CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The field is set for the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship and drivers in all four of drag racing’s top categories are looking forward to carrying their regular season success into the post season when the Carlyle Professional Hand Tools NHRA Carolina Nationals presented by NAPA Auto Parts returns to zMAX Dragway next weekend.
Despite starting the Countdown as the top seed in their respective divisions, Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) know that it’s still anybody’s championship to win and getting to a strong start at zMAX Dragway is important.
“Going into the first race in the Countdown, we’re on a high note and that is exactly how you want to start it out,” said Langdon, who won the NHRA’s regular season finale in Indianapolis last weekend. “Hopefully we can do a repeat performance last year, winning at Charlotte, and start off (the Countdown) on the right foot; and hopefully we carry this momentum all the way through.”
Hagan, who bested the field at the spring NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway earlier this year, said the Funny Car field standing between him and a second NHRA Funny Car championship is as competitive as he can remember, which means his Don Schumacher Racing team will have to be more focused than ever to claim their second title.
“We won Charlotte in the spring but that doesn’t mean you’re going to win it in the fall,” he said. “I think we have some great notes to go off of coming into Charlotte, but we have to still stay humble knowing these guys all have their game-faces on and they all know what is on the line.”
According to Edwards, who also took home a Wally at April’s four-wide event, history has shown that drivers who do well in the opening race of the six-race playoff have gone on to do well in the championship, ramping up the pressure to perform.
“If you look here at the past three or four years, the car that has either won this race or went on to the finals has gone on to have a really good Countdown,” he said. “This race is very big for us.”
Field is Set
Top Fuel seedings: 1. Shawn Langdon; 2. Spencer Massey; 3. Tony Schumacher; 4. Doug Kalitta; 5. Khalid Albalooshi; 6. Antron Brown; 7. Clay Millican; 8. Morgan Lucas; 9. Steve Torrence; 10. Bob Vandergriff Jr.
Funny Car seedings: 1. Matt Hagan; 2. Ron Capps; 3. Johnny Gray; 4. John Force; 5. Jack Beckman; 6. Cruz Pedregon; 7. Courtney Force; 8. Tim Wilkerson; 9. Robert Hight; 10. Del Worsham.
Pro Stock seedings: 1. Mike Edwards; 2. Allen Johnson; 3. Jeg Coughlin; 4. Vincent Nobile; 5. Shane Gray; 6. Jason Line; 7. Greg Anderson; 8. V. Gaines; 9. Erica Enders-Stevens; 10. Rodger Brogdon.
Pro Stock Motorcycle seedings: 1. Hector Arana Jr; 2. Matt Smith; 3. Michael Ray Jr.; 4. John Hall; 5. Hector Arana; 6. Scott Pollacheck; 7. Ed Krawiec; 8. Adam Arana; 9. Louis Tonglet; 10. Shawn Gann.
In addition to taking in all of the action on the track, 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. No other sport offers fans an up close and personal experience like NHRA. Fans can stand close by as teams warm up their high-horsepower machines prior to each run.
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.
Be a part of the action all weekend with a three-day pass to the Carlyle Tools NHRA Carolina Nationals, with packages starting at just $99. Bring the kids along for an even better ticket offer: Children 13 and younger will receive free general admission with a paid adult all weekend.
Carlyle Tools NHRA Carolina Nationals qualifying opens on Friday, Sept. 13, with pro sessions scheduled to begin at 4:15 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. The final two qualifying sessions are scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 14, at 12:15 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 15.
The race will be televised on ESPN2 HD with qualifying coverage on Saturday and three hours of eliminations coverage on Sunday beginning at 8:30 p.m. (ET).
To purchase tickets, call the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS (3267) or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com. To stay up to date with everything going on at the Bellagio of drag strips, log on to www.charlottemotorspeedway.com or connect with zMAX Dragway on Twitter at www.twitter.com/zmaxdragway or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/zmaxdragway.