Two-time Funny Car world champion Cruz Pedregon believes that a number of changes he has recently made to his Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry are about to lead to an impressive turnaround. While it is still early in the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season, Pedregon also knows there is no time to waste facing off against the elite competition in the Funny Car class. Pedregon made strides two races ago in Charlotte, finishing as the runner-up at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, but expects even more success as the season picks up.
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Tim Wilkerson (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock), and Hector Arana Sr. The final spots aren’t decided until September, but early struggles have created a hole in a class loaded with talent and world champions.
That ability to perform in warmer weather has been encouraging, especially with where the season is headed. Anytime you make changes, you lose the predictability of the race car and how it responds to changes.
Pedregon will need round-wins to move into the top 10, and they will have to come against top competition that comes in the class, including from defending event winner Wilkerson, who has two wins this season and shares the points lead with Courtney Force, who won in Houston.
Other stalwarts in the class include defending world champion Del Worsham, three-time Atlanta winner Robert Hight, Jack Beckman, Capps, Chad Head, Matt Hagan, Alexis DeJoria, and longtime rival John Force, who has seven wins at Atlanta Dragway. The NHRA's Youth and Education Services (YES) Program is motorsports' first and only full-time program devoted exclusively to educational programming. The 30-minute program consists of speakers inspiring and informing the students about the various opportunities awaiting them if they take the necessary steps to properly prepare themselves for the challenges. With three world championships and 41 career victories, Pro Stock Motorcycle standout Angelle Sampey knows the components of a winning motorcycle.
If her thoughts on the new Star Racing Buell she debuted this year are any indication, plenty of success is headed Sampey’s way during the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.
Feeling as good as she has since returning to the sport in 2014, Sampey hopes to add to her success at Atlanta Dragway. Sampey has made progress at the first two events, qualifying well and winning her first round of the year at the most recent event in Charlotte. After the three-race appearance in 2014, Sampey raced eight times a year ago, advancing to one final round. The chance for redemption comes in Atlanta, but Sampey is fully aware of the competition that stands in her way.
Pat Austin had an outstanding driving career in the Top Alcohol Funny Car ranks that lasted from 1985 to 2002 along with a memorable stint in Top Fuel. The Austin clan reunited at the race track with brothers Pat and Mike working on a front-engine, injected nitro dragster with motors built by father Walt.
Todd, an avid baseball fan, is honored to be a part of the game, which comes as the Braves celebrate their final season at Turner Field. Todd comes into Atlanta in sixth in the Top Fuel standings off of the strength of two semi-final finishes in Pomona and Las Vegas. In 1997, Jay Blake lost his senses of vision, taste, and smell in the midst of a horrific accident caused by the explosion of an industrial fork lift tire. Blake has been hands-on with his race cars as the only totally blind crew chief in motorsports. Between events, Blake participates in speaking engagements where he shares his inspiring tale and encourages those in his audience to pursue their dreams no matter what obstacles stand in their way. Mike Gittings, most recently the chief starter in NHRA’s Northwest Division and a certified team member of the NHRA Safety Safari presented by AAA, has been named the official NHRA Chief Starter, one of the most storied positions in all of NHRA Drag Racing. Gittings will begin his tenure at the important post starting with the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals, May 13-15 at Atlanta Dragway in Georgia. Gittings served as the interim Chief Starter under difficult circumstances in early April at the Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas following Lyle’s sudden death during a swimming accident on March 27 while on vacation in Mexico. Gittings was the NHRA Northwest Division starter since 2012 and was a member of the Northwest Division certification team, a race master, and starting-line track-prep worker since 2007. Mike Gittings served as the interim Chief Starter in April at the Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas. Due to on-track incidents that delayed Friday's Mello Yello qualifying at the NHRA SpringNationals, Top Fuel's second qualifying session didn't make it onto that evening's NHRA FOX coverage, but we've got you covered.
The prime-time Friday session was a battle royal among the fuel dragsters as the top spot traded hands four times before Texan Steve Torrence locked it down. Team Kalitta, in conjunction with Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park and the NHRA, has partnered with Ohio amusement park Cedar Point for NHRA Day at Cedar Point, Thursday, June 23, prior to the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals. The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series will rumble into Atlanta Dragway, Georgia’s House of Speed, May 13-15 for the 36th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals. The ground will shake and nitro will fill the air as the best in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock, and Pro Stock Motorcycle attempt to power their way into the winner’s circle at the revered track located just northeast of metropolitan Atlanta.
The Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals provides fans in the Peach State with a weekend of high-performance fun from the world’s fastest motorsport. The excitement and energy 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.
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 and provide more than 500 hours of NHRA programming on its family of networks. While there will be a lot of newness floating around the Atlanta track during the event, one thing fans can count on is the same high-intensity, drama-filled competition that they have become accustomed to. In Top Fuel, Brown raced to his second victory of the 2015 season when he defeated Leah Pritchett in the Atlanta final one year ago. Points leader Brittany Force opened the 2016 season with fire in her eyes, racing her Monster Energy dragster to a runner-up finish in Phoenix and then grabbing her first career victory in Gainesville and a second in Charlotte. Others to watch in the fierce Top Fuel class include recent Houston event winner Doug Kalitta, Gatornationals runner-up Terry McMillen, Clay Millican, J.R. Wilkerson raced to the Funny Car title at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals last year in his Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Shelby Mustang. Kalitta Motorsports’ Alexis DeJoria will ride into Atlanta with momentum from her win in Las Vegas. John Force Racing’s Robert Hight, the Funny Car points leader, is a three-time Atlanta winner, with his most recent victory at the facility in 2014. Other Funny Car contenders include two-time event winner and 2015 runner-up Jack Beckman, Pomona winner Capps, defending champ Worsham, Chad Head, and two-time world champ Cruz Pedregon. Two-time and defending world champ Erica Enders, rookie of the year Drew Skillman, Las Vegas runner-up Bo Butner, and Phoenix runner-up Chris McGaha are also expected to make a push for the Wally in Atlanta in the thrilling 200-mph doorslammer class.
The Pro Stock Motorcycle category will hit the track for the third of 16 events in 2016 at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals. Andrew Hines, Krawiec’s teammate, won the Four-Wide Nationals and is the reigning world champion and a two-time Atlanta winner, and three-time world champ Angelle Sampey leads all active Pro Stock Motorcycle racers with four wins at the Southern Nationals, her last in 2004.
The NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series will make its third stop of the 2016 season at Atlanta Dragway. The race will also feature plenty of thrilling action in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, showcasing the future stars of the sport. 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. 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. As part of NHRA’s ongoing celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Funny Car class, one legendary Funny Car driver will be honored during the pre-race ceremony. Force, daughter of NHRA legend and 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force, began racing in Top Fuel in 2013 after competing in the Top Alcohol Dragster and Super Comp ranks.
Things changed rapidly in 2016 when the team hired the tuning tandem of Alan Johnson and Brian Husen.
In this video, Brittany Force discusses her career and season to date with NHRA’s Amanda Busick. Leah Pritchett will compete in the next NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event in 10 days near Atlanta as the fourth woman to drive for Don Schumacher Racing when she pilots the FireAde Top Fuel dragster.

FireAde provides the world’s most advanced, innovative and environmental friendly firefighting, tank cleaning and dust control products. After competing part-time in Top Fuel the past three years, she has ridden a 329-mph rollercoaster through this season’s first six Mello Yello races. That decision was made after the race at Las Vegas but the perseverant Pritchett competed with a different team at the next Mello Yello event near Charlotte and was able to get BVR to one more event last weekend near Houston where the team led by crew chiefs Mike Guger and Joe Barlam advanced to the semifinals and she recorded the fastest run of her career at 329.18 mph. Veteran tuners Guger and Barlam will join Pritchett at Atlanta along with some members of her BVR team combined with veteran nitro technicians who are longtime DSR technicians.
Schumacher decided it was time to bring out a fourth Top Fueler, initially as a part-time program, and make Pritchett his four female driver since opening DSR in 1998. The class teaches subjects such as accident avoidance using a slalom course to teach elevated steering control, a distraction exercise to teach increased focus and concentration, a wheel drop-off recovery exercise to teach the proper method of retaining control when the vehicle drops a wheel off a highway shoulder, a panic stop exercise to give teenagers safer and more controlled responses when braking in an emergency, and a car control and recovery exercise that teaches the skills necessary to maintain or regain control in wet or icy road conditions. This is the second in a series of Heart of the NHRA videos, which will highlight charitable programs and people with big hearts in the sport. Top Fuel points leader Brittany Force, Texas-based nitro racers Steve Torrence, Alexis DeJoria, and Terry Haddock, and Kalitta Motorsports crew chief Jim Oberhofer were on hand for a walk-through led by NASA engineer Jeff Fox and veteran astronaut Mike Fossum.
Courtney Force raced to her first Funny Car victory of the season Sunday at the NHRA SpringNationals at Royal Purple Raceway.
Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) also were winners at the sixth of 24 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events on the season.
Wilkerson, a two-time 2016 event winner, battled past Jim Campbell and former world champions Matt Hagan and Jack Beckman to make it to the final round. Kalitta, the defending and three-time event winner, earned his 39th career victory to tie Antron Brown and Kenny Bernstein for fourth on the Top Fuel all-time wins list.
Kalitta outlasted Terry Haddock, Kebin Kinsley, and Phoenix winner Leah Pritchett in the earlier rounds.
In Pro Stock, Anderson won his third race of the season on a holeshot against Ken Black Racing teammate Jason Line.
Anderson, a four-time Pro Stock world champion, opened eliminations with a bye before defeating Vincent Nobile and Allen Johnson in the second round and semifinals, respectively.
Two-time world champion Line extended his final-round-appearance streak to six — racing for a Wally in every race so far this season.
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues May 13-15 at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals in Atlanta. Jim Whiteley earned his first career win Sunday at the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series portion of the event. Whiteley, appearing in his first ever final round, defeated two-time national champion Rickie Smith to bring home the Wally trophy. The NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series returns May 13-15 at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway. Steve Torrence (Top Fuel) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) also earned top qualifying positions in their respective categories at the sixth event of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season. Reigning Funny Car world champion Del Worsham posted the Royal Purple Raceway track speed record with a 328.06 at the controls of his DHL Toyota Camry and qualified fourth. Current Funny Car points leader and 2009 world champion Robert Hight is fifth and will face 2012 world champion Jack Beckman to open eliminations. Two-time and defending world champion Erica Enders stayed in the sixth position and will face Chris McGaha on Sunday. Alternate Billy Glidden raced past Mike Janis in the first round and will face Bob Rahaim in the second round. Texas native Steve Torrence raced to the Top Fuel qualifying lead Friday at the NHRA SpringNationals, the sixth event of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
Tim Wilkerson (Funny Car) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) were also qualifying leaders in their categories at Royal Purple Raceway in Houston. Two-time world champion Antron Brown and his Matco Tools dragster are in fifth, and points leader Brittany Force is seventh in her Monster Energy dragster. Defending world champion Del Worsham set the track record for speed with a 328.06 run in his DHL Toyota Camry and is currently in the fourth spot, and current Funny Car points leader Robert Hight is in fifth.
Line and his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro have not qualified outside of second or missed a final-round appearance so far this season. Butner, in his Bill Butner Auto Chevy Camaro, will be racing for his first Pro Stock victory after finishing runner-up to Line two consecutive times in Charlotte and Las Vegas.
Rickie Smith raced to the qualifying lead Friday during the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series portion of the event.
Shirley's Kids' mission is to lend a hand to children in need in the markets where drag racing has become a part of the community.
The Shirley's Kids-adorned Dodge is made possible through the generous contribution of Lupe Tortilla Mexican Restaurants. Muldowney is slated to attend several NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events in 2016 as Shirley's Kids continues to help children in need. Sixteen-time NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car world champion John Force will be racing an Advance Auto Parts-branded Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car at the NHRA SpringNationals. This season, Force has raced to a runner-up finish at the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals and two additional semifinal finishes. That includes performing well at Atlanta Dragway at the upcoming 36th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals, May 13-15. 1 qualifier in Atlanta one year ago and has one victory, in 1998, in two finals at the event. Pedregon, who has 35 wins but none since 2014, started slow with only one round-win in the first four races.
Army, is an innovative, track-site program, taking place at select NHRA national events, allowing tens of thousands of students from schools across the country to participate annually. She boasts four career victories at the facility, which is also the home track for her Star Racing team, and Sampey, who last won a race in 2007, has her sights on a fifth victory at the 36th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals, May 13-15. She qualified third there before a red-light disqualification ended what had been a productive weekend. But with a new bike, along with some serious off-the-track dedication, Sampey believes she can be a championship contender again. She admitted to looking at things differently these days, but her desire and hunger to win remains as strong as ever. He is a four-time national champion with championship seasons in four-out-of-five seasons between 1987 and 1991. Todd to Braves Country on May 12,” said Adam Zimmerman, Atlanta Braves vice president of marketing. The former rookie of the year winner has qualified in the top half in both of his events in Atlanta with Kalitta Motorsports and is returning to Atlanta Dragway off of last season’s quarterfinal finish. Blake stayed positive as he learned how to live without those senses and continued to follow his ambitions. He has worked with longtime tuner Tommy Howell, who retired this past offseason, and 2016 tuner Anthony Terenzio to field a competitive entry. From 2000 to 2007, he worked as the starter at Pacific Raceways in Seattle, and prior to that, he was a track employee there and the 1998 Pro category track champion.
Army crew chief Mike Green about the 10,000-horsepower figure commonly associated with the nitro cars, a Crew Chief Confidential feature with Brian Husen, and a look at Sidnei Frigo's wild Pro Mod crash.
Todd -- in addition to Top Fuel driver Richie Crampton, defending NHRA Mello Yello Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders, and Pro Stock Motorcycle riders Hector Arana Sr.
Atlanta Dragway is one of the fastest facilities on the circuit and a favorite among both drivers and fans. It’s one of the most eagerly anticipated seasons for the NHRA community in many years.
There are new rules for the Pro Stock category that will help the factory hot rods recapture the 200-mph thrills that makes the class a fan favorite. NHRA’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of Funny Car is sure to be a fan-favorite attraction as well.

The driver of the Matco Tools dragster went on to win five more events and earned his second career Top Fuel world title with a career-high and category-best seven victories in 2015. Todd, 2014 rookie of the year Richie Crampton, and the newest members of the Don Schumacher Racing team, Shawn Langdon and Leah Pritchett.
He beat Ron Capps, the winner of the 2016 season opener in Southern California, to earn his only victory of 2015.
DeJoria, driver of the Tequila Patron Toyota Camry, ended a 33-race winless streak by speeding past teammate and reigning world champ Del Worsham in the Vegas final round.
Line and Anderson have dominated thus far in the redesigned factory hot rod class, combining to win the first six races. Others gunning for the Wally include alligator farmer Jerry Savoie, 2011 event winner LE Tonglet, Hector Arana Jr., Chip Ellis, and the 21-year-old rookie Melissa Surber.
Rickie Smith, who won in Atlanta in 2014, stormed to victory at the class’ season opener in Gainesville. 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. The second-generation driver has won the first two events of her young career and is leading the points in Top Fuel one-fourth of the way through the season.
She was named the winner of the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award as the year’s top rookie, but despite six final-round appearances between then and 2016, a victory had eluded her. Force was runner-up at the second event of the season and then broke through at the next race, the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, where she took over the points lead. She joined Bob Vandergriff Racing at the start of the season with a promise she would run the first full season of her career.
He was the first one to see my potential when I was a teenager and helped me get my first fuel license. It is the fifth consecutive NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event that has featured a female winner. He sprinted past Rob Passey in the first and then beat eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher and reigning world champ Brown in the second and third rounds, respectively. 1 qualifying position and a first-round victory Saturday during the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series portion of the event.
Wilkerson, the 2004 SpringNationals winner, has two wins this season, in Phoenix and Charlotte, and is hoping to earn his first No. Smith won the Pro Mod season-opening event at the Gatornationals in Gainesville and has nine career wins. None of the money donated to Shirley's Kids goes to the sponsorship of Enders' race car; Lupe Tortilla is providing all of the funding. 1 Tex-Mex restaurant in Texas on numerous occasions; it has locations across Houston as well as in San Antonio, Austin, Beaumont, Katy, and College Station. The Funny Car will continue to fly the standout blue Peak Antifreeze branding, but Force will be looking for his unprecedented 144th Funny Car win with some new partners. Peak has been aggressive in promoting this race team and using the NHRA to build their business with all my race cars. They stepped up to the full season, and we are working and racing hard for them and all our sponsors. The race will be televised on FOX Sports 1 with qualifying shows Friday and Saturday and three hours of finals coverage Sunday. Pedregon suffered a first-round loss in Houston a week later in a razor-thin loss to Ron Capps, but recent performances lead him to think that things are looking up. What we’ve been working on I think will put us back near the top and keep us there for a long time to come.
Students from middle schools, high schools and colleges are invited to attend this free field trip and job shadowing activity.
The race will be televised on FOX Sports 1 with qualifying shows on Friday and Saturday and three hours of finals coverage on Sunday. It starts with reigning world champion Andrew Hines, a two-time Atlanta winner who won the most recent event in Charlotte, and his teammate and current points leader, Eddie Krawiec. 10 on the all-time win list, and he is the only driver to double-up in Professional and Sportsman categories, which he did twice with wins in Topeka in 1991 and Phoenix in 1992. Blake has four national event wins between drivers David Ray and Todd Veney, and he recently recorded his first 5.4-second runs with new driver Phil Burkart Jr. Crowds trickle in from all over the South to experience the sensory overload that is NHRA Drag Racing, which features 10,000-horsepower, fire-breathing machines blasting down the dragstrip at speeds exceeding 320 mph. There are many new rules in place to improve competition in other classes, and there’s even a bold new NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series logo. He has tallied four victories in Atlanta, the most of active Top Fuel drivers, and earlier this year raced to victory in Las Vegas, but defending his Atlanta title will not be easy. Torrence earned his first career victory in Atlanta in 2012 against eight-time world champ Tony Schumacher, who has yet to win the NHRA Southern Nationals.
It didn’t take Wilkerson long to hoist the Wally in 2016, though, beating 16-time Funny Car world champion John Force in the final in Phoenix in February, then added another win at the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals and a runner-up in Houston to pull into a tie for the points lead with Houston champ Courtney Force. Anderson, a four-time Atlanta winner, won the season-opener in Pomona as well as in Gainesville and Houston.
Coughlin, a three-time event winner, returned to the Pro Stock ranks this year with Mopar and Elite Motorsports backing.
Not content to rest on those laurels, two races later she was back in the winner’s circle after winning the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals presented by Lowes Foods in Charlotte.
She is working with Schumacher to secure additional marketing partners to allow her to run a full 2016 schedule. But the unexpected death of Josh Comstock, 46, who was one of Vandergriff’s major sponsors led him to retire to spend more time with his family that led to the shutdown of BVR.
Our goal was to continue to race together and because of that we were able to go to Atlanta.
Recently, three-time NHRA Top Fuel champ Larry Dixon watched his son, Donovan, go through the course, as did NHRA Funny Car and current NHRA FOX Television Analyst Tony Pedregon with daughter Cecily. Gaines in the opening round before he had a bye in the second round and outlasted teammate Bo Butner in the semifinals. Courtney Force and her Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro qualified third and will match up against Bob Bode. She also will attend the races in Atlanta, Englishtown, Bristol, Denver, Indianapolis, Charlotte, Dallas, Las Vegas, and Pomona, as well as the NHRA Jr. The Houston NHRA race will be the first of eight events during the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season that Force will be in the red and blue Funny Car. It is the seventh of 24 events in 2016, and Pedregon knows the time is now to make a move toward the top 10 and a playoff berth in the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship.
Points leader and two-time event winner Line won the races in Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Charlotte. He last won the event in 2014, while Johnson will hope to push his Marathon Petroleum Dodge Dart back to the winner’s circle in Atlanta for the first time since 2002. Kenny Lang is the defending event winner and will again be a major contender for victory in the thrilling 250-mph doorslammer category.
Torrence, who won the season opener in Southern California, will face Rob Passey in the opening round of eliminations. The Ken Black Racing duo will try to keep the streak going in Georgia, but are fully aware the Pro Stock class is one of the most competitive categories of racing in all of motorsports.
The duo has combined to win the first six races of the 2016 season and share three victories apiece.

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