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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Keeping Pace

Top Fuel’s Spencer Massey Welcomes Busy Stretch Of Racing

Top Fuel standout Spencer Massey races on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. (Photo courtesy of NHRA) (Marc Nhra)
Top Fuel standout Spencer Massey races on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. (Photo courtesy of NHRA) (Marc Nhra)

Source: NHRA Media Relations

TOPEKA, Kan. — With the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series regular season just starting a seven-race stretch over the next nine weeks, things are about to hit a frenetic pace for all of the NHRA stars.


That is most definitely a good thing in the eyes of Top Fuel standout Spencer Massey. Taking on the mindset of the more racing the better, that approach has often brought out the best in Massey and his 10,000-horsepower Red Fuel dragster.


Currently third in points, Massey is eager for the first back-to-back race stretch of 2015 at this weekend’s 27th annual NHRA Kansas Nationals, May 22-24. Massey won’t be able to claim consecutive victories in Atlanta and Topeka like he did a year ago, but his team does have plenty of confidence heading back to Topeka as the defending event winner.


“Last year when we won Atlanta, we blew up the car in the final round and the guys had to drive straight back to the shop and totally rebuild the car,” Massey said. “We’ve been there and we know what to expect and that makes it that much sweeter when you can pull it off. To do that and then win Topeka, that was awesome. It tells me we can conquer any situation and that gives your team a lot confidence.”


Courtney Force (Funny Car) and Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) were also last year’s winners of the event that will be televised nationally on ESPN2. It is the eighth of 24 races in 2015 and with a third of the season in the books, things will start to move considerably faster as far as the regular season is concerned.


That works for Massey, who picked up a victory in Gainesville and has advanced to three additional semifinals. The strong start had Massey in second place before last weekend’s first round loss in a razor-thin matchup against Doug Kalitta in Atlanta. It was only Massey’s second first-round loss of the year, a good sign considering the ultra-competitive Top Fuel class has had six different winners through seven events.


“We’ve won once, but I think being consistent and going rounds, getting to go to the semifinals quite a bit, it definitely pays off,” Massey said. “Just being consistent is key and we have a car that’s competing for a championship. Last year when we won Topeka we weren’t the fastest, but we were consistent and we got down the track every time.”


Consistency goes a long way in a class that features a wealth of standout drivers. Only points leader and Don Schumacher Racing teammate Antron Brown has more than one win in the class this season, getting his second victory last weekend in Atlanta. Massey, reigning world champion Tony Schumacher, 2013 world champ Shawn Langdon, Kalitta and Richie Crampton all have earned one victory in the first part of the season and there are plenty of other worthy drivers in the class, including Monster dragster driver Brittany Force, who qualified No. 1 at Topeka a year ago, Steve Torrence, Dave Connolly and J.R. Todd.


It makes for a daunting task at every event, but Massey continues to enjoy the challenge, in part because the ultimate payoff is extremely rewarding.


“It’s definitely competitive racing, but it’s not just one or two teams that have a shot to win,” Massey said. “It just makes it that much more competitive and that drives myself, (crew chiefs) Todd (Okuhara) and Phil (Shuler), and my entire Red Fuel team to work that much harder. Whenever you do win in classes like this, it makes it that much more special.”


Massey, who has 18 career victories and finished third in the points for the second time in his career in 2014, has advanced to three final rounds in Topeka, posting wins in 2011 and last year. It’s an annual favorite for Massey for a variety of reasons, one of which has to do with time spent in the pits before he ever started driving.


“It’s kind of like one of my second tracks,” Massey said. “(Topeka) was the first time I ever worked on a Top Fuel car. Anytime I go Topeka it just brings back all of the memories of being a crew member and learning the ropes of racing before even driving. It’s almost like a second home track. It’s a fun place and the people in that part of the country just love drag racing.”


The 16-time Funny Car world champion, John Force, has nine wins in Topeka, and his daughter Courtney raced to the 100th victory by a woman in Mello Yello Series history a year ago. John Force Racing teammate Robert Hight has two career victories and Cruz Pedregon has four career wins at the track. Class stars also include points leader Ron Capps, this season’s Gainesville winner, Jack Beckman, who won the Charlotte event in March, defending world champ Matt Hagan, Alexis DeJoria, Del Worsham, two-time world champ Tony Pedregon, Atlanta winner Tim Wilkerson, and popular second-generation racer Chad Head.


Defending Pro Stock winner Johnson will be looking for a fourth career Topeka win, while Greg Anderson has a successful pedigree in Topeka with four career victories. Las Vegas and Houston winner Erica Enders is looking for her 15th career victory and first at the NHRA Kansas Nationals. Jason Line, who won the most recent event in Atlanta to take over the points lead, Vincent Nobile, Shane Gray, Larry Morgan, Jonathan Gray, V Gaines and Chris McGaha also figure to be major factors in the 200-mph factory hot rod category.


As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.


Mello Yello Series qualifying begins Friday, May 22, with sessions at 4:30 and 7 p.m. The final two qualifying sessions will take place Saturday, May 23, at 1:30 and 4 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, May 24.

Keeping Pace

Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.