Auburn Hills, MI – A much-anticipated return to National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Mello Yello Drag Racing Series racing takes place this weekend at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis for Mopar, Dodge//SRT and the Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) team following a hiatus of more than four months.
Following the suspension of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 12, just prior to the third event of the year at the NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida, the remaining 16-event shortened schedule kicks off with a pair of weekend events in Indianapolis. Race weekends will be shortened to two-day events with qualifying held Saturday only and final eliminations on Sunday.
The E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals on July 11-12 and Lucas Oil NHRA Summernationals on July 18-19 will be the first major-league auto racing events in the state of Indiana to allow fans this year. Beginning Aug. 7-9, the series begins a 13-consecutive week stretch of non-stop drag racing to battle for pro-category championships. During that stretch, Mopar and Dodge//SRT remain event title sponsors at four national events on the new schedule:
August 7-9 – Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals in Denver
Sept. 11-13 – Mopar Express Lane NHRA Nationals in Reading, Pennsylvania
Oct. 23-25 – Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals Presented By Pennzoil near Houston
Oct. 30-Nov. 1 – Dodge NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas
A four month layoff from NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing has not kept DHL Top Fuel driver Shawn Langdon from staying on track and sharp for the return this weekend to racing action. Since the Arizona Nationals Langdon logged time in his iRacing simulator during the months of March and April and as race tracks began holding sportsman bracket races Langdon was one of the first to hand over a tech card. By his account he has raced 24 days and made 132 passes in his sportsman dragster all with an eye on keeping his competitive edge on the starting line when he straps back into his 11,000 horsepower DHL Top Fuel dragster.
“I think the bracket racing helps,” said Langdon. “It isn’t the same of course but you do get into a racing mindset and I think just having seat time is important. The biggest difference is I am doing everything myself at these bracket races usually. I think that will be a big plus once we get back to racing. I have been pretty hard on myself at some of these past races but I am ready to get back to the track for sure.”
While Langdon has been racing his team has been preparing so they can come out swinging. All the Kalitta Motorsports teams will be testing for two days leading up the NHRA Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway Park on July 11-12. The races will be televised on FS1 on Saturday and Fox national broadcast on Sunday. The added national exposure to get the season restarted also has Langdon excited.
With the NHRA season rebooting this weekend at Lucas Oil Raceway Park outside of Indianapolis J.R. Todd, driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car is looking for a fresh start to the 2020 season as well. After the first two races of the season did not go as planned Todd and his DHL Funny Car team are geared up to make a move this weekend. The team will use the two days in advance of the NHRA National event to dial in Todd’s Nitro Funny Car with the hopes of racing to their third victory at the famed race track.
“We didn’t get off to a great start at the first two races but that is ancient history,” said Todd. “This is a whole new season starting this weekend and I feel good about our chances. We have had some success the past three years here so we are hoping to turn our luck around.”
Last Labor Day weekend Todd was racing to become the first Funny Car driver to win three U.S. Nationals in a row and he almost succeeded. Following his wins in 2017 and 2018 last season he raced to a semifinal appearance. His success behind the wheel of a Funny Car at this track does give Todd some confidence coming into this weekend.
After two races Doug Kalitta and the Mac Tools Top Fuel team were riding a wave off dominant performances with two final round appearances including a third consecutive win at the historic Winternationals. The consistent world championship favorite had the Mello Yello points lead and momentum heading to the Gatornationals in March. When the season went on hiatus Kalitta and his team went to work getting ready for the season relaunch.
“Man, we were rolling to start the season,” said Kalitta. “I think we can pick up right where we left off this weekend. (Crew chief) Rob (Flynn) and the Mac Tools boys have stayed sharp and we have some good data for Indy. I am excited to get back there after our success last year.”
Last Labor Day weekend Kalitta broke through for his first U.S. Nationals win and used that win to propel his team to a runner-up finish in the Mello Yello Top Fuel point standings. This year Kalitta will get back into the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster on Saturday looking to keep his Indianapolis win streak alive.
ST. LOUIS – The American Drag Racing League comes home to World Wide Technology Raceway this Friday and Saturday for the 2020 ADRL Gateway Drags. On the heels of a hugely-popular season opener last month at the Texas Motorplex near Dallas, the ADRL comes to the St. Louis area ready to put on a drag race for the ages.
Leading the charge is the Pro Extreme class, an eighth-mile of fire-breathing Pro Mod excitement. With American muscle under the hood and exciting and colorful themes on the body, PX is guaranteed to thrill fans under the lights.
“The great thing about these cars,” said ADRL President Mel Roth, “is that they’re like the old drag cars back in the day. Back then, drivers went out of their way to create a personality for their race cars and that’s what we’re seeing now in our Pro Extreme class. These cars look like real cars, they sound like real cars, and they move down the track like nothing you’ve ever seen before.
The iconic Rockingham Dragway in North Carolina will transition to new owners over a two-year period, according to track officials.
Current track owner and operator Steve Earwood has entered an agreement with Al Gennarelli and Dan VanHorn to take over the track, which opened in 1968 and was one of the first drag strips to feature amenities like permanent restrooms, concrete grandstands, and corporate suites.
The pair will take the next two years to observe and learn about the race facility before assuming full ownership in October 2022.
After over three months away from the racetrack AMALIE® Motor Oil Top Fuel team owner and driver Terry McMillen is ready to get back to racing at the upcoming E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park this week. His team, led by crew chief Rob Wendland, used the downtime effectively to streamline his organization and also maximize the newfound family time. McMillen and Wendland have a strong relationship and have put together a plan for the rest of the season they both feel could lead to their first NHRA Mello Yello championship together.
How ready are you to get back to racing?
Terry McMillen – “It is almost like starting the year over. You have all that anticipation. We built a new car over the winter and took it to Gainesville. We never got to run it so it has never been down the track. We are excited to see what the new car will do. (Crew Chief) Rob Wendland and the entire team have done a fantastic job just keeping everything going. All our wish lists or want to do lists are all completed. It is time to leave the shop, hear some noise and smell a little nitro. This is the longest we have ever been home sitting at one time. It is just go time. It is going to be different by far.”
TM- “We only have two qualifiers so it is not like you can go out there and try and hit a home run. You have to get the car down the track to make sure you are in the show. There could be close to 20 cars going into Indy so you can’t make a mistake. Hopefully you get that first run in that sets up the weekend.”