NHRA: Girl Power to be on Full Display in Houston

RaceChaser Staff Drag Racing, Featured, NHRA, West 0 Comments

April 22, 2014 — official release — NHRA photo — HOUSTON, TX — With many exciting storylines ongoing in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series in 2014, one of the most prominent has been the girl power theme as the world’s fastest motorsport heads to the Lone Star State for the 27th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA SpringNationals, April 25-27, at Royal Purple Raceway.

The best in Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock will duel it out at one of the circuit’s quickest and fastest tracks, located just minutes east of downtown Houston. Bob Vandergriff Jr. (Top Fuel), Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car) and Jason Line (Pro Stock) were last year’s winners of the event that will once again be televised on ESPN2.

The O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA SpringNationals presented by Super Start Batteries has provided high-speed action to residents of Southeast Texas for 27 years. Royal Purple Raceway is only one of two venues in the state where fans can see 8,000-horsepower race cars battle it out during intense three-second runs at more than 300 mph for a chance at winning the coveted Wally trophy.

Long regarded as being the most diverse series in all of motorsports, the NHRA Mello Yello Series circuit has once again seen a female charge in each of its pro classes in 2014. Alexis DeJoria, Brittany Force and Erica Enders-Stevens have all made headlines in the early part of the season and drivers Courtney Force and Leah Pritchett are very close to making some noise of their own in the nitro ranks.

Houston has seen female success before in Funny Car with Ashley Force Hood taking the victory in 2009. Pro Stock Motorcycle racers Angelle Sampey and Karen Stoffer are both multi-time winners of the event. Force Hood is the only female driver to win a nitro class event at Royal Purple Raceway but there is a strong field of women in Funny Car ready to add their name to that win list.

DeJoria has made history with her powerful start to the 2014 season. The Patron XO Cafe Toyota Camry driver rocketed to her first career win in Phoenix, becoming the fourth female to win a Funny Car event and the 14th female to win a Mello Yello Series event, and added a second win Las Vegas. In the season-opener at Pomona, DeJoria became the first female driver and only the ninth driver in Funny Car history to run a sub-four-second pass (3.997 seconds). DeJoria would love nothing more than to add a third win to her résumé in Houston.

Force Hood’s younger sister Courtney Force has three career victories in Funny Car, but will be looking for her first Houston win. The driver of the Traxxas Ford Mustang reached her first semifinal of the season in Gainesville and is looking for her first win since Epping, N.H., last June.

Brittany Force has proven she has what it takes to climb the mountain in Top Fuel, reaching her first career final at Phoenix. Force, the first Top Fuel driver in John Force Racing history, reached the final round in only the second start of her second full-time season, sending a strong message that the middle child of Funny Car legend John Force is ready to compete for the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championship.

Force is not the only female driver making headway in Top Fuel. Dote Family Racing’s Leah Pritchett has been fast early, posting career-bests for elapsed time and speed during her first two races of the season. Securing Houston-based Gumout Additives as a primary sponsor has been a major boost for Pritchett as she tries to become the next female driver to reach a final round and earn a victory.

Enders-Stevens, the current points leader, has quite the history in the Pro Stock category with seven career wins, becoming the first female in category history to win an event (2012 Chicago)  and has raced on from there. She made history earlier this year in Gainesville, setting the Pro Stock national speed record with her 214.69 mph pass in qualifying. The Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro driver channeled that performance into a final round appearance at the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals and a spectacular weekend in Las Vegas, where she won the K&N Horsepower Challenge and the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals.

Enders-Stevens, a Houston native, won her first career NHRA national event at Houston in Super Gas competition in the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and will be gunning to add a Mello Yello Series victory at her home track to her résumé.

NHRA’s female racers also are chasing an historic milestone 100th win in national event competition. The mark currently stands at 98.

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