans won’t have to stop and have a transaction before getting into the parking lots. We think that will make a great improvement over previous years.”
The top stars in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will compete for the coveted Wally trophy at a facility highly-regarded for its fast conditions. Race coverage will be televised on Fox Sports 1 (FS1) in 2019, including final eliminations coverage starting at 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 19.
The Top Fuel category will be filled with tough competition including reigning champion Steve Torrence. Torrence’s incredible Top Fuel season in 2018 included a world championship and also his first career victory at Virginia Motorsports Park. He beat Doug Kalitta, the current points leader and a former winner at the track, in the final round, setting up his title run. The Texan, winner of the last two events on the tour, will look for a repeat in 2019 against Clay Millican, Leah Pritchett, three-time world champ Antron Brown, Terry McMillen, 2017 world champion Brittany Force, who won the most recent event in Houston, Mike Salinas, who earned his first career win in Las Vegas, and Gainesville winner Richie Crampton.
In Funny Car, fans will be treated to a thrilling racing action with competitors such as 16-time world champion John Force, who enters the 2019 race looking for his 150th career win. Force and Cruz Pedregon are the only current drivers to win at Richmond, though a number of stars will look to change that in 2019, including defending world champion J.R. Todd, 2017 world champ Robert Hight, who is the current points leader, Atlanta winner Ron Capps, Matt Hagan, Jack Beckman and Tommy Johnson Jr.
Pro Stock veterans Jason Line and Jeg Coughlin Jr. remain the only current winners in the class at Virginia Motorsports Park, and Coughlin already has one victory in 2019. Both, though, are chasing 2017 world champion Bo Butner, who has been dominant out of the gates to the tune of three victories in four Pro Stock races. Other top stars trying to track down Butner include two-time world champ Erica Enders, who was the runner-up in Virginia in 2018, Greg Anderson, Chris McGaha, Matt Hartford, Alex Laughlin and Rodger Brogdon.
Making its first appearance at the track since 1998, the talented riders in Pro Stock Motorcycle put on an entertaining show, as LE Tonglet ended up with the victory in 2018. Looking for their first victory in Richmond include a number of talented competitors, including defending world champion Matt Smith, five-time world champ Andrew Hines, who won in Gainesville and Charlotte, Vegas winner Hector Arana Jr., 2017 world champ Eddie Krawiec and three-time world champ Angelle Sampey.
The E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service makes the fifth of 12 stops in 2019 at Virginia Motorsports Park. Defending world champion Mike Janis is the also defending Pro Mod winner at the race. The event also features thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, showcasing the future stars of the sport.
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.
NHRA fans can take part in the Mello Yello Walking Tour to see the cars and teams hard at work in the pits. Fans can also attend Nitro School to learn more about how the cars operate and reach their thrilling speeds. Virginia Motorsports Park will host a Mello Yello autograph session and allow fans to meet their favorite drivers as well as the Cruising with Castello Sealmaster Track Walk hosted by NHRA announcer Joe Castello. A can’t-miss experience of any NHRA event is the winner’s circle celebration on Sunday after racing concludes. NHRA fans are invited to congratulate the winners of the event as they celebrate their NHRA Virginia Nationals victories.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 1:45 and 5:00 p.m. on Friday, May 17, and the final two rounds of qualifying at 12:45 and 3:45 p.m. on Saturday, May 18. Final eliminations are scheduled for 12 p.m. on Sunday, May 19.
To purchase general admission or reserved seats, call 800-884-NHRA (6472). Tickets also are available online at www.NHRA.com/tickets. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. All students can save 50 percent on general admission at the gate with a student ID. To honor the Salute to First Responders, military and first responders can save 20 percent on general admission tickets at the gate.