Sixteen-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force continues to rewrite the record books, including a new track record at zMAX Dragway, during Friday night’s qualifying at the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals. With a lightning-fast 3.820-second pass – the quickest ever at the Bellagio of drag strips and the 10th quickest in the history of the category – Force earned the provisional No. 1 qualifier on the first of three days of nitro-fueled action.

“I’m having a lot of fun going down the race track,” said Force, who earned his 156th career victory earlier this year at Pomona. “Luck’s a big part of this game. I’ve been lucky my whole career, and I ain’t done yet.”

Force, a three-time winner at the Charlotte four-wide event, joined Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and the last fall’s Carolina Nationals winner Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel) in earning top honors on Friday.

Kalitta, who ran a 3.691-second pass at 337.92 mph to outpace the Top Fuel field, said tomorrow’s weather could require his team needs to run even faster to hold on to the top spot in Sunday’s elimination bracket.

“The temperatures are going to be pretty good for running good,” Kalitta said. “I think we’re going to have to run a little stronger to hold on to what we got, especially with what John Force did. It sounds like he really had a hell of a run. The track’s good and the conditions should be good for tomorrow too to run better, so we’re not going to get too comfortable here.”

Anderson, who ran 6.500 seconds at 210.90 mph, managed to claim the top spot in Pro Stock despite only making one of two qualifying runs on Friday night. His second qualifying pass was cut short after a computer malfunction caused the car to shut off prematurely.

“Q1 was great,” he joked. “It was a very nice run. When you get conditions like this, when you don’t get sun beating down on the race track and it’s cool – it’s 65, 70 degrees out there – that’s what these Pro Stock cars love. You’ve gotta be prepared when you come up there. You can’t be shy, because all the cars are going to run fast.”

Despite setting the pace in the Pro Stock Motorcycle category, Smith said he thinks his team has what he needs to improve on his Friday night run of 6.685 seconds at 201.61 mph.

“All in all, I think we can go faster,” Smith said. “If they think they can go faster, I think we can too. We’ll see. It’s a chess match. This Denso bike is running mean right now.


Single-day tickets for Saturday and Sunday’s NHRA 4-Wide Nationals are still available online at or by calling 1-800-455-FANS (3267).


Stay on pace with what’s happening at Charlotte Motor Speedway by following on X and Instagram or becoming a Facebook fan. Keep up with all the latest news and information with the Charlotte Motor Speedway mobile app.