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Texas To Play Bigger Role In Countdown In 2015

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, September 6 2014

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer

Texas Motorplex will assume a more prominent role during NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship playoffs in 2015, when the 30th edition of the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals will be contested Oct. 15-18.

The new date will move The Plex from its current Sept. 18-21 date as the second of sixth NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series championship playoff events to fourth in the running order.

“We are thrilled to be moved back into October,” said Billy Meyer, owner of the facility in Ennis and a former Funny Car driver. “The weather will be cooler and that could mean a return to record-breaking passes and crowning champions in North Texas again. Our fans are the best fans in the country and I think this move will be a great way to celebrate our 30th anniversary NHRA event in 2015.”

The same six tracks hosting Countdown events in 2014 will be involved in next year’s postseason. While the Motorplex will drop down two spots, Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Ill., and Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa., will move up one slot each.

“This date change is something we have been working on for the last two years,” said Gabrielle Stevenson, Motorplex president/general manager. “Not just us, but a couple of other races were involved. We were good with the schedule either way but thought that getting out of the heat of September would help our fans. Heat has been a problem the last few years and we always try to accommodate our fans.

“It’s going to be a more exciting race for the fans. There was a time, when the race here was in October, that we could clinch championships. This (Countdown) race has always been important; now it’ll be more important.”

Built in 1986, Texas Motorplex was the first all-concrete “stadium-style” facility in big-league drag racing.

“Getting a win at Texas Motorplex is special,” said Antron Brown, who claimed a Top Fuel victory at the track en route to his world championship in 2012. “It’s a tough place to win but when you get that cowboy hat and you get your name and your team’s name on that brick (in Winner’s Circle) and you know it’ll be there forever, you’re making a little bit of history.”

Jeg Coughlin Jr., defending FallNats Pro Stock event champion, said the Motorplex remains a tribute to Meyer’s commitment to the sport.

“I always looked up to Billy Meyer when I was a kid,” said Coughlin, the five-time/reigning Pro Stock world champion. “When he built the Motorplex it was second-to-none. He’s done a fantastic job maintaining it and continuing that heritage. NHRA really looks forward to featuring one of its Countdown races there (because) that place always delivers.”

The 2015 Countdown will start with three consecutive weeks of racing beginning with the NHRA Carolina Nationals in Concord, N.C., near Charlotte (Sept. 18-20); the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis (Sept. 25-27) and the NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa. (Oct. 1-4).

The AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals at The Plex (Oct. 15-18) will set the stage for the final two Countdown races. The season will conclude out West with the NHRA Toyota Nationals in Las Vegas (Oct. 29-Nov. 1) and the Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Calif., where world champions will be crowned Nov. 12-15.

Tickets for the 2014 AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals now are available, ranging from $10 to $380 for weekend packages. Youth tickets for children 12-and-under start at $5. For tickets or more information, call the Texas Motorplex office at (800) MOTORPLEX or visit www.texasmotorplex.com.

NHRA’s 2015 schedule features 24 races at traditional stops across the country, including the prestigious Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, Labor Day weekend, Sept. 2-7. As the last “regular-season” race, the U.S. Nationals again will be the final event during which drivers can secure positions for the Countdown.

In addition, the three-race Western Swing will begin one week later in 2015. The Swing will open with the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Colo., near Denver (July 24-26). From there, the teams will trek to Northern California for the NHRA Sonoma Nationals (July 31-Aug. 2) at Sonoma Raceway before finishing at Kent, Wash., near Seattle, at Pacific Raceways with the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals, Aug. 7-9.

The Pro Stock Motorcycle class will contest a 16-race schedule next season, with six of those events in the Countdown. Location of the 16th bike race will be announced at a later date.

ESPN2, a member of the ESPN family of networks, again will provide exclusive television coverage on a same-day basis of all NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events, featuring action from qualifying rounds Saturday and eliminations Sunday.

2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Schedule

NHRA Mello Yello Series Regular Season

Feb. 5-8 _ 55th annual NHRA Winternationals, Pomona, Calif.

Feb. 20-22 _ 31st annual CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, Chandler, Ariz.

March 12-15 _ 46th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals (PSM), Gainesville, Fla.

March 27-29 _ Sixth annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals (PSM), Concord, N.C.

April 10-12 _ 16th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals, Las Vegas

April 24-26 _ 28th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA SpringNationals, Baytown, Texas

May 15-17 _ 35th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals (PSM), Commerce, Ga.

May 22-24 _ 27th annual NHRA Kansas Nationals, Topeka

June 4-7 _46th annual Toyota NHRA Summernationals (PSM), Englishtown, N.J.

June 12-14 _ Third annual Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals, Epping, N.H.

June 19-21 _ 15th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, Bristol, Tenn.

July 2-5 _ Ninth annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals (PSM), Norwalk, Ohio

July 9-12 _ 18th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals (PSM), Joliet, Ill.

July 24-26 _36th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals (PSM), Morrison, Colo.

July 31-Aug. 2 _ 28th annual NHRA Sonoma Nationals (PSM), Sonoma, Calif.

Aug. 7-9 _28th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals, Kent, Wash.

Aug. 20-23 _ 34th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, Brainerd, Minn.

Sept. 2-7 _ 61st annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals (PSM), Indianapolis

NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship

Sept. 18-20 _ Eighth annual NHRA Carolina Nationals (PSM), Concord, N.C.

Sept. 25-27 _ Fourth annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals (PSM), Madison, Ill.

Oct. 1-4 _ 31st annual NHRA Nationals (PSM), Reading, Pa.

Oct. 15-18 _ 30th annual AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals (PSM), Ennis, Texas

Oct. 29-Nov. 1 _ 15th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals (PSM), Las Vegas

Nov. 12-15 _ 51st annual Auto Club NHRA Finals (PSM), Pomona, Calif.

(PSM) _ Event will include Pro Stock Motorcycle

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, September 6 2014
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