The high-octane excitement of Countdown to the Championship NHRAdrag racing returns to zMAX Dragway for the DEWALT NHRA Carolina Nationals this weekend, and there are no shortage of storylines to watch as the action revs to a fever pitch and the 11,000-horsepower prepare to roar to life in a pivotal playoff clash.
Can Anyone Top Torrence?: Three-time NHRA Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence has been unstoppable at zMAX Dragway in recent years, winning six of the last seven events – including two consecutive DEWALT NHRA Carolina National events. To continue his recent dominance, the driver of the 11,000-horsepower Capco dragster will have to hold off power houses like Brittany Force, who currently sits second in the point standings; his father, Billy Torrence, fresh off and win at Redding last weekend; and Don Schumacher Racing’s Leah Pruett, among a field of talented Top Fuel drivers.
Funny Car Force: After sitting out the 2020 season amid the uncertainty of the pandemic, John Force Racing’s namesake and 16-time Funny Car champ John Force wasted no time returning to championship form when the bested the field at the NGK NTK NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway in May, notching his 152nd career victory in the class. The first of three wins in the 2021 regular season, Force has once again propelled himself into title contention, leading the Funny Car points heading into the weekend. But bringing home a mind-boggling 17th title will require holding off the likes of Matt Hagan, Ron Capps, JR Todd and Force’s teammate Robert Hight, who round out the top five in points.
Leave It to the Pros: A late-season schedule shakeup means Pro Stock racing returns to zMAX Dragway when the NHRA’s best roll into town this weekend. The addition of the Pro Stocks is not only welcome news for fans – who will get to see the likes of Greg Anderson, Erica Enders and Troy Coughlin Jr. compete in a crucial playoff contest – but also for hometown favorite Dallas Glenn. The Mooresville, North Carolina native earned his first career Pro Stock win earlier this season at the NGK NTK NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, and has ridden that momentum to two additional wins in his rookie season. Glenn, who took over driving duties from three-time Pro Stock champion Jason Line, certainly has the pedigree to take home the title, but doing so will require a strong performance in his second visit to zMAX Dragway. Meanwhile, Glenn’s KB Racing teammate, Anderson, who earned a Pro Stock record-tying 97th victory in Redding on Sunday, will look to add a fourth zMAX Dragway Wally to his collection.
Friday Fireworks: The weekend kicks off with the first round of qualifying under the lights on Friday night. With temperatures dropping and header flames rising, blistering speeds are almost assured when the top four classes (Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycles) head to the lanes for Q1. In a nod to the history and tradition of drag racing, fans will be treated to exhibition runs by The ScottRods AA/Gassers and Southeast Nostalgia Pro Stockers. Fueling the fun at the end of opening night, two jet dragsters – “Mustang Sally” and “The Diamond Jim Racing” machines – will light up the night with a side-by-side exhibition. And it wouldn’t be a Friday Night of Fire without pyrotechnics, so fans can expect sparks to fly on and off the track!
While there are no tickets available for Saturday’s qualifying sessions at the NGK NTK NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, tickets remain for Friday and Sunday. Adult tickets start at just $20 on Friday and $40 on Sunday, kids 13 and under get in free. To purchase, visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com or call 800-455-FANS (3267).