Adam Sinclair

Adam Sinclair

Adam has been a race fan since the first time he went through the tunnel under the Daytona International Speedway almost 30 years ago. He has had the privilege of traveling to races all across the state of Florida (as well as one race in Ohio), watching nearly everything with a motor compete for fame and glory, as well as participating in various racing schools to get the feel of what racecar drivers go through every week.  

Adam spent several years covering motorsports for Examiner.com., where he had the opportunity to see the racing world from behind the scenes as well as the grandstands. He invites everyone to follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus, and looks forward to sharing his enthusiasm for all things racing with the readers of SpeedwayDigest.com.

Be sure to tune in for his sports talk program, Thursday Night Thunder, where he discusses the latest in motorsports news with drivers, crew members, and fans. The show takes place (almost) every Thursday at 8:00 pm EST on the Speedway Digest Radio Network. 

Contact Adam: Email  

  

 

 In June, Tony Jones celebrated his very first Ironman trophy in IHRA competition by winning a Summit Racing Equipment Pro-Am Tour event at Memphis International Raceway in a thriller over Greg Fowler. Almost four months later to the day, Jones was back in the winner's circle at the very same track with a win over the very same person.

Only this time, there was much, much more at stake.

Jones secured his second ever victory in IHRA competition at the IHRA Summit Racing Equipment World Finals at Memphis International Raceway earlier this month, clinching the Hot Rod World Championship in the process when he bested Fowler for the second time in as many tries during the Summit Racing Equipment Tournament of Champions presented by AMSOIL.

With a championship on the line, Jones, a newcomer to IHRA competition, bested Fowler with a .024 reaction time paired with a 10.911-second pass in the 10.90 index class at 140.39 mph while Fowler, who had been spot-on all afternoon, ran a tick too quick with a 10.898 at 142.81 mph.

The win gave Jones a championship in his first season out with the IHRA after finishing third in Division 4, capping off what can only be described as a dream season for Jones.

"I have pinched myself a couple of times, but it still really hasn't sunk in just yet that I won it," Jones said. "All afternoon I just took it a round at a time. After every round we kept thinking it is just three more rounds, just two more rounds and then just one more round. In the winner's circle, my buddy looked at me and simply said 'zero more rounds' and it sort of clicked that we had just won it."


After a long afternoon that included wins over the best-of-the-best in IHRA's Hot Rod category, the irony did not escape Jones as he went up against Fowler for the second time this season in Memphis.

"I really didn't think I could beat him twice. The first time we went to Memphis and beat him, he treed me. This time he stuck me in the left lane and I ended up treeing him. It was a great race, there were a lot of nerves, but the good Lord took the anxiety away from me and we were able to get the win," Jones said.

Jones' afternoon included wins over two divisional champions and a divisional runner-up after he himself barely managed to hold on to a spot in the field. Jones entered the final race of the divisional season as the points leader in Division 4, but two poor showings plummeted him to third in the standings - the cutoff point to make the tournament.

But in Memphis, Jones proved he belonged. Driving his bright yellow '67 Camaro, Jones bested Joe Tillman, Dakota Lowery and Ricky Roe to secure his place in the finals. All three rounds proved a challenge, with Jones using a .003 light to overcome Tillman's 10.915 in round one and a near-dead on 10.902 with a .009 light was needed in the semifinals to best Roe's 10.907 with a .009 tree, moving Jones into the championship bout


Championship runner-up Fowler had wins over Chris Dean, Tim Andersen and 2014 IHRA Sportsman Driver of the Year John Dustin, capping a great year for the Point Pleasant, West Virginia native who had one win and championship in Division 3 behind the wheel of the Friends of Coal sponsored 1980 Camaro.

"This whole thing has been like a dream come true. You pray for something like this, but people like me, we are just out here enjoying the sport. People like us just don't win these things," Jones said.

Ironically, Jones' championship season almost didn't happen. It took the urging of longtime friend Roger Massey, himself an accomplished Top Sportsman racer, to get Jones out to his first IHRA event. From there, things just clicked for the Gilmer, Texas native.

"A friend of mine convinced me to give IHRA a try this year and from the very start, every time I went to a race, I found myself going rounds," Jones said. "It was so different, so relaxing to run IHRA. I found myself right at home and before long we found ourselves leading the division. We almost gave it away in our final race, but we were able to hang on and get to Memphis."

With the win, Jones will earn the coveted No. 1 for his car as he plans to continue racing with the IHRA and defend his championship in 2015.

"I think I am wearing the wife out with the fact that we have a world champion in the home," Jones said with a laugh. "The car ran really good all year and we capped it off with the perfect weekend. I really couldn't have done any of it without Jesus in my life. He is the reason I am here. I also want to thank Roger Massey for inviting me to go racing, my wife and daughter for being there for me, my mom for always being there and thanks to IHRA for giving us a great place to race. I also want to thank Sunset Racecraft, Summit and everyone that helps make this possible."

Sports Car Club of America announced today the addition of Milwaukee Region’s Cat event, held July 25-26 at Road America, to the 2015 U.S. Majors Tour Northern Conference Schedule.
 

As was the case in 2014, drivers will have two opportunities in the Majors schedule to compete at Road America, with the July weekend joining the 60th Chicago Region June Sprints weekend of June 12-14.
 
The addition of a sixth race weekend in the Northern Conference means that the Aug. 14-16 event at PittRace will count only toward the Northeast Conference Championship, serving at that Conference’s finale.
 
Revised 2015 SCCA U.S. Majors Tour Northern Conference Schedule
May 2-3 - Blackhawk Farms, S. Beloit, Ill.
May 29-31* - Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Lexington, Ohio (With Northeast)
June 12-14 – Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wis.
July 11-12 - GingerMan Raceway, South Haven, Mich.
July 25-26 – Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wis.
Aug. 22-23 – Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn, Mich.
 
For schedules for each U.S. Majors Tour Conference, and additional series information, please visit www.scca.com/majors.

Fan favorites, international series and historic racing are on the calendar as Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca announced its 2015 race schedule today.   The 2015 season at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is as follows: 

  • TUDOR United SportsCar Championship (May 1-3)
  • eni FIM Superbike World Championship, GEICO Motorcycle U.S. Round (July 17-19)
  • Moterey Pre-Reunion (Aug. 8-9)
  • Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion (Aug. 13-16)
  • Pirelli World Challenge (Sept. 11-13)
  • Porsche Rennsport Reunion V (Oct. 9-11).

“I am truly pleased to share our 2015 schedule with our fans,” says Gill Campbell, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca CEO/general manager. “The return of Porsche Rennsport and the addition of Pirelli World Challenge to our other feature races, really makes for an exciting season of events.”   After just completing their successful inaugural season, the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship is already making plans to compete at Mazda Raceway (May 1-3) for the third race of its 2015 season schedule. The TUDOR Championship features competitive racing with two styles of cars, prototype and GT. Each style of car has two classes, pro and pro-am, each with their own battle for the lead.   As the eni FIM Superbike World Championship returns to California’s Central Coast (July 17-19) for the third consecutive year, the Series hopes to continue to enjoy a loyal and growing U.S. fan base. World Superbike features riders, teams and manufacturers racing high-performance bikes very similar to the ones right off the showroom floor. Visitors to Mazda Raceway will enjoy plenty of nail-biting racing as nearly 30 riders line up on the starting grid to roar out and begin their hard fought battles for the lead at each of the track’s 11 turns.   The Monterey Pre-Reunion (Aug. 8-9) provides guests with the chance to see more than 300 race cars competing prior to the following weekend’s big Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. The paddock is bustling and the racing action intense as these historic cars, some of which are fully restored while others carry the patina of yesteryear, run in their respective race groups according to era, engine size and car type.
The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion (Aug. 13-16) features approximately 550 cars each year that are selected for their historical significance, authenticity and period-correctness. They are divided into classes based on type of car, displacement and era of origin. The Reunion is a cornerstone of the increasingly popular Classic Car Week on the famed Monterey Peninsula. Along with the Pebble Beach Concours d’ Elegance, these events attract international visitors to celebrate the world of motoring and motorsports. The featured marque for the event will be announced the week of Nov. 17.   One of North America’s finest, longest running auto racing series, the Pirelli World Challenge, will crown their 2015 champions at Mazda Raceway (Sept. 11-13) with the finale to their season. The popular Series consists of six classes of vehicles: grand touring (GT); touring car (TC); grand touring sport (GTS); touring car B-spec (TCB), touring car A (TCA) and Porsche GT-Cup (GT-Cup). Well known car brands including Aston Martin, Audi, Bentley, Cadillac, Mazda, McLaren and Porsche make up the classes of competition.   In 2011 the highly anticipated Porsche Rennsport Reunion IV was held for the first time on the West Coast and it did not disappoint. The event featured more than 350 of the rarest Porsche race cars competing on the track and an unprecedented field of 800-plus Porsches staged in car corrals. In 2015 Porsche Rennsport Reunion V will again be held at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (Oct. 9-11) and aims to exceed all expectations from the previous event.   Fans will be able to visit www.MazdaRaceway.com or call 800-327-3323 in December to purchase general admission, hospitality, parking and camping for the race weekends.

Voting for Formula E’s interactive FanBoost feature is now open – www.fiaformulae.com/fanboost - four weeks to go before the championship’s second race in Putrajaya on November 22. 

FanBoost allows fans to vote for their favourite driver giving them an extra ‘speed burst’ during the race, helping them to overtake or defend their position.

 

The three drivers with the most votes each receive a five-second power boost per car, per driver, temporarily increasing their car’s power from 150kw (202.5bhp) to 180kw (243bhp). 

Benoit Dupont, Formula E’s sporting manager, said: “FanBoost is something that is not only unique to the FIA Formula E Championship but all sporting events as it allows fans to potentially influence the outcome of the race and to interact with the drivers rather than just watching at home. For race two, we have introduced voting in Chinese and Japanese languages with more languages available soon.”

Just click here to cast your vote. You can change your mind as many times as you want until voting closes a short time before the start of the race.

For more information visit www.fiaformulae.com 

 

 

 

Marty Smith, who has been lead NASCAR reporter for SportsCenter and other ESPN platforms since 2007, has agreed to a new contract and will remain with ESPN as a bureau reporter. 

From his base in Charlotte, N.C., Smith will travel to cover a variety of sports for the network, including NASCAR, pro and college football and basketball, and other sports. He also will still write for ESPN.com on NASCAR and other topics and will continue the popular Marty & McGee podcast on ESPN.com, which he co-hosts with ESPN the Magazine senior writer Ryan McGee. 

Smith’s new role officially begins January 1 but as he focuses on covering the final four weeks of the NASCAR season, he will be expanding his duties, including reporting on the Oct. 28 home opener for the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets. ESPN is in its final year of televising live NASCAR racing. 

Prior to joining ESPN, Smith was a senior writer for NASCAR.com, an analyst and host on the former SPEED Channel and a NASCAR analyst on Fox Sports Net. A Radford University graduate, Smith covered sports for daily newspapers in Roanoke and Lynchburg, Va., before joining NASCAR.com. 

Over the past eight years, Smith has broken multiple big news stories from the NASCAR world on various ESPN platforms. In addition to reporting for SportsCenter and writing news and features for ESPN.com, Smith also has contributed to ESPN’s NASCAR event television coverage with numerous unique features and extensive, in-depth and revealing interviews with nearly every top driver in the sport. 

This week, Smith is preparing a feature for SportsCenter on the relationship between Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost and the late seven-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Dale Earnhardt and will then report from the NASCAR event in Martinsville, Va., this weekend. 

"I'm so fortunate to have a challenging, rewarding job that allows for creativity, and to have colleagues and bosses that believe in my approach and my ability,” said Smith. “I love sports and the intensity therein, and I'm thrilled by the prospect of diversifying in the coming years, while still maintaining my passion for motorsports. I appreciate the opportunity, and I don't take it lightly."

With an eye to further promote and grow the Pirelli World Challenge GTS class for 2015 and beyond, WC Vision has announced some exciting changes for the class for next season.                     

                                            
                      Back in 2010 and the inaugural season of competition for the class, a total of four full season entrants competed for the overall drivers championship. Fast forward four years and the GTS class has been the fastest growing segment for the series with fields regularly topping 25 cars competing for the championship in 2014.                     
                                            
                      Starting in 2015, the GTS class will run separate of the GT classes with its own 50 minute races and receive its own exclusive TV coverage, and expanded social media and marketing focus. A forthcoming TV broadcast announcement will be made that will highlight expanded coverage dedicated to the GTS class.                     
                                            
                      "I believe that the separation of the classes (GT/GT-A/GT Cup and GTS) will help even further evolve the Pirelli World Challenge as we head into the 2015 season," said Jack Roush Jr., driver of the No. 60 Roush Road Racing Ford Mustang Boss 302R. "In any given race, there's always much more for the announcers to talk about than they could ever realistically cover. The separation of classes will allow them to give more coverage to both GT/GT-A/GT Cup and GTS. The  benefit here is clear for both sponsors and fans."                     
                                            
                      "Being a driver in the series, I also look forward to the way that this will change the races themselves," added Roush Jr. "It's a simple fact that the more cars you have on track, the more yellow flag laps and chaos you are likely to have. With the new single class format, we should stand to see more green flag laps and less random chance affecting the race results."                     
                                            
                      "I think it's a good move by the series to separate the GTS class from the GT class to put it on a pedestal of its own with dedicated 50 minute races, TV broadcast and marketing and promotions," said Leo Capaldi, Team Owner, Capaldi Racing. "Plus I think the racing in the GTS class will only continue to improve now that we won't have GT cars slicing and dicing through the field. This past season, we had more than a few instances where GT and GTS cars unfortunately  came together and it hurt some of the competitors on both sides of the fence, so the split will help."                     
                                            
                      "Capaldi Racing returned to PWC a few years ago after running with another series because of the better exposure it offers for our sponsors. With this new split format in 2015 for GTS it will just make it even more valuable to our partners and help our team to grow."                     
                                            
                      The 2015 Pirelli World Challenge schedule will feature 10 weekends, including five standalone events at North America's most challenging and legendary permanent road courses and temporary street circuits.                     
                                            
2015 Pirelli World Challenge Schedule                      March 6-8 — Circuit of The Americas**                       March 27-29 — St. Petersburg*                       April 17-19 — Long Beach* (GT/GT-Cup Only)                       April 24-26 — Barber Motorsports Park*                       May 15-17 — Canadian Tire Motorsport Park**                       June 26-28 — Road America**                       July 31-Aug. 2 — Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course*                       Aug. 21-23 — Miller Motorsports Park**                       Aug. 28-30 — Sonoma Raceway*                       Sept. 11-13 — Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca**                     
                      *Events with IndyCar                       **PWC Headline Events

Who knew the answer to more wins and more success on the racetrack was actually less time behind the wheel?

While not the most ideal of situations for an experienced racer like Cody Bayus, that is exactly the situation Bayus found himself in in 2014 with less time on the track and even fewer opportunities to collect wins. But not even a reduced schedule could keep Bayus, of the famous Willow Lake racing family out of Warren, Ohio, from spinning his season into gold with a track championship at Thompson Raceway Park followed by a victory in the Summit SuperSeries World Championship race at Memphis International Raceway to claim the IHRA Top ET championship for 2014.

"What a great season all the way around. I didn't get to race that much this year, we had a lot going on elsewhere which forced me to put racing on the sideline, but it ended up working out really well," Bayus said. "Other years you put your heart and soul into this sport and you don't end up with half of what we came away with in Memphis. What can I say, when it is your day, it is just your day."

Bayus, representing his home track of Thompson Raceway Park, went four big rounds on championship Sunday at the IHRA Summit Racing Equipment World Finals, culminating with a showdown with another veteran racer in Shane Maddox out of Greer Dragway in North Carolina.

With an Ironman on the line, Bayus put together a nearly-flawless .014 package with a .008 reaction time and a 7.666-second pass on a 7.66 dial at 169.74 mph, good enough to hand the young racer his first IHRA championship. Maddox, in finishing runner-up, had an equally impressive .013 light with a 7.343 on a 7.33 at 178.92 mph.

"In the final, I just pretended like it was just another Saturday night at Thompson. I tried not to think about what was on the line, I didn't want to see the (prize) car, I didn't want anything to do with what was on the line. I told myself it was just another Saturday night," Bayus said. "It was like a blur, but we put together a really good package and sealed the deal. It was a great finish to the year."

With the win, Bayus earned a lucrative prize package that includes $10,000 from Summit Racing Equipment, a brand new dragster courtesy of TNT Supercars with a Trick Flow big block Chevy engine and a Summit Racing Equipment livery designed and painted by Imagine That Customs. He also receives an Aruba vacation, a gold and silver card, championship Ironman and more, in addition to the title of world champion - a title Bayus is still learning to live with.

"To be honest, a lot of people have asked me what it means to win this thing and I still don't know how to answer them," Bayus said. "It really is overwhelming and it just means so much to win such a big race."

Bayus' other wins in Memphis included a pair of red-light starts by Jeffrey Jones and Scott Henderson in the first two rounds, two much-needed results as he and his team thrashed to overcome a sudden problem with the car entering eliminations.

"The car performed well all weekend right up to the first round when the starter took a crap when we were in the staging lanes. The starter was stuck spinning over. Thankfully for us everybody in the staging lanes, including my sister, Jacob (Elrod) all helped calm down the situation and helped get me through the round. Also lucky for us, the guy red lighted," Bayus said. "It was a tough way to start the afternoon, you already have a million things going through your head, you don't need to have issues with your car to worry about as well.

"But after that, the car ran really well. We thrashed to get it ready for second round and put together some nice runs. Nothing like putting your nerves through the ringer right off the bat."

In the semifinals, Bayus faced another close race against Robbie Smith. Smith had Bayus beat on the tree with a .005 to a .043, but Bayus ran closer to the numbers in a double-breakout victory with a 7.660 on a 7.67 to Smith's 7.597 on a 7.61. Event runner-up Maddox had wins over Amber Rose- Smith, Terry Goff and Lee Marcum III on his way to the final round.

With the win, Bayus brings a championship home to Warren, Ohio where so many have helped make his racing dreams a reality. Now he will take with him the coveted No. 1 for his brand new Summit Racing Equipment-backed dragster as he hopes to campaign a larger schedule in 2015.

"I would like to thank my mom, dad, Sara, fiancé Lindsay, my daughter Celia, my uncles Rick, John and Donnie, Bob Bloom and his family, the Slaughter family, Chris Cadle and Greg Fedak for helping me get the new car home from Memphis and all of those who support me," Bayus said. "I also want to thank Willow Lake Park, Bayus Masonry, R.D. Banks Chevrolet, Crank-n-Sleeve Shop, Minor's Performance, Master Street Engineering, Davis Race Cars, Finish Line Race Fuels, Paint by Scott Haines and Abruzzi Transmission and Converter."

The Mazda Club Racer Shootout is the single largest prize in club racing.  Since 2007 Mazda has annually promoted one talented club racer to the professional ranks.  The $75,000 prize funds a drive in the 2015 SCCA Pro Racing Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires.  

 

The heart and soul of Mazda Motorsports is club racing, and supporting those racers who have invested in racing a Mazda.  The criteria for the shootout is to identify the aspiring professional racer who has the best range of skills required to succeed.  These skills include speed, consistency, race craft, technical feedback, and off-track business, marketing and PR skills.  History has shown that a driver will be limited in success if they are lacking in multiple areas.

 

John Doonan, Director of Motorsports, noted: “Our shootout has become a signature event for Mazda Motorsports. Without exception, every driver who won the shootout proved to be competitive in MX-5 Cup, with several developing solid professional careers.  Each year we tweak the competition.  This year marks the inclusion of iRacing simulation racers and a new set of business criteria for the judges.”

 

In past years, typically a dozen to 18 racers qualified for the first level of the competition.  Each has won a recognized championship over a minimum number of competitors.  The next step is for the racer to submit a business presentation and video, which will be reviewed and scored by a team of motorsports and marketing professionals.  From those proposals, the finalists will be selected and advance to the winner-take-all shootout. 

 

The final shootout will be at Buttonwillow Raceway Park on December 2nd where the racers will be tested on the track for their technical skills. 

 

The 15 currently identified semi-finalists for 2014 are as follows:

 

Club/Series                                                                                        Racer                         

Skip Barber Racing School (Summer Series)                                   Sam Adams

NASA Eastern States Championships (PTE)                                    Ben Anderson

SCCA National Championship Runoffs (Formula Mazda)                Mike Anderson

SCCA National Championship Runoffs (T4)                                     Danny Bender

NASA Eastern States Championships (Spec Miata)                         Alex Bolanos

Canadian Touring Car Championship – B-Spec Champion              Normand Boyer

iRacing MX-5 Cup (Season 3)                                                           Steven Diem

NASA Spec Miata Teen Challenge (West)                                        Joey Jordan

SCCA National Championship Runoffs (Formula Atlantic)               Conner Kearby

iRacing MX-5 Cup (Season 2)                                                           Evan Maillard

NASA Spec Miata Teen Challenge (Rocky Mountain)                      Zachary Munro

Toyo Tires Spec Miata Championship (Canada)                               Aaron Pettipas                     

SCCA National Championship Runoffs (E Production)                     Matt Reynolds

SCCA National Championship Runoffs (Spec Miata)                       Erik Stearns

Skip Barber Racing School (Winter Series)                                       Jim Wilby

 

There are a few remaining slots that will be identified between now and November 9th:

 

Club/Series                                                                       Season concludes on:                       

NASA Spec Miata Teen Challenge (Texas)                                      November 2nd           

Worldspeed Formula Car Championship                                           November 9th

NASA Western States Championships (Spec Miata)                        November 9th

NASA Western States Championships (TBD)                                   November 9th

                                                                                                           

Additional information about the Mazda Club Racer shootout can be found at www.mazdamotorsports.com

 

Formula One drivers Felipe Massa, Sergio Perez and Esteban Gutierrez have been confirmed for the Austin Fans' Forum on Wednesday, Oct. 29, ahead of the United States Grand Prix.

Fans will be able to hear from and ask questions of the drivers at the Forum, which is set from 6 to 7 p.m. at the iconic Gibson Showroom at 3601 S. Congress Ave., in the Penn Station complex in South Austin. CNBC's Brian Sullivan will host the Forum.

As the official Media Partner of the Forum, Crash.net will be providing a live stream on www.crash.net and on www.circuitoftheamericas.com, with an on-demand version available online after the Forum.

The Fans’ Forum will start at 6 p.m. Doors open at 5.30 p.m. Registered attendees will be emailed this week with details of the free transportation service provided from downtown Austin to the Forum, and back again afterwards.

Attendance at the Forum is free of charge, but fans must have registered before the event to be able to attend via www.circuitoftheamericas/lksjdfi. Entry will be strictly on a first-come, first served basis.

Courtney Force and Erica Enders-Stevens are no strangers to making history in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. But the pair of talented female drivers both have a chance to leave their biggest marks on the NHRA history books with two races remaining in the 2014 Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship.

 

Force is third in the Funny Car standings in her 10,000-horsepower Traxxas Ford Mustang, while Enders-Stevens sits in second in Pro Stock, 35 points behind leader Jason Line in her Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro.

 

The history on the line is huge as Force and Enders-Stevens both have the opportunity to become the first female world champions in their respective classes. Each can take the next step toward accomplishing their goals at the penultimate race in the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship, the 14th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals, Oct. 30-Nov. 2 at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where Force and Enders-Stevens’ pursuit of their historic championship titles will be two of the major storylines.

 

“Of course it’s crossed my mind, as far as being the champion is concerned,” said Enders-Stevens, who won the spring race at Las Vegas this season. “That’s every driver’s goal and it's our team’s goal as well. We’re going to do everything that we can to get it done. It’s been a dream of mine since I was a kid to be competing at this level – and not just competing, but contending for a championship. It’s really exciting, really humbling, but we’re having fun. We’re excited to get these next two races underway.”

 

Enders-Stevens is one of six females who have competed in Pro Stock competition since the class was formed in 1970. She is by far the most successful female to have raced in the 200 mph factory hot rod division. Meanwhile, Force is one of 14 women who have competed in Funny Car competition since the class formed in the late 1960s. However, with seven career victories she is the winningest female to ever drive one of the wildly unpredictable machines. Earlier this season she earned the 100th win by a female in NHRA history and six months later would like to stake her claim to another milestone moment: first female world champion in Funny Car.

 

“My focus as a driver is to do my job these next two races and put everything I've got into it,” Force said. “I need my full focus and most importantly confidence in myself and my team for these next two races. I would love to think about what it would be like to be a champion, but at this time it is still too early to think of what could be and I just need to think of right now and how to do my job the best I can.”

 

Antron Brown (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car), Shane Gray (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the NHRA Mello Yello Series playoff event that will once again be televised nationally on ESPN2.

 

Enders-Stevens, the first female to win in Pro Stock, would like to sweep the Las Vegas races in the ultra-competitive Pro Stock class in 2014 after winning the race and the K&N Horsepower Challenge bonus event in March. That victory jump-started her banner season and sent her into the points lead that she held for most of the regular season.

 

Enders-Stevens added three more victories and entered the Countdown in second place. She dropped as low as fourth after a second-round exit in Dallas, but back-to-back semifinal finishes pushed her back to second and within striking distance of Line. She has continued to credit a talented team led by crew chiefs Rick Jones and Rickie Jones, but Enders-Stevens will take the same approach into Las Vegas she has all year even if the magnitude of the event has heightened.

 

“We’re not preparing any different than any other race,” Enders-Stevens said. “The guys have been working really hard in the shop, trying to find more horsepower. I’m excited about the future with this team. This is our first year together, and we’ve been able to accomplish a lot, and I know the sky is the limit for our future. I feel blessed to have the opportunity."

 

Courtney Force heads into the final two races 72 points behind Matt Hagan. Sandwiched between them is her father, reigning and 16-time world champion John Force, who trails Hagan by 36 points. He also clinched the championship a year ago at this event by knocking off Courtney in the final round. Determined not to let that happen again, she has been hard at work preparing for the NHRA Toyota Nationals.

 

“I talked with my crew chief (Ron Douglas) about ways to improve my driving and I’m getting mentally prepared for the upcoming race,” Force said. “I’ve taken this time to relax after four races in a row and I am excited and feeling confident going into Las Vegas. We are in a good position and need to keep our focus round by round if we want a shot at this championship.”

 

It has been a dream season for Force as she also became the first female to win consecutive events in the class after posting back-to-back victories in the Countdown at Dallas and St. Louis. She has four victories this season and also posted a runner-up finish at Atlanta. Her Traxxas Mustang was consistently one of the quickest cars in the class as she raced to four No. 1 qualifying positions, one coming during the Countdown.

 

“It is definitely surreal looking back at this season and what we have accomplished as a team,” Force said. “I’m so proud of our achievements this year and couldn't have done it without every single member on our team. We've come a long way since just my rookie year, but we've still got a long way to go and a lot to learn.”

 

In Top Fuel, Brown, the 2012 world champ, is a two-time winner at Las Vegas, but the driver currently in command is seven-time world champion Tony Schumacher. After winning three of the first four races of the Countdown, Schumacher, an eight-time winner at The Strip, holds a 134-point lead over Doug Kalitta. Steve Torrence sits in third, reigning world champion Shawn Langdon is fourth in points while other Countdown competitors include Spencer Massey, reigning Auto Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award winner Brittany Force, Khalid alBalooshi and J.R. Todd.

 

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Smith was victorious last season en route to his second championship ring. But the 2014 season has belonged to Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson teammates Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec. Both have won this event three times and Hines holds a 25-point advantage over Krawiec. Hector Arana Jr. is in third and other marquee challengers in the two-wheel category are Steve Johnson, Angie Smith, Scotty Pollacheck, John Hall, Hector Arana Sr. Michael Ray, Jerry Savoie and Angelle Sampey.

 

The event will also feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and see which driver will be crowned world champion at the season finale in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series.

              

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 enjoy some cherished face time 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 begins Friday, Oct. 31, with sessions at 1 and 4 p.m. The final two qualifying sessions will take place Saturday, Nov. 1, at 1 and 4 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 2.

 

To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway at (800) 644-4444 or visit www.LVMS.com.  For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.