While the much-publicized Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship starts this Sunday in Chicagoland, another motorsports series starts their own playoff this weekend as well. The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series begins their Countdown to the Championship this Sunday in Charlotte. To celebrate, here is a look at the top active drivers who have yet to win a championship since the Countdown began in 2007.
10. V. Gaines: One of the more underrated drivers in the series, Gaines has posted just four wins in over 19 years of competition, but did make the countdown each of the last three years before barely missing out in 2015.
9. Bob Tasca III: Tasca made his name quickly on the Funny Car circuit, reaching the Countdown in three of his first four years, as he notched four career wins. Funding has limited Tasca’s schedule, but he has made occasional appearances in the series.
8. Tommy Johnson Jr.: After six years away from drag racing, Johnson Jr. has experienced a career revival over the past few years. While driving for Don Schumacher Racing in 2014 and 2015, he has increased his career win total by three to nine, including two this season. With the way his team has been dominating, Johnson Jr. will be a legitimate contender for the Funny Car title.
7. Courtney Force: One of three of John Force’s daughters to compete at NHRA’s professional level, Force has won seven national events and was named Rookie of the Year in 2012. Courtney has yet to post a victory this year and missed out on a spot in the Countdown, but more wins and a possible title are very likely to be in her future.
6. Morgan Lucas: Lucas stepped away from full-time competition after 2013 season to focus on running the team, but before that he had started to become a serious contender in Top Fuel. From 2009-2013, Lucas qualified for the Countdown each year and won 16 events. As a part-timer and teammate to Ritchie Crampton, he has won three. Lucas earned his latest victory at the US Nationals two weeks ago.
5. Spencer Massey: The week before the US Nationals, Massey was dismissed from Don Schumacher Racing for a second time due to an unspecified violation. Over eight seasons in Top Fuel, Massey notched 18 career wins and finished runner-up to Antron Brown in the 2012 championship.
4. Dave Connolly: Until this year, Connolly had made his name in Pro Stock, including a win in the 2014 US Nationals. At this year’s event, he made it to the final round and clinched the 10th and final spot in the Top Fuel Countdown, as he looks to add to his resume of 26 professional class wins.
3. Angelle Sampey: Although Sampey was not involved in drag racing from 2009 to 2014, she did spend the late 1990s and early 2000s dominating Pro Stock Motorcycle. Her 41 wins are second only to the late Dave Schultz. Sampey did not make it to this yea’s Countdown, but has shown some flashes of her past dominance earlier in 2015.
2. Doug Kalitta: Kalitta, whose late cousin Scott won Top Fuel titles in 1994 and 1995, was a part of one of the most memorable championship battles before the Countdown era began. In 2006, Tony Schumacher used a national elapsed time record to help propel him to a championship in the final race at Pomona. Kalitta also finished runner-up in the 2003 and 2004 standings and despite 35 national event wins, has not won a championship.
1. Ron Capps: Capps is likely the most accomplished active driver who still has not won a championship. Despite 43 national event wins, Capps’ best finish is second in points four times, with the most recent being in 2012, to teammate Jack Beckman.
Have a great night and see you soon.