The biggest and most prestigious event in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series is also the final chance for the sport’s biggest names to lock themselves into the six-race Countdown to the Championship. Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis plays host to the NHRA Chevrolet Performance US Nationals, the longest-running Labor Day motorsports event in America.
The action airs all day on both FS1 and network Fox, with the production moving to network television at 1PM ET/10AM PT. As you’re watching today’s action, look out for these three storylines:
Who’s going to survive the close battles for the final Countdown spots?
Scott Palmer, Mike Salinas, and Richie Crampton were separated by nine points for the final two Top Fuel spots coming into the weekend. In Funny Car, it’s Shawn Langdon, Tim Wilkerson, and Bob Tasca III engaged in their own three-way battle, with Wilkerson just 24 points clear of Tasca. And with the Pro Stock Motorcycle season eight races shorter than those of the other three classes, seven riders (from Angie Smith in eighth to Cory Reed in 14th) are within 100 points of one another for only three spots.
How exciting is it to see Tom McEwen and Bob Glidden’s colors return to the lanes?
Salinas and Tasca have traded their normal colors for two of the most memorable paint schemes in NHRA history, as Salinas’ Top Fuel car is wrapped in “Mongoose” McEwen’s English Leather colors and Tasca’s ride features the throwback Motorcraft red and white that Glidden campaigned to so many wins. Perhaps they should both keep the wraps, given how well qualifying went for them both: Salinas placed himself atop the Top Fuel ladder, and Tasca qualified second to Todd in Funny Car.
Will JR Todd return to the top step of the Funny Car podium?
Todd, who went back-to-back for Kalitta Motorsports in Las Vegas and Houston in April, became the 19th driver in NHRA history to secure the top qualifying spot in both the Top Fuel and Funny Car classes when he took the top seed for today’s action. Already locked into the Countdown, Todd comes into the weekend seventh in the standings, but a victory here—which would be his fifth in Funny Car, and his career-best third in a Funny Car season—would be a strong statement going into the playoffs.