Coming off the latest landmark victory in his legendary NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series career, John Force has a chance for another noteworthy achievement on drag racing’s grandest stage. The 16-time Funny Car world champ recently picked up his 150th career victory, putting him in prime shape to compete for a win at the 65th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, which takes place Aug. 28-Sept. 2 at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.
While the sport’s most prestigious event turns 65 this year, Force will try to earn his fifth career win at the Big Go, entering the final regular season race on a strong note in his 11,000-horsepower PEAK/Chevrolet Performance Chevrolet Camaro SS. The 150-time event winner is currently third in points, putting Force on a good path approaching Indy and the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, where he will try to win his unprecedented 17th title. For now, though, Force’s immediate focus is doing well on drag racing’s biggest race.
“That’s the granddaddy,” Force said. “That’s where everybody wants to go. Everybody wants to win. I’ve won it a few times, and my daughter, Ashley, won it twice in her Funny Car. We’ll see if we can do it again with the Chevrolet Performance car. Indy is always exciting, extra qualifying run, extra day to be in my Chevy Camaro hot rod. No complaints about that. It’s always a good show. It’s the Big Go, the world’s biggest drag race, and everyone wants to win it. It’s intense all the way to the end.”
Terry McMillen (Top Fuel), J.R. Todd (Funny Car), Tanner Gray (Pro Stock) and LE Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of a race that will be shown on the FOX national broadcast network and Fox Sports 1 (FS1), including a live broadcast of eliminations on both FOX and FS1 on Monday, Sept. 2. It is the 18th of 24 races in 2019 and the prestigious event includes an increased amount of points via the points-and-a-half system to close the regular season.
The legacy-defining event kicks off with the popular Friday Prime Time show, and Force will really try to shine when eliminations come on Labor Day Monday. He’s been consistent all year, advancing to two final rounds and eight semifinals, but Force hopes to dial it up even more in Indy. That means debuting a special car for the race and prepping the entire John Force Racing organization to be at their best at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals.
“Indy is special to me because we do a specialty car with Chevrolet Performance,” Force said. “It’s become a bit of a tradition. It would be exciting to win, get their specialty scheme in the winners circle, but I’d love to win it with any of my teams, Robert Hight with Auto Club, Brittany with Advance (Auto Parts) and Austin Prock with Montana Brand. We’re all Chevy so no matter who wins, it’s a win for Chevy at the biggest race of the season, their race.”
Hight currently leads the Funny Car class, as he picked up his 50th career win last month. But Force also has to contend with a number of stalwarts in the loaded Funny Car class, including defending world champ J.R. Todd, Tommy Johnson Jr., Jack Beckman, Matt Hagan, Ron Capps, Bob Tasca III, Shawn Langdon and Tim Wilkerson. Everyone will be at their best on the big stage, but that’s also why Force loves the event and he hopes to put on a memorable performance.
“Indy is also where our racing headquarters is and our employees can come to the race and see what they create, get to take some real pride in everything they do for us,” Force said. “Our crew guys, they’re working hard but there’s a whole other side in Indy, where we have guys working just as hard making sure we have everything we need on the road to get us down that track quick, safe and looking good. The U.S. Nationals is a chance for us to put on a show for those employees.”
The first of five Mello Yello Series qualifying sessions is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 30. Two more sessions will take to the track on Saturday, Aug. 31 at 1:15 p.m. and 4:15 p.m., and the final two qualifying sessions will take place on Sunday, Sept. 1 at 1:15 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 2.
FOX national broadcast and FS1 will televise coverage of the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, starting with qualifying on Sunday, Sept. 1 on FS1 at 2 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. EST. The broadcasts continue on FS1 with two hours of live coverage of eliminations on Monday, Sept. 2 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.