FORT WORTH, Texas (June 20, 2019)
For the next six Friday nights, old friends reunite at Texas Motor Speedway, renewing rivalries and talking a little trash in the spirit of cranking engines and winning championships.
“I wanna lay the hammer down this year, so I guess I’m gonna be the one they’ll have to beat,” laughed multi-year competitor and 2018 Sportsman Modified champion John Apple of Euless. “I’m sure I’ve got a target on my back, but that’s okay. I’m ready.”
Universal Technical Institute Friday Night Drags lights up the night each Friday through the end of July, handing out championships in seven divisions ranging from daily drivers to drag racing specialists. Sometimes that means pitting father against daughter.
“He never does, not even in practice!” 20-year-old Atriana Rupnow said when asked if her dad Cliff ever takes it easy on her on the strip.
“She has to beat me straight up if she’s gonna beat me,” Cliff Rupnow confirmed.
Family and competitive rivalries aside, the next six weeks will be the only time some of these racers see each other throughout the year.
“I don’t see a lot of them all year. I call them my racing buddies,” Apple said. “We all get to be part of a family all together. We’re competing against each other and staying friends all at the same time. Sometimes that’s not that easy to do, but we make it work. That’s all that matters.”
Drivers like 44-year-old Aaron Lattin are bringing a brand new piece in 2019 to hopefully get the job done. He traded out his Dodge Challenger for a Chevrolet Corvette.
“It’s 2,000 pounds lighter with the same horsepower,” Lattin said. “That makes a huge, huge difference. Shed a lot of weight, kept the same horsepower, hoping to be more competitive against the turbo cars.”
Apple won the Sportsman Modified division a year ago in his 1966 Chevy Nova, but he knew leaving the setup the same likely wouldn’t give him the same positive result.
“It’s changed a little bit, no doubt,” he said. “Everybody was knocking on my door a little bit last year pretty heavy. I jumped it up a little bit, see if I can’t get even more up front and be real, real competitive this year.”
Atriana Rupnow finished runner-up in the Bandit division last year, and with division champion Chance Brackeen moving up a class, she can almost taste her first title.
“It made me feel really good. I was like, ‘Okay, I have a chance,’” she said about her 2018 performance. “Hopefully this year I can get up to the top.”
Round One of the six-week journey starts with gates and grandstands opening at 6 p.m. Competitors can practice from 6 p.m. – 8:15 p.m. while other car lovers bring their rides for the Show-N-Shine car show.
Competition kicks off at 9:15 p.m.
UTI Friday Night Drags competitors must be 18 or older to participate with the entry fee being $20 per week. All vehicles must pass pre-race inspection, and all drivers must wear an approved helmet. Helmets can be rented at Texas Motor Speedway for $10 per night.
Spectator tickets may be purchased at Gate 6 at $10 for adults and $5 for children under 12. Parking is free outside Gate 6 or $20 in the infield. Coolers are allowed in both the grandstands and the infield.
The Torchy’s Tacos located in the TMS infield will be open for each event from 6 p.m. – 11 p.m.
The 2019 Universal Technical Institute Friday Night Drags schedule is:
For more information, CLICK HERE.
About Texas Motor Speedway
Texas Motor Speedway, with a crowd capacity in excess of 190,000, is among the largest sports stadiums in the United States and features an array of amenities such as the world’s largest TV that make it one of the premier venues in the world of sports. The 1.5-mile superspeedway located in Fort Worth hosts all three NASCAR national series as well as the NTT IndyCar Series among its various races and specialty events throughout the year. Since opening in 1997, Texas Motor Speedway has generated an annual economic impact of approximately $300 million to the North Texas region. Texas Motor Speedway is owned and operated by Speedway Motorsports, Inc., a publicly traded company that is a leading marketer and promoter of motorsports entertainment in the United States. For more information, please visit texasmotorspeedway.com.
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