September 17, 2018, St. Louis Region – For the 34th season in a row John Force will finish the campaign in the Top Ten. That is not the 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion’s ultimate goal. In what seems to be a bottomless pit of passion and drive, Force will be focused on his 17th Mello Yello NHRA world championship and his 150th win when he pulls his PEAK-backed Chevrolet Camaro into the pit area of Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Illinois this weekend.
Force currently sits ninth in the Funny Car point standings after Sunday’s race in Reading, Pennsylvania, just 102 behind leader J.R. Todd. Scoring his 150th win at Gateway could supercharge his chances at a 17th world title.
“St. Louis has always been special to me even going back to my match racing days when I was crisscrossing the country,” Force said. “This year with the race being early in the Countdown we can do some damage and get right back into this points battle. We had a good race in Reading but I know I have a race car that can win.”
The 69-year-old veteran picked up his last win at Gateway in 2013 which coincidentally was also his most recent Mello Yello Funny Car championship. The winningest driver in NHRA history has six final rounds and three St. Louis Wallys but this year his focus has never been sharper.
“We had a rough start to the season and have really pulled together as a team,” added Force. “I have a bunch of young guys but when I get to St. Louis, there is something about that place. It is a crossroads for me and it always has been. Getting another win there would mean a lot since we would get 150 and also we would make our sponsor AAA Missouri pretty happy. I don’t have to prove anything to anybody but I still have the fire in my belly and I love seeing those win lights.”
AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park
The second of six races in the NHRA playoffs, GMP’s AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals will feature the incredible thrills of 10,000-horsepower, nitromethane-burning cars reaching speeds in excess of 330 miles per hour. Fans will be entertained under the lights during Friday qualifying and then get to experience the intense, high-stakes action on Sunday as the top stars in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle battle for critical championship points.
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and LE Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event.
The AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals also will feature thrilling competition in the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service, which will have its 10th of 12 races.
Fans will also have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to interact with a few of the most renowned names in drag racing during the NHRA Legends Tour. This will feature meet-and-greets, autograph sessions, and a variety of other activities. The legends scheduled to attend the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals include Shirley Muldowney and others.
Along with the exciting on-track action, the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals will honor first responders with NHRA’s Salute to First Responders celebration.
As always, fans can interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 21
7:30 a.m. – Parking lots open.
8 a.m. – Spectator gates open. Sportsman qualifying.
Noon — Midway opens.
2:30 p.m. — Pro Stock Motorcycle autograph session at NHRA midway display.
3 p.m. — NHRA guided walking tour. Starts at the Mello Yello display.
3:15 p.m. — Pro Mod qualifying session.
4 p.m. — Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock car qualifying session.
4:30 p.m. – Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car qualifying session.
5:45 p.m. — Pro Mod qualifying session.
6:15 p.m. — Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock car qualifying session.
7 p.m. — Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car qualifying session.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 22
7:30 a.m. – Parking lots open.
8 a.m. – Spectator gates open. Sportsman eliminations.
9:30 a.m. — Midway opens.
12:15 p.m. — Nitro School. Hosted by Robert Hight and Alan Reinhart.
1 p.m. — Autograph session at the Mello Yello display.
1:15 p.m. — NHRA guided walking tour. Starts at the Mello Yello display.
1:30 p.m. — Pro Mod qualifying session.
2:15 p.m. — Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock car qualifying session.
3 p.m. — Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car qualifying session.
3:45 p.m. – First round of Factory Stock Showdown.
5 p.m. — Pro Stock Motorcycle and Pro Stock car qualifying session.
5:30 p.m. — Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car qualifying session.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 23
7:30 a.m. – Parking lots open.
8 a.m. – Spectator gates open.
9 a.m. — Midway opens; NHRA guided walking tour starts at the Mello Yello display.
9:30 a.m. — Sealmaster Trackwalk.
9:45 a.m. – Race day review, pre-race ceremonies.
11 a.m. – First round of Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car eliminations.
Noon – First round of Pro Stock eliminations.
12: 20 p.m. – First round of Pro Mod eliminations.
1 p.m. – Second round of Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car eliminations.
1:15 p.m. – Second round of Pro Stock eliminations.
1:30 p.m. — Pro Mod semi-finals.
2 p.m. — Factory Stock Showdown semi-finals.
2:10 p.m. — Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car semi-finals.
2:30 p.m. — Pro Stock semi-finals.
2:45 p.m. — Pro Mod final eliminations.
3 p.m. — Factory Stock Showdown final eliminations.
3:40 p.m. — Pro Stock final eliminations.
3:45 p.m. — Top Fuel Dragster and Funny Car final eliminations.
Schedule subject to change.
For more information on Gateway Motorsports Park, please call (618) 215-8888 or visit www.gatewaymsp.com. Follow GMP on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.
About Gateway Motorsports Park
Gateway Motorsports Park is the home of INDYCAR, NASCAR and NHRA racing in the St. Louis region. Located just five minutes from downtown St. Louis and covering more than 340 acres, Gateway Motorsports Park is the largest outdoor entertainment facility in the area. Gateway Motorsports Park’s facilities include a 1/4-mile drag strip, 1.25-mile superspeedway, 1.6-mile road course, a state-of-the-art karting facility and a 14-acre, multi-purpose dirt off-road venue. Gateway Motorsports Park was the recipient of the 2017 Outstanding Facility of the Year Award from the Race Track Business Conference and the 2017 Spirit of St. Louis Award from St. Louis Attractions Association.