NHRA cancels Charlotte, Bristol, Pomona; confirms rest of schedule

NHRA 2020 schedule finalized
Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports

The NHRA canceled three more national events Wednesday while confirming the finalized 2020 season schedule will conclude after six more events without its Countdown to the Championship playoff format.

Instead of concluding with the annual season finale at Pomona, California, the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series’ 2020 season will end Nov. 1 at Las Vegas with the crowning of champions in its four pro categories of Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle.

The Four-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway near Charlotte, North Carolina, have been canceled after originally being rescheduled from April to Sept. 18-20, and the Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol, Tenn., also have been scrubbed because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Three more national events that initially were postponed indefinitely have been confirmed as off the schedule: Denver; Brainerd, Minnesota; Topeka, Kansas.

The NHRA will be racing in front of a limited crowd this weekend at the U.S. Nationals near Indianapolis, where it also had an event last month.

Here’s the release from the NHRA on the remainder of the 2020 season:

NHRA has announced the schedule for the remainder of the 2020 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season. In collaboration with all stakeholders, NHRA plans to hold six national events to complete the 2020 season.

The 2020 NHRA season has looked very different due to the global pandemic. NHRA has worked closely with its partner tracks and race teams to construct a schedule that will honor its rich racing history.

“We are grateful to the loyal NHRA fans who have stuck with us during these trying times,” said NHRA President Glen Cromwell. “NHRA plans to hold these next six national events to conclude the 2020 season. Thank you to our fans, racers, and partners for your continued support and cooperation.”

Dates for the remaining NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series are as follows:

Sept. 3-6 Denso Spark Plugs NHRA U.S. Nationals Indianapolis
Sept. 25-27 Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals Gainesville, Fla.
Oct. 2-4 Mopar Express Lane NHRA Midwest Nationals presented by Pennzoil St. Louis
Oct. 14-18 AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals Dallas
Oct. 23-25 Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals presented by Pennzoil Houston
Oct. 30-Nov. 1 Dodge NHRA Finals presented by Pennzoil Las Vegas

Due to the pandemic and scheduling conflicts, the three national events listed below have been removed from the 2020 schedule:

  • NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, Charlotte, N.C.
  • NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, Bristol, Tenn.
  • Auto Club NHRA Finals, Pomona, Calif.

NHRA and its partner tracks originally planned to reschedule three national events but due to location and traditional climates, the below events have been canceled:

  • Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil, Denver
  • Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, Brainerd, Minn.
  • Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals presented by Minties, Topeka, Kan.

At the conclusion of the Dodge NHRA Finals in Las Vegas, the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series will crown its four champions in each of the respective professional categories, including Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle.

With the elimination of the traditional Countdown to the Championship playoffs, every round of racing is crucial. Race teams will be ready to battle it out for their shot at an NHRA world championship.

Ken Roczen signs with HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki for 2023

Roczen Progressive Ecstar Suzuki
Align Media

ANAHEIM, California – Ken Roczen will make the move from HRC Honda to H.E.P. Motorsports with the Progressive Ecstar Suzuki team, ending a long and eventful offseason that saw his split from his longstanding team after he committed to running World Supercross (WSX).

“H.E.P. Motorsports is thrilled to announce that the team has signed Ken Roczen as its premier rider for the 2023 season,” the team announced on Instagram. “Former AMA Motocross champion Roczen will be aboard a Suzuki RM-Z450. Roczen, who won his most recent championship on a Suzuki, will be reunited with the brand and bring his exciting style, determination, and grit back to the RM Army.

“Ken Roczen will compete in the upcoming 2023 Supercross and Motocross Championship series which is set to start on January 7 at Anaheim Stadium in Southern California.”

For Roczen, it is a return to the bike of his youth and on which he had some of his greatest professional success.

“This thing has been going on for weeks and weeks and weeks in the making, but there was so much uncertainty,” Roczen told NBC Sports during Monster Energy Supercross Media Sessions. “It was a very unique situation. I just finally signed two nights ago, so it’s really only legit once the ink hits the paper. It’s been in the works for a long time, but there were just a lot of questions and a lot of input from a lot of other teams too.

“Good things take time, and I’m okay with that. I grew up riding Suzuki. Ot’s like a homecoming. It’s a special feeling”

Roczen won the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship on a Suzuki before making the move to Honda. That year he won nine of 12 Nationals and finished no worse than second as he easily outpaced Eli Tomac by 86 points. He finished third in his next Pro Motocross outing in 2018 after sitting out the outdoor season in 2017.

“I am beyond excited to reconnect with Suzuki for the 3rd time in my career. We’ve had a lot of success in the past and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish together in our future.” Roczen said in the Instagram post.