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Nitro Shots: Viva Las Vegas

The NHRA Mello Yello Series is back in action again this weekend in Las Vegas with the DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals, the fourth race of the young season. An added element this weekend is the K&N Horsepower Challenge, a special bonus race for the Pro Stock class. If you haven’t heard, the eighth and final driver, winner of the fan vote, has been determined and it is Erica Enders.

Enders makes a habit out of winning this event, but thanks to the tough season in 2016, she had to rely on the vote to make it in. It doesn’t get any easier for her. As the eighth seed, she faces off in the first round against number one seed Jason Line. Still, don’t rule her out — she’s won this thing twice before and her team is gaining some momentum in their return to form.

“I feel a lot of confidence with our racecar right now,” said Enders. “We qualified No. 3 at the last race in Gainesville and had a really great car until we shook the tires in Round 2 of eliminations. We stayed after the event and tested until we got the car completely figured out so we have a good feeling coming to Vegas. My guys are the best and my wonderful fans are giving us this chance to show what we can do. I am one happy girl.”

An Honorary Monkey?

If you are into reality TV, you might be familiar with Alex Laughlin’s sponsor, Gas Monkey Energy, as in Gas Monkey Garage, as in Richard Rawlings, the money guy on the Discover Channel’s Fast N’Loud. Laughlin and his team took part in a recent mashup of Rawling’s show and the popular Street Outlaws when the stars of the two shows faced off in the Mega Race.

In addition to Laughlin’s team playing a big part in the build of the Gas Monkey entry, a 2015 Dodge Challenger, Laughlin himself was pressed into driving duties and faced off against Street Outlaws star Justin “Big Chief” Shearer, with Shearer driving a new version of his famous Crow GTO. Set up to be a best out of three race, Laughlin struggled off the starting line, falling to Shearer in two runs.

Incidentally, proving once again that the holeshot is one of the trickiest concepts for newcomers to drag racing to understand, Richard Rawlings didn’t get it either when Laughlin came out on the losing end of the first run even though he was holding the faster timeslip. Thanks to Frankie “Madman” Taylor for explaining it to him.

Top Fuel in Top Gear

Also taking a turn at television will be Antron Brown, recently announced as one of the presenter’s on a reboot of Top Gear America coming from BBC America. Brown will be joined by actor and racing enthusiast William Fichtner and auto journalist Tom “Wookie” Ford. Eight hour-long episodes will hit the airwaves later this year.

The big takeaway from both Laughlin’s and Brown’s forays into the world of cable television is that they are serving as ambassadors of the sport. Any time a driver has the chance to showcase his personality and his sport to an audience outside of the normal race weekend crowd, it’s a win.

Hey Y’All, Watch This!

Brazilian Pro Mod competitor Sidnei Frigo went for a wild flip last year but managed to get out of it with just a broken arm. Frigo rebuilt his Corvette Pro Mod and returned to competition where he had another close call last week at the Gatornationals. Frigo apparently had a mechanical issue and got fluid on the tires, causing the car to veer out of control. Kudos to Frigo for doing some excellent driving to get the car back under control. He managed to avert disaster this year.

NHRA on TV:

ProgramDate/TimeChannel
NHRA FOUR-WIDE NATIONALS
QualifyingFriday, April 28, 7:00 PM ETFS1 (LIVE)
QualifyingSunday, April 29, 12:00 AM ETFS1
EliminationsSunday, April 30, 5:30 PM ETFS1

About Toni Montgomery

Toni Montgomery
A writer for Frontstretch since 2002, and editor since 2006, Toni heads up the NHRA coverage for the site. She’s responsible for post-race coverage in the weekly Pace Laps multi-series round-up along with the weekly Nitro Shots column featuring news and features from the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. An award-winning writer for the Presbyterian Church, Toni freelances with both writing and web design in North Carolina.

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