Story By: SCOTT SMITH / NHRA – EPPING, NH – The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series celebrates Fourth of July weekend with nitro flames and fire-breathing 11,000-horsepower machines at the seventh annual NHRA New England Nationals, July 5-7 at New England Dragway.
It is the 13th of 24 races during the 2019 NHRA season and the fan-favorite race will take place in July for the second straight year. The thrilling sensory overload of ground-shaking, 300-mph action has entertained the huge fanbase in the New England area for the past six years, drawing massive crowds in the process. This year will be no different as teams in Top Fuel and Funny Car will battle for victories and critical championship points as the second half of the season begins.
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel) and Matt Hagan (Funny Car) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1, including live finals coverage starting at 1:00 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, July 7.
It’s been business as usual in Top Fuel for Steve Torrence, who is in the midst of another incredible stretch this year. The defending world champion won all six playoff races a year ago to claim his first world title and he has currently won four straight races to take a commanding points lead in 2019. He’ll look for his second career win at New England Dragway this year, going up against the likes of 2017 world champion Brittany Force, Doug Kalitta, who is currently second in points, Gainesville winner Richie Crampton, Clay Millican, three-time world champion Antron Brown, Leah Pritchett, Terry McMillen, rookie Austin Prock and Mike Salinas.
Matt Hagan has enjoyed plenty of success at New England Dragway in Funny Car, picking up his second straight victory at the facility a year ago. Hagan picked up an early-season win in Phoenix to open his 2019 campaign, but the two-time world champ will look to keep his hot streak going in Epping. It won’t be easy, as Hagan will have to deal with the likes of points leader Robert Hight, who has three wins in 2019, and defending world champ J.R. Todd. Others to watch include Tommy Johnson Jr., 2016 world champ Ron Capps, 16-time world champion John Force, Shawn Langdon, area native Bob Tasca, Tim Wilkerson, Jack Beckman and Cruz Pedregon.
Making its last of four NHRA appearances in 2019, the Mountain Motor Pro Stock class will race in Epping, bringing their popular and powerful 800-plus cubic-inch engines to New England Dragway. Previous winners this season are John DeFlorian and Chris Powers. The event also features thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, showcasing the future stars of the sport, as well as the Mickey Thompson Tires NHRA Top Fuel Harley Drag Racing Series.
Along with the exciting on-track action, the NHRA New England Nationals will honor first responders with NHRA’s “Salute to First Responders” celebration.
NHRA fans can take part in the Mello Yello Walking Tour to see the cars and teams hard at work in the pits. Fans can also attend Nitro School to learn more how the cars operate and reach their thrilling speeds. New England Dragway will host a Mello Yello autograph session and allow fans to meet their favorite drivers as well as the Cruising with Castello Sealmaster Track Walk hosted by NHRA announcer Joe Castello. A can’t-miss experience of any NHRA event is the winner’s circle celebration on Sunday after racing concludes. NHRA fans are invited to congratulate the winners of the event as they celebrate their NHRA New England Nationals victories.
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 4:00 and 6:00 p.m. on Friday, July 5 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, July 6, at 2:00 and 4:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, July 7.