Eager to breathe a little tire smoke and nitrous fumes and feel the chest-rattling rumble of three- to six-second cars rocketing down the strip?
The start of the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series this weekend for the Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona brings with it more fascinating story lines than a Choose Your Own Adventure novel.
Brittany Force should be a wildly popular addition to Top Fuel. Del Worsham is back behind the wheel in Funny Car after a season as Alexis DeJoria’s crew chief. The Team Summit boys might have a thing or two for defending Pro Stock champion Allen Johnson after an off season with their new Camaros. Young guns like Erica Enders-Stevens and Vincent Nobile will be bringing it as well.
It’s going to be awesome. Here are some of the stories we’ll be watching closely.
After appearing unstoppable in the early going of 2012, Team Summit drivers Jason Line and Greg Anderson lost some mojo after switching from their dominate Pontiac GXPs to the then-new Pro Stock Chevrolet Camaro. Anderson got a win in its debut. And Line ultimately finished runner up in the points. But the latter half of 2012 wasn’t want Line and Anderson expect from themselves.
Word around the campfire is the boys are back. We’ll see soon enough.
Johnson was outstanding for most of 2012, so he might have something to say. Enders-Stevens established herself as a threat every week. Can’t wait to see what she does this year. And Nobile certainly caught our attention.
A lesser-known driver we’ll be watching in 2013 is Rickie Jones, who returns to Pro Stock after a layoff.
There are a ton of things to watch in Funny Car this year. We are interested in Worsham’s return to the driver’s seat. And the car he’s piloting was formerly occupied by Jeff Arend who got picked up by Jim Dunn Racing this year.
Chad Head is taking over driving duties for his dad, Jim. Matt Hagan is poised to outdo his 2012 effort.
Tim Wilkerson has an entirely new team behind him and we’re told he’s feeling really confident heading into the race season.
Mike Neff is tuning John Force’s ride. Courtney Force is working on her next Wally. Robert Hight isn’t going anywhere. And there’s that one guy… what’s his name? Jack Beckman. He goes pretty fast once in a while, too.
In the 8,000-horsepower, three-second-car class that Antron Brown won in 2012, we’ll be watching the canopy story. Tony Schumacher debuted his canopy last year. Schumacher, Brown, Spencer Massey, and Brittany Force will drive with canopies on their dragsters this year.
We’re assuming the youngest Force daughter is going to command a lot of camera and air time this season as she takes her shot at the top of the NHRA food chain. Should be fascinating.
And three-time champion Larry Dixon is back, presumably not to the delight of his competition.
There is a lot to be excited about this year. And we are.
Here’s to another awesome racing season, ladies and gentlemen. We’re glad the Mayans were wrong.
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying sessions are scheduled to begin today at 2 pm and will continue tomorrow and Saturday. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 am on Sunday, Feb. 17.