The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series will be heading to New Hampshire for the fourth annual NHRA New England Nationals, the ninth of 24 races for the 2016 season. The event will be at historic New England Dragway, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The track is about an hour north of metro Boston and will be as exciting and eventful as all other NHRA events.
The quarter-mile dragstrip will be run by drivers in Top Fuel, Funny Car, and Pro Stock for a chance to stand in the winner’s circle and earn Wally trophies at New England’s only quarter-mile strip. The winners of last year’s event were Tony Schumacher in Top Fuel, John Force in Funny Car, and Greg Anderson in Pro Stock.
Schumacher, the eight-time world champion, raced his U.S. Army dragster to the No. 1 qualifying position in Top Fuel last year and took the event victory over Larry Dixon in the finals. Schumacher finished second in Top Fuel points last season and is off to a rough start in 2016 with four quarterfinal finishes in Phoenix, Gainesville, Charlotte, and Houston, and two first round exits at the Winternationals and in Las Vegas. If Schumacher can make a comeback like he has in the past, he may be able to earn his third consecutive win at New England Dragway and turn around his season.
Brittany Force, the current points leader in Top Fuel, claimed her first victory at the Gatornationals earlier this season and earned her second victory at the Four-Wide nationals in Charlotte. Her victory at the Four-Wide Nationals made history books as it was the first by a woman and marks the first nitro victory by a woman at zMAX Dragway.
Doug Kalitta trails just one point behind Force in the points standings after his win in Houston. Kalitta has a runner-up finish at the season-opening Winternationals and two semifinal finishes in Phoenix and Charlotte.
Other contenders to watch our for at the New England Nationals include two-time season finalist Steve Torrence, who has claimed four No. 1 qualifiers this season, defending world champ Antron Brown, Clay Millican, who has three semifinal finishes in pursuit of his first Top Fuel victory, J.R. Todd, and Terry McMillen, who is looking for his first Top Fuel victory after finishing runner-up at the Gatornationals.
In Funny Car, 16-time world champion John Force brought his PEAK Antifreeze Chevrolet Camaro to the 2015 New England Nationals victory over Tommy Johnson, Jr. for his second win of the season. That win remains Force’s most recent victory. He has kicked off his 2016 season with a runner-up finish in Phoenix and two semifinal appearances in Pomona and Las Vegas, but couldn’t make the wins happen. Force is currently sitting in the sixth points position after making a first round exit in Houston. His daughter, Courtney Force, who won in Houston, currently shares the Funny Car points lead with two-time season winner Tim Wilkerson.
Other drivers to keep in your sights in Funny Car are Gatornationals winner Robert Hight, Ron Capps, who opened the season with a win at the Winternationals and finished runner-up at the Gatornationals, defending world champ Del Worsham, Las Vegas event winner Alexis DeJoria, and national record holder Jack Beckman.
At last year’s New England Nationals, four-time Pro Stock world champion Anderson earned his third victory of the 2015 season, defeating 2012 world champion Allen Johnson. So far in 2016, Anderson has taken three victories and looks to be in a championship-winning position.
Jason Line, Anderson’s teammate and two-time world champion and current points leader, has been setting the pace for the category so far this season. He has made appearances in the first six final rounds and hasn’t qualified outside of second with victories in Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Charlotte. Line has his sights set on his first New England victory.
Others to keep watch for in the 200 mph factory hot rod category are two-time and defending world champion Erica Enders, two-time season runner-up Bo Butner, Phoenix runner-up Chris McGaha, 2014 top rookie Drew Skillman, 2012 world champ and 2013 New England winner Allen Johnson, five-time world champion Jeg Coughlin, Vincent Nobile, Shane Gray, and Gas Monkey Garage driver Alex Laughlin.
Fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers, as they will be granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful motorsports attraction on the planet. Fans will be able to see firsthand how the highly-skilled mechanics of these race teams service their hot rods in between rounds and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
One legendary Funny Car driver will be honored during pre-race ceremonies to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Funny Car class.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 4:30 and 7 p.m. on Friday, May 20, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, May 21 at 1:30 and 4 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, may 22.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.NHRA.com