GLENDORA, Calif. — Seven rookie drivers representing the four NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series categories — Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle — have been announced by officials from NHRA and Automobile Club of Southern California as the eligible candidates for the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award.
The award, which recognizes the top rookie competitor in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and offers a $20,000 prize and traditional trophy to the winner, will be presented during NHRA’s annual championship awards ceremony on Monday, Nov. 13 at the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland in Hollywood, Calif.
The nation’s leading auto racing journalists will select the winner through a voting system based on the following criteria: number of events competed in, performance on and off the racetrack, participation in NHRA promotions and relationships with fans, sponsors and media.
The candidates for the prestigious award are, in alphabetical order: Troy Coughlin Jr. (Top Fuel), Joey Gladstone (Pro Stock Motorcycle), Tanner Gray (Pro Stock), Jonnie Lindberg (Funny Car), Andie Rawlings (Pro Stock Motorcycle), Shawn Reed (Top Fuel) and Mike Salinas (Top Fuel).
“Since 1900, the Automobile Club of Southern California has been an integral part of the communities we serve, helping to improve traffic safety and provide service with integrity, commitment and professionalism,” said John Boyle, President and CEO of the Automobile Club of Southern California. “The Road to the Future Award, honoring up-and-coming racers in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, has come to represent these same attributes in motorsports.”
“The nominees this season have demonstrated competitiveness on the track and a commitment to the racing community off the track. They show exceptional potential for the future. On behalf of the Auto Club’s employees and members, I congratulate all of the candidates for this year’s award and look forward to see how they achieve great things in the future.”
Coughlin Jr. raced at 17 events in the 2017 season with Kalitta Motorsports as the SealMaster dragster pilot. With four quarterfinal finishes, Coughlin was 10th in points following his final Top Fuel race of the season in Brainerd, Minn.
Early in the season, Coughlin raced to his career best time (3.696-seconds) and speed (328.86 mph) at the NHRA Arizona Nationals and NHRA Gatornationals, respectively.
Gladstone, in his first full season at the helm of San Marino Excavating Inc. Suzuki, made one semi-final appearance at the Pro Stock Motorcycle season opener in Gainesville, Fla., and has five quarterfinals finishes. He qualified for the Countdown to the Championship and entered the six race playoff eighth in points.
Of note, Gladstone raced to his career-best time (6.793 seconds) and speed (198.35 mph) at the Gatornationals. Following the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals, Gladstone is 10th in points.
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