The long-awaited return of the Circle K NHRA Four-Wide Nationals roars to life under the lights at zMAX Dragway this weekend, as Friday’s Night of Fire kicks off a three-day showcase of thundering, 44,000-horsepower excitement at the Bellagio of drag strips.
Before the cars are staged and the trees are lit, here’s a look at five can’t miss storylines fans should keep an eye on at the Circle K NHRA Four-Wide Nationals:
Same Names, New Teams
Fans know their names, but a number of the NHRA’s best are driving for new teams in 2022. Both Antron Brown (Top Fuel) and Ron Capps (Funny Car) left powerhouse Don Schumacher Racing to become their own bosses at AB Motorsports and Ron Capps Motorsports, respectively. Similarly, Leah Pruett (Top Fuel) and Matt Hagan (Funny Car) joined forces in the off-season with NASCAR legend Tony Stewart to form Tony Stewart Racing. Despite the newness of each team, there’s plenty of experience behind the wheel to propel any of these veteran drivers to victory on Sunday. Hagan has already earned two wins in the inaugural season for TSR, while Capps claimed his first Wally as a team owner earlier this month at the Las Vegas four-wide.
Torrence Tuned In
In recent years, Steve Torrence and his CAPCO Top Fuel team have been nearly unbeatable at zMAX Dragway, winning six of the last eight events, including four consecutive four-wide Wallys dating back to 2017. But he hasn’t cracked the win column yet in 2022. He finished runner-up to Brittany Force earlier this season at the Las Vegas four-wide event, and is locked in a tight battle with the John Force Racing standout in the season’s point standings. Another win at the Circle K NHRA Four-Wide Nationals would not only chip away at Force’s points lead, but could be the catalyst for a team chasing its fifth consecutive Top Fuel world title.
If fans have learned anything watching drag racing’s best compete at zMAX Dragway, it’s the unpredictability of drag racing. The last time the NHRA was in town, part-time racer Josh Hart knocked off Brittany Force in one of the most unexpected wins in recent memory. In 2018, Cruz Pedregon snapped a 92-race winless streak at the Charlotte four-wides. With a stacked field of contenders across all three pro categories competing this weekend and a unique four-wide format that’s known for creating havoc, don’t be surprised if an unexpected name finds his or her way to Victory Lane on Sunday.
Last year’s Circle K NHRA Four-Wide Nationals saw the very best of the Pro Stock Motorcycle class with three riders topping the 202mph mark, a feat never before accomplished in the category. Eddie Krawiec topped the charts with a 203.49mph pass, but at the end of the weekend it was Steve Johnson hoisting his first Wally since 2014. The track has proven it can handle the speed. With a favorable forecast, fans could be in for another record-setting weekend.
Brittany Force (Top Fuel) and Ron Capps (Funny Car) have already proven their four-wide mettle this season, each winning their respective class at the Las Vegas event earlier this month. Each has also found past success at zMAX, with Capps having amassed three victories and Force having hoisted the Wally in 2016 at Charlotte’s spring event. Since Las Vegas started running four-wide, only Steve Torrence (2018 and 2021) has doubled down and won both the East Coast and West Coast showdowns in the same year. While the odds may be stacked against them, don’t count out either of these two to pull it off this year.
Weekend passes to the Circle K NHRA Four-Wide Nationals start at just $99 with single-day tickets and camping packages also available starting at $30. Save $7 at the gate when you bring a Polar Pop cup from Circle K. Kids 12 and under get in FREE with adult ticket purchase. For more information, visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com/tickets or call 800-455-FANS (3267).