The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series looks to have some major exciting improvements for this season. First, and foremost, is the new TV deal with FOX Sports. In store are numerous live telecasts of qualifying and eliminations with a new television crew, to give fans a better insight and feel of the sport. In addition, the Pro Stock category will be featuring the next set of rule changes that include fuel injection and the removal of the “radical” hood scoops. This will help make the cars more identifiable with their street versions sold by the dealers. This should help bring more factory backing to the sport. Most of the race teams are currently finishing up final off-season testing in Phoenix. The performances look to be very good for all the teams, indicating that the on track racing should be very competitive and close this season.
In Top Fuel the biggest news is that famed Top Fuel tuning expert, Allan Johnson, is now working with John Force Racing. He is overseeing the tuning of Brittany Force’s Monster Energy Drink dragster. This should greatly improve her chances of capturing her first career Top Fuel event win and make her a strong contender for the season championship. The Funny Car category is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Fans will be treated with many special displays that will include both exhibition runs and static displays. In Pro Stock, the 2014-2015 season champion, Erica Enders, will be teamed up with five-time champion Jeg Coughlin in nearly identical Dodge Darts. They are now part of a four car Richard Freeman Elite Racing Pro Stock team that features two Chevy Camaros and two Dodge Darts.
The NHRA Heritage Series season opens with the March Meet at the famed Formosa strip near Bakersfield over the weekend of March 4-6. Richard Townsend and his Oakdale based Nitroholic team look to be very strong this season and will be contesting for the NHRA Heritage season championship.
Other local racers will also be contesting in several of the NHRA Lucas Oil Sportsman categories. Steve Wann (2015 Seattle Event Stock class winner) and Glenn Kern (2015 Phoenix Event Super Comp class winner) of Modesto, along with Denis Paz of Stockton (Super Stock) will open their seasons at the NHRA Winter Nationals this weekend in Pomona.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to Sonoma Raceway in June for the Toyota-Save Mart 350. Last season, Kyle Busch captured an all important victory on the famed road course, enroute to his first ever Sprint Cup Season Championship.
The Verizon Indy Car Series will, once again, finish its season in the “Wine Country” with the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma. This year the event will be run on the weekend of Sept. 18. In 2015, Scott Dixon captured the season championship by winning this event. This 2016 season will also feature the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.
For those dirt track fans, the Craftsman World of Outlaws will run two events (March 18 and 19) at the Stockton Dirt Track (San Joaquin County Fairgrounds) this year. Donny Schatz won the Saturday feature here last season (31 events total) and was the 2015 Season Champion. Rico Abreu won the Friday feature at this event last season.