NHRA

NHRA announces 2019 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule; no venue changes

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There are still 10 races remaining on the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, but that isn’t stopping the world’s premier drag racing organization from already thinking ahead to next year.

The NHRA on Wednesday announced the 2019 schedule. Other than a few minor date changes, the 24-race 2019 schedule will include all of the same venues from this year’s 24-race slate.

In addition to the annual U.S. Nationals in suburban Indianapolis on Labor Day weekend – the biggest race of the season – 2019 will also feature the 50th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Nationals at Gainesville (Florida) Raceway on March 14-17.

NHRA officials have been planning the Gainesville festivities for over a year. Among its highlights is the NHRA Legends Tour, which began this season and will culminate at Gainesville next March.

“Never before have so many NHRA Legends been gathered in one place,” an NHRA statement said. “This is a ‘can’t miss’ event for any devoted NHRA fan.”

As for the minor date changes, they are:

* The NHRA SpringNationals in suburban Houston will move up one weekend and take place April 12-14.

* The Virginia NHRA Nationals in suburban Richmond, Virginia, will also move up one week on the schedule from this year’s placement, to be held May 17-19.

* The Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals at Heartland Motorsports Park in Topeka, Kansas, will be held one week later, from June 7-9.

* Lastly, the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals near St. Louis will move back one week to Sept. 27-29.

Also, the NHRA statement said, “As in years past, the 2019 season will begin at the historic Auto Club Raceway in Pomona in Southern California at the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals, Feb. 7-10, and conclude at the same renowned dragstrip with the Auto Club NHRA Finals, Nov. 7-10.”

Here’s the full 2019 schedule and dates:

2019 NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES SCHEDULE

NHRA Mello Yello Series Regular Season

Feb. 7-10–Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals, Pomona, Calif.

Feb. 22-24–NHRA Arizona Nationals, Phoenix

March 14-17–Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, Gainesville, Fla.

April 5-7–DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, Las Vegas

April 12-14–NHRA SpringNationals, Houston

April 26-28–NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, Charlotte, N.C.

May 3-5–NHRA Southern Nationals, Atlanta

May 17-19–Virginia NHRA Nationals, Richmond, Va.

May 30-June 2–Route 66 NHRA Nationals, Chicago

June 7-9–Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals, Topeka, Kan.

June 14-16–Fitzgerald NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, Bristol, Tenn.

June 20-23–Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, Norwalk, Ohio

July 5-7–NHRA New England Nationals, Epping, N.H.

July 19-21–Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals, Denver

July 26-28–NHRA Sonoma Nationals, Sonoma, Calif.

Aug. 2-4–NHRA Northwest Nationals, Seattle

Aug. 15-18–Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, Brainerd, Minn.

Aug. 28-Sept. 2–Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, Indianapolis

NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs

Sept. 12-15–Dodge NHRA Nationals, Reading, Pa.

Sept. 27-29–AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals, St. Louis

Oct. 3-6–AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals, Dallas

Oct. 11-13–NHRA Carolina Nationals, Charlotte

Oct. 24-27–NHRA Nevada Nationals, Las Vegas

Nov. 7-10–Auto Club NHRA Finals, Pomona, Calif.

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Will Power, Roger Penske collect Indy 500 trophies

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images
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DETROIT (AP) Last year, Will Power finally broke through and won the Indianapolis 500, so he can cross that accomplishment off the list.

Now 37, Power is reaching an age when it’s fair to wonder how much longer he’ll keep at it.

“I’m really enjoying my racing. I’ve never been so motivated. I’m fitter than I’ve ever been, mentally on the game,” Power said. “I think once you get to this part of your career, you realize that you’re not going to be doing this forever. So you’ve got to enjoy it and you’ve got to go for it when you’ve got it, because, you know, probably only another five years at maximum, and you’re retired.”

Whenever Power’s career does wind down, his 2018 Indy 500 win will remain a moment to remember. He was in Detroit on Wednesday night with team owner Roger Penske for a ceremony in which they received their “Baby Borg” trophies for winning last year’s race. The Baby Borgs are replicas of the Borg-Warner Trophy that honors the Indy 500 winner.

Power finished second at Indy in 2015, and his victory last year made him the race’s first Australian winner. It was Penske’s 17th Indy 500 win as an owner, part of a banner year for him. Penske also won a NASCAR Cup title with driver Joey Logano.

“When you think about 2018, we had 32 race wins, 35 poles. I think we led almost 5,400 laps, with all the series,” Penske said.

On Wednesday, Penske collected another significant trophy, and he’ll be celebrated again in a couple weeks. He’s being inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Feb. 1.

“It’s amazing that a guy from the north can get into the Hall of Fame in the south,” Penske joked. “No, it’s special. … NASCAR has helped us build our brand over the years, certainly, with the reputation it has, and the notoriety we get, being a NASCAR team owner.”

Penske’s most recent Indy 500 title came courtesy of Power, who long preferred road courses to ovals but certainly looked comfortable at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year.

“The 500 was one record that he didn’t have, and I think you saw the excitement he and his wife, and the whole team, when he was able to win the race,” Penske said. “He’s probably the best qualifier we’ve ever had, as a road racer, and no question his expertise. He didn’t like ovals to start with, but I think today, he loves racing on ovals.”

Power seems content with all aspects of his racing life at the moment. The aftermath of an Indy 500 victory can be a whirlwind, and it would be understandable for a driver to be weary of it eight months later, but for Power, it’s a new experience.

“I’ve been looking forward to this event for a few months now, to actually get the Baby Borg. You have the face on it – I didn’t realize that, you actually get your own face on it,” Power said. “It makes you realize the significance of the event, when you think about all the things that come with winning the 500.”

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Follow Noah Trister at http://www.Twitter.com/noahtrister