The 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series hits the midpoint at this weekend’s Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, kicking off Friday at Summit Motorsports Park with a special day of non-stop heads-up action.
Racing will begin at 1 p.m. after a special Friday pre-race ceremony that introduces the vehicles in competition this weekend followed by a unique SealMaster Track Walk. After Alcohol Dragster and Alcohol Funny Car qualifying, we’ll race in the SAMTech.edu NHRA Factory Stock Showdown and the E3 Pro Mod Series follows by the first of two NHRA Mello Yello qualifying sessions.
In Top Fuel, points leader Steve Torrence will be looking to get a leg up on another round-win streak. After closing 2018 with 24 straight round wins he racked up 22 consecutive win lights before being stopped in the final round in Bristol at last weekend’s NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals. The reigning world champion will face his stiffest competition from the man who beat him in Bristol, Mike Salinas, who sits third in points and second-place Doug Kalitta.
Sixteen-time NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car champ John Force just missed out on career win No. 150 in Bristol but will be in the hunt again in Norwalk, where he has a lot of experience not just on the national event trail but also at the track’s traditional Night Under Fire match-race event. Force and teammate Robert Hight, the current points leader have to be considered heavy favorites this weekend.
So far this season, there have been seven different Funny Car winners in the first 11 races. Force, Jack Beckman, Tim Wilkerson, Cruz Pedregon, and 2018 Norwalk Top Fuel winner Blake Alexander are not among them.
After sitting out the last two events, the Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle classes return to action in Norwalk where respective points leaders Bo Butner and Andrew Hines hope to continue their early-season dominance.
Butner and his Summit Racing teammates, Greg Anderson and Jason Line will be looking for a big weekend at their sponsor’s event while second-place Alex Laughlin hopes to continue his great season start. Butner has dominated in Pro Stock this season with four wins in six races, and he's also a championship contender in the SAM Tech.edu Factory Stock Showdown with his Summit-backed Cobra Jet Mustang.
Qualifying in Pro Stock Motorcycle will carry extra significance as the event is the second to last for the two-wheeled warriors to earn points towards participation in the Mickey Thompson Tires Pro Bike Battle, the big-buck specialty race to be held in mid-July at the NHRA Sonoma Nationals.
A strong battle is raging for the field’s final spot between Jerry Savoie, Angie Smith (pictured), and Steve Johnson. Harley-Davidson teammates Hines and Eddie Krawiec are already solidly locked in the Battle field and will concentrate on earning points toward the season championship that their Vance & Hines Screamin’ Eagle team has monopolized in recent seasons.
The E3 Pro Mod series will race for the third-consecutive week before taking a long break until the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals. With two wins and two runner-up finishes, Steve Jackson is the points leader with his supercharged Bahrain1 Camaro. Jackson will have to fend off a large field of Pro Mod racers including the turbocharged cars of Sidnei Frigo, Jose Gonzalez, and Khalid alBalooshi, a multi-national trio of racers that represent Brazil, the Dominican Republic, and Dubai, UAE, respectively.
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