INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (August 20, 2019) – Coming off the latest landmark victory in his legendary NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series career, John Force has a chance for another noteworthy achievement on drag racing’s grandest stage. The 16-time Funny Car world champ recently picked up his 150th career victory, putting him in prime shape to compete for a win at the 65th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, which takes place Aug. 28-Sept. 2 at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.
While the sport’s most prestigious event turns 65 this year, Force will try to earn his fifth career win at the Big Go, entering the final regular season race on a strong note in his 11,000-horsepower PEAK/Chevrolet Performance Chevrolet Camaro SS. The 150-time event winner is currently third in points, putting Force on a good path approaching Indy and the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, where he will try to win his unprecedented 17th title. For now, though, Force’s immediate focus is doing well on drag racing’s biggest race.
“That’s the granddaddy,” Force said. “That’s where everybody wants to go. Everybody wants to win. I’ve won it a few times, and my daughter, Ashley, won it twice in her Funny Car. We’ll see if we can do it again with the Chevrolet Performance car. Indy is always exciting, extra qualifying run, extra day to be in my Chevy Camaro hot rod. No complaints about that. It’s always a good show. It’s the Big Go, the world’s biggest drag race, and everyone wants to win it. It’s intense all the way to the end.”
Terry McMillen (Top Fuel), J.R. Todd (Funny Car), Tanner Gray (Pro Stock) and LE Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of a race that will be shown on the FOX national broadcast network and Fox Sports 1 (FS1), including a live broadcast of eliminations on both FOX and FS1 on Monday, Sept. 2. It is the 18th of 24 races in 2019 and the prestigious event includes an increased amount of points via the points-and-a-half system to close the regular season.
The legacy-defining event kicks off with the popular Friday Prime Time show, and Force will really try to shine when eliminations come on Labor Day Monday. He’s been consistent all year, advancing to two final rounds and eight semifinals, but Force hopes to dial it up even more in Indy. That means debuting a special car for the race and prepping the entire John Force Racing organization to be at their best at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals.
“Indy is special to me because we do a specialty car with Chevrolet Performance,” Force said. “It’s become a bit of a tradition. It would be exciting to win, get their specialty scheme in the winners circle, but I’d love to win it with any of my teams, Robert Hight with Auto Club, Brittany with Advance (Auto Parts) and Austin Prock with Montana Brand. We’re all Chevy so no matter who wins, it’s a win for Chevy at the biggest race of the season, their race.”
Hight currently leads the Funny Car class, as he picked up his 50th career win last month. But Force also has to contend with a number of stalwarts in the loaded Funny Car class, including defending world champ J.R. Todd, Tommy Johnson Jr., Jack Beckman, Matt Hagan, Ron Capps, Bob Tasca III, Shawn Langdon and Tim Wilkerson. Everyone will be at their best on the big stage, but that’s also why Force loves the event and he hopes to put on a memorable performance.
“Indy is also where our racing headquarters is and our employees can come to the race and see what they create, get to take some real pride in everything they do for us,” Force said. “Our crew guys, they’re working hard but there’s a whole other side in Indy, where we have guys working just as hard making sure we have everything we need on the road to get us down that track quick, safe and looking good. The U.S. Nationals is a chance for us to put on a show for those employees.”
In Top Fuel, Terry McMillen claimed the biggest victory in his career a year ago, and he’ll try to do it again against the likes of points leader and defending champ Steve Torrence, three-time world champ Antron Brown, Doug Kalitta, Brittany Force, Leah Pritchett and Clay Millican.
Greg Anderson has the most wins of any active NHRA driver at Indy, as the four-time Pro Stock world champ has six Indy wins. Trying to prevent a seventh will be points leader Bo Butner, Alex Laughlin, five-time world champ Jeg Coughlin Jr., Deric Kramer, Jason Line and Erica Enders.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, points leader Andrew Hines has two Indy wins and is in the midst of a dominating year with seven wins in nine races. He will look to enter the playoffs on a strong note against Eddie Krawiec, defending world champ Matt Smith, Hector Arana Jr. and Karen Stoffer.
Drivers in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Series presented by J&A Service will also look to become winners of the prestigious event. It is the ninth of 12 events during the 2019 Pro Mod season, and points leader Stevie “Fast” Jackson is the defending event winner. The fastest Super Stock cars will challenge for ultimate bragging rights and bonus purse during the popular Dodge HEMI Challenge as well. Fans can check out special pit areas for Copo Camaros and the HEMI Shootout.
Racing in the Mickey Thompson Tires NHRA Top Fuel Harley Drag Racing Series will also take place in Indy, as well as the popular SAMTech.edu NHRA Factory Stock Showdown category, which will include a special 32-car field at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals.
NHRA fans can take part in the Mello Yello Walking Tour to see the teams hard at work in the pits. Fans can also attend a number of different NHRA schools throughout the weekend, including Nitro School, to learn how the cars and motorcycles operate and reach their thrilling speeds. Factory Stock School will take place on Friday, while Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle Schools follow on Saturday. Pro Mod School and Nitro School will both take place on Sunday, giving fans an incredible behind-the-scenes learning experience throughout the weekend.
Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis will also host a Mello Yello autograph session and allow fans to meet their favorite drivers. Another can’t-miss experience is the winner’s circle celebration on Monday after racing concludes. NHRA fans can congratulate the winners as they celebrate their Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals victories.
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.
The first of five Mello Yello Series qualifying sessions is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 30. Two more sessions will take to the track on Saturday, Aug. 31 at 1:15 p.m. and 4:15 p.m., and the final two qualifying sessions will take place on Sunday, Sept. 1 at 1:15 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 2.
FOX national broadcast and FS1 will televise coverage of the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, starting with qualifying on Sunday, Sept. 1 on FS1 at 2 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. EST. The broadcasts continue on FS1 with two hours of live coverage of eliminations on Monday, Sept. 2 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
WHAT: 65th 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 2019 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. 28 through Monday, Sept. 2.SCHEDULE: WEDNESDAY, Aug. 28 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
THURSDAY, Aug. 29 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying and eliminations
FRIDAY, Aug. 30 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying and eliminations (featuring Mopar HEMI Challenge)
E3 SPARK PLUGS PRO MOD DRAG RACING SERIES PRESENTED BY J&A SERVICE qualifying at 6:20 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 7:15 p.m.
SATURDAY, Aug. 31 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying and eliminations
E3 SPARK PLUGS PRO MOD DRAG RACING SERIES PRESENTED BY J&A SERVICE qualifying at 12:30 and 3:40 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 1:15 p.m. and 4:15 p.m.
SUNDAY, Sept. 1 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying and eliminations (featuring Factory Stock Showdown)
E3 SPARK PLUGS PRO MOD DRAG RACING SERIES PRESENTED BY J&A SERVICE qualifying at 12:45 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
Mickey Thompson Top Fuel Harley Eliminations
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 1:15 p.m. and 4:15 p.m.
MONDAY, Sept. 2 – Pre-race ceremonies, 10:00 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.TELEVISION:
Sunday, Sept. 1, FS1 will televise two hours of qualifying coverage at 2 p.m. (ET).
Sunday, Sept. 1, FS1 will televise two hours of live qualifying coverage at 4:00 p.m. (ET).
Monday, Sept. 2, FS1 will televise two hours of live finals coverage at 11 a.m. (ET).
Monday, Sept. 2, FOX will televise four hours of live finals coverage at 1 p.m. (ET).2018 EVENT WINNERS:
Terry McMillen, Top Fuel; JR Todd, Funny Car; Tanner Gray, Pro Stock; LE Tonglet, 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 2016 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. 12-15 at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa. …. John Force, 16-time NHRA Mello Yello Series world champion and winner of a record 149 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 E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series, featuring high-horsepower machines that accelerate to more than 250 mph.
WHAT TO WATCH: J.R Todd is seeking a third consecutive Funny Car 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 three-time Indy runner-up Doug Kalitta in Top Fuel, Ron Capps in Funny Car… 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 – 3.663 sec. by Clay Millican, Sept. ’17; 330.31 mph by Tony Schumacher, Sept. ’16.
Funny Car – 3.799 sec. by Matt Hagan, Sept. ‘17; 338.77 by Hagan, Sept. ’17.
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; 199.29 mph by Hector Arran Jr., Sept. ’18.
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). Tickets also are available online at 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 NHRA Plugs Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service. 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. NHRA’s Youth and Education Services (YES) Program reaches over 30,000 students annually to ignite their interest in automotive and racing related careers. 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. For more information, log on to www,NHRA.com, or visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.