INDIANAPOLIS – The World’s Biggest Drag Race™ returns to Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis for the 63rd annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, Aug. 30-Sept. 4, unleashing the thrilling, 10,000-horsepower action of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
Drag racing’s grandest event marks the end of the NHRA regular season and is the 18th of 24 races in the 2017 season. With teams battling for top 10 spots in the six-race Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship and with an increased amount of points in play via the point-and-a-half system for this event (150 points to the winner), the stakes will be high at the event know as the Big Go.In all, during the course of six days, nearly 1,000 drivers competing across 12 categories have the goal of holding the Wally trophy on Labor Day Monday and expanded prize money, the prestigious Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals the most-coveted victory in drag racing. Winning the event has become a necessity for drivers, who say that no career is truly complete without a win at drag racing’s biggest race.
The top drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle will compete for their place in Indy history. Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Chris McGaha (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of a race that will be broadcasted on the FOX national broadcast network and Fox Sports 1 (FS1), including a live broadcast of Monday’s finals on both FOX and FS1 on Monday, Sept. 4.Schumacher etched his name in Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals history books a year ago, becoming the first NHRA driver to reach an incredible 10 wins at the prestigious race. The Top Fuel standout will look to add to his legacy at the historic event, but will have to hold off the likes of points leader Steve Torrence, who has a career-best six wins in 2017 and is seeking his first Indy win, back-to-back world champ Antron Brown, three-time 2017 winner Leah Pritchett, 2013 Indy winner Shawn Langdon, Doug Kalitta, Bristol winner Clay Millican, and Brittany Force.Two-time world champ Hagan broke through for the first time at Indy a year ago, winning for the first time at the Big Go. He’s won three times in 2017, trying to keep pace with Don Schumacher Racing teammate, reigning world champ and points leader Ron Capps, who has six wins this season. Other Funny Car standouts who have excelled at the world’s biggest drag race include four-time winner John Force, who last won Indy in 2002, three-time winners Robert Hight and Cruz Pedregon, Jack Beckman, Alexis Dejoria, Tim Wilkerson, and Del Worsham.McGaha’s first Indy win in Pro Stock came a year ago and he’ll look to build on that in 2017. Greg Anderson, a two-time winner this season, has six wins at the Big Go, second to only Bob Glidden’s nine at the race, while other top competitors in the class include points leader Bo Butner and rookie Tanner Gray, who both have three wins this season, 2015 Indy winner Erica Enders, three-time Indy winner Jeg Coughlin, reigning world champ Jason Line, and Drew Skillman.Hines picked up his second Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals win in 2016 and is after his first win of 2017. Former world champ and 2010 Indy winner LE Tonglet has been dominant this year, winning five races and he will look to keep that pace against two-time 2017 winner Eddie Krawiec, Steve Johnson and Angelle Sampey, who each have two Indy wins, reigning world champ and 2015 winner Jerry Savoie, and Indy winners Hector Arana Jr. and Matt Smith.Bonus bucks and bragging rights will be on the line for qualified drivers in Top Fuel and Funny Car as they battle in the lucrative Traxxas Nitro Shootout. The Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Top Fuel will be held on Saturday evening, while the Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Funny Car is contested Sunday afternoon. The winners in each Traxxas Nitro Shootout will earn $100,000. Schumacher is the defending winner in Top Fuel, while Courtney Force was the 2016 winner in Funny Car.
Drivers in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Series also will look to become winners of the prestigious event. The fastest Super Stock cars will challenge for ultimate bragging rights and bonus purse during the popular Mopar HEMI Challenge. After Nitro qualifying, fans can watch the spectacular Muy Caliente Racing jet dragsters sponsored by Lucas Oil and the Larsen Motorsports jet dragsters sponsored by Florida Tech and Matrix System. Jet cars are thrust driven propelled by jet engines with exciting pre-run flame shows.
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.
A special Monday edition of the SealMaster NHRA Track Walk also will take place prior to final eliminations, where many of the sport’s most celebrated drivers will walk alongside fans down the historic dragstrip. Fan-favorite vintage racecars will be on display in the Hot Rod Junction, along with several autograph sessions featuring the biggest stars of the sport will be featured.
Downtown Indianapolis will come alive with NHRA excitement at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 30, when the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals Fan Fest comes to Monument Circle. It will feature NHRA race team showcars, classic cars, live music, video displays and giveaways, along with one of the largest autograph sessions of the season, featuring all the fans’ favorite drivers. In addition, the official event press conference will take place and the random lottery drawings for the No. 8 positions in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout will be conducted.
The first of five Mello Yello Series qualifying sessions is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 1. Two more sessions will take to the track on Saturday, Sept. 2 at 2:30 p.m. and 6:15 p.m., and the final two qualifying sessions will take place on Sunday, Sept. 3 at 11:30 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 4. The Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Top Fuel will be contested Saturday, Sept. 2 with rounds at 3:45 p.m., 5:45 p.m. and 7:40 p.m. The Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Funny Car takes place on Sunday, Sept. 3 for the eight qualified drivers, with rounds at 12:45 p.m., 2:45 p.m. and 4:40 p.m.
FOX national broadcast and FS1 will televise coverage of the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, starting with qualifying on Sunday, Sept. 3 on FS1 at 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. EST. The broadcasts continue on FS1 with two hours of live coverage of eliminations on Monday, Sept. 4 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. For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.
Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals Fact Sheet
WHAT: 63rd annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, 18th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and the last race in the NHRA Mello Yello Series regular season. At the conclusion of this event, the top 10 drivers in four categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle – will be locked in to begin the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoffs, leading to the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships.
WHERE: Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, Brownsburg, Ind. From I-465, exit Crawfordsville Road (Hwy. 136). Head west for four miles past downtown Clermont. The facility’s main entrance is on the left, one-half mile past Raceway Road. From I-74 go south on Ronald Reagan Parkway, exit 68 and turn south. Turn east on U.S. 136 and entrance on the track will be on the right.
COURSE: Championship dragstrip; Track elevation is 700 feet above sea level; Track direction is south to north.
POINTS: A special world championship points system is in effect at this event, where drivers in the Mello Yello Series categories will earn points based on a point-and-a-half system (150 points to win). A single racer in each category can earn a maximum of 188 points at this event. All other NHRA Mello Yello Series events offer 100 points to win. Teams also will get 15 points instead of 10 for making a qualifying attempt. Qualifying bonus points will remain at 1-2-3 for the five sessions and the standard 1-8 points will be given for qualifying positions.
WHEN: Wednesday, Aug. 30 through Monday, Sept. 4.
WEDNESDAY, Aug. 30 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
THURSDAY, Aug. 31 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying and eliminations
FRIDAY, Sept. 1 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying and eliminations (featuring Mopar HEMI Challenge)
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 6:30 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 7:15 p.m.
SATURDAY, Sept. 2 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying and eliminations
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 1:45 and 5:30 p.m.
TRAXXAS NITRO SHOOTOUT (Top Fuel) rounds at 3:45, 5:45 and 7:40 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 2:30 p.m. and 6:15 p.m.
SUNDAY, Sept. 3 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying and eliminations (featuring Factory Stock Showdown)
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 2 p.m.; first round of eliminations at 5:25 p.m.
TRAXXAS NITRO SHOOTOUT (Funny Car) rounds at 12:45, 2:45 and 4:40 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 11:30 a.m. and 3:15 p.m.
MONDAY, Sept. 4 – Pre-race ceremonies, 9:45 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.TELEVISION:
Sunday, Sept. 3, FS1 will televise two hours of qualifying coverage at noon (ET).
Sunday, Sept. 3, FS1 will televise two hours of qualifying coverage at 5 p.m. (ET).
Monday, Sept. 4, FS1 will televise two hours of live finals coverage at 11 a.m. (ET).
Monday, Sept. 4, FOX will televise three hours of live finals coverage at 1 p.m. (ET).
2016 EVENT WINNERS:
Tony Schumacher, Top Fuel; Matt Hagan, Funny Car; Chris McGaha, Pro Stock; Andrew Hines, Pro Stock Motorcycle.
Tony Schumacher, TF, 10; Bob Glidden, PS, 9; Don Garlits, TF, 8; Don Prudhomme, TF/ FC, 7; Greg Anderson, PS, 6; Warren Johnson, PS, 6; Ed McCulloch, FC/TF, 6; Dave Schultz, PSM, 6; Larry Dixon, TF, 4;John Force, FC, 4.
EVENT HISTORY: The most historic and prestigious event in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals has been contested annually since 1955. Originally known as “The Nationals” and first held at an abandoned airstrip in Great Bend, Kan., the event made stops at Kansas City, Mo., Oklahoma City and Detroit before eventually moving to Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis in 1961. Past winners include “Big Daddy” Don Garlits, an eight-time winner in Top Fuel; Shirley Muldowney, 1982 Top Fuel winner; Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, a seven-time winner and one of a handful of drivers to win the event in both Top Fuel and Funny Car; and Bob Glidden, the legendary Pro Stock driver who dominated the race by advancing to the final round in 13 consecutive seasons from 1977-’89. The Indiana native won the event nine times. Tony Schumacher has the most wins at the event with 10 victories including his 2010 win. It is the only major motorsports event to be contested on Labor Day.
FAST FACTS: The Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals is the final of 18 regular season Mello Yello Series races. Following conclusion of this event the top 10 drivers in each Mello Yello Series category will qualify for the Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s six-race playoffs that begin Sept. 15-17 at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte, N.C.… The Traxxas Nitro Shootout will offer $100,000 to the winners in special bonus events for qualified Top Fuel and Funny Car drivers… Tony Schumacher is an 11-time U.S. Nationals finalist in Top Fuel (winning 10)… Schumacher’s first career NHRA start came at the U.S. Nationals in 1996 and the then rookie posted a runner-up finish to Cory McClenathan… John Force, 16-time NHRA Mello Yello Series world champion and winner of a record 148 events, has won the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals four times, his last coming in 2002… Four women have earned Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals victories, including Shirley Muldowney once in Top Fuel, Ashley Force Hood twice in Funny Car, Alexis DeJoria once in Funny Car and Angelle Sampey twice in Pro Stock Motorcycle…Kenny Bernstein, Don Prudhomme, Jim Head and Ed McCulloch have won the race in both Top Fuel and Funny Car, while Antron Brown has also won the race in multiple MYDRS classes, Top Fuel and Pro Stock Motorcycle… The event also will feature competition in the Lucas Oil Series and the J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series, featuring high-horsepower machines that accelerate to more than 250 mph.
WHAT TO WATCH: The Traxxas Nitro Shootout will offer $100,000 to the winners in special bonus events for qualified Top Fuel and Funny Car drivers… Tony Schumacher is seeking a record 11th Top Fuel victory at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals… Four-time Pro Stock world champion Greg Anderson is seeking his seventh Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals victory… Several high-profile drivers are looking for their first victory in the world’s most prestigious drag race, including two-time Indy runner-up Doug Kalitta in Top Fuel, Ron Capps in Funny Car, as well as 2012 world champ Allen Johnson in Pro Stock… Drivers in several Mello Yello Series categories who are on the bubble to make it into the top 10 in points will be trying to take advantage of Indy’s point-and-a-half system and secure their berths into the Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s six-race postseason playoffs.TRACK HISTORY: In 1958, led by Tom Binford, Frank Dickie, Rodger Ward and Howard Fieber, 15 Indianapolis-area businessmen and racing professionals invested $5,000 each to fund the development of what would become Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. The group purchased a 267-acre farm about seven miles from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and developed a multipurpose auto racing facility. The original intention in creating Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis was to design a 15-turn, 2.5-mile road course. Nearly as an afterthought, and as an insurance measure against economic problems, the investment group decided to incorporate a quarter-mile drag strip into the long straightaway of the 2.5-mile road course design. Constructed with assistance from the NHRA, the drag strip was the first of the three courses to be completed, with the facility’s first event held on the strip in the fall of 1960. During the 1960 U.S. Nationals in Detroit, a handshake agreement between Binford and NHRA founder Wally Parks promised that the event would move to Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis in 1961. The historic three-year pact was signed and sealed under a tree in Detroit Dragway’s pits, and Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis eventually became the home of NHRA’s biggest annual event. The NHRA purchased the entire facility in 1979. The first major improvement came in 1983 with the construction and dedication of Parks Tower, the four-story drag strip tower. In 1998, new grandstands, suites and a tower complex on the front straightaway were completed at the oval track at a cost of nearly $2.5 million, which included the repaving of the entire oval surface as part of a three-phase facility improvement project. In 2001, NHRA and Lucas Oil Raceway constructed a new drag strip racing surface, replacing the strip with a 660-foot concrete pad and laying new asphalt on the remainder of the track and shutdown area. Prior to the 2003 race, eight new luxury suites were added along the top of the west-side grandstands of the drag strip, giving fans a unique perspective of the action on the famed track. In 2006, new soft barrier walls were added to the oval. In 2007, the track announced its first track entitlement with O’Reilly Auto Parts. In 2011, the track announced a new track entitlement with Lucas Oil Products. The track – formerly known as Indianapolis Raceway Park – is now known as Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. During the winter of 2008, a new main track office building was constructed near the track entrance.
Top Fuel – 3.692 sec. by Clay Millican, Sept. ’16; 328.54 mph by Tony Schumacher, Sept. ’14.
Funny Car – 3.858 sec. by Matt Hagan, Sept. ‘16; 333.80 by Jack Beckman, Sept. ’16.
Pro Stock – 6.538 sec. by Jason Line, Sept. ’11; 211.13 mph by Mike Edwards, Sept. ’12.
Pro Stock Motorcycle – 6.812 sec. by Angelle Sampey, Sept. 16; 197.25 mph by LE Tonglet, Sept. ’16.
Top Fuel – 3.658 sec. by Leah Pritchett, Feb ‘17, Phoenix; 333.66 mph by Brittany Force, May ‘17, Topeka, Kan.
Funny Car – 3.802 sec. and 338.85 mph by Matt Hagan, May ’17, Topeka, Kan.
Pro Stock – 6.455 sec. by Jason Line, March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.; 215.55 mph by Erica Enders, May ‘14, Englishtown N.J.
PS Motorcycle – 6.730 sec. by Angelle Sampey, July ’16; 199.76 mph by Sampey, July ‘16.
TICKETS: For tickets call (800) 884-NHRA (6472). Tickets also are available online at www.NHRA.com/tickets.
Photos courtesy of NHRA