Dodge NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove to kick off play­offs in 2018

The Southern Berks News - - SPORTS - By Ernie Sax­ton For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

Here is some news of in­ter­est for the many drag rac­ing fans out there. The com­plex­ion of the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Rac­ing Se­ries Count­down to the Cham­pi­onship will take a new form as four of the na­tional events will change dates for the up­com­ing sea­son.

The Dodge NHRA Nationals will kick off the six-race play­off stretch at his­toric Maple Grove Race­way on Sept. 13-16. The scenic fa­cil­ity lo­cated out­side of Philadel­phia has long been a hot bed of rac­ing and of­ten pro­duces na­tional record per­for­mances.

The se­ries will move to St. Louis on Sept. 21-23 for the AAA In­sur­ance NHRA Mid­west Nationals for the next event in the Count­down. Lo­cated in the shadow of the St. Louis Arch the event will be an in­te­gral stop on the tour.

Rac­ers pur­su­ing a world cham­pi­onship will then com­pete at the AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals at the Texas Mo­tor­plex on Oct. 4-7.

zMAX Drag­way will host the NHRA Carolina Nationals on Oct. 12-14 at one of the pre­miere fa­cil­i­ties in the coun­try. The pop­u­lar­ity of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Rac­ing Se­ries will be on dis­play as the points bat­tles tighten up near­ing the end of the sea­son.

The penul­ti­mate race in the Count­down will be the NHRA Toy­ota Nationals at The Strip at Las Ve­gas Mo­tor Speed­way on Oct. 2828. The 2018 sea­son will con­clude and cham­pi­ons will be crowned at the Auto Club NHRA Fi­nals at Auto Club Race­way at Pomona on Nov. 8-11.

A full sea­son sched­ule can be found on NHRA.com and the new race dates are be­low.

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Change is com­ing to area sprint car rac­ing. United States Auto Club (USAC) Sprint Car rac­ing is com­ing east­bound on a full-time ba­sis in 2018 when the newly-formed USAC East Coast Sprint Car Se­ries makes its de­but.

USAC’s new­est di­vi­sion joins the slate af­ter se­ries di­rec­tor Curt Michael and the United Rac­ing Club con­ducted a pair of wing­less sprint car events dur­ing the 2017 sea­son.

“The very first one at Big Di­a­mond, we had 16 cars and the place was packed,” Michael ex­plained. “(The pro­moter) took two races this year be­cause he’s seen it’s some­thing to build on. The next time out at Path Val­ley, we had 26 cars and I think it’s only go­ing to get bet­ter.”

“They’re cool cars and it’s dif­fer­ent,” Michael said of wing­less sprint car rac­ing. “The big­gest thing is th­ese kids com­ing up are rac­ing 600 mi­cros, 270s and SpeedSTRs. It’s a big thing in the lower ranks. We brought in a whole bunch of new guys to race with us this year. It didn’t hurt URC’s wing deal. We even had a cou­ple wing­less guys buy wing cars.”

The East Coast and, par­tic­u­larly, the state of Penn­syl­va­nia is ob­vi­ously well-known for wing sprint car rac­ing. Michael, who, him­self, has made a liv­ing rac­ing with the wing as a 9-time URC cham­pion and will con­tinue to race with URC in ad­di­tion to his new side en­deavor lead­ing the USAC East Coast Sprint Cars, sees an op­por­tu­nity for a dif­fer­ent breed of rac­ing to feed the ap­petite of driv­ers, teams and fans in the Penn­syl­va­nia, New Jer­sey, New York and Delaware re­gion.

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