NHRA cuts Pro Stock competition from 24 to 18 national events in 2019


In a major and surprising move, the National Hot Rod Association on Saturday announced that it will reduce the number of national events that the Pro Stock class competes in during the 2019 season.

Long a staple of the 24-race NHRA national event tour, the Pro Stock class will now run in only 18 events in 2019.

In a media release, the NHRA said “competitors believe (18 races) is the ‘sweet spot’ of the category.’”

Josh Peterson, NHRA vice president of racing administration issued a statement on behalf of the sanctioning body:

“We think the new schedule will increase participation by relieving the economic burden and time commitment that comes with 24 events, which will ignite more intense competition.

“All of that should make for compelling action and drive fan interest.”

The majority of races that will be eliminated from the Pro Stock schedule are from their usual place in the early-to-middle part of the season.

For example, following the DENSO Spark Plugs Four-Wide Nationals in Las Vegas April 5-7, Pro Stock doesn’t return to action until more than a month later in the Virginia Nationals, May 17-19, in Richmond, Virginia.

Events and tracks that will no longer have Pro Stock compete at their venues are: the Springnationals in Baytown, Texas; the Four-Wide Nationals in Concord, North Carolina; the Southern Nationals in Commerce, Georgia; the Heartland Nationals in Topeka, Kansas; the Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol, Tennessee; and the New England Nationals in Epping, New Hampshire.

The Top Fuel and Funny Car classes will continue to compete in all 24 national events next season, while Pro Stock Motorcycle will also continue its 16-race schedule.

Here is what the revised schedule looks like for 2019:

NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Pro Stock Schedule:

* 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

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

* May 30-June 2 Route 66 NHRA Nationals Chicago

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

* 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. 11-13 NHRA Carolina Nationals Charlotte, N.C.

* Oct. 17-20 AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals Dallas

* Oct. 31-Nov. 3 NHRA Nevada Nationals Las Vegas

* Nov. 14-17 Auto Club NHRA Finals Pomona, Calif.

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F1’s Valtteri Bottas to compete in first-ever rally race in his native Finland

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Formula One’s “Flying Finn” is going back home for the first time.

More precisely, Valtteri Bottas is returning to his Finland homeland to compete in his first career rally race in the Finnish Rally Championship season opener.

Bottas, teammates on the F1 Mercedes team with five-time champ Lewis Hamilton, will compete in the World Rally Championships’ Arctic Lapland Rally from January 24-26.

He’ll team with two-time World Rally champion Timo Rautiainen in a M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC on rally roads of the Finnish Arctic Circle.

“This is a unique opportunity to take a peek into the world of rallying,” Bottas told Finnish rallying website Rallism.f1. “I would like to thank everyone who has made it possible.

“It’s totally new territory for me too, as I have no prior experience of a World Rally Car. Still, being the race car driver that I am, you always go flat out whatever the vehicle you’re driving in.”

Added Rautiainen, “In my life, I’ve sat in a rally car with only three drivers, but this is such an interesting mission that I just had to accept the challenge. I believe that for a talented wheelman like Valtteri, we’ll be able to establish a good basic driving routine in testing.”

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