Four Storylines to Watch When NGK NTK NHRA Four-Wide Nationals Return This Weekend
After more than a year-long delay due to COVID-19, it will have been 579 days since the NHRA’s top drivers last visited zMAX Dragway when they fire up their 11,000-horsepower engines on Friday, for the first of three days of nitro-fueled action at this weekend’s NGK NTK NHRA Four-Wide Nationals. Despite the layoff, there is no shortage of intriguing storylines to watch as fans head back to the Bellagio of drag strips.
Friday Fireworks: The weekend kicks off with the first round of qualifying under the lights on Friday night. With temperatures dropping and header flames rising, blistering speeds are almost assured when the top four classes (Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycles) head to the lanes for Q1. In a nod to the history and tradition of drag racing, fans will be treated to exhibition runs by The ScottRods AA/Gassers and Southeast Nostalgia Pro Stockers. Fueling the fun at the end of opening night, two jet dragsters – “Mustang Sally” and “The Diamond Jim Racing” machines – will light up the night with a side-by-side exhibition.
Qualifying with a Twist: A revamped schedule means drivers only get three qualifying passes to lock in their seeding for Sunday’s eliminations. With two of those three runs set for Saturday, the second day of racing will be pivotal for drivers looking to position themselves well for chasing a Wally. Adding to the pressure, having only three qualifying runs means drivers won’t have data from all four lanes, so lane choice will be critical. In a four-wide showdown where there’s already little room for error, having a strong day on Saturday will be vital for drivers looking to make a deep run on elimination day.
Toppling Torrence: Three-time NHRA Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence has been absolutely unstoppable at zMAX Dragway in recent years, winning five of the last six events – including three consecutive NGK NTK NHRA Four-Wide National events. If there’s anyone who can slow his momentum, perhaps it’s Antron Brown, a five-time winner at zMAX Dragway. Bolstering his confidence, Brown is coming off a win at the NHRA’s most recent event, the Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway. He and fellow Top Fuel drivers like Shawn Langdon, Brittany Force, Justin Ashley and Leah Pruett could be poised to knock Torrence off his throne.
Funny Car Fun Fact: Unlike the Top Fuel ranks, the Funny Car class has been defined by parity in four-wide competition. With eight different winners in the 11-year history of the event, fans would be hard-pressed to pick an odds-on favorite heading into this weekend’s showcase of speed. While it’s impossible to know if that streak will continue, the top two drivers in the NHRA’s Funny Car point standings – Bob Tasca III and J.R. Todd – will both be looking for their first-ever four-wide victory at zMAX Dragway on Sunday. To earn the Wally, however, they’ll have to hold off former four-wide champions like Matt Hagan, John Force, Ron Capps, Robert Hight, Tim Wilkerson and Cruz Pedregon, all of whom currently sit inside the Top 10 in points.
While there are no tickets available for Saturday’s qualifying sessions at the NGK NTK NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, tickets remain for Friday and Sunday. Adult tickets start at just $20 on Friday and $40 on Sunday, kids 13 and under get in free. To purchase, visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com or call 800-455-FANS (3267).
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