The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series makes the first of its two annual trips to Texas when it returns to Houston Raceway Park powered by Pennzoil on April 12-14 for the 32nd annual Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals presented by Pennzoil.
It is the fifth of 24 races during the 2019 NHRA season, and plenty of high-powered, 10,000-horsepower thrills will be on display at one of the quickest tracks on the NHRA circuit. That means fans will be treated to plenty of 330-plus mph action in the Lone Star State, as the track enjoys ideal atmospheric conditions thanks to its proximity to Trinity Bay. With the top stars in NHRA’s nitro classes looking to start the season strong, fans can expect more excitement in 2019.
Teams in Top Fuel and Funny Car will again battle for an important early-season race victory and critical world championship points at the stop just outside of Houston. Brittany Force (Top Fuel) and J.R. Todd (Funny Car) were last year’s winners of the event, which will include live finals coverage on the FOX national broadcast network starting at 3:00 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, April 14. It marks the NHRA’s 2019 season debut on FOX.
Brittany Force, the 2017 Top Fuel world champion, picked up her lone victory of the season a year ago at Houston Raceway Park powered by Pennzoil. It was also her first victory of the facility and she’ll head to the race on a good note after qualifying No. 1 in Gainesville. But to grab her first victory of 2019, she’ll have to get past a star-studded list of drivers that includes points leader Doug Kalitta, who won in Pomona to open the year, Gainesville winner Richie Crampton, Las Vegas winner Mike Salinas, defending world champion and Texas native Steve Torrence, his father, Billy, who won in Phoenix, 2017 event winner Leah Pritchett, Terry McMillen, Clay Millican, Antron Brown and rookie Austin Prock.
In Funny Car, Todd used the early-season momentum from his victory in Houston to start the road to his first world championship. Todd, who won six races a season ago, won the recent Four-Wide Nationals in Las Vegas and he’ll look to add to that right away. But it won’t be easy against Robert Hight, the current points leader who was the No. 1 qualifier at the first three races and won two of them. Todd and Hight dueled at the end of 2018 in a thrilling championship battle, while others to watch in Houston include Phoenix winner Matt Hagan, John Force, who has seven Houston wins, four-time event winner Ron Capps, Jack Beckman, Tommy Johnson Jr., Shawn Langdon, Tim Wilkerson, Bob Tasca and Cruz Pedregon, who has three Houston wins.
The E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service makes its second of 12 stops in 2019 at Houston Raceway Park powered by Pennzoil. Todd Tutterow sprinted to the victory at the season-opener at Gainesville. The event also features thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, showcasing the future stars of the sport, as well as the Mickey Thompson Tires NHRA Top Fuel Harley Drag Racing Series. The Mountain Motor Pro Stock class will also make its 2019 debut at the event, marking the first of four races during the year where the powerful Mountain Motor Pro Stock cars take to the track.
Along with exciting on-track action, the Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals presented by Pennzoil 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 4:30 and 7:15 p.m. on Friday, April 12 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, April 13, at 2:30 and 5 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, April 14.
To purchase reserved seats, call (281) 383-RACE (7223) or visit www.houstonraceway.com.
Kids 13 and under are free on the spectator side with a paid adult. To honor NHRA’s Salute to First Responders, military and first responders can save 20 percent on reserved tickets in advance or at the gate.