Southsider Voice Correspondent
Eleven Southside drag racers are among the entrants for the 60th annual NHRA U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway in Brownsburg.
The granddaddy of all U.S. drag races decides the 10 drivers who make the Countdown to the championship in four classes – Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle.
Competition begins Thursday with the Lucas Oil Series; stars from the Mello Yello Series will be on the strip Friday through the final round of the fastest 16 Monday.
Second-generation driver Bill Glidden, son of Pro Stock legend Bob Glidden, is entered in a high-powered 2010 Ford 840 sponsored by Mickey Thompson Tires. Racing in the Pro Mod Series, he qualified at 233.14 miles per hour and advanced to the third round of eliminations in the Summer Nationals at Atlanta for his best performance this year.
Bob Glidden’s all-time record of nine wins could be surpassed by Tony Schumacher with either a win in the Top Fuel Shootout or Top Fuel eliminations.
Near-Eastside drag racer/engine developer Steve Schmidt is in Pro Stock with a 2007 Chevy Cobalt 499. Ray Skillman Chevrolet is sponsoring Top Eliminator legend David Rampy of Alabama in a 1932 Bantam Chevy 322.
Among returning Sportsman class drivers are former winners Ray and Drew Skillman and former Lucas Oil Raceway dragster champion and Sportsman finalist Randi Lyn Shipp, formerly of Whiteland.
Ten racers from the Southside are competing in various Sportsman classes throughout the five-day drag racing extravaganza.
The Sportsman entrants:
Top Eliminator: Ray Skillman, Greenwood, 2014 Ford/Chevy 397; Drew Skillman, Bargersville, 2006 Chevy 321.
Super Stock: Bill Skillman, 2013 Ford 302; Larry Mayes, Greenwood, 1992 Chevy 402; R. Skillman, 2012 Ford 330.
Stock Eliminator: B. Skillman, 2014 Ford 302; D. Skillman, 2012 Ford 331; Joey Shipp, Whiteland, 2014 Ford 302; R. Shipp, Floyds Knob, 1967 Pontiac 400.
Super Comp: Ron Finney, Greenwood, 2011 dragster Chevy 605.
Super Gas: Bob Locke, Whiteland, 1957 Corvette 434; Robert Goodrich, Greenwood, 1993 Ford/Chevy 496; R. Shipp, 1960 Corvette 496; J. Shipp, 1968 Camaro 565.
Defending U.S. Nationals champions are Shawn Langdon, Top Fuel; Robert Hight, Funny Car; Mike Edwards, Pro Stock; and John Hall, Pro Stock Motorcycle.
Several women racers are entered. Courtney Force, daughter of NHRA legend John Force, recorded the 100th NHRA win by a female racer at Sonoma. Erica Enders-Stevens (Pro Stock) and Alexis DeJoria (Funny Car) also have each won an NHRA event this season. Hoosier Leah Pritchett of Fort Wayne is entered in Top Fuel.
The popular Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Top Fuel racers is Saturday, with finals at 7:45 p.m.; the finals for Funny Car Sunday are at 4:15 p.m.
The NHRA Mello Yello Series elimination finals begin Sunday at 11 a.m.
Newgarden signs for 2015
Co-team owners Sarah Fisher and Ed Carpenter announced Sunday that Josef Newgarden will continue to drive the No. 67 Dallara Chevrolet for the newly formed CFH Racing in 2015. The one-year contract includes a second-year option.
In his third season with Fisher, Newgarden, 23, has two runner-up finishes this season and three front-row starts.
“Over the last three years we have focused to build our team with Josef front and center,” Fisher said. “I know how much effort Josef and our team put toward being the best, and I am looking forward to delivering even more tools for them to work with at CFH Racing next year.”
Team co-owner Wink Hartman contends, “He (Josef) is the next star of the Verizon IndyCar Series.”
Newgarden earned his third front-row start of the season Saturday with a lap of 1 minute, 17.73 seconds in the final round of the Firestone Fast 6 knockout qualifying at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway.
In his sixth top-10 finish of the season, Newgarden, who led two laps early, was sixth Sunday to winner Scott Dixon in the 85-lap GoPro Grand Prix.
The road course is about 15 miles from the epicenter of a 6.0 magnitude earthquake that struck the area early Sunday morning. The quake lasted about 25 seconds, and there were multiple aftershocks. The track, buildings, campsites and two main highways leading to the facility were not damaged. Power outages were reported in Sonoma, with structural damage and fires in nearby Napa.
The series wraps up Saturday in Fontana, Calif.
(Becca Bornhorst of Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, Tom Blattner of Ed Carpenter Racing and Mike Kitchel of IndyCar contributed to this article.)