When it comes to his own performance through the first part of his rookie season, Funny Car driver Chad Head isn’t afraid to be honest.
Led by a team that includes father Jim Head, a legendary Top Fuel and Funny Car driver, tuner and innovator, operating as the crew chief, a standout team and a proven Head Racing 8,000-horsepower Funny Car, the Columbus, Ohio native knows the pieces are in place to succeed.
He’s proven that to be true as well, taking the car to the No. 1 qualifying spot and a final round appearance at the prestigious Dollar General NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte, N.C., in April. But Head is looking for constant improvement and that includes his own strides as a driver.
Head knows there is more work to be done, and his next chance comes at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, July 4-7, which also marks the start of the second half of the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season. Spencer Massey (Top Fuel), Mike Neff (Funny Car), Vincent Nobile (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were the 2012 winners at the race at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park, which will be televised on ESPN2 HD.
“I’m usually a pretty realistic guy and our goal is to win every race,” Head said. “We want to win, there’s no question about that. The car is capable of winning the race every time we go out; the driver just has to catch up. We’ve got a crew and a team that has experience, and my dad has a great deal of experience; now it’s a matter of me getting the job done.”
Head is bullish on his own performance, a surefire sign that he’s nowhere near satisfied with his inaugural year in Funny Car. But he has certainly done plenty right, as evidenced by the 4.014 at 315.19 mph run Head put together in Charlotte to qualify No. 1.
Head also won a round in Bristol, showing plenty of potential and ability in his Head Racing Toyota Camry Funny Car.
“I think I’m doing a half-way decent job of trying to keep it in the groove and I’m doing OK as far as trying to get the car to repeat,” Head said. “The whole reaction time thing is just something that’s going to come. I’m not doing well there and I’ll be the first to admit that.
“But I’m not putting any extra pressure on myself. It’s just going to take runs and take time. I’m getting more comfortable in the car every time. I feel like I’m doing OK, but there are a lot of areas to work on.”
The good news is he doesn’t have to go far when questions arise. His father has been a fixture on the NHRA nitro scene since 1980, winning six times in 18 final round appearances in Funny Car and Top Fuel. He remains part of a small group of drivers who have won the U.S. Nationals in both Funny Car and Top Fuel, and Jim Head, who is now the team owner and crew chief, has passed down his 30-plus years of knowledge to his son.
Chad Head, who has also worked for Al-Anabi Racing, IndyCar and NHRA, has soaked up as much knowledge as possible and continues to be a student of the sport in almost every respect.
“I’m watching the video after every run, talking to dad, talking to the crew guys and just trying to get familiar with what is happening,” Head said. “Right now, the team and crew chief are making me look good and I’m just fortunate to be here. We’re showing up to do the best job we can every time we go out there, and I’m having a good time with my dad.”
The Summit Racing Equipment Nationals also marks Head’s first race in his home state, but he said getting caught up in that would be a mistake.
“I have to treat it like any other race,” Head said. “The Bader family just does a wonderful job with the event and it’s always a first-class race, but we just have to go out and do our job. We’re working on our hot-weather setup and it’s just a matter of getting comfortable and finding the right fit.”
Those in attendance will watch the continuation of the tight points battle in Top Fuel with recent Chicago winner Tony Schumacher leading the points standings and three-time season winner Shawn Langdon lurking in second. Massey, Antron Brown, Bob Vandergriff and Steve Torrence have all won events this season and will be looking to add another win to the ledger, and other contenders include Doug Kalitta, Khalid alBalooshi, Morgan Lucas, Brandon Bernstein, and Chicago runner-up Clay Millican.
In Funny Car, racers will continue their battle for the top points position, currently held by Chicago winner Matt Hagan, but which multiple drivers — including Johnny Gray, Ron Capps and Cruz Pedregon — have also occupied this season. John Force and his daughter Courtney have both won races, and the elder Force, who has yet to win at Norwalk, is riding a three-race final round streak and has surged from 10th to third in the series standings in the last three weeks. Alexis DeJoria, Del Worsham and 2012 world champion Jack Beckman also will be searching for a victory in Ohio in the tightly-competitive class.
Pro Stock continues to be an ultra-competitive category featuring points leader Mike Edwards, who has three victories this season, and 2012 Pro Stock world champion Allen Johnson, who recently picked up his third win of the season as well. Ohio native Jeg Coughlin, who won last weekend in Chicago, and Shane Gray, who is poised to win his first race of the season, are also top contenders, along with Vincent Nobile, and the Summit Racing Equipment team of Jason Line and Greg Anderson.
The Pro Stock Motorcycle category has featured outstanding racing all season with a field that is separated by thousandths of a second. With three wins and the points lead, Hector Arana Jr. will be looking to hold off a tough field of competitors that includes first-time event winner John Hall, two-time season winner Michael Ray, Scotty Pollacheck and Hector Arana Sr.
As always, fans can interact with their favorite drivers because every ticket is an exclusive pit pass, allowing them to see firsthand the highly skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds. While visiting the pits, fans won’t want to miss the interactive NHRA Nitro Alley and the NHRA Manufacturers Midway.
The teams in several categories of the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series also will thrill the crowds with intense side-by-side competition, and drivers in the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series will be competing in their sixth event of the 2013 season.
NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying sessions are scheduled for 4 and 6:30 p.m. Friday, July 5, and will continue Saturday, July 6, at 11:45 a.m. and 2:15 p.m. Final eliminations will begin at 11 a.m. Sunday, July 7.
• TELEVISION: ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise two hours of qualifying coverage at 6 p.m. (ET) Saturday, July 6, and three hours of eliminations coverage at 7 p.m. (ET) Sunday, July 7.
• ON THE WEB: Get instant results, access to photos, video and audio clips and the latest news updates from every NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event on the Internet at www.NHRA.com.
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SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT NHRA NATIONALS FACT SHEET
WHAT: Seventh annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, the 13th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Drivers in four categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle – earn points leading to 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships.
WHERE: Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park, Norwalk, Ohio. The track is located at 1300 State Route 18, half way between Cleveland and Toledo; just an hour and a half north of Columbus. The Ohio Turnpike is less than 10 minutes away.
WHEN: Thursday through Sunday, July 4-7.
THURSDAY, July 4 - LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying at 9 a.m.
FRIDAY, July 5 - LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
PRO MOD DRAG RACING SERIES qualifying at 4 and 6:30 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 4:45 and 7:15 p.m.
SATURDAY, July 6 - LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
PRO MOD DRAG RACING SERIES qualifying at 11 a.m.; First round of eliminations at 1:30 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 11:45 a.m. and 2:15 p.m.
SUNDAY, July 7 - Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
Saturday, July 6, ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise two hours of qualifying highlights at 6 p.m. (ET).
Sunday, July 7, ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise three hours of coverage starting at 7 p.m. (ET).
SATELLITE (Digital HD feed):
Friday, July 5, 9:30 - 10 p.m. (ET), AMC 1 / Transponder 06C
Saturday, July 6, 5:30 - 6 p.m. (ET), AMC 1 / Transponder 06C
Sunday, July 7, 6 - 6:30 p.m. (ET), AMC 1 / Transponder 06C
(3720 MHz, horizontal; Data Rate: 40.46147055 Mbp; Symbol Rate: 29.27 Ms; FEC: ¾; Bandwidth: 36 Mhz)
Video news release contains race action highlights each day and winners’ interviews on Sunday.
2012 EVENT WINNERS: Spencer Massey, Top Fuel; Mike Neff, Funny Car; Vincent Nobile, Pro Stock; Andrew Hines, Pro Stock Motorcycle.
MOST VICTORIES: Andrew Hines, 3, PSM; Larry Dixon, 2, TF; Mike Neff, 2, FC; Greg Anderson, 2, PS; Vincent Nobile, 2, PS.
Top Fuel - 3.780 seconds by Larry Dixon, June ’10; 322.73 mph by Spencer Massey, June ’12.
Funny Car - 4.032 seconds by Ashley Force Hood, June ’10; 313.15 mph by Del Worsham, June ’10.
Pro Stock - 6.583 seconds by Ron Krisher, June ’11; 209.36 mph by Krisher, June ’11.
PS Motorcycle - 6.887 seconds by Hector Arana Jr., June ’11; 194.49 mph by Andrew Hines, June ’10.
Top Fuel - 3.701 sec. by Antron Brown, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 332.18 mph by Spencer Massey, April ’12, Charlotte, N.C.
Funny Car - 3.986 sec. by Jack Beckman, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 320.58 mph by Beckman, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.
Pro Stock - 6.471 sec. by Mike Edwards, April ’13, Charlotte, N.C.; 214.35 mph by Jason Line, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.
PS Motorcycle - 6.728 sec. by Andrew Hines, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 199.26 mph by Eddie Krawiec, March ’11, Gainesville, Fla.
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NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS STANDINGS
GLENDORA, Calif. -- Point standings (top 10) following the 12th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series -
Top Fuel: 1. Tony Schumacher, 973; 2. Shawn Langdon, 936; 3. Spencer Massey, 869; 4. Antron Brown, 765; 5. Doug Kalitta, 703; 6. Khalid alBalooshi, 657; 7. Clay Millican, 620; 8. Morgan Lucas, 608; 9. Bob Vandergriff, 559; 10. Steve Torrence, 549.
Funny Car: 1. Matt Hagan, 904; 2. Cruz Pedregon, 798; 3. John Force, 762; 4. Johnny Gray, 743; 5. Ron Capps, 735; 6. Jack Beckman, 717; 7. Courtney Force, 710; 8. Tim Wilkerson, 676; 9. Del Worsham, 664; 10. Robert Hight, 603.
Pro Stock: 1. Mike Edwards, 1,090; 2. Jeg Coughlin, 962; 3. Allen Johnson, 960; 4. Jason Line, 765; 5. Erica Enders-Stevens, 743; 6. Shane Gray, 727; 7. Greg Anderson, 679; 8. Vincent Nobile, 676; 9. Rodger Brogdon, 564; 10. V. Gaines, 531.
Pro Stock Motorcycle: 1. Hector Arana Jr, 526; 2. Michael Ray, 457; 3. Hector Arana, 408; 4. John Hall, 392; 5. Matt Smith, 373; 6. Scotty Pollacheck, 366; 7. Adam Arana, 305; 8. Eddie Krawiec, 288; 9. Steve Johnson, 282; 10. LE Tonglet, 278.