After months of grading and preparation, last night crews began pouring the 3,000 cubic  yards of concrete that will comprise the four-lane, quarter-mile drag strip at zMAX Dragway @ Concord.

The "Bellagio of drag strips" will be only the third track on the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series to feature a concrete quarter-mile racing surface and the only four-lane track on the national circuit.

During a recent visit, NHRA competitors, including 14-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force, raved about plans to construct zMAX Dragway's quarter-mile entirely of concrete.

"It's a huge expense, but, if you're going to do it, do it right and that's what Bruton Smith is all about," said Force. "When you got all concrete, the transition never comes into play. We all know exactly what we've got. It's 'gorilla' and you throw everything you got at it. National records will be set here in Concord at zMAX Dragway."

Most drag strips have concrete for the first 660 feet or less, but the transition from concrete to asphalt often upsets the traction of the rear wheels, making the car unstable for drivers as they barrel toward speeds in excess of 300 mph down the 1,320-foot track.

"Any time you eliminate transitions on a track, you are lessening the chances for your race car to become unsettled," said five-time NHRA Top Fuel champion Tony "The Sarge" Schumacher. "With any kind of luck, the weather will be nice and cool in September and we can fly down the track and give the fans an exciting show. We're counting down the days until we arrive in our new market."

Three-time NHRA Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. agrees with Force and Schumacher that speeds will be extremely fast at zMAX Dragway and chances are good that national records will be broken during the Sept. 11-14 NHRA Nationals.

"We look forward to having 1,320 feet of concrete," said Coughlin Jr. "It allows us more of a consistent grip all the way down the race track.

It should be smooth as glass and what that means is fast times for fans.

We're going to be into September, so there's a good chance that Mother Nature could have some 60 degree cool days and we'll love that. We'll light the record books on fire."

Pouring of the concrete racing surface is scheduled to commence Monday evening and last through July 3. Due to the summer heat, all pouring will occur late in the evening and throughout the night.

zMAX Dragway @ Concord will open in grand fashion by hosting the NHRA Nationals Sept. 11-14. The four-day event will be the first of six races in the playoff-style NHRA POWERade Countdown to the Championship, featuring competitors in all four professional categories: Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Four-day tickets for the inaugural NHRA Nationals at zMAX Dragway @ Concord start at $99 for adults and $20 for children ages 12 and under. Each event ticket is also a pit pass and can be obtained by calling the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS or online.