The final race before the Countdown to the Championship for the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series is the historic and prestigious 60th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, taking place now through Monday, September 1st at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and John Hall (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are the defending race winners at Indy.
The focus this weekend will be two-fold: where drivers will seed for the Countdown and which drivers on the cusp will make it in. In Top Fuel, only one spot remains open, and J.R. Todd is in control of that spot, with a 130-point lead over Bob Vandergriff Jr. Doug Kalitta has been at the head of the Top Fuel standings for 15 of the first 17 races of the season, with Antron Brown backing him up most of the way. Kalitta has a 92-point lead over Brown going into Indy.
John Force has a scant 18-point lead over teammate Robert Hight, with the postponed final round between Force and Ron Capps from Brainerd still to be counted in. At the other end, there are three spots up for grabs in the top 10 and four drivers with a shot: Cruz Pedregon, Del Worsham, Tim Wilkerson and Jack Beckman, all within 97 points of each other. Beckman, the 2012 Funny Car champ, currently sits outside the top 10, 16 points behind Wilkerson.
The top of the Pro Stock standings is a log jam, with Jason Line leading Erica Enders-Stevens by nine points, Allen Johnson by 16 points and Jeg Coughlin by 76 points. Like Funny Car, there are three open spots for the Countdown and four drivers in range: V. Gaines, Chris McGaha, Greg Anderson and Jonathan Gray. Gray sits 32 points back of Anderson for the No. 10 seed in the Countdown.
Only four spots are locked down in Pro Stock Motorcycle, with Andrew Hines leading his teammate Eddie Krawiec by 91 points for the top seed; Hector Arana Jr. and Hector Arana sit third and fourth, while John Hall – still not locked in – sits just behind Arana in fifth. At the other end, 66 points separate Adam Arana from the No. 10 seed, a spot currently held by Steve Johnson; also within range are Angie Smith, Scotty Pollacheck, Michael Ray and Matt Smith.
The Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals feature five qualifying sessions for the Mello Yello Series, the first one taking place Friday, August 29th at 6 p.m. ET. The second and third sessions take place Saturday, August 30th at 2:30 and 6 p.m. ET, with the final two qualifying sessions on Sunday, August 31st at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. ET. Final eliminations take place Monday, September 1st beginning at 11 a.m. ET. Keep up with the action at www.nhra.com.
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