INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (August 31, 2017) We’re on the eve of the biggest race on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing series. “The Big Go.” Indy. The Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals.
There’s one thing that every driver wants to do: Win Indy. In the past, there have been drivers who have won championships, but weren’t completely satisfied because they didn’t get to hoist the Wally at the most oldest, most prestigious race of them all. With a race that spans 6 days (4 for the professional categories) there is much excitement and fanfare that comes with it. We’re here to catch you to speed on all that is the 63rd annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway.
Traxxas Nitro Shootout
Every class gets its speciality race within a race. Pro Stock has the K&N Horsepower Challenge, Pro Stock Motorcycle has the Mickey Thompson Pro Bike Battle, now it’s the nitro classes’ turn. In between qualifying rounds on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, Top Fuel and Funny Car will have eight drivers duke it out for their chance at the Traxxas Nitro Shootout trophy and $100,000 grand prize. The first seven different winners this season got an automatic entry into the speciality race and the eighth driver gets chosen by a random lottery pick. Courtney Force won the eighth spot in Funny Car while Terry McMillen won the eighth pick in Top Fuel. Here’s how they stack up for the first round:
No 1. Antron Brown vs. No. 8 Terry McMillen
No 2. Steve Torrence vs. No. 7 Clay Millican
No 3. Leah Pritchett vs. No. 6 Doug Kalitta
No 4. Tony Schumacher vs. No. 5 Brittany Force
No 1. Ron Capps vs. No. 8 Courtney Force
No 2. Robert Hight vs. No. 7 J.R. Todd
No 3. Matt Hagan vs. No. 6 John Force
No 4. Tommy Johnson Jr. vs. No. 5 Jack Beckman
Pro Stock Battle of the Burnouts
Inspired by Shane Gray’s lengthy burnouts in Brainerd that garnered cheers from the fans, NHRA is hosting its first-ever Pro “Stock Battle of the Burnouts: Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.”
During each of the five qualifying sessions, Pro Stock drivers will give their best smoky, lengthy burnout in hopes of winning a new set of Goodyear racing slicks. NHRA announcers, Alan Reinhart, Brian Lohnes, and Joe Costello will compare and contrast each driver’s burnout before selecting who they believe to be the best two of the session. The vote will then be in the fans hands as they watch the Papa John’s Instant Replay of those two burnouts on the Sunoco Vision screen. Fan applause and cheers will help determine the winner of the brand new set of tires. In addition, the winner of each session’s burnout battle will receive 200 points that will go towards the grand prize of $5,000. The runner up from each session will get 100 points. By the end of the five rounds of qualifying, points will be totaled and the driver with the most will win the bragging rights and the check.
Points and a Half
This race is especially important to drivers and riders who are still trying to lockdown their spot in the top 10 in points. The U.S. Nationals is the final race of the regular season before we enter the Countdown to the Championship. This is the first of two races this season that will use the points-and-a-half system for a national event. Every single point accumulated this weekend will make a huge difference for those in all four pro classes looking to clinch a playoff berth. With the absence of Troy Coughlin Jr. in Top Fuel, there is a three-way face-off for the tenth spot between Terry McMillen, Scott Palmer, and Shawn Langdon. In Funny Car, Alexis Dejoria holds the final transfer spot but will have Cruz Pedregon, who’s 12 points behind, looking to take it from her before the event’s close.
Five Qualifying Sessions
Unlike every other event on tour, Indy provides drivers with five qualifying sessions instead of the usual four. This gives drivers and teams the opportunity to iron out the fine details in their chassis setup and engine tuneup. Fans can expect drivers and riders from well-funded teams to complete each qualifying session while smaller, privateers may skip one or two to save parts and keep costs down.
The first session of professional qualifying starts September 1st at 7:15pm EST.