The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship begins with the next race, the Carlyle Tools NHRA Carolina Nationals presented by NAPA Auto Parts at zMAX Dragway in Concord North Carolina, taking place Friday through Sunday, September 13th through 15th. Here are the top 10 drivers competing for the honors in Funny Car (reset points in parenthesis).
1. Matt Hagan (2110) – after winning the 2011 title and missing the 2012 Countdown, Hagan is back on top, with four wins (Charlotte, Englishtown, Chicago and Seattle) and three runner-up finishes. He also raced to four No. 1 qualifiers.
2. Ron Capps (2080) – Capps had three wins this season (Phoenix, Sonoma and Brainerd) – two of which were sandwiched around an uncharacteristic DNQ.
3. Johnny Gray (2070) – Gray, in his final full-time season, won four events (Gainesville, Atlanta, Topeka and Norwalk), but also had a DNQ at the Four-Wide Nationals at Charlotte.
4. John Force (2060) – the 15-time champ won at Bristol and had three runner-up finishes in a mid-season surge that moved him from as low as 12th in points to as high as third.
5. Jack Beckman (2050) – the 2012 Funny Car champ is winless this season, but did pick up the big check at Indy as part of the Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Funny Car. He also had two No. 1 qualifiers late in the regular season (Seattle and Brainerd).
6. Cruz Pedregon (2040) – Pedregon picked up three wins (Las Vegas, Houston and Denver) and a runner-up finish in 2013.
7. Courtney Force (2030) - The youngest Force daughter had two wins at Pomona and New England – the last of which came against her father.
8. Tim Wilkerson (2020) – Wilkerson had one runner-up finish at Houston.
9. Robert Hight (2010) – Hight had a rough season, with 14 first- or second-round exits in the 18 regular season races, but he did pick up the Wally at Indy.
10. Del Worsham (2000) – returning to the Funny Car ranks after a season in Top Fuel (champ in 2011) and a season as a tuner (for Alexis DeJoria in 2012), Worsham made one final round and visited the semis four times.
Stay tuned this week to the NHRA Examiner for a complete look at each of the Mello Yello categories and the participants in the 2013 Countdown to the Championship. Keep up with the action leading up to the Countdown at www.nhra.com.
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