PRESTIGIOUS CHEVROLET PERFORMANCE U.S. NATIONALS AT INDIANAPOLIS PRESENTS ADDED PRESSURE BEFORE NHRA MELLO YELLO COUNTDOWN TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP
Traxxas Nitro Shootouts, Mopar Hemi Challenge, Fireworks, Jet Dragsters and high-octane competition in Lucas Oil and NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Series also part of the action at the Big Go
INDIANAPOLIS – The 10,000-horsepower, jaw-dropping action of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series returns to Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, Aug. 31-Sept. 5, for the 62nd annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals – the world’s most prestigious drag race.
And it’s the world’s most prestigious drag race for a reason. The best of the best from all over the world head to Indianapolis to compete in the event known as the Big Go. Nearly 1,000 drivers will compete in 12 categories with hopes of hoisting the elusive Wally trophy on Labor Day Monday. With heightened competition and a holiday weekend crowd in attendance, a win at the Big Go often goes down on racers’ résumés as the biggest single-race achievement.
As if that wasn’t enough, it’s the last race of the 18-race regular season before the six-race Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoff. Drivers and teams will be racing to secure the final top 10 spots for the Countdown and with an increased amount of points in play via the point-and-a-half system for this event (150 points to the winner), the drama on championship Monday is expected to be more intense than ever.
Over the years fans have cheered on drag racing immortals like “Big Daddy” Don Garlits, Shirley Muldowney and Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, as they raced to the winner’s circle at the Big Go. Today’s stars – such as nine-time Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals Top Fuel winner Tony Schumacher, four-time Funny Car winner John Force and six-time Pro Stock winner Greg Anderson – are all racing with plenty of determination to continue to build upon their legacies.
For many of the competitors, the race has evolved into much more than an annual contest of speed. For those who seek to become a part of its mystique, winning the event has become a necessity. Racers say that no career is truly complete without a win at this, drag racing’s grandest event.
This year’s edition of the famed event will feature intense side-by-side racing as drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle compete for their share of Mello Yello Series points. Morgan Lucas (Top Fuel); Jack Beckman (Funny Car); Erica Enders (Pro Stock); and Jerry Savoie (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners.
For the first time, the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals will be aired live on FOX and FOX Sports 1 (FS1). Dave Rieff leads the coverage with Tony Pedregon offering insight as an analyst and they along with the rest of the broadcast team give the viewers an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the sport.
A special Monday edition of the SealMaster NHRA Track Walk also will take place prior to final eliminations, where many of the sport’s most celebrated drivers will walk alongside fans down the historic dragstrip. As part of NHRA’s ongoing celebration of the 50th anniversary of Funny Car, one legendary Funny Car driver will be honored during pre-race ceremonies. Fan-favorite vintage racecars will be on display in the Hot Rod Junction, along with several autograph sessions featuring the biggest stars of the sport will be featured throughout each day of the event. On Friday, a special fireworks show will close out that day’s racing.
Thundering Jet Cars will take to the track to make exhibition passes as part of Friday and Saturday’s racing activities. As usual, one of the highlights of the spectacular pre-race show on Monday will feature a highly-skilled skydiver soaring into Lucas Oil Raceway with an American Flag in tow during the traditional performance of the National Anthem.
Bonus bucks and bragging rights will be on the line for qualified drivers in Top Fuel and Funny Car as they battle in the lucrative Traxxas Nitro Shootout. The Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Top Fuel will be held on Saturday evening, while the Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Funny Car is contested Sunday afternoon. The winners in each Traxxas Nitro Shootout will earn $100,000.
Drivers in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Series also will look to become winners of the prestigious event during the weekend. The fastest Super Stock cars will challenge for the ultimate bragging rights and a bonus purse during the popular Mopar HEMI Challenge.
Downtown Indianapolis will come alive with NHRA excitement on Wednesday, Aug. 31, when the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals Fan Fest comes to Monument Circle in the heart of the city. NHRA race team showcars, classic cars, live music, video displays and giveaways are just a few of the activities scheduled for the event. Fans will also be able to get autographs from their favorite drivers in one of the largest autograph sessions of the season. In addition, the official event press conference will take place during the Fan Fest, where several news announcements will be made and the random lottery drawings for the No. 8 positions in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout will be conducted. The Fan Fest begins at 10 a.m.
The biggest, 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.
The first of five Mello Yello Series qualifying sessions is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 2. Two more sessions will take to the track on Saturday, Sept. 3 at 2:45 p.m. and 6:45 p.m., and the final two qualifying sessions will take place on Sunday, Sept. 4 at 11:15 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 5. The Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Top Fuel will be contested Saturday, Sept. 3 with rounds at 4 p.m., 5:15 p.m. and 8 p.m. The Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Funny Car takes place on Sunday, Sept. 4 for the eight qualified drivers, with rounds at 12:30 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4:45 p.m.
FOX national broadcast and FS1 will televise coverage of the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals for the first time in event history. FS1 will air highlights from the event on Sunday, Sept. 4, at noon and 5 p.m. EST. The broadcasts will continue on FS1 with two hours of live coverage on Monday, Sept. 5 starting at 11 a.m. EST. The extensive coverage will then continue live on the FOX national broadcast channel at 1 p.m. EST.
One of five motorsports facilities owned and operated by NHRA, Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis sits on 267 acres of land just west of Indianapolis in the town of Brownsburg, and features three race courses: a championship drag strip, a .686-mile paved oval and a 2.5-mile, 15-turn road course.
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.
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CHEVROLET PERFORMANCE U.S. NATIONALS FACT SHEET
WHAT: 62nd 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 2016 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. 31 through Monday, Sept. 5.
WEDNESDAY, Aug. 31 - LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
THURSDAY, Sept. 1 - LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying and eliminations
FRIDAY, Sept. 2 - LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying and eliminations (featuring Mopar HEMI Challenge)
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 6:30 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 7:15 p.m.
SATURDAY, Sept. 3 - LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying and eliminations
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 2 and 5:30 p.m.
TRAXXAS NITRO SHOOTOUT (Top Fuel) rounds at 4, 5:15 and 8 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 2:45 p.m. and 6:45 p.m.
SUNDAY, Sept. 4 - LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying and eliminations
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 1:45 p.m.; first round of eliminations at 5:30 p.m.
TRAXXAS NITRO SHOOTOUT (Funny Car) rounds at 12:30, 3 and 4:45 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 11:15 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
MONDAY, Sept. 7 - Pre-race ceremonies, 9:45 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
Sunday, Sept. 4, FS1 will televise two hours of qualifying coverage at noon (ET).
Sunday, Sept. 4, FS1 will televise two hours of qualifying coverage at 5 p.m. (ET).
Monday, Sept. 5, FS1 will televise two hours of live finals coverage at 11 a.m. (ET).
Monday, Sept. 5, FOX will televise three hours of live finals coverage at 1 p.m. (ET).
2015 EVENT WINNERS: Morgan Lucas, Top Fuel; Jack Beckman, Funny Car; Erica Enders, Pro Stock; Jerry Savoie, Pro Stock Motorcycle.
MOST VICTORIES: Bob Glidden, PS, 9; Tony Schumacher, TF, 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 a record nine times, a mark he shares with current Top Fuel driver Tony Schumacher. 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. 16-18 at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte, N.C.… The Traxxas Nitro Shootout will offer $100,000 to the winners in special bonus events for qualified Top Fuel and Funny Car drivers… Tony Schumacher is an 11-time U.S. Nationals finalist in Top Fuel (winning nine)… Schumacher’s first career NHRA start came at the U.S. Nationals in 1996 and the then rookie posted a runner-up finish to Cory McClenathan… John Force, 16-time NHRA Mello Yello Series world champion and winner of a record 143 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… Pro Stock’s Bob Glidden and Top Fuel’s Tony Schumacher are the winningest drivers in the history of the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, with nine victories each… 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 J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series, featuring high-horsepower machines that accelerate to more than 250 mph.
WHAT TO WATCH: The Traxxas Nitro Shootout will offer $100,000 to the winners in special bonus events for qualified Top Fuel and Funny Car drivers… Tony Schumacher is seeking a record 10th Top Fuel victory at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals… A victory by Schumacher would break a tie with Pro Stock’s Bob Glidden for most Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals victories… 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 two-time Indy runner-up Doug Kalitta in Top Fuel, Matt Hagan, Ron Capps, and Jack Beckman in Funny Car, 2012 world champ Allen Johnson in Pro Stock… 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 - 3.740 sec. by Shawn Langdon, Sept. ’12; 328.54 mph by Tony Schumacher, Sept. ’14.
Funny Car - 3.936 sec. and 323.74 by Jack Beckman, Sept. ’15.
Pro Stock - 6.538 sec. by Jason Line, Sept. ’11; 211.13 mph by Mike Edwards, Sept. ’12.
Pro Stock Motorcycle - 6.815 sec. and 196.76 mph by Andrew Hines.
Top Fuel - 3.671 sec. by Steve Torrence, July ’16, Sonoma, Calif.; 332.75 mph by Spencer Massey, Aug. ’15, Brainerd, Minn.
Funny Car - 3.862 sec. and 335.57 mph by Matt Hagan, May ’16, Topeka, Kan.
Pro Stock - 6.455 sec. by Jason Line, March '15, Charlotte, N.C.; 215.55 mph by Erica Enders, May ‘14, Englishtown N.J.
PS Motorcycle - 6.728 sec. by Andrew Hines, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 199.88 mph by Hector Arana Jr., March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.
TICKETS: For tickets call (800) 884-NHRA (6472). Tickets also are available online at www.NHRA.com/tickets.