ENNIS — The world’s best drag racers will have some Texas-sized expectations when they roll into Texas Motorplex, Oct. 13-16, for the 31st annual AAA Texas NHRA Fallnationals. The event just south of Dallas is the 22nd race of 24 on the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule and the fourth of six races in the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, which will decide the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series’ champions.
The opening three races of the Countdown – the NHRA Carolina Nationals in Charlotte, N.C., AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals near St. Louis and NHRA Keystone Nationals in Pennsylvania – are sure to set the tone for the AAA Texas NHRA Fallnationals, which will for the first time be aired on FOX Sports 1.
This year’s edition of ground-shaking, side-by-side racing will feature fierce competition in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle as drivers compete for a world championship title. Richie Crampton (Top Fuel); Del Worsham (Funny Car); Erica Enders (Pro Stock); and Jerry Savoie (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were winners of last year’s event.
In Top Fuel a season ago, Aussie Crampton outlasted Kilgore, Texas, native Steve Torrence in the final round to claim his fifth victory of the season and seventh of his career. The win propelled Crampton and his Lucas Oil dragster to a third place points finish – the best of his career. The 2014 Rookie of the Year award winner is currently ninth in points with only one runner-up finish so far this season.
Texas-native Torrence, on the other hand, is having the best year of his career. The avid hunter has notched two victories in six final round appearances and eight No. 1 qualifiers so far this season. The driver of the Capco Contractors dragster has never won at Texas Motorplex but will be gunning to do so this year as he enters the Countdown third in points.
Austin, Texas, resident Tony Schumacher leads the Top Fuel ranks with six career victories at Dallas. Currently fourth in points, the U.S. Army dragster pilot has two wins this season, including one at the recent U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis.
Funny Car’s Worsham would love to repeat the start he had last year in the Countdown to the Championship playoff. The driver of the DHL Toyota Camry opened the Countdown with wins in Charlotte and St. Louis. He went on to defeat Jack Beckman in the Dallas final last year and capped off the Countdown with a win at the Auto Club Finals in Southern California. Worsham did not win a race in the regular season last year, but was crowned the Funny Car world championship thanks to his strong Countdown performance.
Points leader Ron Capps will also look for a strong Countdown performance as he has yet to achieve the biggest accomplishment. Capps is the winningest driver in NHRA history to never win a world championship title. He has raced to five victories in eight final round appearances this year and with the way his Napa Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T has been performing, a championship will be at the forefront of his mind.
On the other hand, Austin resident Alexis DeJoria isn’t letting her 10th place start in the Countdown to the Championship slow her down. She has had quite the up-and-down season, claiming a victory at Las Vegas and suffering a broken pelvis in Sonoma, Calif., but she believes the best is yet to come for her and her Tequila Patron Toyota Camry.
So far, two-time and back-to-back Pro Stock world champion Enders hasn’t had the season she hoped for but enters the event as the defending event winner. The Houston native, who beat Jonathan Gray in the Dallas final round last year to earn her seventh win of 2015, will start the Countdown in ninth and is happy to return to her home state for another championship push.
The Pro Stock regular season was dominated by points leader Jason Line and Greg Anderson in their Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaros. The duo won seven races a piece and learned quickly how to compete successfully in the all-new Pro Stock class, which features electronic fuel injections, 10,500 RPM rev-limiters, flattened hoods and shorter wheeler bars.
Odessa, Texas, native Chris McGaha powered his Harlow Sammons of Odessa Chevy Camaro to his first victory of the season recently in Indianapolis. Allen Johnson won in Denver and Drew Skillman won in Brainerd. Even though it seemed to be Line and Anderson’s year early on, keep an eye on these racers, as well as Bo Butner, Vincent Nobile, Shane Gray and Jeg Coughlin, in Dallas as the championship gets closer and closer.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Louisiana alligator farmer Savoie rode his White Alligator Racing Suzuki past Eddie Krawiec in the Dallas final last year. Savoie, who finished a career best third in points last season, won three races last year in five final round appearances. He has posted three runner-up finishes this year and will look to defend his Dallas title against a very talented class.
Points leader Andrew Hines is the defending and five-time Pro Stock Motorcycle world champion. He won the Dallas event in 2014 and has notched five wins so far this year on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson.
The AAA Texas NHRA Nationals will also feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, where the future stars of the sport earn their racing stripes.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to 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 in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand how the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
As part of NHRA’s ongoing celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Funny Car class, one legendary Funny Car driver will be honored during pre-race ceremonies.
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 4:15 and 7:15 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 14, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Oct. 15, at 12:45 and 3:45 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 16.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call 800-668-6775. Tickets also are available online at www.texasmotorplex.com. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.
Before heading to Texas Motorplex, the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series will make stops at zMAX Dragway, Sept. 16-18, for the NHRA Carolina Nationals, Gateway Motorsports Park, Sept. 23-25, for the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals, and Maple Grove Raceway, Sept. 29-Oct. 2, for the NHRA Keystone Nationals. Keep up with all the NHRA action on FOX Sports 1.