The sixth race on the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule is the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals, taking place Friday through Sunday, April 24th through 26th at Royal Purple Raceway near the Houston, Texas. The event features three of the Mello Yello divisions – Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock – along with the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series and the Lucas Oil Series. Last year’s race winners will be back at Royal Purple Raceway to defend their titles: Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car) and Erica Enders-Stevens (Pro Stock) all return to the track.
Shawn Langdon is still holding on to third place in the Top Fuel points standings in spite of limited sponsorship. This weekend, Bass Pro Shops jump on board to help out Alan Johnson Racing, and three fans have the chance to serve as honorary pit crew members at the race.
“Royal Purple Raceway has been a very good track for Alan Johnson Racing,” said Langdon. “On the Sportsman level, I’ve had some good success there, too. In 2005, I won Super Gas at Houston, and in 2008, I won Super Comp. I haven’t won there in Top Fuel yet, but I’m eager to get in the Top Fuel winner’s circle there.”
Top Fuel driver Leah Pritchett visited NASA headquarters on Thursday before heading to the track, which is in the backyard of her sponsor, Gumout. Pritchett is just 26 years old, but has been a competitive drag racer for 19 years, beginning in Junior Dragsters on her eighth birthday; she currently holds four NHRA licenses: Top Fuel, Funny Car, Heritage Funny Car and Pro Mod.
“I have driven many different types of race cars and I think that experience really helps me in the Top Fuel car,” said Pritchett. “Beginning in the Juniors and then working my way up to the most powerful and quickest cars in the sport has given me a good prospective behind the wheel.”
John Force broke out with his first Funny Car win of the season two weeks ago at Las Vegas. Force is the all-time wins leader at Royal Purple Raceway, with seven Funny Car wins, and is out to show the world he’s still on the winning path.
“I have been working around the clock to put this company back together and show corporate America John Force can still get the job done,” said Force. “I have a young team and a new crew chief Jon Schaffer and they came together in Las Vegas. I wanted to build for the future not just for me but for my kids and grandkids. These guys on this team and all my teams are the future of John Force Racing.”
Pro Stock driver Rodger Brogdon already has a win this season, sits fourth in points and is racing near his hometown of Tomball, Texas this weekend, but life isn’t getting any easier.
“It’s nice be so close to home, for sure,” said Brogdon. “We’ve got so many people who want to come out, customers, family, and we’ve been working on that all week, trying to figure out who wants what and what day they’re going. Racing at home is not easy. On Friday and Saturday, you try to visit as many people as you can. We have most of our people out on Saturday, but Sunday is all business, so there’s not much visiting going on. We’ll just go in there prepared for this one just like any other.”
Mello Yello Series qualifying for the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals gets underway Friday at 4 and 6:30 p.m. CT, concluding on Saturday at 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. CT. Pro eliminations begin Sunday at 11 a.m. CT. Keep up with the action at www.nhra.com.
Quotes in this piece provided by Alan Johnson Racing, Sport Dimensions, John Force Racing and the NHRA.