The 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season continues this weekend, Thursday through Sunday, August 20-23, with the 34th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway in Minnesota. This year’s event will feature all four of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series’ top divisions: Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and, joining the others for the first time since 2012, Pro Stock Motorcycle. Last year’s event winners were Ron Capps (Funny Car), Morgan Lucas (Top Fuel) and Jason Line (Pro Stock); Eddie Krawiec picked up the PSM Wally in 2012.
Top Fuel driver Richie Crampton, who drives for last year’s Top Fuel winner Lucas, has three wins so far this season, but failed to qualify at Norwalk after winning at Bristol. The goal for him in the remaining races is consistency.
“Our focus is on race day consistency and not trying to change too much,” said Crampton, who is currently fourth in points. “We have a good race car right now, and we need to focus on every little detail and continue doing what we’ve been doing. The entire team is excited about the outlook of the Countdown, given our current position in points. We’re going to try to put an exclamation point on that.”
In the event’s 33-year history to date, Funny Car legend John Force has taken home 11 Wallys – the most for any driver in a single event in NHRA history. While John Force Racing is a perennial favorite to win and contend for championships, the family patriarch – currently fourth in points – is the only JFR driver nearing a lock on a Countdown to the Championship berth. Robert Hight is currently ninth in points, while Courtney Force is 11th, 73 points out of the top 1.
“Starting with this race it is all about the Countdown,” said Force. “We are also trying to get cars into the Traxxas Shootout because that is the last race for Robert or Courtney to get a guaranteed spot. There are two more races before the Countdown starts and we want to get everyone into the top 10.”
Defending Pro Stock champ Erica Enders sits second in points behind Greg Anderson, but her goal over the next two races is to catch Anderson and head into the Countdown as the No. 1 seed. Locking up that spot assures her a 30-point bonus going into the Countdown.
“That’s a crucial 30-point cushion that could have changed a lot of things last year,” said Enders. “Definitely, our goal is to head into the Countdown as the No. 1 seed. We are going to do the best we can and see what happens. I have all the faith in my guys. We’re two-and-a-half rounds out of first place right now. We could’ve changed that the past couple of weeks when Greg exited early, but we just weren’t able to capitalize on it. Our job now is to focus our attention forward and do it with a positive outlook.”
Minnesota native Jim Underdahl is looking for his first NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle victory, and would be happy to get it at his hometown track. The category hasn’t raced at Brainerd since 2012, and the secon-generation rider would like to improve on his runner-up finish in 2010.
“Just to be able to go there and race with my family and friends there, it’s huge,” said Underdahl. “Since it got put back on the schedule, everyone has been calling me. Racing has always been a family sport and I’ve been doing it with my dad for a while. My family has been there for me since day one and for them to be able to come out and help, it’s huge. We’re going to have fun and enjoy ourselves. There’s a lot of bike guys up here and I think people are glad to see it back.”
Qualifying for the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals gets underway Friday at 3 and 5:30 p.m. CT, with qualifying wrapping up on Saturday at 1 and 3:30 p.m. CT. Keep up with the action at www.nhra.com.
Quotes in this piece provided by the NHRA.