Countdown Drama Roars into NTK NHRA Carolina Nationals
The drama of a championship battle among tire-smoking, nitro-powered NHRA hot rods will be on full display when this weekend's NTK NHRA Carolina Nationals roars to life on Friday at zMAX Dragway. The three-day festival of 11,000-horsepower machinery marks the halfway point in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series' six-race Countdown to the Championship, with the Bellagio of drag strips setting the scene for a late-season title battle like no other.
As the top 10 competitors in Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle duel for a coveted championship, the NHRA's non-stop action heats up zMAX Dragway with Friday and Saturday qualifying sessions building to a Sunday-afternoon crescendo of eliminations.
The weekend begins with the new NHRA Prime Time qualifying during the second session on Friday night. During Prime Time, drivers perform a burnout in their 11,000-horsepower nitro-burning machines to their favorite jams played by an on-site disc jockey, setting the tone on a critical and equally exciting race weekend while a jaw-dropping pyrotechnics display wows the crowd.
Steve Torrence has ruled zMAX Dragway of late, as the defending Top Fuel world champion won both races at the facility a year ago and grabbed a victory at the spring race this year. Another Charlotte sweep would go a long way in Torrence's pursuit of a second straight world title, but he'll be challenged by a star-studded field that includes points leader Doug Kalitta, Richie Crampton and 2017 world champ Brittany Force.
Ron Capps stayed alive in the Funny Car world title chase with his win in Charlotte a year ago, and the former world champion will try for a second world title in 2019. He's currently fourth, 43 points back of Don Schumacher Racing teammate Jack Beckman.
The fall race will mark Pro Stock's first appearance at the facility in 2019 and defending event winner Jason Line is rolling at the perfect time. He has won two of the past three races, including the playoff opener, as the veteran seeks his fourth world title. Line also has a class-best four wins at zMAX Dragway.
Defending winner Matt Smith won for the second time at the track in Pro Stock Motorcycle, using that momentum to win his third title. Smith is in contention for a fourth, but it's a packed field currently led by Jerry Savoie.
zMAX Dragway will also host a Mello Yello autograph session and allow fans to meet their favorite drivers as well as the Cruising with Castello Sealmaster Track Walk hosted by NHRA announcer Joe Castello.
As always, fans can interact with their favorite drivers as they're granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers while witnessing the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds.
Fans also will want to visit NHRA's popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, featuring interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
Qualifying will feature two rounds at 3:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Friday with the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday at 1:15 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 12 p.m. on Sunday.