In the midst of what, by any measure, has been a challenging year, racers have continued to turn out and show their support for NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and Lucas Oil Series events. That trend continued this week when the final entry list for the Denso Spark Plugs NHRA U.S. Nationals closed with an official tally of 891 entries across 17 eliminators. The final number represents a significant increase over the 2019 event.
The Indy entry list includes more than 100 professional racers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, Pro Stock Motorcycle, along with the E3 Spark Plugs Pro Mod series and Mickey Thompson Top Fuel Harley series. Perhaps the most intense battle of the weekend will come in the Pro Stock class where 23 racers will be vying for a spot in the 16-car qualified field and with just three attempts on the schedule, one small mistake could have dire consequences. The same goes for Top Fuel, where 19 drivers will aim for 16 available spots, and Pro Mod, which boasts as 21-car pre-entry.
The increase in attendance among Lucas Oil Series sportsman racers can be attributed, at least in part, to the JEGS Allstars race, which was moved from its traditional home in Joliet to Indy. The JEGS Allstars event includes 80 drivers representing each of NHRA’s seven geographic regions which means there are a large number of racers who traveled from the deep south, west coast, and pacific northwest regions.
The Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car classes are also well represented with 19 and 23 entries, respectively. Six of the drivers who made last year's top ten are entered in Top Alcohol Dragster including reigning champion Megan Meyer and her sister, Rachel. The Funny Car class has an exceptionally stout line-up that includes reigning and two-time champion Sean Bellemeur, and fellow world champions Jay Payne and Jonnie Lindberg.
The U.S. Nationals has long been the ancestral home of class racing and that remains the case with 135 Super Stock and 133 Stock entries expected to attend. The Super Stock class also includes 16 vintage 1968 Dodge Dart and Plymouth Barracuda factory race cars that will be competing in Friday’s Dodge Hemi Challenge race on Friday. Pennsylvania’s Jimmy Daniels will be attempting to win the special event for the fifth-straight year.
By far the biggest class at this year’s U.S. Nationals will be Super Comp, with a total of 162 racers on the pre-entry list. That means the eventual winner will have to survive eight elimination rounds to claim the Wally, the most coveted trophy in drag racing. The Super Comp field includes 10 past or current world champions.
History will also be made on Sunday when the first-ever Denso U.S. Nationals Super Street champion will be crowned. Super Street was added to this year’s event to accommodate the drivers racing in the JEGS Allstars and the field of 10.90-index racers will include more than 40 drivers.
Fans of sportsman racing also enjoyed the arrival of the Vortech Superchargers Top Dragster and Top Sportsman classes which made their Indy debuts last season. Both eliminators feature a field of 32 drivers all running in the six-second zone. Last year, all 32 Top Dragster qualifiers were sandwiched between 6.10 and 6.23 and there is every reason to expect that this year’s qualifying show will be equally as intense.