NHRA has listened to its stakeholders and remade its 2019 Countdown to the Championship playoffs for Mello Yello Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle categories. In its initially-released scheduling, the Countdown was intended to begin at Reading, then go to St Louis, followed by Dallas, Charlotte, Las Vegas and Pomona.
The two middle dates in that schedule have now been swapped, charting an east-to-west program that will certainly be easier on teams than the original progression. Next year, the six-race Countdown begins as originally scheduled in Reading on Sept 12-15, then moves to St Louis for racing on Sept 27-29. The Charlotte race takes place Oct 3-6, while teams then encamp at Dallas Oct 17-20, followed by traditional – and later than in 2018 – visits to Las Vegas and Pomona.
The Las Vegas meeting was originally intended to take place Oct 24-27, but has been moved a week later, enabling interested parties to stay on for the SEMA show scheduled the week after the reconfigured date. With Las Vegas holding court on Halloween weekend next year (Oct 31-Nov 3) and the Auto Club NHRA Finals the weekend of Nov 14-17, the scheduling has far more clarity.
NHRA justified the changes by stating it wanted to place less stress on travel schedules, accommodate the SEMA show for NHRA attendees (NHRA is a big backer of SEMA) and move the caravan steadily from the East Coast to the West Coast, without boomeranging across the country.