With five races left in the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season, Bo Butner knows he has ground to make up starting at this weekend’s Betway NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway. But coming off his first No. 1 qualifier in three seasons, the former Pro Stock world champ feels like he’s in a strong position to make a big move this weekend in Charlotte.
He moved up to ninth in the points standings after a positive result at the Countdown to the Championship opener at Maple Grove Raceway, but he’s after an even bigger weekend in Charlotte in his Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage Chevrolet Camaro. The potential is there and Butner, who is also after his first victory at zMAX Dragway in the Pro Stock ranks, believe his team is on the verge of breaking through.
“I’m really looking forward to this weekend. I like going to one race right after the other, especially right now, when the JHG Chevy Camaro is picking up,” Butner said. “It’s a great time of year for it; this is the second race of the Countdown, and after getting that No. 1 qualifier last weekend, we know we have a car that can win. We’ve waited all year to have this feeling, and it’s great to have it going into Charlotte.”
Josh Hart (Top Fuel), Tim Wilkerson (Funny Car) and Kyle Koretsky (Pro Stock) won last year’s playoff race and this weekend’s will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 (FS1), including eliminations at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday. It is the second of six races in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs and Butner has his sights set on making noise in the Pro Stock playoffs. His new car has performed admirably over the past month and Butner believes his team could go on a run – and at the ideal time.
The toughest part is getting past the loaded field in Pro Stock, one that starts with Elite Motorsports teammate and points leader Erica Enders, who has seven wins this season. She won last weekend in Reading to open the postseason, while Butner fell in close fashion to runner-up Troy Coughlin in the second round.
Others to watch this weekend include Kyle Koretsky, Dallas Glenn and defending world champ Greg Anderson, but Butner has continued to praise the work of his team through the ups and downs of the season, knowing that perseverance could lead to big results down the road.
“The JHG Chevy is a great car and I’m so desperate to win or at least go to the semifinals and finals for (sponsor) Jason Johnson and all the guys who work so hard on our team,” said Butner, who has 11 career wins in the Pro Stock ranks. “I’m looking forward to the rest of this year. This field is tough and everybody is so close. Our JHG crew and the Elite team try very hard, and it’s showing with our car.”
Another driver looking to make a big move this weekend is rookie Camrie Caruso, who currently sits in the 10th spot in the loaded class. She’s already been to one final in what has been a standout first season, but this weekend marks a big weekend for the young driver in her GESi Chevrolet Camaro powered by Titan Racing Engines.
After moving to Denver, N.C., this weekend marks a home race for Caruso, who will also be making her first Pro Stock appearance at state-of-the-art zMAX Dragway. That’s enough to get Caruso motivated as she hones in on what could be a thrilling weekend.
“I am looking forward to racing in front of my North Carolina fans,” Caruso said. “I came to the four-wide race earlier this year as a spectator, but this will be my first time racing Pro Stock at one of the nicest tracks on the tour. We are in the Countdown and we definitely want to move up in the points. This class is very tough. but we are giving it maximum effort. I feel like we can race with anyone and I am looking forward to showing what this GESi Chevrolet Camaro can do this weekend.”
Top Fuel’s Josh Hart will look for his second straight win at the event in his first playoff appearance. But the second-year driver will also deal with a loaded class that features points leader Justin Ashley, Brittany Force, who has four wins this season, four-time champ Steve Torrence, Antron Brown, Leah Pruett and Mike Salinas.
Funny Car’s Tim Wilkerson advanced to the final last weekend in Reading and is the defending event winner. He’ll look for more facing off against the likes of points leader Robert Hight, who has seven wins in 2022, defending world champ Ron Capps, Matt Hagan, John Force, Bob Tasca III, Cruz Pedregon and J.R. Todd.
The Betway NHRA Carolina Nationals also will feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, which includes some of the sport’s top drivers, as well as the FuelTech NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by D-Wagon. Jose Gonzalez won in Charlotte a year ago en route to his first world title in the class. Fans in Charlotte can also enjoy the exciting Mountain Motor Pro Stock category as they bring their powerful 800-plus cubic-inch engines to zMAX Dragway. On Saturday, fans can attend Nitro School to learn more about how the cars operate and reach their thrilling speeds.
Race fans at zMAX Dragway can enjoy the special pre-race ceremonies that introduce and celebrate each of the drivers racing for the prestigious Wally on Sunday and includes the fan favorite SealMaster Track Walk. The final can’t-miss experience of any NHRA event is the winner’s circle celebration on Sunday after racing concludes, where fans are invited to congratulate the Betway NHRA Carolina Nationals event winners.
As always, fans also get an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet in Charlotte. This unique opportunity gives fans a unique chance to see teams in action and service their hot rods between rounds, get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers, and more. Fans can also visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create an exciting atmosphere that includes interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food, and fun for the entire family. The new Pep Boys midway display includes tire change challenges, oil change challenges, a slot car track, and much more, adding even more excitement to the midway.
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature one round at 6:30 p.m. ET on Friday, Sept. 23, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Sept. 24 at 1:30 and 5:15 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 12:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 25. Television coverage includes qualifying action on FS1 at 7:00 p.m. ET on Friday, 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, and then eliminations on FS1 at 3:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.
To purchase tickets to the Betway NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway, please visit www.zmaxdragway.com or call 800-455-FANS (3267). For more information about NHRA, please visit www.NHRA.com.