GLENDORA, Calif. – A consistent NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series regular season did not lead to Pro Stock Greg Anderson contending for a fifth world championship during the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship. But the longtime standout still has a chance to end his 2018 campaign on a good note at this weekend’s 54th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, where Anderson will look for his 13th win at the facility.
That would give Anderson the most wins in Pro Stock history at the historic facility, breaking the current tie with the legendary Bob Glidden. It is something that is definitely on Anderson’s mind heading to the season-finale, as is finishing his 2018 season on the best note possible in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro.
“It would mean a lot,” said Anderson, who has 91 career victories. “We’ve struggled in the Countdown, but as a team, with Jason (Line) and Bo (Butner), we’ve won the last two events and I would love to get a win myself. We’re not going to win a championship and that’s definitely a letdown, but it’s very important for the team to find a way to win three in a row to end the season. It’s a confidence-booster through the winter and it’s the only way to get some positive vibes.”
Brittany Force (Top Fuel), Tommy Johnson Jr. (Funny Car), Bo Butner (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the race that will be televised on FOX Sports 1 (FS1), including live finals coverage starting at 4:00 p.m. (ET) on Sunday. The race is the final event of the year and the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, but the playoffs have not gone as planned for Anderson, who was the points leader for almost half the regular season.
He entered the Countdown to the Championship in second, but Anderson hasn’t found the winning combination in the playoffs, advancing past the second round only once the past five events. That put a damper on any championship hopes, as Tanner Gray has opened up a big lead on the strength of two playoff wins. He’ll take a 140-point lead over Jeg Coughlin Jr. into Pomona as a heavy championship favorite, but Anderson knows the special feeling winning this race brings.
“Pomona has always been magical,” said Anderson, who has six Auto Club NHRA Finals wins. “The vibe and the feeling there, it’s just a beautiful atmosphere. It’s always great weather, a great weekend and a big crowd, and everything about it you want to make sure you do well. Everybody only remembers the last race, so you don’t want to flop or do bad heading into the off-season. You’ve got to set yourself up for a good winter and the next season.”
Line and Butner have won the past two events, setting up the possibility that KB Racing could close out the season on a hot streak, which would certainly pay dividends for 2019. Anderson, who has just one win this year despite nine No. 1 qualifiers, would like to round out the team effort with the victory in Pomona, but the competition has proven to be at an all-time high in 2018. That will make winning difficult this weekend, but it also continues to drive Anderson forward in the class.
“It’s still my belief that it’s the class with the best competition,” Anderson said. “This year was the best competition we’ve ever had. It was off the charts this year. You can’t make any mistakes if you want to win, and it’s harder than ever to win a race. But I love that. The taller the challenge, the better I like it. It’s why I race in the class. When people ask why I race Pro Stock, it’s for the competition. No matter what happens, the class is still going to have great competition.”
On the strength of five straight wins in the Countdown to the Championship, Steve Torrence claimed the Top Fuel world title in Vegas, and he’ll look to sweep the playoffs in Pomona.
With a win in Vegas, Funny Car’s J.R. Todd takes a 74-point lead into Pomona over defending world champ Robert Hight as Todd seeks his first career world title.
It’s a tight race in Pro Stock Motorcycle, with two-time world champ Matt Smith keeping a slim four-point advantage on defending world champ Eddie Krawiec. LE Tonglet is 61 points back.The Auto Club NHRA Finals will also feature thrilling competition in the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, where the future stars of the sport earn their racing stripes. After Nitro qualifying, stick around to see the spectacular Cacklefests during the weekend.
Those in attendance will also have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to interact with some of the biggest names in drag racing during the NHRA Legends Tour. This includes meet-and-greets, autograph sessions, and a variety of other activities. Legends scheduled to attend the Auto Club NHRA Finals include Kenny Bernstein, Greg Sharp and more.
As always, fans can 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 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 12:45 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 9, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Nov. 10, at 12:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 11.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call 800-644-4444. Tickets also are available online at www.NHRA.com/tickets. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. All students can save 50 percent on general admission at the gate with a student ID. 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.
AUTO CLUB NHRA FINALS FACT SHEET
WHAT: 54th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals, the final of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and the final of six races in the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs. Drivers in four categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle – earn points leading to 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships.
WHERE: Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Pomona, Calif. Track is located off I-10 at Fairplex Drive. From I-10, go north on Fairplex drive and follow the signs to Auto Club Raceway at the Fairplex.
COURSE: Championship drag strip; Track elevation is 1,100 feet above sea level; Track direction is north to south.
WHEN: Thursday through Sunday, Nov. 8-11SCHEDULE:
THURSDAY, Nov. 8 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
FRIDAY, Nov. 9 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at noon and 2:45 p.m.
SATURDAY, Nov. 10 – LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at noon and 2:45 p.m.
SUNDAY, Nov. 11 – Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.TELEVISION:
Friday, Nov. 9, FS1 will televise one hour of live qualifying coverage at 10:30 p.m. (ET).
Sunday, Nov. 11, FS1 will televise three hours of live finals coverage starting at 4 p.m. (ET).2017 EVENT WINNERS:
Brittany Force, Top Fuel; Tommy Johnson, Funny Car; Bo Butner, Pro Stock; Andrew Hines, Pro Stock Motorcycle.
MOST VICTORIES: John Force, FC, 8; Kenny Bernstein, TF-FC, 6; Greg Anderson, PS, 5; Bob Glidden, PS, 5; John Myers, PSM, 5; Warren Johnson, PS, 4; Dave Schultz, PSM, 4; Tony Schumacher, TF, 4.TRACK RECORDS:
Top Fuel – 3.628 sec. by Clay Millican, Feb. ’18 and 330.00 mph by Steve Torrence, Nov. ‘18
Funny Car – 3.822 sec. by Matt Hagan, Feb. ’17 and 336.32 by Matt Hagan, Feb. ’18
Pro Stock – 6.480 sec. by Erica Enders, Nov. ’14 and 213.84 mph by Drew Skillman, Nov. ’15
Pro Stock Motorcycle – 6.766 sec. by Andrew Hines, Nov. ’12; 198.29 mph by Eddie Krawiec, Nov. ’12
Top Fuel – 3.628 sec. by Clay Millican, Feb. ’18, Pomona, Calif.; 336.57 mph by Tony Schumacher, Feb. ‘18, Phoenix
Funny Car – 3.793 sec. by Robert Hight, Aug. ’17, Brainerd; 339.87 mph by Robert Hight, July ’17, Sonoma, Calif.
Pro Stock – 6.455 sec. by Jason Line, March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.; 215.55 mph by Erica Enders, May ’14, Englishtown N.J.
Pro Stock Motorcycle – 6.728 sec. by Andrew Hines, Oct ‘12, Reading, PA.; 201.01 mph by Hector Arana Jr., March ‘18, Gainesville, Fla.
TICKETS: For tickets call 800-884-NHRA (6472), of visit www.nhra.com/tickets/.
Photos courtesy of NHRA
Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 24 national events featuring the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and E3 Spark Plug NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA. NHRA also offers NHRA Jr. Street program for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. In addition, NHRA owns and operates four racing facilities: Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; Gainesville Raceway in Florida; Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California.