The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series powers back to Las Vegas, April 1-3, for the 17th annual DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Teams in Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock will once again battle at one of the nation's state-of-the-art dragstrips for race victories and critical world championship points. Richie Crampton (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car) and Erica Enders (Pro Stock) were last year's winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1, including three hours of live finals coverage starting at 2 p.m. Pacific Time on Sunday.
The excitement and energy of NHRA racing on the track will be as adrenaline-pumping as ever, but in 2016, the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series is shifting gears and venturing boldly into a brand new era. It's one of the most eagerly anticipated seasons for the NHRA community in many years.
New TV partner FOX Sports will aim its cameras at the exciting side-by-side racing on the dragstrip and showcase the sport with live coverage of Sunday eliminations at 17 events - including the Las Vegas race - and provide more than 500 hours of NHRA programming on its family of networks. There are new rules for the Pro Stock category that will help the factory hot rods recapture the 200 mph magic that makes the class a fan-favorite. There's even a bold new NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series logo.
In addition, NHRA will ask its legion of fans and highly-skilled drivers what they love about the sport in the new "MY NHRA is…" marketing campaign. NHRA's celebration of the 50th anniversary of Funny Car is sure to be a fan-favorite attraction as well, and as part of that celebration, there will be one legendary Funny Car driver honored during pre-race ceremonies.
While there will be a lot of newness floating around the Las Vegas track during the event, one thing fans can count on is the same high-intensity, drama-filled competition that they have become accustomed to.
The DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals has provided high stakes entertainment in a city known around the world for its daily offerings of showbiz, amusements and fun. The action on the Vegas strip is matched only by the powerful sensation of two 10,000-horsepower machines thundering side-by-side down The Strip at LVMS at more than 300 mph.
In Top Fuel, Crampton powered to victory over Larry Dixon in the final round last year to earn his first victory of the season. The win kicked off a very successful 2015 campaign in which the 2014 Rookie of the Year tallied five total victories and a third place points finish. Crampton will look to defend his title in his Lucas Oil dragster and claim the eighth victory of his young career, but that will be no easy task.
Every driver in the fierce Top Fuel class will be putting up a fight in the desert. Leah Pritchett, driver of the Quaker State/FireAde dragster for Bob Vandergriff Racing, got her first taste of victory Feb. 28 in Phoenix and she is hungry for more. Eight-time world champ Tony Schumacher, who has four career victories at the DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals and eight career victories at the facility, will be eager to race his way back to the winner's circle.
Others in the 10,000-horsepower, nitro-burning class hoping to seal a Las Vegas victory include points leader Doug Kalitta, Winternationals winner Steve Torrence, reigning world champ Antron Brown and Monster Energy dragster driver Brittany Force, just to name a few.
John Force defeated teammate Robert Hight in the Funny Car final last year at the DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals to earn his first victory of the year. Force, a 16-time world champion, will have his eyes set on earning his 144th career win as he pulls his PEAK Chevrolet Camaro SS onto The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Last weekend in Phoenix, Force raced to the final round but couldn't seal the victory as he experienced problems at the top-end of the track. He is currently second in points, but will have to deal with the likes of Pomona winner Ron Capps, teammate Hight, defending world champion Del Worsham, Phoenix winner Tim Wilkerson, Alexis DeJoria, Jack Beckman and Tommy Johnson Jr.
In the all-new Pro Stock class, Enders will look to get back to her championship-winning ways after suffering two first round losses to open the season in Pomona and Phoenix. Last year in Las Vegas, Enders sprinted past Vincent Nobile in the final to earn her first victory of the season. She won seven more races en route to her second consecutive world championship.
After a less-than-ideal start to the 2016 season, Enders will hope to find that same magic this April in Las Vegas. Standing in her way, though, will be her teammates Drew Skillman and Jeg Coughlin Jr., the Summit Racing duo of Greg Anderson and Jason Line, who combined to win the first two races, Phoenix No. 1 qualifier Bo Butner and the tough Texan, Chris McGaha, who was runner-up to Line in Phoenix.
The sleek new Pro Stock cars feature fuel-injected engines, shorter wheelie bars, flat hoods and a 10,500 RPM rev-limiter.
The DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals is always a big weekend for Pro Stock drivers as the all-star K&N Horsepower Challenge kicks off the Pro Stock event in style. Eight of the best Pro Stock drivers will duel it out for bragging rights and a hefty paycheck on Saturday of race weekend. Enders is the defending K&N Horsepower Challenge winner.
As always, 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. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
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.
The event also will feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. on Friday, April 1, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, April 2, at 1 and 4 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, April 3.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call (800) 884-NHRA (6472) or visit www.NHRA.com/tickets. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.
DENSO SPARK PLUGS NHRA NATIONALS FACT SHEET
WHAT?: 17th annual DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals, the fourth of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Drivers in three categories -- Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock -- earn points leading to 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships. The race also will feature competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Series.
WHERE?: The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas. Track is located approximately 15 miles north of downtown Las Vegas off Interstate 15.
WHEN?: Friday through Sunday, April 1-3
FRIDAY, April 1 - LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 1:30 and 4:30 p.m.
SATURDAY, April 2 - LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 1:10 and 4:05 p.m.
K&N HORSEPOWER CHALLENGE at 1, 4 and 5 p.m.
SUNDAY, April 3 - Pre-race ceremonies, 11:15 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at noon
SATURDAY, April 2, FOX Sports 1 (FS1) will televise one hour of qualifying highlights at 11 p.m. (ET)
SUNDAY, April 3, FS1 will televise one hour of qualifying highlights at 9 p.m. (ET)
SUNDAY, April 3, FS1 will televise three hours of live finals coverage at 5 p.m. (ET)
2015 EVENT WINNERS: Richie Crampton, Top Fuel; John Force, Funny Car; Erica Enders, Pro Stock; Enders, K&N Horsepower Challenge.
MOST VICTORIES: Larry Dixon, 4, TF; Tony Schumacher, 4, TF; Robert Hight, 3, FC; Greg Anderson, 3, PS; Jeg Coughlin, 3, PS; Kenny Bernstein, 2, TF; John Force, 2, FC; Cruz Pedregon, 2, FC; Mike Edwards, 2, PS; Erica Enders, 2, PS; Allen Johnson, 2, PS.
MOST K&N HORSEPOWER CHALLENGE VICTORIES: Greg Anderson, 4; Kurt Johnson, 4; Jeg Coughlin, 3; Bob Glidden, 3; Warren Johnson, 3; Larry Morgan, 3; Bruce Allen, 2; Erica Enders, 2; Allen Johnson, 2; Jim Yates, 2;
Top Fuel -- 3.722 seconds by Antron Brown, October 2015, and 332.67 mph by Shawn Langdon, October 2015.
Funny Car -- 3.931 seconds by Tommy Johnson Jr., October 2015, and 325.92 mph by Del Worsham, October 2015.
Pro Stock -- 6.559 seconds and 210.28 mph by Erica Enders, October 2015.
Top Fuel -- 3.680 seconds by Antron Brown, August 2015, Brainerd, Minn.; 332.75 mph by Spencer Massey, August 2015, Brainerd, Minn.
Funny Car -- 3.884 seconds by Jack Beckman, November 2015, Pomona, Calif., and 331.45 mph by Matt Hagan, November 2015, Pomona, Calif.
Pro Stock -- 6.455 seconds by Jason Line, March 2015, Charlotte, N.C., and 215.55 mph by Erica Enders, May 2014, Englishtown N.J.
TICKETS: For tickets call (800) 644-4444. Tickets also available online at www.lvms.com.