NHRA Field Report
Early Season Returns For Stars of The NHRA
By Steve Libby, OMG!/ Ozark Media Group on behalf of Kandy Magazine
As most of the country is gripped with bitter cold, ice and snow, the NHRA kicked off its 2015 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season in Pomona CA, and Phoenix AZ.
The season started, as always in Pomona CA, at The Circle K Winternationals where 2014 Champions Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel Dragster), Matt Hagan (Nitro Funny Car), and Erica Enders Stevens (Pro Stock Car) were attempting to defend their titles. Schumacher qualified 6th, but lost in the first round to teammate Antron Brown. Shawn Langdon qualified #1 with a time of 3.70 at 328 mph and never looked back, taking his Alan Johnson Dragster all the way to the winners circle. Shawn was sporting Food Network’s Guy Fieri’s Knuckle Sandwich brand on his dragster, as AJR lost the backing of Al-Anabi Racing at the very end of December. Matt Hagan had a tough road, having qualified in the back half of the field and racing teammate Ron Capps in the final. In a great race, Hagan was able to hold and defeat Capps by only 0.067 seconds. Enders qualified #1 posting a time of 6.51 at 213 mph. but lost in the semi-final round to newcomer Drew Skillman. Jason Line won the opening race of the Pro Stock Car season over the rookie Skillman with a time of 6.54 at 211 mph. Drew Skillman was not the only newcomer to a race class; Pro Stock Car standout Dave Connolly stepped into Bob Vandergriff’s Top Fuel Dragster and John Hale took the wheel of Jim Dunn’s Nitro Funny Car.
The stars of the NHRA headed south to Phoenix, AZ and the Carquest Nationals for race two of the season. Our condolences to our East Coast and Midwest friends, Phoenix greeted us with sunny skies and 80 degree temperatures, and the racing was even hotter. The results were amazingly similar from Race 1. However, Schumacher comes back with a vengeance, qualifying #1 with a blistering 3.72 at 325 mph and defeating Doug Kalitta in the final with another time of 3.72 at 326 mph. Hagan, not to be outdone by his Top Fuel teammate, qualified #1 as well with a 3.97 at 320 mph. In the final, Hagan beats Del Worsham with another 3.97 at 324 mph, keeping Hagan’s season perfect at 8-0. Enders is again the #1 qualifier in Pro Stock Car going 6.54 at 211 mph and advancing all the way to the final round, only to come up short, losing to Rodger Brogdon, whose 6.64 beat Enders’ 6.56. What a great weekend of racing, with Gainesville, Florida next up on the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.
With the teams back in their shops and taking a couple of weeks to regroup, we look forward to Race 3 at the Historic Gatornationals, where we reunite with our #1 girl Angie Smith and her brand new Kandy sponsored Victory Pro Stock Motorcycle. Angie is looking to improve upon her career season in 2014 when she finished in the top 10 in the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and took home her first Wally with the win in Epping, NH. Best of luck to Angie, Husband Matt and everyone at Matt Smith Racing.
We also welcome back ProMods and Alcohol/A-Fuels cars at Gainesville. Do yourself a favor and catch some of this great heads-up action at the Gatornationals, March 12th to 15th.