LAS VEGAS, Nev. (April 2, 2017) After wicked winds and a crazy dust storm swept through “Sin City”, the entertainment-filled desert played host to the fourth event on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, the DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals. Clear skies, packed grandstands and a 120 degree racetrack, made for a great day of racing.
It was an all-DSR final round, and a rematch of the final from the previous national event. Tony Schumacher and Antron Brown took to the track to square-off against each other, yet again. This time, the tables turned, and Antron Brown walked away the victor. Brown ran a 3.747 second pass at 292.01 mph. Schumacher dropped a cylinder at half track and slowed to a 3.809 second lap at 287.78 mph. “The weekend started out great for us. The track was tricky and we just kept on creeping up on it and we found something that was plaguing us a couple races in a row. These Matco Tools U.S. Army Toyota boys went to work,” Brown said. “When you go up there you’ve got to throw everything at it, especially Tony. He hasn’t been the eight-time champion for nothing. He knows how to race.” This is Antron Brown’s 10th straight win at the DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals.
Amazingly, in just his second race in the Fuel Funny Car class, Jonnie Lindberg reached yet another final round. Lindberg took on Funny Car veteran, Tommy Johnson Jr. in the last round of eliminations. Johnson Jr. took the win over Lindberg with a 3.933 second pass at 280.60 mph. A 4.016 second lap at 277.49 mph was all Lindberg could muster. “Today was a pretty trying day too because It’s probably the hottest track we’ve seen this season yet. With a little bit of altitude so it changes the tune up and the clutch curve. The guys really have to work at it and they did a great job,” Johnson Jr. explained. In addition to his DSR teammate Antron Brown’s win this weekend, he helped Don Schumacher Racing win their 300th race.
Whenever there are two races who are searching for their first race win, you know it’s going to be an exciting final round. 17-year-old Pro Stock rookie, Tanner Gray, and Indiana-native, Bo Butner raced for their first career victory in a heart-pumping final round. By a car length, Tanner Gray took the stripe and took the Wally. His 6.681 second pass beat Butner’s quicker-but-losing 6.678 second effort. “I can’t thank everybody enough. They’re definitely the reason I’m standing here. I do a small part. It just feels really cool,” said Gray. Not only is Tanner Gray a third generation NHRA Mello Yello race winner, (Father: Shane Gray, Grandfather: Johnny Gray) he is the youngest professional winner in history. Tanner will turn 18-years-old on the 15th of this month.
In two weeks time the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series will head to Houston, Texas for the NHRA Springnationals, April 21-23.