It's been 111 days since ground was officially broken on zMAX Dragway @ Concord and the state-of-the-art drag racing facility is rapidly taking shape in preparation for the Sept. 11-14 NHRA Nationals.

Thanks to the SMI Development crew, a host of contractors and cooperation from Mother Nature, construction on the "Bellagio of drag strips" is right on schedule with many of the track's major structures taking shape all across the 125-acre facility.

"Work is progressing very well on what will be the new standard in drag strips," said Marcus Smith, president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway. "We had some of the NHRA drivers in town for the Coca-Cola 600 and when they toured zMAX Dragway, they came away as excited as we are about the NHRA Nationals here in September. It's going to be a great event and one that's sure to be worthy of the venue we're building."

Progress on the 30,000-seat facility includes:

. The second of two pedestrian tunnels underneath the strip will be completed next week.

. 700 feet of footings for the center concrete wall and the footings for the outside retaining walls have been built.

. The steel-and-aluminum framework on the John Force Grandstand, the main grandstand on the drivers' left, is complete and painting has begun on the exterior of several buildings.

. All support columns are in place and the bleachers are being erected on the secondary grandstand to the drivers' right.

. Paving of the Sportsman pit area started Thursday.

. The structures for 19 concession stands and restrooms have been built in both grandstand areas.

. Construction on the exterior of the starting-line tower is nearing completion, but the decorative panels that will be the most prominent feature of the tower will not be put in place until August.

Pouring of the 1,324-feet concrete racing surface is scheduled to begin on June 23. zMAX Dragway will be only the second drag strip that the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series visits where the entire quarter-mile is concrete and the only four-lane drag strip in the United States.

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 and $20 for children ages 12 and under. Tickets can be obtained by calling the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS or online.