CONCORD, N.C. --
Even for the most experienced driver in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, racing in a four-lane configuration is a challenge. Seven-time U.S. Army Top Fuel world champion Tony Schumacher says that the unique format brings out the best in each driver.
"Well, if you don't leave first, they're really loud," he said. "When you have a car on each side, you feel like the sky's falling on you. It's intense. It's an incredible amount of pressure."
Schumacher has raced to two victories this season and he is currently in the series lead once again following his win in Las Vegas. With all of his accomplishments in the sport, the seven-time world champ would like to add a win at the Dollar General NHRA Four-Wide Nationals to his resume.
"We won Charlotte (N.C), at the first race, but not the Four-Wide," Schumacher said. "I want to put that on the list."
Spencer Massey (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) are the defending winners of the event that will be televised on ESPN2HD. Traxxas Ford Mustang Funny Car points leader Courtney Force is ready to take on the Four-Wide challenge and can't wait to perform for the fans.
Force says she's been coaching and giving pointers to her Top Fuel rookie sister Brittany who will be experiencing her first-ever Four-Wide Nationals.
"I keep talking to Brittany about it going in," Courtney said. "It's a little bit overwhelming for a driver. So I'm a little nervous for her. There's so much excitement. There's so much horsepower. It's so much louder at this racetrack with four lanes. It's kind of cool to have my sister out here, although she's in a different category, she's in a Top Fuel dragster, and I'm in the Funny Car. It's still kind of cool she's been able to come to me for advice, and I've been able to talk to her. I try not to shove it down her throat and throw a bunch of advice at her because I know how overwhelming it can be the first year out."
Another Funny Car contender eager to cruise into the winner's circle at zMAX Dragway is two-time Funny Car world champ Cruz Pedregon. Serving as both crew chief and driver of his Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry, Pedregon recently claimed his first season victory in Las Vegas and is currently third in the points. The two-time world champ posted a runner-up finish at last season's NHRA Four-Wide Nationals.
Pedregon and his 'No Name' crew will face some tough competitors in the Funny Car class at the 'Bellagio of Dragstrips,' which includes defending event winner Hight, NAPA Auto Parts driver Ron Capps, defending world champ "Fast Jack" Beckman, and veteran driver Del Worsham, among others.
In Top Fuel, Schumacher will have to outrun teammate and defending world champion Antron Brown, Morgan Lucas, Brandon Bernstein, Doug Kalitta and many more to claim his first Four-Wide Nationals Wally trophy.
Pro Stock is full of tough drivers looking to score big at the Dollar General NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, including defending event winner Nobile, last year's world champion Allen Johnson, Pro Stock's most successful female driver Erica Enders-Stevens, outstanding qualifier Mike Edwards in his I Am Second Chevy Camaro, and local favorites, Jason Line and Anderson, the defending event winner.
Pro Stock Motorcycle returns to the Dollar General NHRA Four-Wide Nationals after a two-year hiatus. Lucas Oil Racing Buell rider Hector Arana Jr. started off the Mello Yello Series season with a win at the Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla. He will square off with some tough riders if he hopes to get win No. 2 which includes father, Hector Sr., Rookie of the Year candidate Adam Arana, three-time champs Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec on their Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidsons, Michael Ray, Shawn Gann, husband-and-wife duo Matt and Angie Smith, Scotty Pollacheck and past zMAX winner Steve Johnson.
Children 13 and younger will receive free general admission tickets with a paid adult. As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as every ticket is an exclusive pit pass, allowing them firsthand to see the highly skilled mechanics service their race machines between rounds. While visiting the pits, interactive NHRA Nitro Alley and the NHRA Manufacturers Midway are two popular areas fans won't want to miss.
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