Behind the wheel of a new brand of car, McDonough's Matt Carden has his eyes on a championship in the fastest division at O'Reilly Auto Parts Friday Night Drags at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The popular street drag racing series hosts its season points opener this Friday, May 30.
Carden, a staunch competitor at Drags the past few years, enters the season with high hopes. That anticipation comes from a brand new car Carden acquired to compete in the Jailhouse Brewing Company Super Pro Division this season.
Carden will be driving a 1941 Willys with a fiberglass body, super-charged engine that is also nitrous powered. The car is painted red, white and black and nicknamed "Skullcrusher."
Carden previously raced in a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro and was a frequent contender for race victories within the Super Pro division. Armed with this new car, Carden says his expectations are higher.
"Last year, I had the '69 Camaro. We had plenty of power; the car was just too heavy. We did well, but were pushing it for all it had," Carden said. "This year, we stepped our game up. I want to be chased instead of being the one doing the chasing."
The next challenge for Carden is ensuring his car matches the performance of the 1969 Camaro that he formerly raced.
"I wanted to get in a car capable of doing speeds we wanted. The Camaro was really fast, but a very heavy car. (The Skullcrusher) is lighter and safer. It has a seven-point harness. I would probably say I'm less nervous to drive it than the Camaro simply because of all the technology in this car."
First Points Event Is This Week
The chase for a season points championship at O'Reilly Auto Parts Friday Night Drags begins Friday with the 2014 points opener. Competitors will have a slim margin for error on the pit lane drag strip with points events scheduled for each Friday night through Aug. 15.
Champions will be crowned at the final points event of the season on Aug. 15. Each week's final-round winner is awarded four points, three are given to the second-place finisher, two for a driver losing in each week's semifinal and one point being awarded to all other drivers making a drag racing pass down the drag strip during eliminations.
First Kids Power Wheel Race Is June 6
One of the most popular events at O'Reilly Auto Parts Friday Night Drags will return next week for the first Kids Power Wheel race of the 2014 season.
Kids wishing to race their power wheels should bring their vehicle to the infield grass area near the drag racing starting line by 8:15 p.m. The races will begin at 8:30 p.m. All kids participating will receive an award.
The 2014 Friday Night Drags season runs Friday nights through August 15, with the Fall Stampede taking place September 12 and September 19. Practice runs begin at 6:15 p.m. and grandstand gates open at 6:30 p.m. Show-N-Shine car show judging begins at 6:15 p.m. with a Speedway Parade at 8:05 p.m. Drag racing eliminations begin after 9 p.m.
Drag Racing is open to any licensed driver. Competitors must wear a DOT-approved helmet and have operational seat belts in their vehicle. All racers ages 16 and 17 must have a fully-executed minor's release form on file at the speedway prior to competition. Forms are available at the Speedway or at www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.
Entry to drag race or for the Show-N-Shine is $20 or competitors can enter both for $30. Spectator admission is only $8 with children five and under free. Exterior parking is free while infield parking is $20.
Fans are reminded that Atlanta Motor Speedway offers a non-smoking grandstand. Smoking is allowed in designated areas behind the grandstands or the infield, but not in the grandstands, concourse or seating areas.
For more information on O'Reilly Auto Parts Friday Night Drags, contact the Atlanta Motor Speedway Ticket Office at (770) 946-4211, (877) 9-AMS-TIX or visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com/drags.