It’s time for the “Big Go,” and that’s what the competition will be doing now through Monday, September 2nd at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. The final race before the Countdown to the Championship for the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series is the historic and prestigious Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, featuring all four of the series’ divisions. Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Mike Neff (Funny Car), Dave Connolly (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were the 2012 winners at Indy, but only Schumacher and Hines will be defending their titles this year.
The event will also feature the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and the NHRA Pro Mod Series, along with three specialty races: the Mopar HEMI Challenge for Super Stocks, and the Traxxas Nitro Shootouts for the Top Fuel and Funny Car teams.
John Force, a four-time winner at Indy, is the defending champ of the Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Funny Car, and is hoping to visit the winner’s circle again – not just in the special race-within-the-race, but also in the U.S. Nationals and in the Countdown.
“I think getting a fifth win at Indy would be huge,” said Force. “You want to see your name up there with the greats, but more important is being ready for the Countdown. I have so many great memories of Indy. I just love going there because everybody is there. I think we have been running well the past couple of races. I am ready and we have my Mustang ready. We found a couple things that are going to make me more comfortable in this hot rod. The key is to be confident and our teams are confident. We need to make sure Robert (Hight) stays in the top ten and we would all like to move up. I am ready to get into the fight.”
Defending U.S. Nationals Top Fuel winner Schumacher is out to make history: last year’s ninth win broke his tie with “Big Daddy” Don Garlits as the winningest Top Fuel driver in the race. This year, he goes for No. 10, to break the tie with Pro Stock legend Bob Glidden as the winningest driver in U.S. Nationals history.
“To have the chance right now, we’re sitting on an opportunity to win ten U.S. Nationals,” said Schumacher. “No one has ever done that before, and I think that plays into our benefit. We’re better with the pressure on. That’s when our team has been great.”
“It sure puts you in an elite group,” Schumacher continued. “There’s only two of us now that can say that (we’ve won Indy nine times). I’m honestly not showing up to Indy to take Glidden’s record. I’m trying to win the race. If you do your job, those records will come.”
The Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals feature five qualifying sessions for the Mello Yello Series, the first one taking place Friday, August 30th at 5:30 p.m. ET. The second and third sessions take place Saturday, August 31st at 2:30 and 6 p.m. ET, with the final two qualifying sessions on Sunday, September 1st at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. ET. Final eliminations take place Monday, September 2nd beginning at 11 a.m. ET.
The Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Top Fuel takes place Saturday, with rounds at 4, 7 and 8:30 p.m. ET. The Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Funny Car will be held on Sunday, with rounds at 12:30, 3:30 and 4:45 p.m. ET. The winners in each Traxxas Nitro Shootout will earn $100,000.
Keep up with all the action at www.nhra.com.
Quotes in this piece provided by the NHRA.
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