Top fan-vote getters Brittany Force (above) and Tim Wilkerson were the lucky winners in the special lottery drawings for the No. 8 positions in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout today during a press conference held in downtown Indianapolis to preview the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, the world’s most prestigious drag race.
The 27-year-old Top Fuel rookie Force, who earned the most fan votes in her category with 49 percent, will face the top seed in Top Fuel, Shawn Langdon, in the first-round pairing of the Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Top Fuel. Veteran driver Wilkerson, who took the most fan votes in Funny Car with 40 percent, will meet top seed Matt Hagan in the first round of the Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Funny Car.
Force was followed in the fan vote by Clay Millican (26%), Doug Kalitta (8%), David Grubnic (6%), Morgan Lucas (6%) and Terry McMillen (5%).
“This is very cool and I’m so excited,” said Force after one of her 49 lottery balls emerged from the machine during the Top Fuel drawing. “I remember watching my dad race in all the shootouts growing up and to follow in his footsteps and get a chance to compete in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout, it’s awesome. This is an unbelievable feeling.”
Wilkerson was followed in the fan vote by Robert Hight (32%), Alexis DeJoria (15%), Del Worsham (5%), Bob Tasca (3%), Jeff Arend (3%) and Tony Pedregon (2%).
“I’m very happy to get in the show and thanks to all of the fans for voting,” Wilkerson said. “I’m excited about it and hopefully we can put together a good day of racing and maybe bring home that big ($100,000) check. I think we’ve got a good chance to win, but we’ll see on race day.”
The two drivers selected today was the culmination of a process that started on Aug. 18. All drivers in both categories who had competed in each race this season but were not a part of the seven qualified drivers for each Traxxas Nitro Shootout were eligible for the fan vote/lottery. Fan voting took place on NHRA’s Facebook page and lasted until Aug. 27. The fan voting determined how many lottery balls would be assigned to each driver for the drawing.
The Traxxas Nitro Shootout will be contested during the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, Aug. 28-Sept. 2, at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. The Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Top Fuel will be held Saturday Aug. 31, with rounds at 4, 7 and 8:30 p.m. The Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Funny Car will be contested Sunday, Sept. 1, with rounds at 12:30, 3:30 and 4:45 p.m. The Traxxas Nitro Shootout will be showcased during ESPN2HD’s Sunday race coverage (1 p.m. ET).
In the other first round pairings in Top Fuel, Four-Wide Nationals winner Spencer Massey will face Houston winner Bob Vandergriff, Phoenix winner Tony Schumacher will meet Bristol winner Steve Torrence and Norwalk winner Khalid alBalooshi will face Gainesville winner Antron Brown.
In the three other Funny Car first round pairings, Phoenix winner Ron Capps will meet Jack Beckman, who was inserted into the field as the highest points earning non-winner, Gainesville winner Johnny Gray will face Winternationals winner Courtney Force and Las Vegas winner Cruz Pedregon will race Bristol winner John Force.
Spencer Massey is the defending Traxxas Nitro Shootout winner in Top Fuel and John Force is the defending Traxxas Nitro Shootout winner in Funny Car. Below are the drivers who have qualified for the Traxxas Nitro Shooutouts and their first-round pairings for the lucrative bonus races which will award the winning drivers $100,000 each.
(Photos courtesy JFR/Lewis; NHRA/National Dragster; Click to enlarge)
TRAXXAS NITRO SHOOTOUT (TOP FUEL, Aug. 31)
FIRST-ROUND PAIRINGS (4 p.m.):
1. Shawn Langdon vs. No. 8 Brittany Force
2. Spencer Massey vs. No. 7 Bob Vandergriff
3. Tony Schumacher vs. No. 6 Steve Torrence
4. Khalid alBalooshi vs. No. 5 Antron Brown
SEMIFINAL PAIRINGS (7 p.m.):
Langdon-B. Force winner vs. alBalooshi-Brown winner
Massey-Vandergriff winner vs. Schumacher-Torrence winner
FINAL (8:30 p.m.)
TRAXXAS NITRO SHOOTOUT (FUNNY CAR, Sept. 1)
FIRST-ROUND PAIRINGS (12:30 p.m.):
1. Matt Hagan vs. No. 8 Tim Wilkerson
2. Ron Capps vs. No. 7 Jack Beckman
3. Johnny Gray vs. No. 6 Courtney Force
4. Cruz Pedregon vs. No. 5 John Force
SEMIFINAL PAIRINGS (3:30 p.m.):
Hagan-Wilkerson winner vs. Pedregon-J. Force winner
Capps-Beckman winner vs. Gray-C. Force winner
FINAL (4:45 p.m.):