The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series will kick off the second half of its 2018 season in front of a sellout crowd today at New England Dragway. The sixth annual New England Nationals will be the last round held on Eastern time until the end of the summer, as the series prepares for a three-week swing in Colorado, California, and Washington later this month and into August.
Most of the top qualifying times were set on a cooler track on Friday night, but fans still got to see a few of the sport’s biggest names climb the ladder with their third and fourth qualifying runs yesterday. Eliminations kick off later this morning—here’s what we’ll be looking out for:
How much longer will Matt Hagan’s hot streak continue?
There’s no way around it: everything seems to be breaking Hagan’s way right now. The two-time Funny Car champion entered New England as not only the defending race winner, but also the most recent winner with his triumph at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals two weeks ago. Then, to top all that off, the Don Schumacher Racing driver put himself on top of the ladder for the third time this season with a 3.932-second run. Tied at second in points right now, he’s surging into the summer.
Which big-name bottom-eight qualifier has the best chance to advance?
Despite a strong fourth-place qualifying effort, Ron Capps can’t be too pleased with his draw on the ladder this weekend: he’ll need to take down Funny Car points leader Courtney Force in the first round to move on. Clay Millican, fifth fastest in Top Fuel qualifying, must feel the same about facing Antron Brown, who remains in search of his first win of the season and 50th career in the class. Both matchups will only serve to raise the stakes right away
Will we finally see Greg Anderson’s first win of the season?
This weekend’s top qualifier, Anderson surprisingly isn’t yet on the list of Pro Stock drivers to win a race in 2018, even as six different names won the first six races and two more have taken victories since then. It’s even more surprising that Anderson hasn’t won after posting the top qualifying time at eight different events this year—including four of the last five. Still, the eight-time NHRA champion (four apiece as a driver and crew member) remains a threat to win anywhere he goes, and will contend once again today.