Story By: SCOTT SMITH / NHRA – LAS VEGAS. NV – After a thrilling debut a year ago, four-wide NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series action returns to thrill the fans at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the 20th annual DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, April 5-7.
A year ago, the speedway widened The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to four lanes, giving fans on the West Coast an opportunity to witness the ultimate thrill ride in drag racing. The fans flocked to the facility in incredible numbers to watch four 10,000 horsepower nitro-burning machines power down the dragstrip simultaneously, and that excitement returns this year with the fourth of 24 events during the 2019 season.
It marks the first of two stops in Las Vegas, with the four-wide set-up giving fans one of the most unique experiences in motorsports. All of the stars in Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock will look to grab early-season momentum at the fan-favorite event.
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), J.R. Todd (Funny Car) and Vincent Nobile (Pro Stock) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1, including finals coverage starting at 5:30 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, April 7.
Steve Torrence’s Top Fuel win was one of 11 he picked up in 2018 as he rolled to his first world title. Torrence was dominant at The Strip, winning both the four-wide race and the fall race, and he’ll look for a third straight Vegas win this year. Trying to stop him in the star-studded class is his father, Billy, who won in Phoenix and currently holds the points lead. The deep class also includes a host of top names, including three-time champ Antron Brown, Pomona winner Doug Kalitta, Terry McMillen, 2017 world champ Brittany Force, Leah Pritchett, Mike Salinas and top rookie Austin Prock.
In Funny Car, J.R. Todd won a year ago to start his journey that ended with his first career world title. Todd ended the season with six wins, including a Vegas sweep, and is after his first win of 2019 as he opens his title defense. A back-to-back Vegas win would be ideal, but Todd will have to get by a host of talented drivers, including points leader Robert Hight, who won in Pomona. Other challengers include Phoenix winner Matt Hagan, John Force, five-time Vegas winner Ron Capps, Shawn Langdon, Bob Tasca, Jack Beckman and Tommy Johnson Jr.
Greg Anderson has dominated in Las Vegas over the years, with his eight wins at the facility tied for the most in NHRA history. The four-time world champion was the No. 1 qualifier a year ago and will look for his first four-wide victory at the track, but it won’t be easy against a loaded field that includes KB Racing teammate Bo Butner, who won the season-opening race in Pomona. Others to watch include Phoenix winner and five-time world champ Jeg Coughlin Jr., four-time Vegas winner Erica Enders, three-time world champ Jason Line, Alex Laughlin, Chris McGaha, Rodger Brogdon and Matt Hartford.
The event also features competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, showcasing the future stars of the sport.
Along with the on-track action, the DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals will honor first responders with NHRA’s “Salute to First Responders” celebration.
As always, fans can interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 12:30 and 3:00 p.m. on Friday, April 5 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, April 6, at 12:30 and 3:00 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 12 p.m. on Sunday, April 7.