NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series national event brings the world’s biggest stars in professional drag racing to the St. Louis area

NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series championship contenders will become more clear at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Illinois, when the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship hits the halfway point at the sixth annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals, September 29-October 1.

The third race in the NHRA’s six-race playoffs will feature intense 10,000-horsepower, 330-mph action from the nitro-burning machines that will entertain fans at the key Countdown to the Championship stop. With a qualifying session under the lights on Friday and championship hopes at stake on Sunday for the stars in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle, the highly-anticipated stop just outside of St. Louis will surely be a memorable one.

Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Alex Laughlin (Pro Stock) and Jerry Savoie (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event.

Langdon will look to make in impact in Top Fuel during the Countdown to the Championship in his first year driving for Kalitta Motorsports. The former Top Fuel world champion will face a difficult road to track down current points leader Antron Brown, who has won back-to-back world championships and had four straight wins at the track from 2012-2015. Other title contenders include six-time 2017 winner Steve Torrence, eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher, Leah Pritchett, who has four wins this season, three-time St. Louis winner Doug Kalitta, Brittany Force, Clay Millican, and Countdown to the Championship newcomers Scott Palmer and Terry McMillen.

Beckman won for the second time in Funny Car at Gateway Motorsports Park and will look to make a run at a second world championship. The Don Schumacher Racing driver has two wins in 2017 and will again try to track down teammate Ron Capps, who is the current points leader after winning his first world championship a year ago. Capps has six wins in his title defense year, but will see major challenges from contenders like Matt Hagan, Robert Hight, the first driver in the class to reach the 3.70s, John Force, a three-time winner at St. Louis, Courtney Force, Tommy Johnson Jr., Tim Wilkerson and J.R. Todd.

Laughlin played Countdown to the Championship spoiler a year ago in Pro Stock, winning his first career race in St. Louis. The part-time Pro Stock rising star grabbed another win this year, while the victory in St. Louis came against current points leader Bo Butner, who has had a breakout season in 2017. Butner has three wins and eight final round appearances this year, but class standouts like Greg Anderson, rookie Tanner Gray, who has four wins, Drew Skillman, two-time St. Louis winner Erica Enders and reigning world champ Jason Line pose major threats.

Jerry Savoie’s late-season march to his first world championship in Pro Stock Motorcycle started in St. Louis when he knocked off three-time world champ Angelle Sampey in the final round. Savoie has been strong in his title defense, winning twice thus far, while also watching teammate and current points leader LE Tonglet roll to five victories. Other contenders in the two-wheeled class are two-time St. Louis winners Eddie Krawiec and Matt Smith, Andrew Hines, Hector Arana Jr., Scotty Pollacheck and rookie Joey Gladstone.

The AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals will also feature thrilling competition in the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series, which will have its 11th of 12 races, as well as the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, where the future stars of the sport earn their racing stripes.

After Nitro qualifying, stick around to see the spectacular Larsen Motorsports jet dragsters sponsored by Florida Tech and Matrix System. Known for their exciting pre-run flame shows and after burner pops, jet cars are thrust driven vehicles propelled by jet engines.

Along with the exciting on-track action, the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals will honor first responders with NHRA’s “Salute to First Responders” celebration.

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 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.

 

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 29

6:30 a.m. — Parking lots open.

7:30 a.m. — Spectator gates open.

8:30 a.m. — Sportsman class racing begins.

Noon — Midway opens.

3:30 p.m. — Pro Mod qualifying session.

4:15 p.m. — Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock qualifying session.

5 p.m. — Funny Car and Top Fuel Dragster qualifying session.

6 p.m. — Pro Mod qualifying session.

6:30 p.m. — Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock qualifying session.

7:15 p.m. — Funny Car and Top Fuel Dragster qualifying session.

8:15 p.m. — Jet Dragsters and fireworks.

8:20 p.m. — Track closed.

 

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 30

6:30 a.m. — Parking lots open.

7:30 a.m. — Spectator gates open.

8:30 a.m. — Sportsman class racing begins.

9:30 a.m. — Midway opens.

Noon — Pro Mod qualifying session.

1:15 p.m. — Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock qualifying session.

2 p.m. — Funny Car and Top Fuel Dragster qualifying session.

3 p.m. — First round of Pro Mod eliminations.

3:30 p.m. — First round of Factory Stock Showdown eliminations.

3:45 p.m. — Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock qualifying session.

4:30 p.m. — Funny Car and Top Fuel Dragster qualifying session.

7 p.m. — Track closed.

 

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 1

6:30 a.m. — Parking lots open.

7:30 a.m. — Spectator gates open.

9 a.m. — Midway opens.

10 a.m. — Pre-race ceremonies.

11 a.m. — First round of Funny Car and Top Fuel Dragster eliminations.

Noon — First round of Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock eliminations.

12:20 p.m. — Second round of Pro Mod eliminations.

12:45 p.m. — Second round of Funny Car and Top Fuel Dragster eliminations.

1:15 p.m. — Second round of Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock eliminations.

1:30 p.m. — Semi-final round of Pro Mod eliminations.

2 p.m. — Second round of Factory Stock Showdown.

2:15 p.m. — Semi-final round of Funny Car and Top Fuel Dragster eliminations.

2:33 p.m. — Semi-final round of Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock eliminations.

2:40 p.m. — Final round of Pro Mod eliminations.

3 p.m. — Final round of Factory Stock Showdown eliminations.

3:30 p.m. — Final round of Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock eliminations.

3:37 p.m. — Final round of Funny Car and Top Fuel Dragster eliminations.

3:45 p.m. — Track closed.

Schedule subject to change. Revised Sept. 17.

 

 

 

 

 

To purchase tickets or obtain additional information, please call (618) 215-8888. Follow GMP on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.

 

About Gateway Motorsports Park

Gateway Motorsports Park is the home of INDYCAR, NASCAR and NHRA racing in the St. Louis region. Located just five minutes from downtown St. Louis and covering more than 340 acres, Gateway Motorsports Park is the largest outdoor entertainment facility in the area. Gateway Motorsports Park’s facilities include a 1/4-mile drag strip, 1.25-mile superspeedway, 1.6-mile road course, a state-of-the-art Karting facility and a 14-acre, multi-purpose dirt off-road venue.