It’s about winning The Big Go, as the sport’s old guard refers to the event. Taking home the U.S. Nationals title to a drag racer is akin to winning the Daytona 500 for a stock car driver or the Indianapolis 500 for an open-wheel racer. “Everybody every year talks about how your career isn’t complete without a win at Indy,” Funny Car driver Ron Capps said. “And that is definitely true. It’s the race to win if you were to win one race. The race in Top Fuel dragster is just as competitive. Doug Kalitta is four points ahead of Tony Schumacher and 234 in front of Brandon Bernstein in fifth. Three drivers have swapped first place four times. Greg Anderson, Driver of the Year in 2004, leads Pro Stock by 33 points over Warren Johnson, who is on his farewell tour. Anderson, Johnson, Dave Connolly and Allen Johnson have exchanged the lead 10 times this year. What’s it all mean? NHRA is headed for its greatest mass finish in recent years, and it all starts at the U.S. Nationals. Louis Brewster covers motor sports. His notebook appears Thursday. He can be reached at (909) 386-3935 or [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Lost among all the attention given the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Chase for the Championship and Sunday’s Sony HD 500 at California Speedway is the biggest drag racing event of the season. The U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park is the most prestigious event on the NHRA Powerade Drag Racing Series. There is more than $2 million at stake in the six-day event – sportsmen started time trials on Wednesday, and the pros go Friday – but it’s about more than money. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 “When you look down at the list of winners, it’s all the guys who were my heroes growing up. It’s all the guys who made their place in history.” The U.S. Nationals also mark the end of a grueling summer schedule and the start of the home stretch. After Indy, only four national events remain before the season closes Nov. 6 with the NHRA Auto Club Finals at Pomona Raceway at Fairplex. And it has been quite a season. Unlike some past campaigns when those ahead in the points race shifted into cruise toward Pomona, the intensity level is extremely high. “Nobody can break away and get the clean air and get away from everybody,” said Gary Scelzi, one of a group of five Funny Car drivers within 71 points of the lead. “There’s no dominating anywhere.” Especially in Funny Car. Rookie Robert Hight is the last of five drivers who have exchanged the points lead six times through the first 17 events. He is 30 points ahead of Capps and leads Scelzi by 35, margins of less than two rounds of competition. And not only is Hight being chased by drivers employed by Don Schumacher and Don Prudhomme, respectively, but also by a pair of teammates as well. Father-in-law John Force is fourth and Eric Medlin is fifth, both driving Mustangs similar to Hight’s.