COMMERCE, Ga. --
It marks the third of 16 events for the class and for Pro Stock Motorcycle riders, including standout Scotty Pollacheck, returning to Atlanta is definitely a good thing.
"I'm excited anywhere we go to race and it's exciting to get back to Atlanta," Pollacheck said. "It's a pretty historical track, it's a big market and it's always a good place to race. Starting with this race the events for our class start running a lot closer together and we get into the swing of things. That's always nice."
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Johnny Gray (Funny Car) and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) were last year's winners of the event that will once again be televised on ESPN2.
Returning to Atlanta Dragway is also appealing for the two-bike team of Vance & Hines Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson teammate Eddie Krawiec and Andrew Hines. Krawiec, a three-time world champion, is the most recent Pro Stock Motorcycle winner in Atlanta and also won in 2009, while Hines won at Atlanta Dragway in 2010 and 2008.
"I am happy to return to Atlanta," Arana Jr. said. "As far as the track surface goes, it's a nice track. It's pretty smooth. Hopefully, this year, having the break before, we can come back and do well. They took Charlotte off the schedule and brought it back (in 2013), and I was able to go there and (win). I'll cross my fingers, and maybe this will be the same thing."
After finishing as the runner-up to Steve Johnson in Gainesville, Pollacheck is currently second in points. Other standouts in the class include defending world champ Matt Smith, Hector Arana and Michael Ray, but Pollacheck, in search of his first career Pro Stock Motorcycle win, likes the direction he is headed in 2014.
"I just want to see more of the same in Atlanta," said Pollacheck, who also advanced to the final foursome at the Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte. "We've done well, the bike's doing what we want and it's been a very good start to the season. As competitive as everything is in this class, I just have to keep that mentality going and keep pushing forward."
Relying on what worked in 2012 at Atlanta Dragway may not bode well for Pro Stock Motorcycle riders this season. Arana Jr., who is currently fifth in points, knows whoever can figure out the track first may have the inside edge to a successful weekend.
A good showing in Georgia is also imperative with the bulk of the season still to come. After a month off following each of the first two races, the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals marks the start of a busy stretch for the Pro Stock Motorcycle class, which is just the way the riders like it.
"It's definitely exciting because I love racing and now we can start to get into the groove of things," Arana Jr. said. "Those breaks have helped us get everything sorted through and we took full advantage of the time between races. But I'm definitely looking forward to getting in a rhythm and get some consistency. For a rider, now is the time when you can really start to get dialed in."
In Top Fuel, Brown took home his third career victory in Atlanta a year and has been red-hot in 2014. After back-to-back wins, Brown is the points leader and has three victories overall this season. Doug Kalitta is right behind in the points standings and also owns two Atlanta victories. Other championship contenders include Tony Schumacher, defending world champ Shawn Langdon, Spencer Massey, 2012 Atlanta winner Steve Torrence, Khalid alBalooshi, Auto Club of Southern California Road the Future Award winner Brittany Force and J.R. Todd.
In Pro Stock, Erica Enders-Stevens won for the second time in three races by winning at her home track in Houston and the class points leader is poised to possibly become the first female Atlanta winner in Pro Stock. Four-time world champion Greg Anderson returned to his Summit Racing Chevy Camaro in Houston while his KB Racing teammate Jason Line took the season opener in Pomona. Defending champ Jeg Coughlin, a five-time world champion, has two wins in Atlanta but will be looking for his first since 2010, but will face stiff challenges for contenders like teammate Allen Johnson, Dave Connolly, Shane Gray and Vincent Nobile.
The NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series will make its third stop of the 2014 season at Atlanta Dragway. Mike Castellana took the opening race in Gainesville and Mike Janis topped Castellana at the most recent event in Houston. Defending champion Rickie Smith reached the Pro Mod finals in Florida and is looking for a second straight world championship in the doorslammer category.
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 Series qualifying begins Friday, May 16, with sessions at 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. The final two qualifying sessions will take place Saturday, May 17, at 12:30 and 3 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, May 18. Pro Mod qualifying is set for Friday, May 16 at 6 p.m. and Saturday, May 17 at noon. First round of Pro Mod eliminations are scheduled for Saturday at 2:45 and continue on Sunday.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, log on to www.NHRAtix.com or call (800) 884-NHRA (6472). Children 12 and younger are free.